Category Archives: Useful Articles

What Does It Add to the Story?

Hello everyone!

Have you ever heard the phrase, “kill your darlings”?  I have, and I used to resent it with every fiber of my creative being.  Why would I eliminate a favorite character, scene, or line?  That question is one I’ve recently had to answer.

My project for 2018 has been editing my novel, “The Four Crystals.”  After making some changes to the main characters’ personalities and motivations, which strengthened the plot and intensified the conflict, I arrived at one of my favorite conversations between two characters.  It no longer worked.

I tried valiantly to save the conversation, but eventually, I had to re-write it.  Cutting the original version of that conversation hurt.  But I was super proud of myself for putting my story’s needs before my own desires.  Then I kept going.

short cutIn a travel sequence, I had an issue fester between two characters over the course of 48 hours and finally culminate in a confrontation.  I had so much fun writing the sequence.  When I looked over it, I realized that those scenes and even the confrontation didn’t move the plot along.  I could tell my reader how long it took my party to go from point A to point B and summarize the main difficulties they faced in one paragraph.  I tried to justify keeping the sequence on the grounds that it contributed to my characters’ development, but the reader already knew there was hostility between those two characters from earlier scenes.  And the mini-confrontation didn’t grow the tension between them enough to justify keeping the sequence.  I had to cut it, and yes, cutting it was painful.

When it comes to editing, I’ve concluded that anything that does not advance the story and/or the characters’ development should be cut.  It makes the story more interesting to read.

My challenge to all of you is when you look at your own work, don’t ask yourself, “How do I feel about this character, scene, or line?”  Instead, ask yourself, “What does it add to the story?”  If the answer is nothing, cut it.

Happy writing, and be bold in your editing!

Katie

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Self-Publishing: Hiring Contractors Beyond a Copy Editor

Hello everyone!

As promised, here is my interview with sci-fi and fantasy author Olivia Berrier.  In the interview, Berrier talks about her experience with the self-publishing process and what types of contractors a self-publishing author can hire.

If you read my last post, you know that I had quite a learning curve with this project.  Below are the top three things I learned about making a YouTube video:

  1. Always shoot your video in horizontal.  Never film in vertical.
  2. Use a microphone or have a sound recording device close to your mouth.
  3. Double or triple the time estimate you allot to the editing process.

Happy writing!

Katie

Timing Is Everything

Hello everyone!

When figuring out how long a project should take you to complete, especially something you’ve never done before, give yourself plenty of time.

A few weeks ago, I conducted a video interview with sci-fi and fantasy author Olivia Berrier.  My plan was to post that video today.

This was my first time ever trying to edit a video using Filmora or create subtitles on YouTube.

wrong way 3

Let’s just say there was a learning curve, and that I will post the interview later this month.

Olivia Berrier gave me one piece of advice which is not in the interview but that applies to this situation: When creating a timeline for a project, double or triple your time estimate.

Happy writing and may your project timelines be more accurate than mine!

Katie

You Can’t End a Sentence with a Preposition – Myth or Grammar Rule?

Hello everyone!

Prepositions 8If you’re like me, you were taught growing up that you should never end a sentence with a preposition.  Maybe you’ve also found yourself in a situation where you tried really hard to re-write a sentence so that it did not end with a dreaded preposition, but the result sounded weird and was barely comprehendible.  Can anyone relate?

Well, you might be shocked to learn that you may end a sentence with a preposition.  (I hear the gasps of disbelief and outraged cries from here.)  Before you decide I’ve lost my mind, and all sense of grammar, please check out the articles below.

Prepositions, Ending a Sentence With by Merriam-Webster.com

Ending Sentences with Prepositions by OxfordDictionaries.com

Can you end a sentence with a preposition? by Catherine Soanes (Oxford Dictionaries blog)

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition: Is it ever OK to end a sentence with a preposition? by Mignon Fogarty (Grammar Girl)

Warning, many people still believe that a sentence should not end with a preposition.  Use wisdom when applying your newfound freedom.

Happy writing!

Katie

Tension is Good for the Reader

Hello everyone!

Ever have a scene that just didn’t hold your readers’ attention?  How about an info dump you couldn’t eliminate because it contained vital information?

Janice Hardy offers some good tips for correcting both of these issues in her articles “Ready, Set…Where’s the Action? Keeping Informative Scenes Tense” and “Is a Lack of Action Really the Problem?”

When it comes to adding tension to a story, I personally am a fan of:

  • Argument 9two characters with conflicting opinions going head-to-head
  • no-win situations
  • point of no return decisions (especially when the protagonist has to choose whether or not to rely on someone who may or may not be trustworthy)

I hope Janice Hardy’s articles give you some good ideas for how to raise the tension in your scenes and keep your readers hooked.

Happy writing!

Katie

Optimal Editing

Hello everyone!

When you set out to be a writer, the thing they don’t tell you is that you will spend most of your time editing.  And, whether you like it or not, editing is a time-consuming process.

This year, I have been focusing on editing my novel, “The Four Crystals,” but I began the editing process two or three years ago.  The biggest mistake I’ve made during those years was trying to take my novel from a rough draft to a final draft in one edit.

untitled

It didn’t end well.

What I have learned from reading other writers’ advice is to focus on one thing per edit.

I really liked the way Allison K. Williams broke down the writing and editing process in her article “Seven Drafts.”

The names of Allison K. Williams’ seven drafts are:

  1. The Vomit Draft
  2. The Story Draft
  3. The Character Draft
  4. The Technical Draft
  5. The Personal Copy Edit
  6. The Friend/Beta Read
  7. The Editor Read

I hope you find “Seven Drafts” by Allison K. Williams as helpful as I did.

Happy writing!

Katie

Supporting Characters

Hello everyone!

When writing a book, it is easy to focus on the protagonist.  After all, he/she is the person the audience should know, and hopefully relate to, the best.  But what about the other characters?  How prevalent, knowable, and relatable should they be?

For my novel “The Four Crystals,” I divided my book’s cast into four groups: protagonist, antagonist, supporting character, and minor character.

My Group Definitions:

  • protagonist: main character or the character whose viewpoint I am using to tell the story
  • antagonist: villain
  • supporting character: a character whose removal from the book would alter the storyline and/or the plot’s outcome
  • minor character: a character whose removal from the book would not alter the storyline and/or the plot’s outcome because another character could fulfill that function in the story

Since my background is in theater, I subdivided my minor characters into two groups:

  • extras: human background/scenery
  • featured extras: they stand out from the  rest of the extras by having one or more lines, being named, and/or appearing more than once

crowd 4I believe it is important to develop a supporting character as much as I do my protagonist.  My featured extras (messenger, loudmouth in a crowd, etc.) should be recognizable, but if they do not need a backstory to complete their task, they don’t get one.  My extras (villagers, soldiers, etc.) are scenery; they’re lucky if they get noticed by the protagonist.

The following articles offer advice on how to create memorable supporting characters.  I hope they help you to create a memorable supporting cast!

“How to Write Effective Supporting Characters” by Hallie Ephron – She uses the mystery genre to explain how each supporting character needs to have a defined role or purpose in the protagonist’s life as well as a distinct personality.  The article also touches on the difference between supporting and minor characters.

“10 Secrets to Creating Unforgettable Supporting Characters” by Charlie Jane Anders – He gives some tips that apply to developing supporting characters, some that are geared towards designing minor characters, and some that work for creating both supporting and minor characters.

Happy writing!

Katie