Great Writing Advice!

Read more. Read less. Get writing books and learn as much as possible. Plan and outline everything. Just sit down and write. Honestly, even the best writing advice doesn’t work for everyone. 

People regularly ask about the best writing advice on the writing website I’m on. So many people jump in with great thoughts and helpful tips for newbies. Honestly, I wish I’d asked when I first joined the site after drafting a 500+k pentalogy without having a clue. There’s so much information on how to write that it can be overwhelming for newbies.

I think the best advice is to take it one element at a time. 

What newbies tend to forget (me included when I started writing) is that writing is so much more than sitting at a document and typing away. It’s creating interesting characters, having your plot points make sense, considering your genre and target audience. There’s a ton of planning and research that goes into a WIP. Some people do this before they write while others do it as they go. 

I started by just writing and seeing if I came up with a story I wanted to make something of. I wrote a horrible first draft, even by first draft standards. But I considered it a very detailed outline. My next version was from scratch after looking up various writing techniques. But again, it was all too overwhelming with the options. 

After banging my head against my computer screen, I decided to get a couple of books. I started with “Writing Fiction for Dummies” because that’s what I was in relation to writing. It gives some great tips on each aspect of writing without overloading newbies. When I wanted to know more, I looked it up online with the basics already in my head. I then bought “Dialogue” and “Grammar for Fiction Writers” from Mary Kennedy’s “Busy Writer’s Guide” series. I also have “How to Writer Science Fiction & Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card. Between these books, I got more than enough advice to start my journey as a real writer. 

Over time, I found more advice and tips online to build on the basics I’d already learned. The best place I learned is from the critiquing website critiquecircle.com. check it out. You’ll be amazed what you learn by having others critique your work as well as you critiquing theirs.

I discovered some great YouTubers who not only gave great advice, but help writers think about what kind of writer they want to be. For me, this was the best advice I’ve found.

Firstly, Jenna Moreci. She has a variety of writing advice as well as marketing tips for those who want to self-publish. But it’s still helpful to know about these things like creating a social media presence, having a personal website, and being part of online writing communities. Below are some of my favourites from Jenna. 

She’s great with getting people to think about how they want to write rather than telling people how to write. I also just adore her realism over how the writing world works. 

Then there’s Abbie Emmons. She covers many of the topics Jenna covers, but delves deeper into the hows and whys of human behaviour to help build believable characters and plots.

Another favourite of mine is Meg LaTorre. She’s done a couple of collaboration videos with Jenna, which I really enjoyed. Their major books, The Savior’s Champion (dark fantasy) and The Cyborg Tinkerer (space steampunk fantasy) are very different in plot and characters. But they’ve still created really great literature. I’ve read Jenna’s Savior’s Champion and am halfway through Cyborg Tinkerer. So far so good.

I also like Sacha Black. She doesn’t beat around the bush and has a fun podcast.

You need to find a few sources who offer advice suited to you and stick with them. That’s not to say you shouldn’t keep looking for other perspectives. You should never limit your learning. But why change you main teachers if you’re learning what you need from them?

Jenna, Meg, Sacha, Abbie, and my critique partners are my teachers, so I’ll stick with them while seeking an occasional lesson from other authors.


Title image by Geralt at pixabay.com.

Chickpea Salad for a Hungry Writer!

This is a nice filling salad for any season and super healthy. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 jar or chickpeas (I use the whole jar, but for a side salad, use half or less)
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 pack of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 sticks of celery

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp of ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp of parsley

Method

Halve the cherry tomatoes. Chop the peppers and celery into small pieces and mix with the tomatoes. 

Rinse and drain the chickpeas and mix with the vegetables. Add the dressing and adjust to taste.

Additional ingredients

  • Slicede hot dogs
  • Feta cheese cubes 
  • Thick slices of ham
  • Boiled egg

Enjoy as a yummy side salad or full meal. Image by Alexdante at pixabay.com.

How’s the Violin Practice Going?

Original Photo of my shiny violin. No, I can’t play the Indiana Jones theme, but I had a good laugh trying. 

Awesome. Like, seriously. I sound terrible, but I’m having soooooo much fun with it. I think I missed my musical calling with this one. Lol. Maybe not quite. I bought it back in September but didn’t really start regular practice until mid-December, so it’s been a month of more dedicated practice.

I started off with learning a bad bowing technique for me, even though it was from a professional violinist. But I watched a great video just after the Christmas break, and I found that technique much better. Or maybe it was how the violinist described it. It’s hard to know with online videos. Anyway, it worked in the sense that I can hear an instant difference in my sound. 

Here’s the video by Lindsey Stirling. I came across one of her Christmas songs a while back, but didn’t think to check out her other stuff. A couple of friends were into her, and I kinda dipped in and out of listening to her music. But since I started wiring Out of Ashes, about a struggling violinist, Lindsey’s on all my writing playlists along with The Piano Guys who I’ve been listening to for a couple of years now. They have something for each WIP’s mood.

The inspiration for my opening scene in Out of Ashes.

I’m not new to music, so playing a new instrument isn’t like starting from a complete beginner. Sure, it’s a new technique and entirely new sound and motions, but I understand enough about using your body to make sounds from playing my flute. This time, it’s not with my breath, but with sliding a bow. 

The finger placement, however, is much harder. With the flute, you place one finger on one key, and it doesn’t need to move to any other key. But like the piano, my fingers jump about. They jump strings as well as notes within the section for that finger. I mean, it’s like 3 notes on each string for each finger, but it’s still super hard for a beginner to remember which section is for which finger and how to move long the string or jump strings for the next note.

I’m figuring it out surprisingly quickly now than I’ve got the hang of what goes where. But… there’s the bow. Even with my more fluid technique, I’m forever catching the adjacent string and messing up the sound. Why they have to be so close, I will never know. Stupid bridge needs to be more curved for a bigger arc between strings, if you ask me. 

Anyway, I’m doing well with my progress. I can play Silent Night and Oogway Ascends from Kung Fu Panda, which is originally by Hans Zimmer, but it was the Piano Guys who inspired me to try this song on my flute. I can’t hit the two highest notes on my flute, but I’m doing much better with the top notes on my violin.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this creative breakthrough since this website is all about creativity. Maybe I’ll share a very screechy snippet soon, purely for a progress report.

Figuring out My Social Media and Scheduling My Blog Posts!

Books, Smartphone, Hand, Keep, Mobile Phone, Computer

Not very exciting news, but I’ve decided to start posting every Saturday and sometimes on Wednesdays if I have a lot to say. But it’s part of my

I keep dipping into future marketing ideas like playing about with quirky logos or getting back on Instagram. I forgot I even had an account. Then there’s my Twitter account. The only activity on there is my WP and Instagram posts. So why do I keep it? No idea. My Facebook is private and purely for friends and family. I’m on Discord, which I’m not sure is classed as social media or not, but I have a writing group on there.

But do I really need all of this right now? I have a day job, which allows me my mornings free to work on making writing a second career. If not, it’s a pretty intense pastime. But I’m serious about making something of my writing, so every morning, I sit at my PC and churn out new scenes and chapters, revise WIPs, critique my writing buddies (although I’ve lacked there lately), blog and plan and plot and do whatever writing related thing I feel needs attention that moment.

I need Discord to rant about writing, and I like this site since it’s a great creative outlet for me. But Twitter and Instagram??? I decided that I do need them, at least for Instagram, which is more suited to me than Twitter. I can’t explain it. But There’s something more comfortable about Instagram. I suppose that if I do become a successful (that’s subjective, of course) writer, then I could simply keep posting on WP and Instagram with the posts sent to Twitter. And I’ll just have to activate my Twitter notifications so I’ don’t miss anything. Right now, I hardly look at it.

Below are a couple of videos from two great author on social media and marketing. I already do some of what Meg and Jenna suggest, but thanks to their advice, I’ll be working on a few things gradually.


So I think for now, I have it sorted. I post one or two pictures a day on Instagram, and at least weekly on WP. I’ve actually started scheduling posts to keep to the same one or two days per week. That way, when I have the time, I can churn out a few posts, schedule them for the next couple of weeks, and then focus on my novel writing. 

Here are some of my Love Fantasy social media images…

It’s never too early to start working on these things if you have the time. Just remember, if you don’t work on your novels, you’ll have nothing to market.

Title image by Geralt at Pixabay.com

Plotting World Domination!

I’m in plotting (well, re-plotting) my Starlighters novels. It’s going well, mostly. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But what I’m pondering it scene order. 

I have already planned the POV carefully based on each scene. Now I have to decide the best order. Some things happen simultaneously in different POVs, and some things are a little flexible if I account for the small details. So how do I decide the order? Honestly, I don’t know. Nobody can give me that answer, and I couldn’t give someone else an answer to the same question about their novel unless I read it. 

My best option is to break each scene down into even smaller scenes like walking from one room to another, breaking down emotional shifts, and making bullet points of each change in topic within the scene. This way, I can see it in its parts, and maybe something might prompt a thought on the right order for the story. 

In the meantime, I have a list of micro events and their best choice for POV so that I can move them around until they slot together. This is a lot of trial and error, but I’ve already fixed a few of the actions which helps me decide what goes in between.

One thing that I do have to consider is cliffhanger scenes. There’s a significant moment that I could quite easily follow on from in the next scene with a different POV, or I could leave it for a few pages and tease the reader. I’ve read scenes like that before where it’s flipped to another situation right in the middle of a critical moment. Do I want to be that kind of author? Probably, yes. But I will still give it serious consideration. 

Plotting and re-plotting can be a lot of fun if you like organisation. But it’s also fun from a creative aspect. Title image by Khamkho at pixabay.com.

Belated 100 Followers Celebration!

I missed sending my gratitude over this amazing milestone because I was preoccupied with family stuff at the time. But I noticed. Don’t think for one second that I didn’t see my followers hit 100.

Some people may think that’s a miniscule number compared to what is considered a “real blogger” but this site is far more than a blog to me. It’s a place to share my creativity. Not just my writing, which is why I started this site, but my music, my love for visual arts, and even cooking. 

So I’d like to thank every follower, even if you skim my writing ranting. 

I started this site to share some secret links with my writing buddies. Then it evolved into sharing teasers about my novels and posting some of my snippets and flash fiction. Not long after, it became a blog of my writing progress, It still does those things. But as I’ve grown as a writer and am working on the final stages of a novel I hope to send out for publication, I’d like to think this site is a great jumping off point for some marketing and branding when the time comes. That isn’t at the forefront of my mind, but it’s something that I ponder on occasion. Why not use those occasions to help me in future endeavours when I need said marketing and branding. I’d only procrastinate anyway. 

One never knows where their creative endeavours may take them, so let the creativity guide you to where it needs to be. It’s part of you and your desires even if you can’t see it yet. I didn’t see where my writing would lead me the day I opened a Word document and started writing a crazy dream that turned into a pentalogy, albeit a WIP for now.

Like all stories and its characters, things grow and evolve and adapt, just like me and this site. 

Here’s to growing, evolving and adapting. 

I think Gatsby sums up my feelings right now,

TItle image by Dariusz Sankowski at pixabay.com.

Reigniting an Old Flame!

This is very much how I feel rewriting my Starlighters book one, Wings of Fire and Fury. It was my first. The words have changed so much since I sat down at my document five years ago. Now, my voice has changed along with my ideas for the characters and the story. But it’s still the same at its core.

When you go so long without seeing or touching something, it’s like you have to relearn everything about it. For me, as a writer, I’ve thought about this story lot since I last did anything significant on it. And due to personal issues, I went a long time without even looking at it. But I still thought about what I wanted it to be.

Unlike an old flame, and old WIP can become exactly what you want it to be when you’re ready to put the ideas into it. An early WIP might have a lit of messy parts and a plot all over the place, but with renewed vigour and experience, you’ll be surprised how you can turn that old WIP into something new and exciting. 

I need a break from Out of Ashes while it’s with my beta readers, so reviving my first project makes sense. It’s a pentalogy, so not the best idea for a debut novel. I’m not saying that all series are bad ideas for first-time authors. But I found the project a little overwhelming not so long ago and chose to focus on my standalone novel, Out of Ashes, as my debut. It’s on the shorter side for fantasy fiction and more likely to be published for this aspiring author.

That didn’t mean that Starlighters left my heart or my thoughts. It was purely on hiatus in the writing sense, but I’ve made regular notes as I’ve thought of new and more interesting events. 

Now, I’m trying to put those ideas into my latest version. Some things are getting completely rewritten while others are simply getting a prose upgrade, but at the end of the day, the whole thing will look different when I’m done with it. 

This is a good thing, and while my primary WIP is pending feedback, I’m going to use my writing time to rekindle this old flame and make it loveable. 

Title image by Myriams-fotos at pixabay.

Get Real!

Whether you write speculative or realistic fiction, your characters need real character traits and real issues going on in their lives. I’m not talking solely about plot-related things. I’m talking about what makes your character multidimensional. 

You might create them from scratch, or they might be inspired by someone you know. Honestly, a lot of my characters are inspired by people I know. Sometimes it’s just the small things like uncommon words or personal preference, or.some personality quirks that I think made that person interesting. Other characters represent someone or something in my life, and others are very closely based on people I know. 

But at the end of the day, they’re my fictional version adapted to work with my story. 

Below are just some of the “real” things that my characters deal with. Some overlap, some dominate their lives, and some are just the little things that create a realistic and relatable character.

Making Characters Unique

Every character needs something that sets them apart from the others. This could be a personality trait or a special skill. It could be done through their mannerisms like someone who always shrugs or rakes their hand through their hair or paces. Or maybe through their abilities, like speaking several languages or a rare magical power.

Insecurities

This can manifest in various aspects of a character’s life. Self-image, jealousy, too much pressure to succeed. They all make a character doubt themselves, which you might have casual mentions of throughout, or it might come at a crucial moment and the character has to overcome their insecurities and be brave. 

Good or Bad Luck

This is a big issue in my Starlighters series, since a few characters can sense the gist of a good or bad future. Of course, this is magic based, but many of us get niggly feelings that something good or bad is going to happen. It’s also part of foreshadowing in your book. 

The other side of this is past luck. Someone might consider themselves bad luck because of the life they’ve had. Others might have lucky charms to help keep them on a positive path. 

Reactions to Traumatic or Stressful Events 

Characters go through a lot during an average book or series. You need to drop descriptions of how certain stresses or emotional events affect your characters. Life stresses can cause limp hair, bags under their eyes, weak state, weight issues. That last one is very true for me, so I used it for one of my MCs.

Or there are deeper traumas like a break-up, death, or losing a job or home. These major losses will create grief in your character. It usually affects the character in every scene after the grief hits and might manifest in depression or frustration. Yes, it’s dark and grim. But it’s real and will make a big impact on your characters. 

Real Moments

Characters need a few real moments, like getting up in the morning, eating food, shopping, at work or reading a book. These could happen before or after the plot-related events of the scene, but you should include these activities even if they’re summarises in a short paragraph so as not to add too much detail to a mundane activity.

Nobody wants a book full of boring conversations, but a few lines of banter or general chit-chat go a long way. Use the quiet moments for characters to drop a comment about a character’s clothes or their sister’s boyfriend or how their new job is going. It’s best to keep this to a few lines of dialogue before leading into the conversation you need the characters to have.

Your characters are as real as you make them. 

Title image by Thoughtcatalog at pixabay.

Cheers to My Yesterday

A little poem from my random Bursts of Words collection.

Cheers to the yesterday that broke me, stole all I had until I was nothing.

It chipped away at my sanity and left me for dead.

Yesterday threw rock after rock at me until I fell over the edge.

It kept throwing rocks so I couldn’t climb back up.

Cheers to the yesterday that made me scream with rage until I cried with despair.

It drained me of my strength so I couldn’t fight back.

Yesterday was a nightmare that still haunts me. 

I wake up in a riled panic because of yesterday. 

Here’s to tomorrow and the hope it gives me that yesterday is over. 

It’s the breaking of the storm and the pressure off my heart.

Tomorrow holds the sun that will light my days.

It’s the lifeline to pull me back up and back on my feet.

It’s the breath of air I’ve been holding all this time. 

Here’s to the future unknown. It can’t possibly be as bad as yesterday.

Inspired in part by “Yesterday” by Imagine Dragons.

Check out more inspired bursts of words.