Tag Archives: About Writing

Writer on the Road – Day 4

We’re back in civilization tonight and had Whataburger for dinner for the first time in almost 6 months. For those of you who know what that is, you know how fantastic I found my meal after being away from it for so long.

We left Utah today and made it into New Mexico. With only two days of driving left, I spent a lot of time today thinking about writing and what I want for my life. 

When I first started writing, I had no intention of ever being published. I liked to write because it helped me escape from reality but it wasn’t what I wanted to be when I grew up. I shared with my friends, and while they enjoyed it, I never thought I’d one day try to sell my work. 

I kept up the work, even when I didn’t think I’d make it a career, until about three years ago I realized it’s what I want to do with my life. That being said, I’ve never been published. I’m not writing to pay the bills yet, I’m writing still out of passion, so I don’t have to worry yet about the career side of the writing world. 

As I realized this, I had to ask myself, do I really want a career as a writer? Do I want the work as well as the play? Why not just be a hobbiest, why do I want to be recognized as an author?

Being a hobbiest and being a professional are two totally different animals. There’s nothing wrong with either of these, but it’s important to be honest with yourself. 
Everyone has to answer that question to themselves. For me, I decided on day four of my drive that I wanted to be a writer, not because of the romance, but because I like the work. I like the hours bent over a manuscript. I love the feeling of starting a new idea. And as much as I complain, I even enjoy the editing. 

Work isn’t some four letter word to me as so many creative types make it out to be. It’s something I find myself embracing. Writing is as much of a career choice as it is a way to share my love of stories with others, and that’s why I’m perusing a job as a writer.

It was a nice realization and it’s fueling my fire as I keep on writing this November. I love the work that gets put into books, and I can’t wait to jump into the career side.

I don’t know why you write, but please let me be clear. Everyone’s reason is a valid one. If you want a career as a professional writer, you go after it with all the fire you’ve got. Everyone has their drive, tell me yours below and let’s share the love of the job! 

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Finding Time to Write

As I hammer through some suggested edits, I’ve been talking more with others about writing and the most common thing I hear is “I could write a book, if only I had the time!”

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Truth be told, I didn’t and still don’t have enough time. When I finished my manuscript for Flightless, I was in the middle of a military move, driving an hour and a half every for work every day, and trying to cram in as much family time before I left Texas. It’s a year later, and I’m trying to get through ANOTHER military move (this time mostly by myself because of my husband’s work schedule), finish my last month at my job, and still sight see around the Pacific Northwest. I was supposed to be here for another two years, and instead, I have a month left.

All that being said, I still believe in making time to write. So where do I make time, and how can you?

Lunch breaks –
I get a thirty minute lunch break, and 20 of those minutes are spent working on my book. It might not be my longest writing time, but it’s 20 minutes I can spend getting work done.

Wake up early –
I don’t do this one often, just because I’m a night owl, but sometimes if I’m feeling up to it, working on editing is the first thing I do.

While cooking dinner –
Most of my dinners are made one of two ways. Out of a box or time consuming with lots of prep. Either way I have to wait while it’s in the oven, so instead of doing chores, I write. Sure my house doesn’t stay ridiculously clean, but it gets the job done.

When someone else is driving – 
My husband usually is the one who drives when we’re traveling around together, so I take that time it takes to get from point A to point B to hammer out a few hundred words. Even if it’s just a trip to the store, and I’m jotting down ideas and changes on my phone, it still helps.

At night –
This is my favorite time to write. Everyone’s asleep, no one’s asking anything from me, and I can get a lot hammered out.

How do you make time?

Start to notice when you’re wasting it. Did you binge watch an entire season of whatever newest thing came out recently? Do you really think some of those episodes couldn’t have waited while you worked on one chapter?

If you’re really not sure how to make time, start writing an hour by hour list of things you did in a day and find out where there’s some wiggle room. This is what helps me every once in a while when I start to fall off the tracks. Not only does it show where your writing time is, but it also shows how much you spend on things that might not be as important as that book you want to write.

One last thing. Don’t write in a room with a TV, and shut off the internet.

For those of you who know how to work a tv/internet connection without getting distracted, bravo! For the rest of us? TURN IT OFF. Find ten minutes at a minimum and try to write as much as you can with everything shut down. Music is fine, but try to play it without needing the internet.

 

From The Roots of The Family Tree – A writing exercise

It’s always surprising to me when I talk to writers and they know next to nothing about their character’s family history. Not because it’s a bad thing, but because I can’t get through writing my novel if I don’t come up with a few family dynamics for my main characters.

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This sort of thing helps me come up with everything from the character’s name to how they respond in social situations. Here’s a quick checklist I use when creating my character’s family history.

Who were their parental figures?: Not every character has to have a living parent, but everyone, whether they realize it or not, puts someone in that parental role. Who shaped your character’s life as a parent?
Why did their parents name them what they did?: This is by far my favorite way to name characters, because let’s face it, we have no control over what our names are, unless we change them. Which brings me to my next point – Why did they change their birth name if they no longer go by what their parents called them?
What philosophy or religion were they raised under?: While their parents might not have said “We’re raising you to be a stoic!” they very well could’ve kept a “tight upper lip” policy in the house. If you’re uncertain, here’s a huge list of philosophies and religions to research.
What’s their relationship with their siblings?: Or cousins, depending on if they have siblings or not. If they don’t have siblings, why don’t they have siblings, and how do they feel about being an only child?
Is the family a matriachy or a patriarchy?: Who’s more respected and looked up to in the family? A grand/mother or grand/father figure?
Who was the comforter and who was the teacher in the family?: Who did the character go to when they needed support, and who did they go to when they needed to be taught a life lesson?
How important was education, money and politics in the house?: Usually, this will be a basis for how your character acts towards society and the political sciences. While it might have nothing to do with your book, it does help build how they react to the world around them.
Do they still keep in touch with family members today?: Again, if your character doesn’t have any blood relatives, do they keep in touch with people they assigned the “family role”?

How do you build your character? Do you start from the family tree and move on, or do you have a different method?

Let me know if this sheet helps, and feel free to share with others.

Things to Do While Waiting for Agent Responses

I started submitting my first novel, Flightless, to agents this month, and one thing’s been made clear to me. I am NOT a patient person. The people who really know me will be shaking their heads right now, because they know this already, but to everyone who’s learning about me through my blog will quickly find out waiting is not my strong suit.

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To fill the time, I’ve come up with little ways to keep my mind off of the waiting game that is, “Will this agent like my work or not?”. Hopefully this will help anyone else who’s waiting, or at the very least make you feel less alone.
Start my next novel.
With Flightless over with, and three more books planned in the series, I’ve decided to take a little brake from my world of winged people and step into something a little bit darker. Wake the Dead is my next big project, and damn I am doing a lot of research. I’m creating my own magical system that revolves around life and death, and I’m learning all about alchemy, European magical societies, and high magical practices. It’s a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to get the project under way.

Play video games.
I don’t claim to be a “gamer girl” by any means, and really, I could only tell you about a few games I enjoy playing. I pass the time with things like Portal, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Fable, or when I’m feeling nostalgic, Super Mario World. Diving into someone else’s story, in a different medium other than writing, helps me take my mind off work and lets me focus on the important things in life, like killing darkspawn and smashing koopas.

Read a new book, outside my genre.
I’m a fantasy/sci-fi girl at heart, but what do I really love to read? Crime and suspense! Give me a murder scene over a ride through a magical kingdom, or a daring detective over a knight in shining armor any day. Right now, I’m reading Crimson Lake, by Candice Fox and let me tell you, this author doesn’t disappoint. I’ve already breezed through Hades, ordered Eden, and pre-ordered Fall, when she offered to send me Crimson Lake after a book review. Now, all things are on hold while I finish this intense crime novel and her work helps me keep my mind off the “will they, won’t they” of my agent/author relationship.

Get off social media.
I’ll admit it. I’ve followed every agent I’ve queried, or want to query, just to keep up with them. I look into what conferences they’re going to, what online chats they might be participating in, or just generally what they’re looking for in an author. While I’ve been told this is a good strategy, this also means I’m not exactly taking my mind off all those queries floating around. So I started spending time away from social media to keep my mind off things. This has been the most useful technique thus far.

Watch a movie/tv show you know is bad.
My best friend “Alaska” will tell you, I have the worse taste in movies and TV shows. I don’t know what it is about cheesy, over the top action flicks or predictable television, but I find it hilarious and enjoyable. That’s not to say I don’t like “critically acclaimed” works out there, I’m just more likely to watch “Chronicles of Riddick” over “Annie Hall” when I want to be distracted. These sort of things are brain cotton candy for me, and it’s a great way to stop thinking about something serious and just have a good time.

And lastly, clean the house.
This is when I get really desperate, and we’re not just talking about doing dishes, or other piddily chores. No, I’m talking a top to bottom, dust the corners of the ceiling, take things out of closets, and run all the junk to Goodwill that I’ve been meaning to get rid of for months. Cleaning was always my mother’s way of keeping her world organized, and I think I picked this up from her. It gives you that little bit of control when you feel like you don’t have any. It helps, even if it does leave me exhausted by the end of the day.

Looking for other things to do to get your mind off waiting for an agent yes or no?

  • Visit a place you’ve been meaning to go but have been putting off.
  • Join a writing group to hear how other writers wait for the yes or no.
  • Take up another artistic outlet, or learn a craft you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Invite some friends over for a game night.
  • Work out.
  • Play a mindless phone game.
  • Write a letter to a teacher or adult who inspired you to write. Even if you don’t send it, it’ll help remind you of people who encouraged you in your life.
  • Take yourself out on a date. Go to the movies, see a play, eat at a nice place just to try it.

What helps you keep your mind off the waiting game? Are any of these suggestions one you’ve tried or are wanting to try?

Writing Female Characters: Physical Strength vs. Actual Strength

Say it with me.

“A physically strong female character doesn’t automatically mean a well written character.”

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Too many times, when a writer of any genre or media type wants to create a “strong” character, they make them physically strong.  Unfortunately, this is often done to females. We now live in a world where some writers rebelled so violently against the damsel in distress stereotype, we have many female characters that kick ass but who lack any real story or substance.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we can’t have female characters who can physically hold their own, but if the only thing a female character is good for is coming in, beating up everyone and then leaving, she’s no better than the underdeveloped “sexy lamp”.

So how do you write a strong female character?

1. Get rid of the words “strong”. If that’s the only adverb you can use to describe a character, she’s underdeveloped. What else is there to her besides her ability to kick ass? What is she passionate about? What is she skilled at that makes her more than just an action figure? 

2. And now that I mention it, stop saying your character is skilled, talented or extremely amazing at something and show it. I remember reading a YA book in my most recent brush with a writer’s group where the protagonist was supposed to be a great mountain climber who could hold her own on the roughest terrain. The character talked about it enough, but there was one problem, we never saw it. Even when it was a crucial part of a story, she’d only say she could handle it, and then she was never given a chance to shine.

Sure, a female lead can say all day long she’s fantastic, but tell the reader what she’s good at when you can show them? Let her share her knowledge instead of insisting she has it. Talk is cheap and if your character does nothing but brag, she loses her credibility. 

3. Create characters who can’t physically kick ass and who have real flaws. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Patricia Brigg’s work, and in her Alpha and Omega series, the protagonist Anna spends less time relying on her ability to beat someone up and more on her gift of creating peace. She starts out as a quiet, scared little thing and grows into an emotional rock for not only her family, but for herself. She’s the only one who can stand up to even the most bad asses of men all because she’s comfortable with who she is as a person. 

We need more characters like this. We need characters that don’t say to the female audience, “You’re only strong if you can punch someone’s teeth in”. If a character is a great mother, we should celebrate that. If a protagonist is an introvert, we shouldn’t try to fix her. She doesn’t have to be physically strong or violent to be well written. Even if you’re writing a thriller, a superhero novel, or something where a female does need to be physically strong, that shouldn’t be the one thing that defines her. 

The world could use less female characters who are only put in place for kicking ass, and more female characters that are developed and hold their own in any situation.

What female characters do you feel like meet this standard? Which one showed you that it doesn’t take physical strength to be a strong person?

Also, if you’ve written a novel with a female character who’s more than just a one trick pony, lay it on me. I’m always looking for a new read to add to my pile.

Why Bad Reviews Are Actually Great

It’s every writer’s worst nightmare. Or really any artist’s. You put weeks of work, maybe even months or years, into a creative project. There are long nights, days you forget to eat, and more coffee than any human being should rationally consume, but when that project is finally done, it’s not just a book, or a song, or a painting. It’s YOU.

And then the wake up call comes. Reviews come in and the world absolutely hates it.

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It’s hard hearing a negative review. People telling you something you put all that time and effort into, is bad can hurt. But let me tell you, bad reviews are a good thing.

Before you close the page for thinking I’m crazy, hear me out.

When you get a bad review, or even a hundred bad reviews, there’s only one place you can go from there. Up. Well, you could stop creating art all together, but then the only person you’re hurting is yourself. Instead of looking at negative feedback as an attack, see it as you’re starting at square one, and now all you have to do is create something better than the first piece of art you put out to the world.

Still getting bad reviews after your tenth submission? Maybe it’s time to learn from that feedback. Now, I will say learning from trolls is going to be near impossible, but you can learn from the negative feedback you get from people who are giving constructive criticism. If you keep doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting people to feel differently about your work, the only person you have to blame is yourself. Take a step back, hear what they’re saying, and learn from your mistakes.

And lastly, negative feedback keeps you humble and teaches you how you handle rejection from your audience. When you talk to authors who are on their third or fourth book, they’ll all tell you the same thing. You can’t please everyone 100% of the time. You can, however, learn how to overcome the insecurities that piggyback on artists from every field. When you see that negative review, acknowledge that it hurts, but instead of giving up, move on. Know that person isn’t in the demographic you’re writing for and find a different audience.

I know it’s easier to say this than to do it, but trust me. The minute you learn how to handle rejection from the audience, the more you’ll be able to tap into a creative part of yourself that isn’t afraid of what others will think.

 

How do you handle rejection when it comes to your artform? What keeps you going when you get a negative review?

Author Interview #7 – Alexandra Badita

My favorite part about these author interviews are getting to speak with and learn about writers from all genres and walks of life. This week, I have Alexandra Badita, a woman who’s actively trying to make the world a better place through her blogs and writings.

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Q. I like to start with a quick introduction. Tell the audience a little bit about what your life is like outside your writing life. 

A. My day to day job is juggling tasks and deadlines as project manager in a digital marketing agency. Writing though keeps my evenings and weekends busy, together with my other passions that I try to squeeze in my schedule, such as salsa dancing, learning to play the piano, reading, getting better at cooking, volunteering in a bookstore and discovering my current city of adoption, London.

 

Q. In your blog, you talk about how you came up with the word “Impressivity”, and that people should “make impressions wherever they go”. How do you live your life by this mantra, and what advice can you give to live a more impressioned life?

A. When I thought about this word, I pictured all the small things from our daily routine that can make an impression on us, like spotting a blossom tree on the way to the office or smelling the fresh croissants from the street bakery, as well as big things that make a bigger impact. Impressivity also incorporates the meaning of each of us making an impression on the world surrounding us, as the beautiful and unique individuals that we are. I just believe we all need to collect daily impressions and also leave an impression  whenever we step into a room and there is no secret recipe for all this, just take the time to observe and be observed.

 

Q. I was taken by your website, “The Guy That”. What inspired you to create a website to help people through their past relationships?

A. Writing has always been the best way for me to get over strong emotional episodes in my life. Besides, I figured there are so many things – crazy, beautiful, interesting things –  happening in my life on that front, that I might as well share my stories and maybe other women will learn from my mistakes. When I hit the depression stage a couple of years back, I went to therapy for a while and the best cure was the writing exercise that my therapist recommended. Putting feelings onto paper is one of the most useful tools to cope with extreme emotions. That combined with my passion for writing about relationships lead to “The Guy That” idea.

 

Q. As you help people through relationships, give advice on everything from life, to fashion, to your life in London, who’s there for you the most when you need advice?

A. I obviously turn to my friends for pieces of advice and to my parents, but  there are situations when I choose to stay introvert and debate it with myself rather than put it on someone else’s account.

Q. What would you recommend for people who want to tell their stories but are too nervous or don’t know where to start?

A. Write it, then burn the paper. If it’s the fear to share your thoughts, this will come with time and confidence and understanding that one must not be ashamed of their feelings. But the most important step is to write your feelings down, your thoughts and everything that seems unnatural to be spoken out loud. Then rip it out or burn it. But once the first wave of relief washes over you, writing will soon be the best reflection of the stories that you keep inside and deserve to be shared.

 

Q. In the “How To” portion of your blog, you have a great list of “How to make time for things that really matter”.  Do you find it easy to take your own advice, or is that something you have to work on?

A. It’s definitely not easy to juggle with a day job, a side hustle, hobbies and an active social life. And I know most of the people manage it. But my 3-step secret to be able to keep up with the schedule is to ‘List, Prioritize, Commit’. I hear so many of my friends finding excuses  that they don’t have time to accomplish their goals. But it’s all about time management. Not having time is my own fault for not being able to prioritize. Finding excuses won’t make the day longer or put more minutes in an hour. We make the choice. We commit to what is important to us.

 

Q. You do a lot of traveling, and have pictures of yourself in places all over the globe. Where’s one place in particular that you are the most inspired as a writer?

A. The best places where inspiration hits me happen to be by the water – whether it’s at the seaside, on the quiet shore of Edinburgh’s beach, along the Seine river in Paris or just by the Thames in my London neighborhood. Water always calms me down, lets my thoughts clear away and gives me a sense of clarity.

 

2326098Q. What book would you say has made the most lasting impression in your life?

A. The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky was one of
the life-changing books that gave me a new perspective into the abstract concept of happiness. After my panic attack and coming close to depression, I became more and more interested in this whole happiness pursuit and reading this book has opened so many windows of my understanding.

 

Q. What have you found to be the most rewarding part about your writing?

A. Writing has always helped me in the soul-healing process, but beyond the personal benefit, the best rewards are the pieces of feedback from my blogs’ readers who find meaning and useful lessons in what they read.

 

Q. Like many writers, finding inspiration can be difficult and often times an uphill battle. How do you deal with writer’s block when working on your blog, or is it something you don’t believe in, in the first place.

A. I wish this was just a myth, but I’ve experienced writer’s block to the extreme decision of taking a break from writing. After going through an attempt to a relationship that dropped my self-esteem level and drained my whole energy, I just couldn’t get myself together to write down the experience. Whenever I’d sit down in front of the computer, I would stare at the blank Word document trying to dive into my thoughts but I was too angry with myself for having allowed  my inner balance to be shaken again. It was too painful to accept having been offended to such an extent that I considered myself guilty. I had to deal with all the demons first, then I went by myself on a trip to Paris to reflect and reach my healing point and only then I started to write again.

 

Q. Are you working on making your blog or website into a book any time soon?

A. My plan for this year includes writing a book about – what else? –  writing. People need to be encouraged to find their way into this beautiful world of healing through writing and I believe that there is a writer in all of us.

 

Q. On top of giving advice, you also do movie reviews and talk about current films that are popular in today’s culture. What do you think makes for a good movie, and what type of movie would you like to see more of?

A. As far as I am concerned, a good movie has to connect with myself and reflect a realistic way of seeing life. I am not a fan of SF or action movies, although I do appreciate their entertainment value. But I am more intrigued by movies that question real life aspects like Richard Linklater’s trilogy of the Befores (“Before Sunrise”, “Before Sunset”, “Before Midnight”) or Woody Allen’s films.

 

Q. What is your favorite part of living in London?

A. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of big cities. But there is always something to do here: if you want to be entertained, you just look up plays, shows, the newest bar, or if you want to take a long walk, you just get comfortable shoes and head to one of the parks or along the river. I am lucky to live in a beautiful neighborhood and I rarely feel the need to indulge in the hustle and bustle of the city.

 

51j10qkqfsL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Q. Let’s say you’re snowed in for a few days, and you only have five books in your whole house to keep you busy. Which five books are they?

A. “Indian Love poems” – I just can’t get enough of reading them, there is a special way of putting love into words in the Indian culture; “Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now” by Maya Angelou – so many great lessons and insights on feminism, racism and much more; “The How of happiness”; “A Tale of Love and Darkness” by Amos Oz – the writing was really impressive and I’d love to re-read it, “The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo” by Amy Schumer – she’s funny and witty, curious to see how she puts it in writing.

 

Q. Your goals for 2017 was to push yourself out of your comfort zone. How have you been reaching for this goal, and what do you have planned to help you achieve this in the future?

A. Although it’s only been less than half a year since my New Year’s Resolutions, I have to proudly admit I already took a couple of steps that were the most frightening to me. One was my trip to India in March, which included so many firsts ( first long flight, first trip to Asia, first time applying for a visa and so on). But I am so happy I did it and now my travel planning is no longer limited to Europe, I can be more confident when thinking about future destinations. Another big step outside of my comfort zone was launching “The Guy That”, after two years of playing with the idea of this project and I am excited to plan its evolution into more and more challenging tasks. It’s the only way to succeed.

 

Q. Your fashion photos and personal style looks like it came straight off the runway! If you could sit down to brunch with any fashion icon, past or present, who would it be and why?

A. Fashion is for me more of an esthetic way of playing with impressions. Dress to impress, right? There are many icons along the history who made daring steps in the evolution of this art, but if I could sit down and talk fashion, I would do it with Annie Leibovitz, one of my favorite fashion and portrait photographers. I’m sure she’s seen so much style and beauty in her photo shoots that her stories must be fascinating.

 

Q. Lastly, are there any big projects coming up on your horizon that you’d like to promote, or talk about?

A. Many ideas are lined up on my agenda and it may be premature to talk about them, but I would like to see my websites helping as many people through live workshops and online courses and obviously through the upcoming book that will be full of tips and valuable advice for healing through writing.

 

Want to know more about Alexandra and her projects? Check out the links below!

34b98e6Website: www.theguythat.com
Blog: www.impressivity.net
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Impressivity_
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/impressivity/ & https://www.facebook.com/theguythat/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/impressivity_by_alexandra & https://www.instagram.com/the_guy_that/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/impressivity/ & https://www.pinterest.com/theguythat/
G+: https://www.google.com/+ImpressivityNetbyAlexandra

 

 

If I Were a Character… – A writing exercise

There are little things about characters that make them more real to both the author and the audience. Birthmarks, scars, and little quirks are all things that contribute to who that character is and how they act in a story.

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Victoria Griffin created a list back on April 10th, 2016 to pinpoint the things about herself that made HER a character. Check out what would make her stand out on a page here, but in the meantime, I figured I’d jump on board and play along with my own personal version of the game.

What makes me a character….

  • I have a scar on the left side of my head from not wearing a helmet on a bike ride to work. I had to get twelve staples and it still aches sometimes.
  • I have a bad habit of biting my cuticles till they bleed when I’m very nervous.
  • Half my head is shaved, the other half is almost to the middle of my back, but when I’m working, it’s always thrown up in a bun.
  • My clothes always have at least five strands of dog hair on them.
  • I rely on my stage acting knowledge to come off as more confident than I really feel.
  • I whistle way more than is probably socially acceptable.
  • There’s usually something odd in my pocket (worry stone, tiny Ganesha, a nail or screw from a project, a shell I thought was cool, etc.)
  • I’m almost always wearing jeans and flip flops, if the weather permits.

 

How about you? What makes you a character, and how can you pick out little things to make your MC unique? Not a writer? What little things do some of your favorite characters do, have or say that makes them unique?

My Reading Pet Peeves – How not to annoy your audience

Much like Aziz Ansari’s character, Tom, in Parks and Recreation, I have some “Oh No No’s”. But unlike Tom Haverford, my Oh No No’s don’t extend to my husband. They do, however, decide my relationship status with a book.

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Now these are just my personal opinions. If you do any of the following it just means I’m not your target audience.

This is just why I stop reading books.

1. The names of characters

When picking the name of your characters, a lot of things should be taken into account. Setting, family history, genre, and who your character’s parents were are all viable ways to name a character. Fantasy settings tend to have more out there names, and that’s acceptable. The romance genre can get a little corny, but we’ve all come to expect that by now. So what’s the annoying part of names? The cheesy names for no reason, the naming a character who sacrifices themselves after Jesus, or the blatant “character stereotype” names. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read someone’s work where they have a girl named “Raven”, who’s a dark, brooding girl, with a dark past, and a dark future, and she’s just dark. Or how many Astras, Stellas, or Stars are quirky, “spacey” girls. When naming is done correctly, an author can shape a character and make a name fit into the narrative, but when names are just slapped on without any rhyme or reason, I say “Oh No No”, and close the book.

And it’s not just me who’s noticed this. Check out Cracked’s video “4 Bizarre Rules for Naming Fictional Characters

2. Instant character changes

I love character development. As a writer who focuses more on character driven stories than plot driven, when I find another author who has the same drive to create a well developed protagonist/antagonist, I will cherish that book for the rest of my life (as I have with Good Omens. Go find it and read it). When that development is rushed, however, I feel cheated. The mousy girl who magically becomes a sword wielding, viking warrior, the asshole guy who all the sudden has a heart of gold, the cruel villain who suddenly becomes kind, I’ve seen it too many times to count, and I can’t stand it. Now if the character grows into that role, I can accept it, but short of mind control or hypnotism, a character shouldn’t spontaneously turn into a new person in one page.

3. Short cuts/Deus ex Machina endings

This one infuriates me more than any other number on this list, because most of the time it doesn’t happen until I’m already invested in the novel. I agree with the fact that some stories do have to have a little bit of coincident to progress. If a character doesn’t happen to be walking down that one road, they never would find themselves in a story, after all. But when all hope is lost, and there is nothing that can save a character from a fate worse than death, there needs to be a believable way to get out of their problem. Again, usually it’s too late for me to throw out an “Oh No No” card by the time this happens, but it will make me question reading that author again in the future. You see this in Lord of the Rings, with the eagles, but that’s about one of the few exceptions I’ll accept.

4. Killing for the sake of killing

Have you noticed yet that I really love characters? While I enjoy plot, setting and story progression, I get attached to the people who live in between the pages. When a character dies, I’m completely okay with it, so long as it plays a part in the story. When characters die for no reason other than to shock the reader, however, I draw the line. I don’t need my protagonists to have happy endings, and in fact, I love it when they don’t because that makes it more real, but to just die for no other reason than the author wanting to “create chaos” I won’t pick up another book by them again.

5. The “Can Do No Wrong” characters, or their equally useless counter parts, the “So Extremely Dark and Edgy”

These are the perfect characters. The flawless, often times “inexplicably alluring” men and women who for some reason, are amazing. They look amazing, they sound amazing, they can sing, and dance and juggle chainsaws if they ever put their mind to it. And then there’s the anti perfect characters.  These are the ones who are so badass that if anyone even looks at them wrong, they’ll kick them into the ground, and everyone will be okay with this. Everyone in the novel loves these characters. Every man and woman wants to sleep with them and or be them, and chances are the antagonist only hates them because they’re jealous.

But that’s all there is to them. They never develop past how perfect, or imperfect they are, and the story sounds bland because of it. Most of the time, these beautiful bastards are abused in some way, either by bullies, their families, or by the antagonist themselves, but it won’t have any point to the story other than just being something to make that character all the more edgier.

When this character type marches onto the first few pages, I say Oh No and keep walking.

What are your Oh No No’s? Have anything that makes you toss a book into the library donation box? Let me hear it!

My Love/Hate Relationship with Editing

I hate editing. I really do. When you’ve got other ideas chomping at the bit to get on the page the last thing you want to do is spend ANOTHER round of rewrites on your current project.

That being said, it has to be done. Putting out unedited work for me means that I’m not taking pride in my writing. But when do you call it quits? When is enough enough?

Here’s my method.

After finishing a first draft, either by hand or on the computer and no matter the length, I let myself do 3 rounds of edits. The first one, I look for character inconsistencies, the second, story hiccups, and lastly, I do grammar and spelling. Then I pass it on to my beta readers. Depending on the size of the work, I’ll give it to one to three people for a read over, and after that, I allow myself one more round of edits before I call it a day.

Why do I do it this way?

I’m a nit picker with bad grammar. If I don’t limit myself to four edits, I spend more time worrying about if a project sounds good or not, than I allow myself to enjoy the writing.

Not only that, but writers have a habit of working a novel or story into the ground, and I’m no exception to this. No matter how many times I rewrite a piece, there’s always another way it can be said, another flaw I can fix, another word I can cut. After awhile, it becomes redundant.

So how do you edit your work? What’s your method to make your novel ready for the public? Comment below and let me know.