Important things to consider with your OCs:
- How they would react upon accidentally walking into a glass door
- Their reaction to having their name spelt wrong on a Starbucks drink
- What kind of vines they would make
- Their reaction to your favourite character
- How they would play The Sims
- What their finishing move would be
Word Tracking Spreadsheets - These sheets also have sections for character and plot information.
FIRST OF ALL, THE BASICS.
- What is NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriMo - or National Novel Writing Month - is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. (x)
- Why should I participate in NaNoWriMo? First and foremost because it’s fun! Maybe you’ve considered writing a novel in the past, but have never gotten around to it, or perhaps you have a fantastic idea or a great character but aren’t quite sure what to do with them. Here’s your chance! Grab it with both hands and hold on tight because this writing ride is a whirlwind.
- During October and November the official forums come alive with thousands of writers brimming with amazing thoughts and insights, and there is a real sense of creative community. What better chance would you have to vent and brainstorm and cultivate your collection of ideas?
- NaNoWriMo values enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, and is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. (x)
So you’ve decided you’re going to do it — you’re going to participate, you’re going to try your very best to write those 50,000 words… what next? How do you prepare for such a challenge? Well, here are some handy tips and links to guide you on your way:
INSPIRATION & BRAINSTORMING.
- Every novel begins with an idea, even something as simple as a single word. Try jotting down a few. Soon you’ll start to notice common reoccurrences in the types of words you choose.
- Peruse places like Tumblr, DeviantArt and Pinterest. Find things that catch your eye and save them.
- Go out into the world, or lose yourself in a fictional one. Take notice of details, quirks, everything that’s layered together to create a rich environment. Pull inspiration from what you see or read and translate it into something all your own.
- Suzanne Collins was switching back and forth between Survivor and the news when she thought of the Hunger Games, J.K Rowling was on a train when Harry Potter and his story wandered into her head — it’s amazing how inspiration can just pop out of nowhere when given the chance. Let yourself daydream, and ponder and research to your heart’s content.
- Get a large piece of paper and pretend like you’re in grade five all over again — write your number 1 idea in the center and branch off from it with other thoughts, plot points, characters, details et cetera.
- Alternatively you could buy a bunch of post-it notes in varying colours and clear a space where you can stick them. Assign a colour for each of the following: plot points, characters, relationships, details, conflicts, resolutions. You could also use coloured card or plain paper + coloured pens/pencils.
- Spend a day or two focusing solely on your main character. Get to know them. Ask yourself how they would react to certain situations, what they like, what they dislike, why they do or don’t. Give them flaws, quirks, a layered personality.
Here are some handy links that may also help:
SETTLING ON AN IDEA.
Say you’ve just spent ages following the advice above, but now you’ve found yourself with more than one great idea, how do you choose? Ask yourself:
- What sparks the most excitement?
- What interests you more?
- If both your ideas were turned into fully fleshed out novels and you saw them on a shelf in a store, which would you be more likely to want to read?
- Which one would you be the most upset about not getting the chance to write?
There is no one single, set way to outline your novel. It’s also important to remember that planning is not for everyone; some people like to fly by the seat of their pants and simply go with whatever happens and that’s perfectly okay. But without at least a very basic outline, particularly during NaNoWriMo, you may find yourself incredibly stuck and unsure about a). what happens next or b). how to write yourself out of the situation you’ve found yourself in, which could lead to you falling behind or missing days’ worth of valuable writing time while you try and figure out what to do. How do I go about outlining, you ask? Here are some great links that will help you do so with ease:
- How Do You Plan a Novel?
- How to Create a Plot Outline in Eight Easy Steps
- Outline Your Novel In 30 Minutes
- Preparing to Write A Novel
- Basic Checklist for Your Story
- NaNo Tips & Strategies
RESEARCHING & DETAILS.
So you’ve thought of your idea, you created your characters and have an outline. But you’re writing a novel about elves in a mystical place that doesn’t even exist, or a futuristic world where supernatural creatures and technology have taken over, or perhaps something entirely in the past, and you have no idea how to make it all believable. The NaNoWriMo forums are a fanastic place for your genre and detail needs:
- Reference Desk — researching facts, figures, real world experiences and details.
- Applelation Station — for naming needs
- Character Cafe — for character developement
- Plot Doctoring
- Genre Lounges — for your specific genre needs
If there isn’t already a thread that pertains to your specific needs don’t be afraid to make one! You should definitely also:
- Go to the library and source books that contain the knowledge you need. Don’t be afraid to ask a librarian for their help.
- Use Google, which seems like a rather simple answer but there is so much information out there just waiting to be found.
- Write down the facts that you discover and need and be sure to jot down how they are relevant to your novel.
Your novel is one thing, you are another (though certainly the two get tangled together).
- Look at what you have planned during November and figure out which days you might find it difficult to find free time due to prior commitments and find a place to slot writing in, even if it means you end up writing during breakfast.
- Become acquainted with the official forums and spend some time in the nanowrimo tag here on Tumblr. Get to know your fellow writers!
- Find someone (preferably someone also participating in NaNoWriMo) who you can rant to, share ideas with; someone who you can ask to check in on you and see how you’re going with your writing goal of the day and vice versa.
THINGS TO REMEMBER DURING NANOWRIMO.
- Avoid the temptation of going back and re-reading and editing your work, this is supposed to be a first draft and first drafts are unavoidably messy.
- Take care of yourself. Try and eat properly, get some exercise (during NaNoWriMo that walk to the fridge for writer’s fuel totally counts), hang out with your friends and family, enjoy life.
- Remember that NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun, don’t pressure yourself too much.
- If you’re having trouble reaching the daily word count goal, split it into chunks: write 500 words here, 500 there, another 667 at another point in the day.
- If you find yourself running out of motivation here are some great (if I do say so myself) tips.
- Read some inspirational quotes to keep you going (or get you started).
A PRE-NANO CHALLENGE.
If you’re not too busy getting inspired, brainstorming, planning or any of that good stuff why not give Inktype’s NaNoWriMo preparation challenge a go?
Anonymous said: how could I write the 9 types of intelligence? I'm trying to think of how personify some of them as teenagers (like, besides music, sports etc, the more diificult ones like the understanding of the universe one)
That’s a very interesting concept. It may be difficult to distinguish between, say, the one representing logical-mathematical intelligence and linguistic intelligence (you might be tempted to make them both “nerds” because, well, they represent intelligence), so keep that in mind. Here are some ideas I have for traits for each character.
1. Naturalist Intelligence (nature, living things, natural world, society) - political, argumentative, conditional (“what’s in it for me?”), absorbed in pop culture, compassionate, stands up for what they believe in, not easily swayed, loyal
2. Musical Intelligence - rhythmic, distracted, perfectionistic, sprightly and cheerful, stuck in routine, gets along well with nearly everyone, possibly a bit moody
3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence - loner (happy to be left alone), fast-paced, addictive, reckless, narrow-minded, reliant on first impressions, impatient, balanced, efficient, punctual, caring
4. Existential Intelligence (human existence, deep questions) - absent-minded, brooding, accepting of others, a friend to all, lonely, cynical, intolerant of shallow people, easily annoyed, sees the “big picture” rather than paying attention to detail, forgetful
5. Interpersonal Intelligence (understanding and interacting with others) - social butterfly, shallow, judgmental, lots of friends, talkative, empathic, sympathetic, adaptable, relatable, curious
6. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (not only athletics & sport but also mind-body union) - careful, precise, thinks before they act, a planner, physically fit, vain, aloof
7. Linguistic Intelligence (thinking in words and expressing things verbally) - curious, nosy, talkative, uncomfortable with silence, restless, active, compulsive, can be overwhelming, enthusiastic
8. Intra-personal Intelligence (understanding of oneself and own feelings) - emotional, self-absorbed, self-reliant, critical of others, narrow-minded, independent, determined
9. Spatial Intelligence (mental imagery, imagination, spatial reasoning) - creative, artistic, appreciative, needs “room to breathe”, particular, snobby, imaginative, odd
- The Nine Types of Intelligence by Howard Gardner
60 Awesome Search Engines for Serious Writers
Finding the information you need as a writer shouldn’t be a chore. Luckily, there are plenty of search engines out there that are designed to help you at any stage of the process, from coming up with great ideas to finding a publisher to get your work into print. Both writers still in college and those on their way to professional success will appreciate this list of useful search applications that are great from making writing a little easier and more efficient.
Find other writers, publishers and ways to market your work through these searchable databases and search engines.
- Litscene: Use this search engine to search through thousands of writers and literary projects, and add your own as well.
- Thinkers.net: Get a boost in your creativity with some assistance from this site.
- PoeWar: Whether you need help with your career or your writing, this site is full of great searchable articles.
- Publisher’s Catalogues: Try out this site to search through the catalogs and names of thousands of publishers.
- Edit Red: Through this site you can showcase your own work and search through work by others, as well as find helpful FAQ’s on writing.
- Writersdock: Search through this site for help with your writing, find jobs and join other writers in discussions.
- PoetrySoup: If you want to find some inspirational poetry, this site is a great resource.
- Booksie.com: Here, you can search through a wide range of self-published books.
- One Stop Write Shop: Use this tool to search through the writings of hundreds of other amateur writers.
- Writer’s Cafe: Check out this online writer’s forum to find and share creative works.
- Literary Marketplace: Need to know something about the publishing industry? Use this search tool to find the information you need now.
These helpful tools will help you along in the writing process.
- WriteSearch: This search engine focuses exclusively on sites devoted to reading and writing to deliver its results.
- The Burry Man Writers Center: Find a wealth of writing resources on this searchable site.
- Writing.com: This fully-featured site makes it possible to find information both fun and serious about the craft of writing.
- Purdue OWL: Need a little instruction on your writing? This tool from Purdue University in Lafayette, IN can help.
- Writing Forums: Search through these writing forums to find answers to your writing issues.
Try out these tools to get your writing research done in a snap.
- Google Scholar: With this specialized search engine from Google, you’ll only get reliable, academic results for your searches.
- WorldCat: If you need a book from the library, try out this tool. It’ll search and find the closest location.
- Scirus: Find great scientific articles and publications through this search engine.
- OpenLibrary: If you don’t have time to run to a brick-and-mortar library, this online tool can still help you find books you can use.
- Online Journals Search Engine: Try out this search engine to find free online journal articles.
- All Academic: This search engine focuses on returning highly academic, reliable resources.
- LOC Ask a Librarian: Search through the questions on this site to find helpful answers about the holdings at the Library of Congress.
- Encylcopedia.com: This search engine can help you find basic encyclopedia articles.
- Clusty: If you’re searching for a topic to write on, this search engine with clustered results can help get your creative juices flowing.
- Intute: Here you’ll find a British search engine that delivers carefully chosen results from academia.
- AllExperts: Have a question? Ask the experts on this site or search through the existing answers.
Need to look up a quote or a fact? These search tools make it simple.
- Writer’s Web Search Engine: This search engine is a great place to find reference information on how to write well.
- Bloomsbury Magazine Research Centre: You’ll find numerous resources on publications, authors and more through this search engine.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus: Make sure you’re using words correctly and can come up with alternatives with the help of this tool.
- References.net: Find all the reference material you could ever need through this search engine.
- Quotes.net: If you need a quote, try searching for one by topic or by author on this site.
- Literary Encyclopedia: Look up any famous book or author in this search tool.
- Acronym Finder: Not sure what a particular acronym means? Look it up here.
- Bartleby: Through Bartleby, you can find a wide range of quotes from famous thinkers, writers and celebrities.
- Wikipedia.com: Just about anything and everything you could want to look up is found on this site.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Find all the great philosophers you could want to reference in this online tool.
If you’re focusing on writing in a particular niche, these tools can be a big help.
- PubGene: Those working in sci-fi or medical writing will appreciate this database of genes, biological terms and organisms.
- GoPubMd: You’ll find all kinds of science and medical search results here.
- Jayde: Looking for a business? Try out this search tool.
- Zibb: No matter what kind of business you need to find out more about, this tool will find the information.
- TechWeb: Do a little tech research using this news site and search engine.
- Google Trends: Try out this tool to find out what people are talking about.
- Godchecker: Doing a little work on ancient gods and goddesses? This tool can help you make sure you have your information straight.
- Healia: Find a wide range of health topics and information by using this site.
- Sci-Fi Search: Those working on sci-fi can search through relevant sites to make sure their ideas are original.
Find your own work and inspirational tomes from others by using these search engines.
- Literature Classics: This search tool makes it easy to find the free and famous books you want to look through.
- InLibris: This search engine provides one of the largest directories of literary resources on the web.
- SHARP Web: Using this tool, you can search through the information on the history of reading and publishing.
- AllReaders: See what kind of reviews books you admire got with this search engine.
- BookFinder: No matter what book you’re looking for you’re bound to find it here.
- ReadPrint: Search through this site for access to thousands of free books.
- Google Book Search: Search through the content of thousands upon thousands of books here, some of which is free to use.
- Indie Store Finder: If you want to support the little guy, this tool makes it simple to find an independent bookseller in your neck of the woods.
For web writing, these tools can be a big help.
- Technorati: This site makes it possible to search through millions of blogs for both larger topics and individual posts.
- Google Blog Search: Using this specialized Google search engine, you can search through the content of blogs all over the web.
- Domain Search: Looking for a place to start your own blog? This search tool will let you know what’s out there.
- OpinMind: Try out this blog search tool to find opinion focused blogs.
- IceRocket: Here you’ll find a real-time blog search engine so you’ll get the latest news and posts out there.
- PubSub: This search tool scours sites like Twitter and Friendfeed to find the topics people are talking about most every day.
(Source: , via thewritershelpers)
The Big Bad Guide to Novel Revision
So you’ve completed your first draft, thrown yourself a big party with all of your friends, got black-out drunk and now that you’ve woken up half-naked and covered in whipped cream, you’re wondering what you’re supposed to do next. Well, since you now officially call yourself a writer, you’re already in for the long haul. So, wake up sunshine, it’s time to revise that first draft!
Your first draft is going to be a monster.
(Granted this has edits, but you get the idea.)
It’s going to have a lot of things that need to be changed and cut out entirely. It’s going to have way too many words, sometimes 30-50k more than you’re ever going to need. In order to whip it into shape, you’re going to have to relentlessly hack it up with an axe and then put the pieces back together into a nice, tight story. So how do you manage that?
It’s always best to tackle revision in sections. There are several things that you need to do when revising a novel and it’s easier to handle them when you do what I call a revision pass. In each pass you’re looking for specific things, and I suggest you do three major passes with your draft, one for story, one for characters, and one for grammar. Be sure to do grammar last, as it’s the largest edit and depends on everything else.
On this pass you’ll be looking for inconsistencies and glaring errors in your narrative.
Continuity – Sometimes when we’re writing a draft, we’re too busy spewing ideas onto the page that we forget some basic consistencies of our plot. If your protagonist has been driving a motorcycle in one scene and a page later is now suddenly in a car, that’s not going to make much sense to the reader. I notice in my own writing I’ll sometimes be so invested in a scene that I’ll forget a minor detail, like a character’s eye color, and swap it from green to blue within the span of a few pages. Don’t let these mistakes make it into a final draft as they tend to make your writing look sloppy.
World Building – While you should have figured out everything about your world and how it works before you constructed your draft, sometimes errors involving plausibility still slip in or sometimes you neglected to think of a ramification. World building is is the ultimate game of “what if?” for you as an author and you do need to keep asking yourself that question as you craft your narrative. If you introduce a cool thing and then you don’t explain how that cool thing can not only exist within the context of your world, but what effect it has, then your reader is probably going to become confused or fail to suspend their disbelief. Either way, this is going to cause them to lose interest in your narrative. For a solid example of world building that wasn’t entirely thought out, we can take a look at the recent film Elysium. It had the interesting concept of the super rich leaving Earth and living on a space station with all of the advanced medical technology, but it failed to fully explain how that actually occurred. I wrote a previous article about it that explains the issues in depth.
Information Dumps – This happens in a lot of novels, even published ones, and it’s tiresome to read. Authors tend to do this when trying to explain their story’s world, some complex element of the plot, or a character’s backstory to the reader. The thing is, we don’t need all of this information thrown at us at once, if at all. Only give the reader what they need to know in the immediate moment. Sprinkle the information over a wide range of scenes, give it to the reader in dialogue, show us through actions. If you need to do a backstory, be creative about it. I’ve always been a fan of how J.K. Rowling handled backstory with the pensieve scenes where Harry would dive into people’s memories. If you have an element like magic, or some supernatural power like mind-reading, then feel free to use that to your advantage. The thing to keep in mind with delivering backstory is if you do it in a flashback scene, then the forward momentum of your narrative is going to come to a grinding halt. If you want to keep your plot moving instead of doing a flashback, then try delivering the information in a conversation between characters.
Being Too Vague or Too Obvious – Go over your plot points, your conflicts and make sure that they would make sense to not only you, but to a random person. In real life, the things that people do don’t always make sense or have an acceptable reason. In fiction, they need to. Make sure you have given enough necessary information for your reader to understand what’s going on, and why, without being totally obvious. As a reader, I hate when I can see how the plot will progress from a mile away. This happens a lot of the time because writers tend to utilize overused tropes, like the Chosen One, in their stories. Don’t get me wrong, I love tropes, but even I get tired of seeing the same concepts used constantly. Don’t be afraid to do something different. Surprise your reader. Personally, I’m fond of taking tired concepts and putting a new spin on them. It’s not about what ideas you use, it’s how you use them that’s important.
Description – Description can affect the pacing of your story. How fast or how slow a scene is depends on several things. One of which is where you choose to put your description. A large chunk of description in the middle of a scene will slow it down. Interrupting an action scene with descriptions of a character’s thoughts or surroundings will have the same effect. If you want to maintain a quick pace within a scene, maybe a fight scene, focus on the action and add in little bits of description as the characters move through wherever they’re fighting. Is the scene in a warehouse? Maybe have your character slam into a forklift or some crates? Is it in a restaurant? Maybe have him drop kick his opponent from a table, disturbing the place settings? Even in fast paced scenes you need some description in order for the reader to orient themselves within the narrative. It’s important that they know where the scene is taking place. As for slow scenes, using specific descriptions can set the tone and build tension. Taking a moment to describe how dark and desolate the old mansion is, noting the musty odor, eerie creaks and the resonating whistle of passing wind can be the difference between setting up an effective scene and having one that falls flat.
Scene Chopping – Sometimes a scene isn’t needed. Sometimes it doesn’t add anything to the story and meanders. If you have a scene that doesn’t advance the plot, character development or world building, then it should be removed. If there’s some detail in that scene you still want to incorporate into your story, then find another way to do it.
Show Don’t Tell – Anyone who has ever taken a writing class has had this concept drilled into their heads. It’s the most important part of writing effective stories and probably one of the most difficult. If your character likes to drive fast cars, don’t tell the reader that, show the character driving a fast car at some point in the story. If your character sucks at lying, have him try to lie to another character and then get called out for it. If your antagonist is willing to do whatever it takes to win, show him killing someone at a crucial moment. It takes more space to show something, rather than to just tell it so know that’s it’s okay to tell sometimes. I think it’s acceptable to tell the reader about what they would be able to blatantly notice with their senses if they were actually thrown into a scene. You can tell them sounds, smells, things they might see but don’t blatantly tell them things that they should be meant to infer from action. When it comes to dialogue, it’s sometimes okay to tell when you’re trying to get a specific tone across, especially when introducing a character for the first time. If he speaks in a calm, measured tone all of the time, tell me. If he speaks with an accent, let me know. Readers won’t mind those little details.
On this pass you get to pick apart your characters.
Over or Under Developed – Sometimes, even if you’ve figured out all of your character’s strengths and flaws, new ones will surface over the course of the story. Sometimes, your side characters may outshine your main characters, or sometimes your main characters may not be strong enough. You need to find these scenes and fix them. If a side character is more interesting than your main character, if her struggle is more compelling, then maybe she should have her own story. In that same vein if your main character is too bland, if she has too many flaws or too many strengths, then your reader may have a hard time believing she’s a real person. The same is true if she’s also too well-suited to deal with the conflict or if she has a solution for every problem. Let your characters struggle. Give them situations that are difficult to overcome. Let them think. Your readers will appreciate that.
Believable Actions and Reactions – What your characters do should make sense within the context of both the narrative and their characterization. If they’ve been a kind, loving person for most of your story and suddenly they end up killing someone, then that needs to make sense. Perhaps they did it in self-defense? Or to rescue someone? Were they tricked into it? Are their emotions appropriate? If they’re not, then why? Always think of the why.
Too Much Sitting Around – I ran into this problem drafting once, noticing that when I wanted to exposit it would be in a scene where my characters were sitting around and talking. I ended up changing all of these scenes to ones where the characters did something. It doesn’t have to be something major, they could be walking around a museum, rummaging through the fridge, moving about various rooms inspecting objects; just have them doing something that’s appropriate. You can reveal bits about their character in these kinds of scenes. If your character has OCD, you can have them go around a room and clean or rearrange objects to their liking while having a conversation. Feel free to interrupt the conversation with observations your character makes if it fits. If you want to see how utterly boring it is to have characters sit around and talk or walk around and talk, watch the first three Star Wars movies. There are tons of examples in those. In my experience, the only scenes where sitting around and talking are appropriate are interrogation room scenes, and even those can be done creatively.
Act Your Age – Don’t you just love child characters who act like adults in stories? No? I didn’t think so. It’s important that your character, whatever their age, is believable as being that age. A child simply isn’t going to have as much knowledge as an adult. They also probably won’t care to much about adult issues. Kids have kid problems. They don’t worry about if they’ll have enough money for rent next month, they worry about getting too many green Skittles in their bag because they like the purple Skittles instead. They tend to look at the world from a more innocent point of view, seeing the magic and wonder of new things because they haven’t been jaded by the harsh realities of life. They also seem to believe the unbelievable without trouble. Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is written from the point of view of a child and when I’m reading it, I never feel like I’m seeing that world through the eyes of an adult.
Passive Characters – It’s okay to have side characters who don’t have a major role in your plot. It’s bad when you have a major character, especially your protagonist, written as a passive character. A passive character is one who doesn’t try to move the plot forward on her own. She allows the plot to dictate her actions, not her actions to dictate the plot. She is reactive. She may not have very strong goals or motivations. If you write a passive protagonist, your reader is going to get bored. Make sure she has a point. Give her goals. Give her wants. Give her needs. You want your reader to care about her struggle, to connect with her, so don’t write her as a passive character. Passive doesn’t mean that you can’t have a shy or introverted protagonist. Introverts have goals too!
Point of View – Check for consistency in point of view. This applies to first person and third person, especially if you’re using multiple characters. You want to make sure that each character has a different voice. You don’t want your readers to get confused as to who is telling the story. When using multiple points of view, you want to make sure that every one of them is necessary. If a character doesn’t add some new insight, doesn’t show the reader a new aspect of the tale, then their point of view should probably be cut out.
This pass is to weed out all of the mechanical errors. Structure, word usage and style have all been lumped into this pass.
Sentence Structure –You want to look through scenes and take note of what kinds of sentences you used. Short, brisk sentences can be used to speed up pacing, while longer, more complex sentences tend to slow it down. Varying the structure of sentences in your writing often makes it more interesting for your readers.
Repetition – We’ve all done it. There are some words or phrases that we default to when describing certain things and sometimes we use them more than we should. That awesome, unique description you came up with becomes less amazing when you use it every few pages. I noticed this a lot when I read Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. She always used the phrase “his mouth pressed into a hard line”. It was pretty good the first few times but man, after reading it so much I started to get annoyed by it. Your readers will notice when you repeat words and phrases a lot. And they will not like it.
Dialogue Tags – People are going to argue up and down about dialogue tags and if they’re necessary, so I’m going to chime in on it here. I think that in most cases, the dialogue can and should speak for itself. Let the reader infer how a phrase is being said based on the situation and the physical responses of the character. However, in normal speech there is something called inflection. Inflection is a change in someone’s voice when speaking to convey a certain emotion. Inflection also exists in writing, but sometimes it’s hard to convey from dialogue alone. Sometimes you need a tag to let the reader know how it’s being said. As such, using tags other than ‘said’ should be done only when necessary. Dialogue tags are also important to let the reader know who’s speaking. Should they be used after every piece of dialogue? No. But you should use them the first time when you’re switching to a new speaker and occasionally after that so you don’t confuse your reader. I hate when I’m reading a book and the author has used a lot of naked pieces of dialogue. I tend to lose track of who’s speaking. You never want your reader to have to hunt to find what characters said what in a conversation.
Passive vs. Active Voice – When you write fiction, you want to do it in an active voice. This is completely different than passive and active characters. Active voice is when the subject of the sentence performs the action. For example: The boy ate the fish. Passive voice is when the subject receives the action. For example: The fish was eaten by the boy. The best way to determine the difference between a sentence written in passive or active voice is to look for the “by” phrase. More examples.
The Right Words – You can often trim your sentences, and shave tens of thousands of words off your manuscript by modifying the words you use. Sometimes a single word can do the same job that a few can. For instance “taking note of” can be shortened to “noting.” In the same vein, you don’t want to use words that are overcomplicated or have archaic meanings. The thesaurus is good when you’re stuck on a word, but don’t pick something that the average person isn’t going to recognize. Using big words does not make you sound smart, it makes you sound arrogant and illuminates the flaws in your own vocabulary. However, if you’re writing a character who has a high level of intelligence or is very formal, than they may use those kinds of words in their active vocabulary. Also, be sure to check the usage of commonly confused words like affect and effect.
Simple Mechanics – This covers just about everything else: punctuation, spelling, capitalization, etc. Just because other authors have gotten away with breaking certain rules of grammar, doesn’t mean you can. If you intend to submit your work to an agent or publisher, you shouldn’t even think about it. Buy a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk &White, crack open that Chicago Manual of Style (a lot of publishers use this) and buckle down. You have a lot of work to do.
You need this. No matter what you’re doing in writing, you need this like you need to breathe. Getting another opinion, or five, on your work is the most important part of the revision process. You can find beta readers or hire a developmental editor. Whatever method you choose, you can never skip this part of the revision process. Feedback from people who know what they’re doing will open your eyes when it comes to your story.
In my case, I ended up changing my protagonist, some character names and points of view for scenes as well as addressing a metric fuck-ton of other issues I never noticed. When you’re so focused on writing a story, when you know everything that’s already happened and what’s going to happen, it’s sometimes hard to realize that you’ve made a mistake. I wrote a few articles about giving and receiving feedback before:
So there are two main ways to handle revision.
- On the computer
- On paper and then transferring it to the computer
I generally draft on the computer and revise on paper. I like to revise on paper because I can draw all over my work. I can underline things, cross things out, draw arrows going every which way and write notes in the margins. There are some programs that let you do this, but I prefer the organic pen to paper feel when I’m giving my draft the axe.
If you want some programs for writing, formatting and editing:
If you guys have any more programs you’d like to add to the list, let me know.