Your Novel’s Details

by Carole Brown

elephant forget free

Have you ever read a book that has the details wrong? And I’m not just talking about historical details, but mundane details that you didn’t catch when writing–even editing–your manuscript. Examples:

  • You wrote that an event happened on Wednesday, but a couple chapters later, on that same Wednesday, you wrote a totally, and unusable, event happening at the same time?
  • Or what about forgetting to finish a subplot detail by not following through with a satisfactory solution?
  • Did you ever change a name and find out you missed a time or two where he/she’s referred to as the previous name? Ouch!
  • Or start out with the main character’s eyes blue and finish up with a green-eyed protagonist?

 

If you’ve ever read about this happening and don’t want it to happen to you, or you know you’ve missed a few things in your manuscript, then may I suggest a couple ideas:

 1. Choose a paid-for program that works for you. There are different ones that are available that can give you guidance and steer you in the direction needed to keep all your manuscripts details clear and in order.  Depending on the money you want to invest, it can go from inexpensive to very expensive.

To those who like having it all set up for you in advance and have the money to spend, this is the way to go. There are all kinds of apps out there with varying prices. Google or ask other writers to find out what would work best for you.

programs free

Note:

I’ve heard good things about Evernote (basic is free; premium costs a decent price). Use it to keep track of your characters by using tags and keywords: eye and hair colors, photos of possible character look-alikes, clothes, styles, etc., and articles of research that you want to keep and refer to later in your work.

Scrivener: a writing software where you write without worrying about formatting. You also have the ability to use tags and keywords, clip websites, store photos and other research material. It can outline with text or a simulated cork board with index cards. You also have the added benefit of it tracking your daily quota of writing.

 

2.  Create your own “program” where you keep a detailed list of what’s happening, when, where and who.  This is the one I want to focus on today.

checklist free

 

 

 

First:  you’ll need to decide what you’ll use for your Details List: post it notes, whiteboard, index cards, spreadsheet, physical notebook, etc. Use these to help you:

  • Keep track of all characters, including minor characters who may appear only as a mention or very little in your book. List their names, ages, looks, habits, character traits, quirks, relationships (past and present) and anything else you might want to attribute to them and that helps you understand them better. You may not use everything, but it’s valuable for you to determine why and how your character acts the way he/she does.

Example: It’s easier than some realize to forget a minor character’s name, what color of eyes you first used, etc. I changed a minor character’s name in one book and couldn’t remember what it was. Another time, I changed a pretty important character from one position to another, from one name to another, then back again. Details like this are so much easier to remember when you have your handy, detailed lists.

 

character2 free

 

  • Keep track of what happens in each chapter. Some events or thoughts or actions may need follow up in later chapters. This helps you to not miss anything that needs to be visited again.

Example: this saves tons of time when you need to double check something to make sure what you previously wrote vibes with what you’re ready to write (rather than having to scroll through pages trying to find that particular scene).

book chapter free

 

 

  • Keep track of all major scenes in your book. This is a more specific listing that keeps you right in line to where you’re headed. You can follow the scenes and know whether you’ve left out any vital action, thought or words that would help clarify it or make it even more realistic.

Example: Recently, I wrote a scene of which I had that vague sense it wasn’t quite what I wanted. But in the push to finish the book, I went on writing. When the first draft was finished, I realized details weren’t as they should be in that one scene. I went back through and rewrote it twice before I came close to being satisfied with it.

Praise on the Bible

 

  • Keep track of timeline. Obviously, this is a biggie. Writers have to keep track of the time events happen, whether it’s minor or major. Readers are sharp. They can pick up a major error like this easily if they’re detail-oriented. It’s an author’s obligation to make sure their story’s timeline is “time-right.”

Example: Is it on Sunday morning before church or after an evening meal when the bad guy is taken to jail? Sometimes, especially when you switch viewpoints, you can overlap actions and times from various characters, but when it comes to certain actions or the same character, you have to consider that he just might not be able to scale Mount Everest the same time he’s eating luncheon with his girlfriend. Keep it straight with your list!

timeline free

 

  • Keep track of your plot.  Make sure you’re headed in the right direction. There will be changes and sidelines that create an even better story, but you want to remember that by keeping track of your plot, it will help keep you in line for a satisfactory ending. Every line, every scene, every chapter should lead to the ending of your plot.

Example:  In a couple of my books, I realized, the closer I got to the end, that the bad guy wasn’t the one I’d planned for when I first commenced writing the book. Because I kept track of my plot–which didn’t change–changing the character worked fine.

20171016_104443[1]

 

There are many other things that can be added to your lists, but the main thing is, keep track, however you decide to do it. I like simple and easy, so going my own way (preparing my own lists–usually with physical notebooks or cards) works for me.

However you decide to go, I think you’ll find this a great idea. Many times writers want to write and not be bothered or “distracted” with lists and such. But I encourage you to give it a try. I had the same mentality once I seriously began writing novels. It didn’t take long for me to realize I needed help…and lists was the way to go.

Questions? Ask. If I know the answer, I’ll be glad to respond. If I don’t I’ll try to find the answer. Best to you as you work on your manuscript!

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You’re Saying it All Wrong!

by Carole Brownmonkey-474147__340

I ran across this list the other day and checked it out to see if I was guilty of any. What do you think? Are you guilty?

Have fun reading it!

  1. Nip it in the butt or Nip it in the bud?
  2. I could care less or I couldn’t care less?
  3. One in the same or One and the same?
  4. You’ve got another thing coming or You’ve got another think coming?
  5. Each one worse than the next or Each one worse than the last?
  6. On accident or By accident?
  7. Statue of limitations or Statute of limitations?
  8. For all intensive purposes or For all intents and purposes?
  9. He did good or He did well.
  10. Extract revenge or Exact revenge?
  11. Old timer’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease?
  12. I’m giving you lead way or I’m giving you leeway?
  13. Aks or Ask?
  14. What’s you guyses opinion or What’s your opinion, guys?
  15. Expresso or Espresso?
  16. Momento or Memento?
  17. Irregardless or Regardless?
  18. Sorta or Sort or?
  19. Conversating or Conversing?
  20. Scotch free and Scott free or Scot free?
  21. I made a complete 360 degree change in my life or I made a complete 180 degree change in my life?
  22. Curl up in the feeble position or Curl up in the fetal position?
  23. Phase or Faze?
  24. Hone in or Home in?
  25. emoji whatever freeBrother in laws or Brothers in law?

 

There you have it. Now, ‘fess up! Are you guilty of any of these?

 

10 Tips for Using Critiques to Improve Your Novel

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Many writers of fiction wonder if they should have critique partners. Critiques can cause beginning writers problems, but they can also be helpful if they’re used right. Even the most experienced authors can benefit from a critique of their work, but bad critiques or using them in the wrong way can become your worst nightmare. Here are 10 tips help you benefit from critiques.

Don’t get a critique too early. Finish your first draft before you even consider getting a critique. In fact, you should write your first draft before you ever show it to someone else. There are some reasons for this. In the first draft, you are working out the story on paper. You don’t need someone telling you they don’t believe your characterizations or where your plot is going. You work those out as you discover your story. The novel evolves as you write it, and if you share it too soon, it will no longer become the story you have because other people’s opinions will affect the way the story evolves.

You can get help brainstorming during the first draft. Brainstorming is different than critiquing. When you are struggling with a plot point or have written your story into a corner, brainstorming can help. Remember that brainstorming consists of getting a lot of ideas about a certain plot plot. It doesn’t discuss how to write the novel or cover more than one plot point. Once you get a variety of ideas, one of them might spark a totally different idea to lead your story in the right direction.

Edit your own first draft. After you finish your first draft, put it in a drawer and ignore it for at least a couple of weeks. This will help your objectivity and make it easier to edit. Now do your own editing. You’ll learn your craft by laboring over your first and second drafts working them to become great. A book I recommend for this stage of the process is Self Editing for Fiction Writers. There are also a number of editing checklists free online. Do the hard work. Don’t expect others to do it for you.

Find critique partners. After you’re sure you’ve edited and rewritten the best you can, go ahead and show the story to a few people who love the genre of fiction you write. You’ll want different people in the mix. If you know a grammar expert, definitely recruit that person as one of your best resources. Also, find a couple of people who love to read but don’t necessarily write to point out where characters or plots seem unbelievable or where the reader loses interest. Last, find a couple of writers well versed in the craft who understand your voice and style of writing.

Be careful who critiques your novel. I’ve lived through a number of horror stories in my early days of writing because I chose the wrong critique partners. Once I had a group of critique partners who wrote contemporary category romance. I write intense historical fiction. It didn’t work out well. Another time, I chose a novice who though she knew everything about writing. She kept wanting me to phonetically spell out all my accents. When I wouldn’t do it, she almost had me in tears. Later, after I’d studied the craft more, I found out I was the one doing it the right way. Many times finding a good group of critiquers is trial and error. Keep working at it until you find the team that helps you the most.

Don’t Get Discouraged. When you get your critiques, don’t be discouraged by varying opinions. Remember they are opinions. Also, after you read a critique, don’t change anything right away. Let the critique set a day or two to digest the information and help you look at it in a fresh way. Sometimes a critique will be spot on, but it stings so much, we can’t see it at first. Other times, the critique partner is adding too much of her own style and would ruin your voice if you took the advise. You are the expert on your novel.

If there is something you struggle with, inform your critique partners to look for it. You may have a difficulty with setting or you’re not sure the character motivation is right. Tell your critique partners, and they may be able to help you in those areas.

Don’t let a critique partner change your voice. Take everything critique partners say into consideration, but don’t let them change you voice or your story to suit them. At some point, you may need to back away from critiques to make sure you’re writing the story your way, or you may need to find different critique partners. Do what you need to do to maintain the integrity of your story.

Get different kinds of critiques. This is where having different types of critiques helps. Sometimes you will want to tell each person what type of critique you want. Some critiquers will look for holes in plot or character motivations. Others will notice the “rules” for writing and let you know when you’re head hopping or when you haven’t resisted the urge to explain. Some are sticklers for word choice and will alert you when you have worded something clumsily. The last kind of critique you want before you submit your manuscript is a beta read. A beta reader will look for punctuation, spelling errors, repeated words, weak verbs, etc, and will let you know if your character changed eye color or shrug too many times. Even if you don’t get the other critiques, every author needs a beta reader.

 Don’t get too many critiques. More than ten is excessive. You probably don’t even want that many. If you have too many opinions about your work, you might be tempted to second-guess yourself. It’s your story. Always remember that.

New Books on the Block

By Carole Brown

One of the best moments in an author’s life is when a book of theirs releases. And probably one of the top pleasures it gives those who love to encourage, is to share the reward of a new book out from a fellow-author-friend. 

Today I want to share with you some new books that recently released and hope you’re intrigued enough to check them out! Here goes…

coloring-journal

 

Coloring Journal. Author: Sharon A. Lavy.

Why should you buy this book?

  • Throughout history, successful people have kept journals.
  • Writing letters and keeping a diary is an ancient tradition that dates back to 10th century Japan.coloring-journal3

 

  • We now know that journaling has a positive impact on our physical and mental well-being, and modern psychologists contend that regular journaling strengthens the immune cells.
  • Many artistic types swear that three pages a day of free writing by hand boost their creativity.

 

coloring-journal-2

 

  • Couple that with the accepted benefits of coloring for calming stress relief and we recognize the usefulness of providing a combination coloring journal.
  • As you fill the following pages with your thoughts and your unique style of expression, please dwell on the goodness of the creator and His great love for us.

Remember, Sharon has a many Adult Coloring Books for your pleasure and relaxation. Do check them out here: 

Sharon A. Lavy’s Amazon Books

 

* * *

416kruadagl-_uy250_

Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing (Writing to Publish Book 1)

Why should you buy this book? 

  • Do you see yourself as a writer?
  • Is your dream to publish?

Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing helps you create a map you can follow to make your dream come true. The examples, reflective assignments, and challenges walk each reader through the process of constructing a thoughtful and achievable plan. While the handbook offers examples of structure, it is in no way formulaic. The plan you design to be a published author is customized to fit your personality traits, your specific gifts, and your busy life.

Check it out HERE:

Rebecca W. Water’s Amazon Book

THERE you have it! Some books to catch your attention this month! Enjoy.

Lack of Proofreading (Hilarious) Fiascos

By Carole Brown

Hilarious Titles: Doesn’t Anyone Proofread anymore? We all read hilarious topics that make the wrong kind of sense. And it is hard to catch everything–especially on deadlines! But these “take the cake” on hilarity. Enjoy, and remember some writer, somewhere made these mistakes, and take a lesson. Proofread. Then again. Smile.

gun-free
Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter 
(Wow; he’s miraculous!)

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says 
(Da,do you really think so?)

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers 
(Now that’s taking things a bit far!) 

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over 
(Uh, what was that?) 

miner-2 free

Miners Refuse to Work after Death 
(No-good-for-nothing, lazy men!) 

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant 
(See if that works any better than a fair trial!) 

War Dims Hope for Peace 
(I can see where it might have that effect!) 

If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile 
(Ya think?)
thermometer-free
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures 
(Who would have thought!) 

Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide 
(They may be on to something!) 

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges 
(You mean there’s something stronger than duct tape?) 

lightening-2 free
Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge 
(He probably IS the battery charge!) 
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group 
(Weren’t they fat enough?) 

astronaut-free
Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft 
(That’s what he gets for eating those beans!) 

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks 
(Do they taste like chicken?) 

Local High School; Dropouts Cut in Half 
(Chainsaw Massacre all over again!) 
doctor-free
Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors 
(Boy, are those are some tall doctors!)

I’m Not a Brain Surgeon!

The beautiful parsurgery2 freet of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time–unlike, say, a brain surgeon! –Robert Cormier

 

That’s what editing is all about. Here’s how my writing process goes:

  • Come up with an idea, plot, write. I try to get the story down without worrying too much about editing the first time around. I can’t do that totally–I’m always editing, making little corrections: maybe the wrong word was placed in a sentence, or I spelled a word edit freeincorrectly, or I used “????” meaning the thought needed some research or verifying. I might make some editing in the story line.

Once I finally have the first draft completed, I like to give it a few days rest. It gives my brain a chance to refresh from the story. I might work on another one or do some marketing or even an altogether different project. But eventually . . .

  • It’s time to begin some serious editing. I read through the story, making notes as I go. Correct this sentence. Rearrange this scene. Change the wording, etc. I normally end up with multiple pages or corrections, and that’s a good thing. It means I’ve found the majority of the issues that need addressed.

While I’m waiting on my editor to go over my corrections and to make the adjustments needed, I, again, take a few days to relax and breathe fresh air. By the time the pdf reaches me for a second round of editing, I’m ready to go.

  • The third edit is less intense, but just as important. By now, I’ve caught the major mistakes in my novel. I can concentrate on the depth of the story line, look for any flaws in the main plot and also the subplot threads. I can beef up any weak scenes and tighten all the places that might lag in interest for the reader.

Depending on the story, the editor, and the time available, edits can be from three to twenty rounds. Of course, twenty is pushing it a little, but it can happen, especially with a super picky or super good editor. And hopefully, most, if not all, the mistakes have been found and corrected. That’s the nemesis that dogs most authors’ heels–the thought that we might have missed some flaws not caught.

But, unlike the brain surgeon, who must usually get it right that first time, an author does have the leeway of “edits.” But then that’s part of being an author.

Write, edit, market.elsa free

Pretty much sums it all up.

 

Those Pesky Ly Words

Adverbs are words that normally end in an ly and should usually be avoided when possible. I used two ly words in the last sentence; nobody can avoid them all. Many new writers delete all of their ly words but don’t use a stronger verb in its place. The reason to delete ly words is because stronger verbs can replace them. Here’s a list of a few strong verbs you can use to replace your weaker verbs and adverbs.

Walk:

slowly walked – sauntered, strolled, loped, moseyed, wandered, meandered

quickly walked – strode, darted, rushed, treaded, marched, advanced

Look:

angrily looked – glowered, glared

longingly looked – gaped, ogled, stared

quickly looked – glanced

Talk:

loudly talked – shouted, bellowed

softly talked – whispered, mumbled

Sit:

sat slowly – perched, rested, settled

sat quickly or angrily or clumsily – plopped, plodded

Whenever you see an ly word, look up the verb it describes in the thesaurus, and see if you can find a stronger verb to convey the same thing without the adverb.