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Why You Need A Writers Community Like You Need Cake

How do you know if you are a rich writer?

If we are rich writers, we use words like Paula Deen uses butter and cream. We liberally pour out our ideas and our vision into our paragraphs and prose. Maybe we add in sweetness and flavor and texture who we are and what we care about in every book. We sculpt our words together like sugary icing roses along a cake and we present our final, finished projects as grand feasts for the world, allowing our readers to savor each morsel and each portion.  If we are rich writers, the solitary act of creating is a full and satisfying one.

But I’d like to suggest that more satisfaction that comes when we are connected to writer friends who are making their own sweet compositions.

 

You are, indeed, rich, if you have written books by the dozens, won awards, and sold many copies.

But you are richer still if you have close friends who coached you along the way.

Every success, every victory, every instance of #AuthorHappiness is just one tiny blip on this long writing journey, that is, quite honestly, a lonely one, but is magnified when it is shared. And the sad, dark times are so much easier with their comfort.

The rejection letters will come. Let those around us buy us a drink. 

The 1 star reviews will trickle in. Let those around us say, “They just don’t get your brilliance.”

The doors will close. The publishing house will go under. The disappointments are a given if we choose writer as our identity.

Within a group of writers, you have mentors and proteges, you have advice and warnings, you celebrations and sorrows. You can squeeze each others’ hands and say, “it is scary,” but you can do it. Or, “you are good, hang in there” or “this happened to me once!”

 

Writers, as tempting as it is to wrap yourself up in a solitary, lonely world with just your characters and your computer as your companions, please don’t neglect the importance of community. Reach out to other writers. We need you too.

1. Get a Mentor.

In Online Writing Groups, such as Facebook’s 10 Minute Novelists, you can meet people who are little further ahead of you in your writing journey. Ask them questions. Get them to read your stuff. Receive their feedback graciously.

2. Join A Group.

By hanging around writers who have the same goals as you, you will learn a lot about craftsmanship, character development, plot, and setting. Also? Hanging out with other writers is just fun. They rejoice with you when you succeed and buy you drinks when you don’t.

3. Take a Class.

Check out your local library, community college or adult education center for writing classes. Some are even online! By working with an instructor, you will be able to get important feedback and grasp concepts you might not through just educating yourself.  This link has a list of free and not-so-free writing courses!

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4. Be humble and teachable.

No matter how much you’ve written or how many books you’ve sold, there’s always room to improve. And even if you were Pulitzer worthy, you’d still need to know about publishing, marketing, and social media. Be open to learning all you can. Arrogance doesn’t go far in this field.

How do you find other writers?  There are tons of ways! But the easiest is to join my group 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook.

Your writing life will be all the richer for it.


 

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

How to Use Showing vs. Telling Effectively

by Rachelle M. N. Shaw

There are tons of writing blogs and articles out there that offer advice on showing vs. telling. But why is that?

Why is showing so important that it automatically trumps telling? Is it ever okay to use telling? The secret is actually in the combination of the two. When you know how you can use showing in conjunction with telling, you can strengthen your writing and sharpen the structure of your pieces.

What Is Showing?

Showing can be described as an action that is happening at the moment. Even if you are writing in past tense, that definition still applies. Think in terms of watching a movie. Chances are, given the choice, you’d probably opt to watch a movie rather than have a friend recount its events to you. Reading a book is much the same way. Most readers pick up a book wanting to get lost in its story and feel things right alongside the characters. You can achieve that most effectively through the art of showing or describing the events as they unfold. This way, the readers discover things as the characters do.

Why Is Showing Often More Powerful?

The main reason is that we’re already experts at body language at birth. Don’t believe me? The art of showing is ingrained into our minds, even during development in the womb, and it blossoms from there. We’re born knowing the basics of how to show our emotions through body language and how to read others’ body language. It’s not just a means of communication—it’s key to our survival. When a baby cries, its mother is programmed to respond to it by watching for certain cues, like feeding a baby who roots or rocking a baby to sleep when they yawn and rub their eyes. Knowing both how to convey our emotions and how to decipher them is what makes us so good at connecting with people on a deeper, more emotional level. Writers can tap into that ability to create characters that are vivid and realistic, crafting stories that stick with the reader long after they’ve read it.

When Showing Works

Showing typically is best suited for the main narrative of the story, especially during intense scenes and ones where turning points in the plot happen. However, two key places to make sure you’re showing rather than telling are the opening scene and ending scene. While telling sections do serve a purpose and are occasionally the better choice, the majority of readers will connect better with vivid scenes that incorporate frequent imagery, dialogue, and most importantly, emotion.

All that is fine and dandy when you can spot a line that is telling rather than showing, but a lot of us struggle with finding them.

So here are a few tips for identifying and incorporating lines that show:

  1. Think of the scene playing out as a movie, as something happening in the moment. Cameras can’t convey emotion—only actors can. So you’ll have to rely on tone, body language, and interaction with the environment to convey those emotions to your reader in the strongest way possible. Sure, you could just tell them, but which book would you rather read: one that flat-out states the main character is angry or one that shows the main character throwing a chair across the room while veins pop out from his neck?
  2. Eliminate filter words and passive sentences whenever possible. By doing so, your sentences will automatically become more active and draw readers into the scene. That doesn’t mean you can’t have any of these, however. It just means you should use them sparingly and treat them as you would adverbs—too many, and you’re left with fluff. Sometimes you’ll need to use personification to achieve this. For example, instead of saying, “There was a door at the end of the hall,” you can go with, “A door stood at the end of the dimly lit hallway, beckoning him,” for stronger, more active wording.
  3. Strong verbs give your active lines additional spunk! A common problem I run into when editing others’ manuscripts is weak verbs. What do I mean by that? Well, verbs such as walk, run, set, and others that serve their function but don’t incorporate any emotion into the action can be classified as weak. There’s a huge difference between ambling and strutting, just as there is between dropping and slamming. So the next time you find yourself using a weak verb, do a quick search for synonyms and find one that fits the tone and pace of the scene your writing. Just remember that there’s no need to use a bunch of fancy words when a simple one will do. While synonyms can aid you when your mind blanks, they can also become a crutch. Variation in wording isn’t about using challenging terms but rather ones that infuse emotion into the scene.
  4. Sensory details are almost guaranteed to boost the action in your story. Details that clue us into the sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and textures of a scene entice our imaginations and fill them with vivid images that stay with us. They paint such a clear picture of what’s happening in the moment that readers are automatically drawn into the story and connect better with the characters.
  5. Rework any lines with directly stated emotions, teasing them out to use body language that shows them instead. Identify telling lines doesn’t have to be daunting. Apart from the items above, you can hunt for words that are emotions themselves. Generally, tweaking lines with directly stated emotions and replacing them with body language will result in stronger, more compelling imagery. And if you combine that with the above tips, it’ll ensure your scenes and characters burst to life on the page.

When Telling Works

While there are plenty of instances where showing is best suited, there are also exceptions, places where telling will be the stronger option. Showing and telling very much work in unison to paint a clear yet concise picture that readers look for in a great story, but there are key places where telling fits in more naturally than showing.

Examples for when telling works best:

  • When you have backstory that needs to be shared in the context of the current scene without giving too much away
  • During scenes with intense emotions where you need direct information to balance out the drama
  • With high-action scenes to cut down the play-by-play recounting of what’s happening
  • To display thoughts, opinions, and the general viewpoint of the narrator—but only when it’s relevant to the current actions in the plot
  • With details that would be too complicated to show and would bog down the process of moving forward within the scene
  • For a summarization of what’s happened without retelling every event
  • When transitioning from one scene to the next (scene breaks) where detailed action isn’t needed
  • To glaze over necessary, but not crucial, details that are relevant to the current plot

It’s also best incorporated by mixing it with relevant action—and lots of it.

How to Balance the Two

Your primary goal should be to connect readers to the story being told. So if showing is stronger for that part, take advantage of it and bring to life the reader’s senses. If showing keeps the plot from moving forward and slows the reader to the point of boredom, then you’re probably better off telling. However, one thing to keep in mind is that not every scene, thought, or action will need to be included. If a scene doesn’t propel the plot or further develop a character in any way, the best approach is usually to cut it altogether.

Finding that sweet spot for blending both showing and telling takes years of practice, and many of us spend the better part of our writing careers perfecting it.

But with a little research, trial and error, and a good sense of intuition, you can use showing and telling in harmony to create writing that is both enchanting and succinct.

These two styles of writing are meant to complement one another, not compete.


Rachelle M. N. ShawAn avid reader with an incurable need to research everything she comes across, Rachelle is an author of paranormal, horror, and writing craft books as well as the occasional women’s fiction piece. Since scribbling down her first story at the age of eight, her love for language and books has blossomed into a full-time career. She currently works as an independent editor who is passionate about writing in layers and helping authors find their voice. When she’s not busy chasing her kids and two rather persnickety cats, you can catch her blogging, tweeting, or plotting her next series. Her current publications include the first two parts in the young adult paranormal series The Porcelain Souls.

Website: http://rachellemnshaw.com/  Twitter: https://twitter.com/rmnsediting         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rmnsauthor/  

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rachelle-M.-N. Shaw/e/B00X8D3LSY/                                                                                                                                            Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13929660.Rachelle_M_N_Shaw

Tumblr: http://fmtpextended.tumblr.com/

8 Ways to Balance Your Writing Life With Little Kids Around

Is it possible to be a productive writer with little kids in the house?

I started asking myself this question about three years ago when my perfectly organized and time structured writing life disintegrated with the (very welcome) arrival of my daughter.

It took me almost 2 years and a lot of trial and error to figure out the answer.

Yes.

It is possible to find an organized balance between being a writer, running a household and being a parent with kids at home.

I admit, I sometimes still struggle to find a harmonious balance with work life and the ever changing demands of family life, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that has kept my life organized, let me keep writing, run a (mostly) functional household and stay (mostly) sane.

1. Claim a Sacred Writing Time

There is some point during the day, if it’s five minutes or an hour, that you can find to write.

It might mean going to bed a bit later so you can write after everyone else is asleep, or getting up a bit earlier so you can write before everyone wakes up. It might mean writing during your kid’s nap (if you still have that luxury in your house). It might mean giving up TV time in the evening.

Find a time. Claim it. Use it. Ensure everyone in your house knows this is your SACRED writing time, but make sure that you are especially aware that this is writing time so you’d damn well better make the most of it.

2. Write Every Day, Even Just A Bit

Connect with your work every day to keep that part of your brain activated. Just a few minutes will do. Just a few words.

It might seem pointless to just be adding a word or two but this continued connection really does help. It helps you feel like you’re still writing and making measurable progress and it helps to keep your mind in a state of readiness so that at the beginning of the next session, you’re up and ready to go without struggling to get back into the writing groove.

3. Measure Your Progress Against Your Goals

Find a goal within your project. A word count. A number of chapters. A blog posting schedule. Anything.

Every word you write and every sentence you edit takes you a step closer to that goal and there’s no better feeling than seeing those accomplishment points creep closer and closer.

4. Have a Couple of Different Projects Running Simultaneously

This doesn’t work for all writers, and I know a few writers who actively advise doing the opposite. For me, having different projects on the go simultaneously allows me to use different writing times to differing but still maximum effect. I focus best as soon as I wake up, so I’ve made a 5 am writing time for fiction (which is the most valuable thing for me to write).

I use any other sessions I can manage to write non-fiction or work on any edits, and I use any evening time I get to make notes, brainstorm, outline, and research—all of that writing work that requires a different kind of mental work without the structure and deep focus of the actual composition.

5. Don’t Work All the Time

If (when) your kids are preventing you from actually writing, it can be sometimes best to just let it happen.

Accept the gift of having a break from work and let yourself just be in the present activity. Children are masters at this.

You’re going to get back to your sacred writing time soon, so it might be just easier just to wait for that quality time rather than fighting against the reality of interruptions. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a writing session when it’s out of your control.

6. Let Your Kids Give You A Writing Lesson

Hanging out with a little kid is all about playing. Well, there’s typically a fair bit of cleaning and sometimes some crying and yelling in there too, but play time is a big chunk of the deal.

As you’re playing with your little person, look for ways to spark your own creativity. Draw pictures of scenes from your books or just random stuff. Act out plays with toys. Read storybooks and give yourself a lesson in writing for children. Make up rhymes and sing a nonsense verse. Make up your own stories to tell your children. Trust me, your kid isn’t going to notice you’re “working” during all of this super exciting play time.

7. Get Some Help

Not everyone has a support network in place to help look after the kids. If you are fortunate enough to have support, use it. Call in any willing family or friends, put partners or older children to work. If it’s an option, you might also consider a day care or hire a babysitter to give yourself a good quality writing session. Even a half day a week will do wonders for your productivity. The two days a week my kid is in Kindy, I’m an unstoppable word machine.

8. Write For You

Does writing make you happy? Does writing satisfy you in some unique way that nothing else does? Then you need to write.

It’s easy to feel guilty making time for yourself to pursue a goal or a passion and even a job outside the family circle. As if there wasn’t already enough guilt that comes with raising kids!

If writing scratches an itch for you like nothing else can, then it’s a simple necessity. You must write. Your family must let you write.

I always feel like writing makes me happier, it makes me who I am and therefore makes me a better mother, a better wife, a better me. Don’t feel guilty for writing. Ever.

Writing while raising small people is hard, but it’s far from impossible.

Sometimes sentences may need to sit unfinished for a day or two, but those half sentences are a zillion times better than the sentences never started. Those interrupted writing sessions are infinitely more valuable and productive than the writing session you never forced yourself to take. You can be a writer and a full-time parent at the same time. If you let yourself be. 


Kate Krake writes speculative fiction (as K.A. Krake) and non-fiction for writers. Kate is the author of the dark urban fantasy series, Guessing Tales. Kate also blogs about popular culture, health, wellness, and writing. Kate lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, daughter and two beagles. 

www.katekrake.com  www.thewriteturn.com            www.guessingtales.com                                                       https://www.facebook.com/katekrake/                       www.twitter.com/katekrake

What’s Luck Got To Do With It?

“Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

When it comes to our writing careers, does luck have anything to do with our success?

 

Sometimes our mental images are filled with gold-filled pots accompanied by rainbows. Luck often references leprechauns and shamrocks. And this writer, whose birthday is on a lucky March 17, feels lucky when she doesn’t have to celebrate her spring-ish birthday by shoveling snow. (Who am I kidding? I never shovel snow. That’s why I had sons.)

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”

–Benjamin Franklin

There’s cartoon luck, and then there’s real life luck. How much does luck really play in our writing careers? I can say that I have had my share of luck. But in the same breath, I can say that I’ve worked my butt off and that all the good that happened to me came because of my own work. And I’m one of those creatures who believes that my Maker could have something to do with it too.

Is it luck or is it just cause and effect? Do I ever confuse luck with the unexpected? Do I give credit in the right place? Should I?

These are the “luckiest” things that happened to me since I became a writer:

  1. My first traditionally published book opportunity came from  a publisher that sought me out through my blog.
  2. Catholic Digest contacted me about promoting my romantic comedy Falling For Your Madness in December 2014.
  3. In April of 2016, Writer’s Digest named my website and Facebook group one of the Top 101 Websites for Writers.
  4. In September of 2016, Writing magazine bought thousands of copies of my book and included them with copies of their magazines to subscribers and in grocery stores across the UK.

There are probably more, but these are the most significant.

I honestly can’t say if any of these things were the direct result of my hard work or me just being in the right place at the right time. But I do know this: had I sat on my butt and done nothing, then that’s what I would have received.

How do you feel when others look at your success and say, “You’re so lucky!” Is it an insult to say, “they’ve gotten lucky” or, “lucky you?” They may see the fruit of your success and never witnessed your toil. Are they suggesting that all success if just luck? Do they shirk their own responsibility, because of luck? Does this mean that if you remove luck from the equation, and you aren’t successful, then you’d have to own up to the fact you haven’t done your part? Are those who believe only in luck afraid to suggest that they are the ones who should take responsibility for their failures?

Now there are times when “bad luck” appears and it has nothing to do with the hardworking stiff. There’s a drought and the crops fail, the investor runs off with all the money, the publishing house gets sold and the book goes out of print. These events, which are completely out of our control, are no bearing on our character nor our willingness to work hard. At the risk of oversimplifying tragedy, could it be that these are opportunities in disguise? Is there a possibility that sowing the ashes of this tragedy could reap bounty later?

Maybe that’s too much of a stretch for some people. Maybe they’d rather blame their circumstances. Maybe they’d rather look out the window to their bad luck than look in the mirror at what they could possibly fix.

In the arts, the sowing and reaping acts are so unclear.

We’re not sure what we’re supposed to be sowing: we could grow in our skill set — which often means being teachable and learning all we can. We could always say yes to opportunities within our vision. We could try new things and keep trying new things and keep trying new things until something sticks. We could make efforts to meet people and stop viewing connections as a place to sell books.

What is cause and effect for the writer in their career?

The cause is the good habits, the discipline, the plugging at your craft day after day. The effect could be, at the very least, the becoming of a better, stronger writer.

I’ve decided that there really isn’t any such thing as luck, despite my birthday.

The success that’s come to me because of my own hard work (and the grace of God) is satisfying. If it were all luck, I think it would feel emptier.

Make a point to work hard. Try new things. Grow in every way you can.

I’m betting you’ll be pleased with the results.


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Dealing With Repetitive Strain Injuries As a Writer

By Dianna Gunn

When Katherine told me that she was looking for guest posts about productivity for writers, I knew right away what I wanted to talk about: repetitive strain injuries (RSIs).

This includes the infamous carpal tunnel, but it also encompasses a range of other injuries caused by uncomfortable and repetitive motions.

You can get an RSI in just about any part of your body, but today I’m going to talk about RSIs in the wrists.

These injuries are particularly common for writers, especially since many of us also work at a desk for our day jobs. They are also particularly dangerous for writers. Not only can RSIs ruin our productivity, they can also cause or exacerbate depression and anxiety.

My Story

My struggle with RSI began at the tender age of fifteen. I had bronchitis throughout the entire month of November, and a new laptop. This was the perfect recipe for an astronomically high Nanowrimo word count—303,000 and change. It was also the perfect recipe for disaster.

On November 29th I woke up in the middle of the night. My wrist had seized up completely and stabbing pains ran up and down my arm.

I didn’t think much of it. I took some painkillers, and when they kicked in I went back to sleep. My original plan had been to spend November 30th trying to push out another 7K (because 310,000 sounded like a prettier number), but I promised to rest for a few days.

Unfortunately, the pain didn’t go away. After a few weeks, I went to a walk-in clinic. They X-rayed my wrist, told me I hadn’t broken a bone, and sent me on my way.

This experience repeated itself several times. Looking back on it I know there were a couple big reasons why. One is that walk-in clinics don’t like referring people to specialists; they usually save that kind of thing for family doctors, and I didn’t have one. The other reason is that doctors tend to disbelieve young, healthy-looking women who complain about chronic pain.

Eventually, I got a doctor of my own and a referral to a specialist. They prodded my wrists for a couple hours, declared that I had tendonitis, and sent me on my way with a wrist brace.

The brace helped a little, but I didn’t really get better. So they decided I didn’t have tendonitis, and they had to run more tests. The final one involved tiny electric shocks to the nerves in my arm.

All they learned was that I didn’t have carpal tunnel. So I gave up on modern medicine and decided to find my own way.

My Recovery

I had already tried some things on my own here and there, but four years ago I decided to really buckle down. My initial strategy consisted of two primary tactics: daily yoga, wrist braces, and real breaks.

The Yoga

Before I start this section, I need to add the caveat that <b>some forms of yoga can actually cause or exacerbate repetitive strain injuries</b>. If you’re suffering from a repetitive strain injury, you should avoid or at least limit poses that put most of your body weight on your wrists.

But there are yoga moves and other stretches that can alleviate some of the pain and eventually rehabilitate your wrists. Many can even be done at your desk.

I started out with the daily routines listed on my daily yoga.  It took a few tries to actually make these part of my daily routine because I suck at routine in general, but eventually, I got the hang of it. After several months of consistent daily yoga, I only felt pain occasionally instead of every day.

Since then I’ve taken a couple random yoga classes and incorporated some of those moves into my daily routine. I’ll admit, I still suck at routine so some days I don’t do my leg stretches, but I do my wrist stretches every day. On particularly long work days I often do them twice.

The Wrist Braces

The brace (they only gave me one, I don’t know why) from the specialist had helped a little, so I decided to stick with it. I also got a wrist brace for my other arm. For about a year I wore them whenever I wasn’t working. I tried a few different kinds and found that the best ones use memory foam, which provides more comfort and also allows you a slightly wider range of movement.

A good pair of wrist braces can cost as much as $60, but let me tell you, they’re absolutely worth it if you’re struggling with repetitive strain injuries. The expensive ones can even be worn when you’re working.

Now I’m happy to report that I only wear my wrist braces when I’m sleeping, or on my now-rare bad pain days. I can even get away with sleeping without them for a few nights sometimes.

Real Breaks

Here’s a not-so-secret: I’m a bit of a workaholic, and a lot of that is driven by guilt. There is a strong voice in the back of my head that feels guilty whenever I am doing literally anything not directly related to my career.

Repetitive strain injury forced me to take breaks. And not only breaks in between tasks. I also had to take entire days off due to pain.

At first, the guilt was overwhelming. It ate away at my soul, pushing me deep into depression. I hated myself for not constantly producing. Every time I saw the advice to write every day, and I knew I couldn’t, I felt like a failure and a fraud.

Eventually, I realized that the guilt only prevented me from writing when I actually could. It weighed down every aspect of my life, and it had to go.

I haven’t eradicated the guilt monster, but I’ve become good at shutting it down. When it appears, I chase it away with a mantra: if I do not care for myself now, I will not be able to produce later. This is also an important mantra for avoiding mental burnout, one of the biggest things I see writers struggling with.

Gaining Strength

Of course, life without pain is only so useful if your wrists are still flimsy. I managed to reduce the pain, but I had suffered from RSI for so long that carrying a large bag of groceries home could cause a pain spike. To prevent this, I took frequent stops, even though the grocery store was only 15 minutes’ walk from my house. This made grocery shopping a terrible ordeal.

For a while, I just diverted these duties to my fiancé whenever possible, but that couldn’t work forever. And last year, I received the perfect gift to begin my next round of physical therapy—a small copper ball that weighs about two pounds.

I do 20 minutes of ball exercises with each wrist every single day, even if I’m taking the rest of the day off from writing/work/my regular routine. The exercises themselves are a little tough to explain, so let me show you:

This copper ball has completely changed my life. I’m more than just pain free now: I’m gaining strength. I have proper arm muscles for the first time in nine years. A couple weeks ago I realized that I’ll need bigger weights soon.

I have no idea where the copper ball was bought or where you can buy something similar, but I know many people have successfully used stress balls for the same things.

A Note About Dictation

Using dictation technology wasn’t an option for me at my worst because I grew up poor, but it’s become much more affordable in recent years. It’s also become a lot better, especially at things like recognizing accents. If you’re struggling with repetitive strain injury today, I suggest checking out Dragon

The Takeaways

Repetitive strain injury is a major obstacle but it doesn’t have to ruin your writing life. If you take the steps to treat it—whether on your own or with a doctor’s help—you will eventually be able to write to your heart’s content.


Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She blogs about creativity, books, and life at The Dabbler and is currently writing a book called Self Care for Creative People.

How To Develop Your Writing Voice

(Author’s Note: For June, July & August, this blog will be posting on Mondays & Thursdays only!)

A writer’s voice is a complex, hard-to-describe thing.

I think it could be compared to a rich cheese, a well-crafted symphony or a good wine.

The complexities of each of these come from a variety of sources —  Cheese, music, and wine are complicated. Voice is complicated too. 

How To Develop Your Writing Voice by Katharine Grubb

A writer’s voice can be influenced by many different things. 

Each of my children could re-tell me the story of The Three Pigs, but they would all do it differently. The differences between their interpretations will lot to do with their individuality. The distinction between the different presentations would be their voice.

So how does our voice develop? I’d like to suggest beginning novelists tinker with influences. Show me a writer with a rich voice, and I’ll show your someone who has read great books most of their life. A writer with strong voice studies voice either consciously or subconsciously, and this is reflected in the words they put down. You can also find some practical tips here. 

How do you find your writer’s voice?

 A writer with a strong voice will be one who writes often. He is at ease with a variety of words. He may understand the use of grammar rules and manipulates the rules to serve his purpose.

To find you voice, you must have three things: Exposure to beautiful words, regular writing practice, and time.  There is no short cut.

Exposure to beautiful words:  You need to read. Read as many books as you can. Read your genre, but don’t be snobby about other genres. Try reading the classics, and try to figure out why they are so great.  Read writing blogs but always be reading and thinking about what you’re reading so that the words settle into the climate of your subconscious just perfectly. Then when the atmospheric conditions are perfect, you have a storm of words that is wonderful and dramatic and maybe even scary.

Regular writing practice: Developing strong voice is much like developing muscles for great athletic accomplishment.  If you sit at the keyboard repeatedly and daily put your thoughts together in a coherent way, you get better at it. You may  be able to train yourself over and over to see grammatical errors, then you’ll get better and more efficient at spotting them. With practice, you can say things more clearly and precisely.  Make a daily word count goal and keep it. Or plan to write a half hour each day. Find the way that’s best for you and do it!

And then there’s time: It’s common to suggest that after 10,000 hours one has mastery of a skill. You may not be able to track that in this lifetime. Don’t worry about it. Instead, focus on what you can to in the next ten minutes. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish. Believe this: no time is ever wasted. What may look like a loss is really life experience. You can make up for lost time. YOU CAN.

A writer with a great voice will also know their strengths.

Are you funny? Encouraging? Are you really good at analyzing LOL cats? Put your energy into this! You’re probably passionate about it too. And people will notice that you are good at it and they will want to hear more from you. Become an expert. Read everything you can get your hands on about your favorite subjects.  Apply the principles in new and exciting ways.

It is voice, I would like to argue, that carries the most artistic weight of our storytelling.

The nuances, the experiences, and the complexities make us who we are. Thus, our stories will be unique to all of us. Look for ways to enjoy your life, read and write and you’ll be working on your voice.

You won’t be able to help it.


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Apples to Apples Drabble Contest for May 26, 2017

Can you write a 100-Word Story? Can you add in these three words?

Every week on this website, we offer budding writers a chance to get really creative. Before the weekend is up, submit your entry! You never know what kind of feedback you’ll get!

Can you write a story in 100 words?

The Rules:

  1. Write a drabble. A drabble is a 100-word story, with beginning, middle and end. A drabble can be any genre. Make it exactly 100 words. You can do it. That’s what adjectives and adverbs are for.
  2. Include each of the three Apples To Apples cards in the photo. All three. Not two. Not four. ALL THREE. New cards are chosen every week. And you can ignore the small words that explain it clearer. We just want the big three.
  3. Paste your drabble into the comments below. Then share this with your friends. The more comments you get on your entry, the more likely you are to win!
  4. Absolutely no links, screen shots or salesy type of behavior in the content entry. 
  5. Winners are chosen by the amount of positive response they get. Comments like, “This is great!” or “How funny!” or “Good job!” are the kinds of things that will be counted. Negative comments like, “this contest sucks” or “the rest of the entries are losers” or “WTF?” will be unapproved. The author of this blog reserves the right to ignore or block any content that is suspected of originating from trolls. In the event of a tie, winners will be chosen by this method. 
  6. Limit 3 entries per person. If you’re having fun, come back next Friday.
  7. This contest is open from 5:00 AM EST every Friday and closes down the following Sunday night at midnight. Comments are welcome throughout the week, but no more entries are allowed. 
  8. All entries must contain no profanity, no graphic violence or erotica, and no hate speech. Entries that do not abide by this rule will not be approved. Consistent abuse of this rule will warrant a blocked user.
  9. Winning entries will be announced on the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group page the following Friday. The entry will also be published in the monthly digital newsletter, 10 Minute Novelists Insider. You can sign up for this here! 

This week’s words!

 

Weekly Drabble Contest for May 19! Submit Yours!

Can you write a 100-Word Story? Can you add in these three words?

Every week on this website, we offer budding writers a chance to get really creative. Before the weekend is up, submit your entry! You never know what kind of feedback you’ll get!

Can you write a story in 100 words?

The Rules:

  1. Write a drabble. A drabble is a 100-word story, with beginning, middle and end. A drabble can be any genre. Make it exactly 100 words. You can do it. That’s what adjectives and adverbs are for.
  2. Include each of the three Apples To Apples cards in the photo. All three. Not two. Not four. ALL THREE. New cards are chosen every week. And you can ignore the small words that explain it clearer. We just want the big three.
  3. Paste your drabble into the comments below. Then share this with your friends. The more comments you get on your entry, the more likely you are to win!
  4. Absolutely no links, screen shots or salesy type of behavior in the content entry. 
  5. Winners are chosen by the amount of positive response they get. Comments like, “This is great!” or “How funny!” or “Good job!” are the kinds of things that will be counted. Negative comments like, “this contest sucks” or “the rest of the entries are losers” or “WTF?” will be unapproved. The author of this blog reserves the right to ignore or block any content that is suspected of originating from trolls. In the event of a tie, winners will be chosen by this method. 
  6. Limit 3 entries per person. If you’re having fun, come back next Friday.
  7. This contest is open from 5:00 AM EST every Friday and closes down the following Sunday night at midnight. Comments are welcome throughout the week, but no more entries are allowed. 
  8. All entries must contain no profanity, no graphic violence or erotica, and no hate speech. Entries that do not abide by this rule will not be approved. Consistent abuse of this rule will warrant a blocked user.
  9. Winning entries will be announced on the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group page the following Friday. The entry will also be published in the monthly digital newsletter, 10 Minute Novelists Insider. You can sign up for this here! 

This week’s words!

 

Gift Ideas For The Writer In Your Life

By Pam Humphrey

Do you need a gift idea for the writer in your life?

Gift Ideas for the Writer In Your LIfe by Pam Humphrey

Do you have a writer in your house, your life, or on your street that you want to surprise with that perfect something?

I asked writers all over the interwebs what they wanted, and I received fabulous feedback. Here is a long list of ideas, broken down into categories: Time, Support, Tools, Space, and Goodies.


I hope you find the perfect gift for your writer somewhere in this list. I used the $, $$, and $$$ to represent the following budgets.

$ - up to $20

$$ - $20 - $100

$$$ - $100 and up

$$$$$$ - Make up a very, very large number

The next time you are buying for your writer, for any occasion—Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Arbor Day, Christmas or just because—keep this list in mind.

  • TIME – This was the most common answer. I’ll break down suggests by budget.


  • $$$$$$$ – These options may be out of your price range.

      • A year of solitude to write, meals provided. – Don’t laugh. More than one writer requested this.
      • A luxury yacht as a writing space. – Only one requested this.

$$$ – Want to splurge on your author? These are sure to please.

      • A garden shed, nicely decorated, with a lock on the door.
      • A few days away in a quiet space.
      • A night in a hotel (room service included).
      • A writer’s retreat (This was mentioned a lot) on the beach, in the Welsh countryside, or anywhere beautiful, inspiring.

NOTE: Recently, my husband was scheduled for two days of training in a different city. He asked if I wanted to accompany him. YES! We arranged for our kids to stay with grandparents, and while my husband spent the day in class, I wrote. After class, we had date night—two nights in a row! Be creative with the getaway.

$$ – For the cost of a dinner out, you can show love to an author with these great ideas.

      • Make arrangements for them to get a morning, afternoon, or full day away, either for writing or inspiration.
      • Deliver dinner or give gift cards to restaurants. If writers don’t have to cook, they have more time to write.

FREE – You don’t have to spend money to gift an author with time. These were some ideas I loved.

      • Coupons for quiet writing time that your writer can redeem when they want solitude in a room in the house.
      • Letting them disappear into a different room and lock the door (not for a year, just an hour or so.)

NOTE: One writer mentioned how her husband would fix dinner and clean up to give her time to write. LOVE THIS! And on Saturday mornings, he would keep her mug filled with hot coffee. That’s love and support… which brings us to the next category of gifts.

The FIRST EVER Conference for 10 Minute Novelists will be held August 9-11, 2018 in Cincinnati, OH. We’re featuring Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, and Janice Hardy! Come and learn with us!
  • SUPPORT – Want to make a writer cry? (Or feel the swell of emotion that leads to tears in others?) Show them support. Investing in what they are doing says that you value their talent.

$$$ – These are big ticket ways to support your writer.

      • Conference Registration – Pay to send them to a writer’s conference.
      • Money or gift certificates toward editing, cover designers, marketing.
      • Paying for (or saving up for) them to take a writing course or workshop – Want to surprise them, but don’t know how to find out what classes? Ask on of their online writing buddies.

$ or $$ – These ideas can be scaled to fit your budget.

      • Babysitting – Pay for a sitter. This is closely tied to time, but your writer will appreciate it however you frame it.
      • Gift Cards – For dinner, for housecleaning. This is worth mentioning again.

FREE – You don’t have to spend money to show your writer support.

      • Neck and Shoulder Massage – Absorbed in their words, writers sometimes sit until their muscles ache. Loosen those muscles with helpful hands.
      • Read Their Stuff – Writers spend hours crafting in hopes that people will read what they write. Read it and offer helpful feedback.
      • Motivation – Ask them about their story; show genuine interest.
  • Support 10 Minute Novelists
  • TOOLS – Every good craftsman needs tools.

$$$ – Some tools are more expensive than others.

      • A Computer or Laptop – There really isn’t much more to say about this. (And if you’re techy, you can offer SUPPORT when the writer needs tech help.)
      • Scrivener or other writing software.
      • Typewriter – More than one writer listed this.

$$ – Not all writers want the same thing, but there is likely something in this list that will put a smile on their face.

      • Chicago Manual of Style
      • Bluetooth Keyboard – With a smartphone or table, this makes anywhere a writing space.
      • Leather-bound Journals or Notebooks – Based on the response, I learned writers have a thing for notebooks.
      • A Visual Timer – Changes from green to yellow warning that little time is left, then to red when time is up.
      • Subscriptions to Writer Magazines

$ – Not all tools have to cost a lot.

      • Craft Books (Book on Writing) or Gift Cards for the writer to choose their own.

NOTE: These are a few that were mentioned by name:

  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron,
  • WriteMind Planner by Perry Elisabeth,
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne,
  • Nail Your Story: Add Tension, Build Emotion, and Keep Your Readers Addicted by Monica Leonelle,
  • The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction: Your Blueprint for Building a Strong Story by C.S. Lakin,
  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing and Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland,
  • Any (or all) of the Thesauruses by Angela Ackerman,
  • The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler,
  • The Weekend Novelist Re-Writes the Novel by Robert J Ray,
  • On Writing by Stephen King, and
  • Write a Novel in 10 Minutes a Day by Katharine Grubb.
  • Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day!
    Click on the image to get your copy!
      • Books with quotes
      • Books full of writing prompts
      • Journals and notebooks
      • Planners
      • Time Management Software or gadgets (Maybe like a timer?)

NOTE: When the Timer Dings: Organizing Your Life to Make the Most of 10 Minute Increments by Katharine Grubb is available for pre-order and will be released in June.

      • Gift cards to Amazon, Office Depot, or Bookstores – seeing a pattern with the gift cards?
      • Pens and Pencils – Pens in an array of colors was mentioned by more than one writer.

NOTE: These brands were mentioned by name: Black Warrior Pencils; Pilot FriXion Ball Knock Retractable Gel Ink Pen (in assorted colors); Pentel Energel Pen.

      • Fountain Pens
      • Click-style Highlighters
      • Post-it Notes
      • Aquanotes Notepad – This allows a writer to jot down notes in the shower.
  • SPACE – Having a dedicated space to write is important for some writers, but wherever they write, some of these gift ideas might spruce up their space.

$$$ – Gifts that require a little more green.

      • Bookshelves – They need a place to put their craft books and the books they write. Besides, most writers are readers who like books.
      • An Office or Craft Room – A writing space decorated for maximum inspiration and productivity.
      • An Espresso Maker – For writers who turn coffee into words.
      • A Stand-up Desk
      • A Comfy Desk Chair

$$ – Gifts for their space that are a little easier on the pocketbook.

      • A Water Dispenser
      • A CD Player
      • Noise Cancelling Headphones

$ – A little money can go a long way.

      • A Cool, Colorful Cactus – Beauty and inspiration are great ideas for a writing space.
      • Motivational & Inspirational Artwork
      • A Fountain Pen Holder made of laser-etched wood.

FREE – Sometimes it really is the thought that counts.

      • Make a pen holder
      • Paint a rock to be a paper weight
  • GOODIES – Here are fun and inspirational gifts to inspire your writer, not divvied up by price.
      • T-shirts with cool writer sayings or other nerdy/geeky fun
      • Click the image to go to the merchandise website for 10 Minute Novelists

NOTE: 10 Minute Novelist Gear can be purchased at https://www.zazzle.com/10minuteoutfitters

      • Mugs for Coffee or Tea
      • Writer Jewelry – It’s a thing.
      • Scented Candles – One writer specifically requested vanilla.
      • Herbal Teas
      • Bath Salts – This would be the stuff you put in the bathtub.
      • A Fidget cube
      • Author Finger Puppets
      • Literary Action Figures
      • Starbucks Gift Cards
      • A Pretty or nice-looking laptop bag
      • Wine
      • Scotch
      • Writer’s Tears Whiskey – It’s a real thing!
      • And did I mention CHOCOLATE?
      • A Basket loaded with a selection of goodies listed above.
      • My Favorite goodie was a Christmas ornament one husband gave his wife, an historical fantasy writer in Maryland. He made the ornament out of a miniaturized version of her debut book’s cover, with First Book and the date added.

Writers are not that hard to buy for. Leave them alone, keep their coffee mug filled and the interruptions minimal and you can make them happy.

But for that little something extra, this list is full of great ideas.


Do you like this post? You may also like:

#Top10Tuesday Top 10 Reasons Why You Need To Buy “Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day” or

Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A Day!


 


Pamela Humphrey is the author of Researching Ramirez: On the Trail of the Jesus Ramirez Family, a family history of her great great grandfather’s family, and The Blue Rebozo, a fictional account of her great grand aunt’s life. Her latest book, Finding Claire, is a mix of mystery, genealogy, and romance. She is currently writing the next book in the Hill Country Secrets series. She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who enjoys many creative outlets: sewing, paper-crafting, jewelry-making, practicing her bass guitar, reading, and conversing with imaginary characters (what most call writing). She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, sons, black cats, and leopard gecko. Check out Pamela’s website at http://www.phreypress.com 

Follow her on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/phreypress  Facebook http://www.facebook.com/phreypress Interested in her books? They’re available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Pamela-Humphrey/e/B018D5UKLWFinding Claire is also available from other eBook retailers. https://www.books2read.com/u/bP1LLY

Using An Archetype To Make Your Character Richer

Not sure how to develop a character? Start with the archetype.

What is an archetype?

 An archetype is a stock character that often shows up in common stories. The helpless princess, for example, is an archetype. So is the prince that rescues her, the old fragile king who sent him on a mission and the witch down the lane who enchanted the last hero into a toad.

Archetypes are one dimensional.

Left to themselves without development, they are predictable and dull. A character left at the archetype stage would never tap into their inner thoughts and feelings. He may be as bland as yesterday’s oatmeal. Some of the most famous archetypes in literature include the swashbuckler, the crusader, the waif, the nurturer, the superhero, the loner or the professor.  You know you’ve come across an archetype when I can say a word like, vamp, and every reader knows what you’re talking about.

You’ve read your share of archetypical characters in fables and fairy tales, and in that context, they are expected. But 21st-century writers should never keep their characters at this stage if they expect to be marketable and compete with currently published books.

I’d like to suggest that you can use archetypes as your baseline.

Need a complete list of archetypes? Check out this link, this one or this one.

How can you use an archetype to develop your character? Try asking yourself these twelve questions.

How Archetypes Can Make Your Characters Richer by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelists

What role does your main character play in the story?

You should ask this question when you start out in your first of first drafts. And I recommend not re-inventing the wheel when it comes to character development. Start with one of these archetypes — say a professor. You can already see the horn-rimmed glasses. You can picture the tweed jacket with the patches on the elbow. Now if your role in your story is to have your main character, let’s call him Fred, solve the puzzle using his treasury of knowledge, then this archetype would fit perfectly. But you are a good writer and you have no intention of stopping there. To stop with the archetype is lazy and uninteresting. Let’s go a bit further.

What do you do with this archetype choice?

I like to think of my archetype choice as a paper doll or a mannequin. The rest of the choices I make about the basic description, the inner characteristics, and the desires are the things that make this character come alive. An archetype has some familiar touches and expectations. There’s no need to not use them — in fact if I don’t use them, I may make it harder for my reader to relate to the character.

What would be unpredictable about this archetype?

This is where I would get to add twists. What if there were a librarian type who was blind?  A swashbuckler who was a 6-year-old girl? What if I had a crusader who didn’t have a cause to promote? Before I get in too deep with the character, I should explore these possibilities, listing as many as I can and choosing the most unusual or most interesting.

How would he/she respond in a particular circumstance?

Fred, the professor, with glasses and elbow patches, is at a coffee shop when he accidentally trips the waitress and knocks coffees out of her hands. This archetype would clumsily try to help clean up the mess, possibly make things worse. What would your character’s archetype do when faced with a fender bender in the parking lot? A spilled drink at a pizza restaurant? Meeting a big dog on the Rail Trail? Getting carjacked at WalMart? If you’ll look carefully at each of the archetypes, you’ll see that each of these would react in a distinctive way. This is good news for you!

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What weaknesses can you give this archetype?

A weakness can be something physical, emotional or intellectual. Weaknesses often are what we have when our strengths go bad. For example, a driven Leslie Knope type of organizer, (who could be a crusader or librarian type)  may also neglect her own health, boss people around too much or overextend her time. By using the predictable features of an archetype, I can often see the weaknesses of the character clearer.

What secret can you give them?

Each of these archetypes may have different types of shame. For example, the professor may read comic books for fun. The nurturer may hide from her children occasionally.  Or perhaps their secret is something more critical to the plot. Ask yourself, what would be the end for this character if everyone found out  . . .

What would be their biggest fear?

And this has to be very specific. Fears are funny things. I believe that fears are not born in a vacuum. I think that most phobias have their roots in something and often it’s childhood trauma. A preference is something that your character doesn’t like, but a fear is something that drives them into anxiety or panic. The archetype can give you a clue as to what kind of fear your character could have. The natural leaders fear losing control. The bad boys and girls fear intimacy. The generalities are already there, it’s up to you to make the specifics.

The FIRST EVER Conference for 10 Minute Novelists will be held August 9-11, 2018 in Cincinnati, OH. We’re featuring Donald Maass, James Scott Bell and Janice Hardy! Come and learn with us!

What would be their quirk that helps them survive?

A quirk for the sake of having a quirk isn’t that helpful, nor that interesting. But if they had a quirk that turned out to be a necessary survival skill, or helped them face the antagonist, then it would add a richness to the character that could be a hit with readers. Choose your quirks carefully. You may even want to wait until you have that first draft finished before you see what they need to really kick butt late in the second act.

How would they act in a Starbucks?

I rarely visit a Starbucks. (I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts girl, but that comes with living in New England.) So, if I am in one, I order something simple. Your character, however, may know the complexities of the coffees, their roasts, their blends, various styles, the dairy products added and the difference between a venti and a grande. Even if a Starbucks isn’t mentioned in your book, think about how savvy your character could be in situations like this. Are they pleasant to the barista? Do they always use their debit card or cash? Do they get the pumpkin muffin to go along with it? Our true character is often revealed in how we handle little day-to-day stuff like this, so put thought into what your character is like when coffee is involved.

“I wish we could sometimes love the characters in real life as we love the characters in romances. There are a great many human souls whom we should accept more kindly, and even appreciate more clearly, if we simply thought of them as people in a story.”
G.K. Chesterton

What offends them?

All of us have these little pet peeves that get us going. My children, for example, will not shut up about the need for solar roadways, the elimination of the penny, and why tomatoes should be a fruit. Your character should have a couple of rant worthy issues too. If they are a Crusader type, then they could be fighting for justice. If they are the Librarian/Professor type, then they could be adamant about certain scientific discoveries or the Oxford comma. An archetype can be used to point to issues. The more specific, the more unique your character is. And then it’s up to you to use these passions and repulsions for the sake of the story.

When do they feel the most threatened?

If you’ll look carefully at the differences of the archetypes, you’ll see that in a generalized way, you can predict how they will act in a crisis. You are not slipping into cliche if you put your Nurturer in a position where her first concern is the little ones around her. What you’re doing is making her nurturing tendencies a foundational part of who she is. Every time you give her personality and character details, you’re taking her another step away from cliche. Your Bad Boy could be threatened by religious structures. Or your Waif could be threatened by abusers. Your Free Spirit is threatened by a dress code. By understanding and using the archetype, you can create conflict and make your character more interesting.

What two mutually exclusive needs to they have?

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Your character absolutely must have goals and objectives or there is no story.

In addition to the goals and objectives they say they have, they also have more fundamental needs shared by the rest of humankind. If you’ll take a quick look at Maslow’s pyramid, you can see how all of these needs line up. By studying your character’s archtype, you may be able to see clearly what specific needs, both stated and unstated, that your character has in the story. And if you work this just right late in the second act, your character will have to choose between two very important needs. This is your story’s climax. Use your archetype to broaden your perceptions of the needs your character has so you can make this point a real page-turner.

Archetypes are but one of many ways that you can find inspiration for a character.

You can spot someone who has an unusual appearance, overhear a conversation or read about a local scandal. Building a character from the ground up is fun and the more thorough you develop your characters, the easier it will be to create their dialogue, develop their strengths and help them achieve their goals.

Archetypes are your friends.

By using an archetype, you can use a template and take it in a million different directions, so don’t be afraid to start there. You’ll probably be pleased with what you create.


If you liked this post, you may also like:

The 9 Things Your Main Character Needs From You or,

Five Character Types That Make Great Antagonistic Forces


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Five Reasons Why I Would Write Series Fiction (And One Reason I Wouldn’t)

What to read?

I’m at the library, looking for something to check out and I see a row of similar-looking spines, books all by the same author, some with numbers on them. It’s a little army of series fiction! (And almost always one of those numbers is missing!)

Five Reasons Why I Would Write Series Fiction (And One Reason I Wouldn't)

I have an irrational insecurity around serial fiction as a reader.

I feel like I have to start at book one if I’m going to start at all, and then, I wonder, will I feel compelled to read all the books in the series? What will I miss out on in the literary world if I get to the end of Adam Dalgliesh’s career?  I skip over the series and go to a stand alone instead. As a reader, I think I want the whole story wrapped up in one tidy package. And I want my literary diet to be broad. If I pick up the first Harry Potter, for example, I feel, and I’m sure that’s just me and my neurosis, that there’s an expectation that I have to read all of them. I don’t want that kind of pressure. Maybe I’m not a series type of reader? Not all of us are. But, if I’m going to be a successful novelist, then there’s some good reason why writing a series is a great idea.

Series novels are good fits for plotters who love details.

Every successful series writer must plan their little hearts out. They aren’t planning the events for 300 or so pages, they are planning for 3-8 times that amount. All that planning allows for the plot bunnies to come around to book five. This planning allows for the backstory to weave its way in and out across many plotlines. This is a complicated process and there are some authors who love the freedom that comes with many books in a series.

Series books don’t wrap things up neatly.

This is also a good thing for novelists who like to meander. Most novels have restrictions to them: that every little tangent needs to serve a purpose. But not a series. What is left undone in book 1 can be explained in book 2. If this is done well, then the reader is interested and wants to find out more.

The FIRST EVER Conference for 10 Minute Novelists will be held August 9-11, 2018 in Cincinnati, OH. We’re featuring Donald Maass, James Scott Bell and Janice Hardy! Come and learn with us!

Series books can provide rich character arcs.

If the main character is a teenager in book one, and a father of six in the very last book, then you can assume some changes happened in their life. This long arc creates a beautiful canvas on which the author can create some interesting art. The character development itself becomes as important as the plot. And it’s this character that the reader may fall in love with and want to know more with subsequent books.

Series books can show off all the characters, not just the big stars.

Sometimes those secondary or tertiary characters are appealing in their own right. A series allows a writer to delve into their secrets and experiences. Complicated characters that intertwine together can make for some great stories. These background characters are perfect for creating new plot lines, falling in love with and making framing for a murder. What is your protagonist’s ally in the first book could be their betrayer by book seven.

Support 10 Minute Novelists

Series books do require a great deal of commitment.

Series books are challenging for the author! But the best reason of all to stick with it create a series is that once the first book is successful, the subsequent books have built-in readers. These are the fans you can reward with consistent references and hints of the past. Multi-book ideas can be a rich experience for the writer and the reader. Maybe I’ll get over my literary neurosis and commit to writing (and maybe even reading) a series.

And that one reason? I’m afraid to be tied down to one genre.

I’ve hopped around the genre spectrum to know that there’s fun in creating a fantasy world, developing a romance and crafting a mystery. It’s all the fear of missing out, see, and maybe that’s what makes me a neurotic human.

So, if you’re a reader or writer, consider series fiction.

You may find it well worth the hard work.


If you like this post, you may also like:

Four Reasons Why Authors Shouldn’t Be Nice In Their Stories


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Submit to the weekly Apples to Apples Drabble Contest!

Can you write a 100-Word Story? Can you add in these three words?

Every week on this website, we offer budding writers a chance to get really creative. Before the weekend is up, submit your entry! You never know what kind of feedback you’ll get!

Can you write a story in 100 words?

The Rules:

  1. Write a drabble. A drabble is a 100-word story, with beginning, middle and end. A drabble can be any genre. Make it exactly 100 words. You can do it. That’s what adjectives and adverbs are for.
  2. Include each of the three Apples To Apples cards in the photo. All three. Not two. Not four. ALL THREE. New cards are chosen every week. And you can ignore the small words that explain it clearer. We just want the big three.
  3. Paste your drabble into the comments below. Then share this with your friends. The more comments you get on your entry, the more likely you are to win!
  4. Absolutely no links, screen shots or salesy type of behavior in the content entry. 
  5. Winners are chosen by the amount of positive response they get. Comments like, “This is great!” or “How funny!” or “Good job!” are the kinds of things that will be counted. Negative comments like, “this contest sucks” or “the rest of the entries are losers” or “WTF?” will be unapproved. The author of this blog reserves the right to ignore or block any content that is suspected of originating from trolls. In the event of a tie, winners will be chosen by this method. 
  6. Limit 3 entries per person. If you’re having fun, come back next Friday.
  7. This contest is open from 5:00 AM EST every Friday and closes down the following Sunday night at midnight. Comments are welcome throughout the week, but no more entries are allowed. 
  8. All entries must contain no profanity, no graphic violence or erotica, and no hate speech. Entries that do not abide by this rule will not be approved. Consistent abuse of this rule will warrant a blocked user.
  9. Winning entries will be announced on the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group page the following Friday. The entry will also be published in the monthly digital newsletter, 10 Minute Novelists Insider. You can sign up for this here! 

This week’s words!

Five Steps To Building A Regular Writing Routine

By Bethany Perry

There’s so much advice out there about writing.

A lot of it is obvious. For instance, I read an article yesterday that suggested two things about how to write. One, sit down (optional). Two, write. Yes, two is required.

Thinking about writing is not writing.

Reading advice columns like this one is not writing.

Doing all the things I am about to relate to you is not writing.

Writing is writing, period.

Honestly, however, just because reading about writing is not writing, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. In fact, I think (and I’ve read) that continuing your education in writing is essential to growing as an author. So let’s get on with it.

Five Steps for Building A Regular Writing Routine

  1. I keep a writing journal

Yes, I got this suggestion from another article. Yes, it has worked for me. I modified it to meet my specific needs. What I do is, I write down things like what time I sat down to write and what time I finished, my beginning and ending word count, if my football team won or lost, whether or not I’ve had caffeine recently, the days this year when I lost two good friends. Why do this?

It helps me see several things. It helps me keep up with productivity, AKA my word count. It shows me what affects my productivity. Death absolutely does, I knew that. But the time of day does too. I write best at night. That’s just how it is. I’m too easily distractible during the day. I’m a night owl. Makes sense I’d be more able to focus the darker it is outside.

Knowing when and how I’m most productive gives me a better opportunity to be at my most productive. And when I’m on, I’m on. I only get about an hour on an average day to write. When I do it at my most productive time, I can crank about 1k to 1500 words regularly.

But there’s more to that story.

  1. I listen to music with headphones.

After I work all day, spend time with the kiddos and the boyfriend, the munchkins go to bed and I write. But the boyfriend is a night owl too, sometimes the kiddo wants water or whatever, the dogs bark, you know, normal house stuff.

So when it’s time, I put on my headphones and go to my writing place. Instrumental music is best because it’s been proven that your language center cannot decipher two inputs at once. So if I listen to music with lyrics, maybe my brain is working on those words instead of the ones I’m putting down on the page. Even if those aren’t the words I think I’m focusing on, I might not be able to instruct my brain to do otherwise without some effort of will. That affects my productivity. I don’t want that. So for me, it’s instruments only or instruments mostly with some wordless vocalizations. And then I sink into my little world of words.

  1. I have a routine

If you have kids, you’ve probably discovered that routine is wonderful for keeping them happy. They might complain about it, but if things are presented to them in the same way each day – breakfast at 9, lunch at 11 followed by a nap, snack at 2, dinner at 6, bedtime at 8, for example – I’ve found things go so much easier. They know what to expect and when, and they are comfortable within those boundaries.

Funny thing is, I’ve found adults are the same way. I might complain about going to work every morning at 6:30, especially since I’m a night owl, but without that routine, I get a little lost. Routine soothes me. It’s the same for most of us, so I’ve read.

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So when it comes to writing, I have created a routine.

Just like a bedtime routine helps to make you tired, a writing routine gets me into the writing frame of mind. After the kiddos are in bed, I put on my PJ’s. Might as well be comfy. Then, I put on the kettle. While it’s getting to a boil, I check my facebook, email, twitter. Like mad. I make comments, post pictures, do a bunch of stuff. Whatever internet related stuff I want to do, especially that pesky social media. (Research is reserved for research time, and I just do that whenever. Like on a break at work or whatever.)

Just like a bedtime routine helps to make you tired, a writing routine gets me into the writing frame of mind.

After the kiddos are in bed, I put on my PJ’s. Might as well be comfy. Then, I put on the kettle. While it’s getting to a boil, I check my facebook, email, twitter. Like mad. I make comments, post pictures, do a bunch of stuff. Whatever internet related stuff I want to do, especially that pesky social media. (Research is reserved for research time, and I just do that whenever. Like on a break at work or whatever.)

The water is boiling! Great. I put in the tea and set the timer for steeping. It’s at this point I go to my writing place. I turn on my lamp. I power up my computer. Bust out my journal. Fill in the journal. Beep! Tea is ready.

All these things, in the same order, tell my brain it’s time to write. On to the next step.

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  1. Turn off the internet

This is not a joke. This is not a maybe. This is a must. If you live alone, you can turn it off altogether straight from the router. If not, you can turn it off on your computer.

Place your phone in another room. Or at least out of arm’s reach. Just get rid of the internet. Research is for another time. Checking your facebook is for another time. Reading about writing is for another time. You don’t need the internet to write. Even if you use a cloud based service, you can save offline and upload at the end of your time.

  1. Write

Ah, here we are. Now is the time. I plug in the headphones, start up my music, put the screen in front of me, and write.

So there you have it. I’ve added my voice to the proliferation of voices that tell you how to do this writing thing. But here’s the thing about it. This is what works for me. Take what you like, leave the rest. Find what works for you! That’s the way to truly be successful at getting that writing done. Writing is just as personal as anything else you do, and how you do it is up to you.

But however it is you do it, I hope you have fun doing so.


If you liked this post, you’d also like:

What to be a Better Writer? Think Like A Sculptor! or

Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Writing


Bethany grew up in the South, transplanted to the West, and has visited just about anywhere in between. She’s got a day job, and a family, and at night she writes and writes and writes. And sometimes in between, she writes. She enjoys traveling down the road of the macabre, but mainly in order to discover the beauty hiding within the human spirit when it is pushed beyond normal boundaries.She has completed, finally, after all these years, two novels. She is currently working on editing the second for future publication and is neck deep in writing the third. She has published some poems in literary publications and has several works of short fiction published online.

Weekly Drabble Contest! Apples To Apples Cards!

Can you write a story in 100 words?The Rules:

  1. Write a drabble. A drabble is a 100-word story, with beginning, middle and end. A drabble can be any genre. Make it exactly 100 words. You can do it. That’s what adjectives and adverbs are for.
  2. Include each of the three Apples To Apples cards in the photo. All three. Not two. Not four. ALL THREE. New cards are chosen every week. And you can ignore the small words that explain it clearer. We just want the big three.
  3. Paste your drabble into the comments below. Then share this with your friends. The more comments you get on your entry, the more likely you are to win!
  4. Absolutely no links, screen shots or salesy type of behavior in the content entry. 
  5. Winners are chosen by the amount of positive response they get. Comments like, “This is great!” or “How funny!” or “Good job!” are the kinds of things that will be counted. Negative comments like, “this contest sucks” or “the rest of the entries are losers” or “WTF?” will be unapproved. The author of this blog reserves the right to ignore or block any content that is suspected of originating from trolls. In the event of a tie, winners will be chosen by this method. 
  6. Limit 3 entries per person. If you’re having fun, come back next Friday.
  7. This contest is open from 5:00 AM EST every Friday and closes down the following Sunday night at midnight. Comments are welcome throughout the week, but no more entries are allowed. 
  8. All entries must contain no profanity, no graphic violence or erotica, and no hate speech. Entries that do not abide by this rule will not be approved. Consistent abuse of this rule will warrant a blocked user.
  9. Winning entries will be announced on the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group page the following Friday. The entry will also be published in the monthly digital newsletter, 10 Minute Novelists Insider. You can sign up for this here!