Tuesday, June 28, 2011


In my fiction workshop (I'm at a TN writing program!) we played "two truths and a lie." (If you're not familiar with the game, it involves coming up with--you got it--two truths and a lie, telling all three to someone or someones, and someone(s) try to guess the lie.)

The key was in the details.

As authors, details are important in making something believable. I mean, fiction, could be considered lying, or making-up-stuff. But we do it with detail. For example, Harry Potter? Hogwarts? Platform 9 3/4? All ideas and places we readers totally know like the backs of our hands (Room of Requirement? Moving stairs?). Why? Because of the details. We believe the story.

I don't have much time, but I thought I'd share. Go try two truths and a lie!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Tenses Up

Or: On writing tenses.

So let's start by defining past and present tense before we do anything else, okay? Just so we're all on the same page.

Present - I am writing a blog post. I type this as we speak. My feet are cold. (This is first person present tense, to be exact.) Also - She runs her fingers through her hair. She is sick. (This is third person present tense.)

Past - I rubbed my forehead. My eye twitched. (First person past tense.) Her stomach ached. She walked across the room. (Third person past tense - also, all my examples are kind of depressing, aren't they?)

So most of the time I write in first person past tense. (I'm not good at writing in third person. Really not good.) Both Spyder and Berserk are first person past tense.


You know that new book I'm writing? The one that if you follow me on Twitter, you've seen me call weird, annoying, weird, frustrating, weird, etc? It's in first person present tense. Which is... wait for it... weird. But when I started writing it (in past tense), it didn't feel right. So about four thousand words in, I scrapped the draft and started again - this time in present tense.

Now there are benefits and disadvantages to both.

Advantages to present tense:

- More immediate, more right in the action


- It's harder to do well
- Some people really don't like it.
- If you're me and you start writing in present, when you go to write in past, your tenses will slip.

Advantages to past tense:

- More traditionally accepted
- Somewhat easier


- Some people really don't like it. (And this is why you shouldn't write for other people. Write for yourself.)

So what do you guys write in? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it?

Peace and cookies,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Do You Edit?

Since my mind is pretty much set on one dial - edit - I'm not capable of posting about anything else. Because it's such a monumental project, so overwhelming. To make it manageable, I go through the manuscript three times. I use three stages.

1. Plot

This is the biggest part, and I'm not one of those people who puts the hard part off. I like it out of the way as soon as possible. So I go through the entire thing, looking for those plot holes that we all have, or things I forgot. For instance, I recently found in one scene that my character was changing out of her clothes. There was a knock at the door when she had no pants on, and for some reason I completely forgot about this and she opened the door. And she had an entire conversation with someone seemingly oblivious or uncaring that she, uh, had no pants on. So the first stage is to look for things like this.

2. Description

In my first drafts I have a tendency to be direct. Someone will state something, and I don't have any tags or facial expressions or voice tones. So the second stage is to change this. Add detail and description to the story. Describe rooms, surroundings, physical characteristics.

3. Technical

This is my favorite part of the whole process because, well, it's the last one! Plus it's the easiest. Just getting rid of those pesky commas that appeared somehow, without our knowing. Working on weird sentence structure, repetition, ridding ourselves of those horrible adjectives. Breaking up or combining paragraphs. The technical stuff.

So those are my three stages. How do you edit?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It was a big week last week! I had a party to celebrate my new book, Flawless Ruins, and like with last summer's Rain party, we went all-out on the cake. I thought I'd share a picture of both of these (delicious) cakes for comparison... Yes, they really were as good as they looked. Also, cake is a fantastic way to celebrate books. Just saying.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Writing believable characters is important--you want to know them like one of your friends, and you want your readers to know them just as well. Therefore, it's a struggle to not overload on the details. I could go on for about three pages about each of my characters without pausing, but putting that much detail (at least at once) in a story is a bit overwhelming. Well, probably more than a bit. This is leading up to, with so much to describe, how important is clothing?

In Rain I threw in details about Mel's outfits because it was important to her character as a practical, girl-world-challenged spy. In Flawless Ruins I describe a fair number of dresses because it's part of the world Morgan lives in. In my current story, I always note the way one character dresses the same each day, because that will play into the story later. That one character isn't the main character, though. I don't think my main character really has a distinctive style, and noting what she wears the same way I note the other character would seem superfluous.

How much do you describe the outfits/style of your characters? How important do you think it is to the story?


(Personally, I like these spy outfits. Anyone else watch this show when they were little?)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Who Reads Your Books?

Or: Saturday on Beta Readers and Critique Partners

I have the most awesome betas and crit partners. Sometimes people ask me how I found them and I don’t have a good answer like Absolute Write or anything. My answer is just that I whined on Twitter.

No, seriously. I was almost ready to want people to read Spyder and I mentioned it on Twitter. Then I finished the book, did a week or two’s worth of revisions, and then looked at the tweets I’d saved and basically chose randomly. Thankfully, I got really lucky with the beta I chose. She was my second beta ever, but the first on that book, and she was just… awesome. (I hope you know who you are if you’re reading this!!) The rest of my beta/crit partner stories go pretty similarly to that.

Anyways, I didn’t really want to talk about how I found my readers. I was going to talk about when people are allowed to read things and what I’ve learned from people reading my books.


No one is allowed to read a first draft. No one. The people I trust the most might get to read the beginning if I need reassurance that it doesn’t totally suck, or a passage or two, but no one is allowed to read a first draft.

What I’ve learned:

It will always make me nervous.
People won’t always get my slang.
People think I’m funny.
They will always see the typos.
Nobody likes a dryer link analogy.
Sometimes I'm really, really Canadian without meaning to be and it confuses people.
Switching from gooseflesh to goosebumps is apparently a no-no.

Alrighty, it's your turn now. Who reads your writing? When? What have you learned from having people read your writing?

Peace and cookies,

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Less is More

So I realize it's been a while since I've done a post here, and I'm sorry for that. I do have a good excuse, though: I've been working really hard on the latest W.I.P. I got the fever. Anyway, there's one thing I've been focusing on in all the writing. And this is, oddly enough, simplicity.

It's recently been brought to my attention that there is such a thing as too much going on in a book. Okay, I can hear you thinking, Well, duh. But really, it didn't occur to me. I have a tendency to weave more than one subplot into a story. But apparently people have trouble following ten plots at once. I know! Shocking, right?

In an effort to keep this current story more simple, I've been worrying. What if this is boring? What if it's so simple it's not unique? Eventually I got over myself enough to keep writing. Because so what? So what if it's boring? So what if it isn't unique? I have to keep writing, and there's this thing called revising.

My lesson from all this worrying and fretting and freaking: less is more. Less is a good thing. And if there's a little too much, it's easy to fix it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Somehow I'll have to go on...

If I didn't love English class so much, I'd probably hate it.

I know, that sounds kind of obvious. But really, it took up so much time this year--reading, essay-ing, analyzing, thinking--and if every minute of it hadn't been full of utter awesomeness, I'd resent it for taking away time from writing my stories.

But I don't resent it, of course. English class this year wasn't just English class, it was Life class. Every day I found something outside of class that applied to the unit we were doing, and vice versa. We didn't just talk about words and books made out of them, we talked about humanity and ideas and morality (on a Kohlberg scale, for example). All of which, needless to say, are ideas I'll use in writing someday. (Also, a reason this class took up so much of my time was because I willingly spent more time on assignments because a) I wanted to do well and b) they were fun.) (Also x 2, I had one of the most awesome teachers ever, so, yeah, envy me.)

I had my English final today. Now I must endure two more days sans my favorite class. Not sure I'll make it. I feel all hollow inside. (Hence the title of this post.)

What do you think? How did/does English class contribute to your writing?


Friday, June 3, 2011

Deadlines and Writing Months.

I don't usually set deadlines. I have absolutely no willpower so even if I do set a deadline, most of the time I end up dismissing it as it passes. I'm talking about deadlines today because I'm on one right now. I'm competing with one of my critique partners to see who can write their book (1) the fastest and (2) by June 17th. Even with this challenge, I am still procrastinating so much with writing. That could be because all I've been doing is schoolwork (school for me was officially over Wednesday, so I'm good to go now) but it is also probably because any time I have something to do, I procrastinate with it.

Despite my unwillingness to succumb to the restrictions of book deadlines (that will be fun if I ever become a published author... *insert sarcasm here*). I do believe in deadlines, I think that they can help you plan out a book really well even if you get behind like I do.

Now on to the second part of the post. Writing Months are like NaNoWriMo, and there is one this summer. The people who run NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month in November) have decided to host a summer NaNo. NaNo is the main reason I want to finish my WIP by June 17th. The problem with starting NaNo writing after finishing a book is that I'm planning one thing while writing another. So now I have two story ideas looming around my brain.

I don't know, I suppose the point of this whole post is to talk about deadlines. Deadlines are good and they help plan out novels so that you can move on fluidly.

*I know this post is totally random, but it is late. *