Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Managing Your Expectations

As some of you may know, I am engaged and in the process of planning a wedding! In that process, my fiance and I are also underwent pre-marriage counseling (which was been a lot of fun as well as insightful and I recommend it for anyone thinking about getting married). Did you know that recently it has been announced that what kills marriages faster than anything else is unmet expectations?

Now, my blog is not about marriage, however, I could not help thinking how this applies directly to our writing. How often to we come up with grandiose ideas for our novels that will sell a billion copies and make us millions of dollars? Ever catch yourself day dreaming about which actors and actresses would star in your film once that adapt your book into movie formatting? (No one, just me? Anyhoo . . .)

The point is, in our writing too we must manage our expectations. 

Writing is hard and making a break through in the industry is even harder, some might say that it is nearly impossible. So I am encouraging you to “make resolutions” (without the need for a New Year) and to set goals for your writing, but in doing so, make them realistic!

  • Set yourself real goals that you truly can accomplish!Here are some examples:
      • Write Every Day (even if it’s just for 5 minutes)
      • Try to hit a word count every day (even if it’s 20 words).
      • Try to finish as much as that book as possible (even if it’s not the whole thing.)
      • Send out queries to multiple publication houses (but don’t stop writing, waiting to hear back)
  • Don’t give yourself unrealistic expectations.Here are some examples:
      • Starting and Finishing that new idea for a book and having it picked up within the year (yes it can happen, but it doesn’t often)
      • Becoming a millionaire with your first book (Suzanne Collins wrote amazing books for YEARS and was not known until her latest series).

Be kind to yourself and be honest with your writing. Expect that some days will be more productive than others and set realistic expectations so that you do not cause unnecessary hardship.

Happy Writing Everyone!

***If you enjoyed today’s tip, be sure to check out more under the “Writing Tip” tab on my main menu. Have any questions about writing? Feel free to ask in the comment section!

Derek Harvey has a great article expectations in marriage if any of you are interested in reading the article.

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Writing Tips

Writing Tip: The 3-Draft Rule

Today, I’m going to offer you some advice about how many drafts you should have before you consider sending out your full manuscript to a publishing company.

I consider the magic number to be 3: Three full-length drafts and let me tell you why.

Draft One: Getting it Down

Your very first draft should really be focused on just getting your writing out of your head and down on paper. In this draft, I encourage you to just write. Do not focus on getting it perfect, or saying everything you need to say. Create the bones of your manuscript. Or, in other words, consider it the road map for the rest of your drafts. This first draft is all about getting your words on paper and it will be messy, it will be disorganized, it will not be perfect. And guess what, it shouldn’t be.

Draft Two: Buffing it Out

After “completing” your first draft (meaning that the bones of your manuscript are present and arranged), it is time to start adding the “meat” (the muscles, sinews, and veins, etc.). Draft Two can be accomplished on your own or with a friend or writing colleague. I personally believe that it is beneficial to have outside opinion for this draft. What I do, is I send my Draft One to friends and receive BETA reader comments. What needs flushing out? What drags? What doesn’t make sense, etc.? Once I have their comments, I comb back through my first draft and begin addressing both their comments and add in my own. After this, you should have a completed, flushed out draft, but you’re not done yet.

Draft Three: Cleaning it Up

Once you have completed crafting your narrative (it has bones, and muscle, and skin), it’s time to make it pretty! If hardcore editing is not your thing, ask for outside help whether that means the family member who is an English major or paying for grammar edits. Trust me, nothing lowers the quality of a good book faster than bad grammar. This is your one chance to impress a publishing company, so spend some time (and maybe some money) improving your manuscript until it shines.

 

Well, there you have it: my three-draft rule!

What do you think? Is three drafts too many or too little? Be sure to comment below!

***Extra Tip: It is okay to have some time take place between Draft One and Draft Two, distance can be a good thing for your own writing! It can give you perspective.

 

Happy Writing Everyone!

***If you enjoyed today’s tip be sure to check out my Writing Tips section under the main menu for more great tips and tricks on how to improve your writing!

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Allow Your Book To Evolve

When writing your book just know that your book WILL change.

Perhaps not a ton, perhaps only a little, or perhaps it will be a completely different book than the one you intended on writing in the first place, but one way or another, your book will evolve over time.

This isn’t a bad thing though. As you write, your ideas will grow and form. You might realize that what sounded like a great idea before doesn’t really work well in application. You may be hit with a sudden inspiration to go a different direction.

My advice?

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But in all seriousness, go for it! If you feel your book changing, you need to allow it. If you stick too tightly to your original plan, your writing will come out forced and it will sound that way to your readers. Take the new path and see where the new ideas lead you. If you hate them you can always go back and try again.

In other words, planning and outlining your book is important. But it is also just as important to allow your book to change and evolve as you write.

As you all know, I recently received my feedback from the publishers and they encouraged me to change and improve some chapters in my book. Through their suggestions, I have come up with new solutions and actually changed the entire chapter order of my book! And to be honest, it’s better for it!

Happy Writing Everyone!

***Enjoyed today’s tip? Check out my main page for more under the tab “Writing Tips”! Have any questions about today’s tip or writing in general? Leave your comments below!

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Waiting Out the Waiting Period

Any author or poet who has attempted to go the route of traditional publishing is familiar with that dreaded “waiting period.” You know which one I’m talking about. You spend all your time and effort into creating an amazing story, editing and revising until your eyes are bloodshot and your fingertips are raw.

Then you hit send.

And you wait.

And you wait.

And you wait.

If you are very lucky or very talented (and often a combination of both), you will hear back from the publishers 6-12 months later as they express interest in you or your book. You think, Huzzah! The waiting is over and my book will be published immediately!

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not how it works. After that initial waiting period and the good news, you’re in for more waiting periods. Your book will most likely go through several editing phrases and after that you have visual decisions such as cover and formatting. Your book will most likely not be published until a year or two after you hear back.

That is a LOT of waiting.

As someone intimately engulfed within this dreaded waiting period, let me give you some tips on how to survive it:

  1. Take a deep breath and stop opening up your email every single hour of every single day (Seriously, Kayla Ann, stop doing this.) It only makes you more antsy when you fixate on their response.
  2. Get outside and do something. I don’t care if it’s the gym (which is my favorite as it’s a great way to release pent up energy) or a walk with your pup, or minigolf, or going to the beach, or biking, or going to the mall. In some way, get out and do something physical.
  3. Get back inside and do something. (But you just said go outside! Yes, I did, keep reading.) After you have gotten rid of some of that nervous energy and you can actually focus, start working on a different project. Write your next book or create some blogging posts and schedule them for the future.
  4. Take another breath and repeat the steps above. Trust me, you’re going to be waiting for awhile. (I’ve also found that small, but frequent, amounts of chocolate can do wonders for your mood.)

Image result for i'm waiting gif

Anyone else ever been stuck in that waiting period?

How do you pass the time and maintain your flimsy grasp on reality?

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: You are NOT an author, unless you are a writer.

I know yesterday, I spoke all about how important it is to read, but it is equally important to write!

You cannot be an author without first being a writer.

This one may sound redundant but hear me out first.

So often as writers I feel we forget how important it is to sit down every single day and write. Especially for those of us who have family responsibilities, educational distractions, work obligations, you name it. As a college professor, daughter, bride-to-be my time is often split in a million different directions.

Our lives are filled with distractions that can often keep us from our passions. We find ourselves at the end of the day, crawling into bed, exhausted, only to remember that we never got to our writing. We assure ourselves that we will get to it the next day, do even more to make up for the missed time and before we know it a week has passed without writing.

So here’s today’s tip: Write!

Every single day be sure and set aside some time to write. Whether it’s 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 60 minutes or more, be sure to make it a daily habit to put your pen to paper (or your fingers to a keyboard if that’s your thing). Maybe put a reminder in your phone or have a notebook placed by your bed to remind you to write.

Just remember, in order to be writers we need to write!!!

Happy Writing Everyone!

What do you do to make sure you write everyday? Do you do a word count? If so, what?

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Brainstorming

The really awesome thing about blogs is that they are constantly growing and hopefully the audience (Followers) are also growing. When I first posted this tip, I had under 50 followers, now I am nearly at 2,000! I repost old material when I think that it becomes relevant for new eyes (and good reminders for old ones).

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Brainstorming shouldn’t feel like a lightening bolt to the brain, frying all circuits and leaving you with nothing. There are so many different ways successfully brainstorm so Let’s just talk about a few.

So you’ve got an idea, right? You’re stoked and ready to start writing about this awesome world, or character, or storyline. Only problem is, that’s all you’ve got: a single idea.

So what now?

My advice is to start brainstorming! Which, let’s be honest, when we are trying to come up with these ideas, it really can feel like a storm is brewing in our minds. One way to brainstorm is to ask yourself questions.

If you’ve thought about an awesome world, but lack a story, ask yourself questions like this:

  • What kind of humans/creatures inhabit this world?
  • Where has something gone wrong?
  • Who or what caused something to go wrong?
  • How can it be fixed? Can it be fixed at all?
  • What are key characteristics of this world that will impact your characters?

If you’ve thought about an awesome character, but lack a story, ask yourself questions like this:

  • What does your character want out of life? (We all have ambitions right)
  • Who is your character? (I don’t mean name or description, but who are they as a person? Introverted, extroverted, arrogant, brave, intelligent, cunning, snarky, ruthless? What is their main character trait and why? How do they portray it?
  • What gets in the way of your character accomplishing their goal?
  • (Consider Bilbo Baggins, all he wants is to remain at home and be happy. He’s an introverted character who avoids others and he keeps getting prevented from accomplishing his goal by a wizard and dwarves)

If you’ve got a scene in mind and that’s it, WRITE IT OUT. Then ask

  • How did my characters get here?
  • Where do they go from here?
  • Why are they here at all?

Of course this post is not exhaustive but hopefully it is a helpful suggestion with some ways to brainstorm while writing.

Happy Writing Everybody!

***If you enjoyed this tip be sure to check out additional tips under the “Writing Tips” tab on my main menu! Have questions about writing? Leave them in the comments!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: The Five Writing Essentials to Any Great Story

If you are a writer, you most likely have already hear of “The Story Arc” or “The Dramatic Arc.”  However, it is always good to remember these five crucial elements to any story: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.

Step One: Exposition

Every story begins with exposition of some sort. Think of it as your background, or the introduction to your story. Who are your major players in this game? What is their world like and how is everything about to change? Consider “The Hunger Games,” in the exposition we learn about Panem and the districts. We learn about the reaping and the relationship between Katniss and Prim, but nothing of huge significance has happened yet.
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Step Two: Rising Action

The Rising Action can begin immediately, it can coexist with the exposition, or it can wait until a few chapters in to occur. These are the events that occur that really get the story going. While we were already introduced to Katniss and her family, the Rising Action truly begins once Prim’s name is called at the reaping. After this moment, Katniss is thrown head first into the crazy, fashion-obsessed Capitol and then forced to survive the Games.
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The Rising Action can continue on for quite a long time and makes up a large chunk of any story. All of these events snowball onto one another and lead to the climax. For example:
Katniss does well in the events before the Games, gaining the title “Girl on Fire”
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Next, her popularity leads to sponsorship that aids her in the Games
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Because of the sponsorship, Katniss survives long enough to find Peeta
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Because she finds Peeta, Katniss and Peeta can gain even more sponsors through pretending to be star-crossed lovers which enacts the rule that more than one tribute can survive
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Peeta and Katniss are able to survive together which leaves them as the last pair to face off with Cato.
Every step, every action that happens within the rising action leads to the climax of the story.

Step Three: Climax

Next, we have our Climax. The Climax is the culmination of everything that you have been leading up to in your writing. It is the big event, usually toward the end of your story (however, it is NOT the end). Using “The Hunger Games,” the climax can be seen at the end of the Games when Peeta and Katniss must battle with the brutal, bloody Cato.
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Step Four: Falling Action

However, the climax, as I briefly mentioned, is not the end! Indeed, in the moments after Cato’s death, we have our Falling Action (these are events that often comes after and because of the climax). In this case, the Falling Action consists of the Gamemakers attempting to force Katniss and Peeta into killing one another. However, when they refuse, Seneca Crane is forced to allow them to live, which leads to our resolution.
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Step Five: Resolution

The Resolution does not have to be happy, it does not have to answer every question and it can leave readers on a cliffhanger. For instance, although Katniss and Peeta are allowed to live and the Games have concluded, Katniss is aware of the danger that still surrounds her. When they head home, Katniss and Peeta’s relationship is hanging on tethers. She survived the Games, but Katniss is still not safe.
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So there you have it, the five essential elements of a story! Have questions? Hit me up in the comments!

Happy Writing Everyone!

***If you liked today’s writing tip be sure to check out my home page for more! Underneath the main menu there is a tab that says “Writing Tips,” be sure to take a look! Have questions? What would you like me to write about next time?

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Waiting Out the Waiting Period

Any author or poet who has attempted to go the route of traditional publishing is familiar with that dreaded “waiting period.” You know which one I’m talking about. You spend all your time and effort into creating an amazing story, editing and revising until your eyes are bloodshot and your fingertips are raw.

Then you hit send.

And you wait.

And you wait.

And you wait.

If you are very lucky or very talented (and often a combination of both), you will hear back from the publishers 6-12 months later as they express interest in you or your book. You think, Huzzah! The waiting is over and my book will be published immediately!

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not how it works. After that initial waiting period and the good news, you’re in for more waiting periods. Your book will most likely go through several editing phrases and after that you have visual decisions such as cover and formatting. Your book will most likely not be published until a year or two after you hear back.

That is a LOT of waiting.

As someone intimately engulfed within this dreaded waiting period, let me give you some tips on how to survive it:

  1. Take a deep breath and stop opening up your email every single hour of every single day (Seriously, Kayla Ann, stop doing this.) It only makes you more antsy when you fixate on their response.
  2. Get outside and do something. I don’t care if it’s the gym (which is my favorite as it’s a great way to release pent up energy) or a walk with your pup, or minigolf, or going to the beach, or biking, or going to the mall. In some way, get out and do something physical.
  3. Get back inside and do something. (But you just said go outside! Yes, I did, keep reading.) After you have gotten rid of some of that nervous energy and you can actually focus, start working on a different project. Write your next book or create some blogging posts and schedule them for the future.
  4. Take another breath and repeat the steps above. Trust me, you’re going to be waiting for awhile. (I’ve also found that small, but frequent, amounts of chocolate can do wonders for your mood.)

Image result for i'm waiting gif

Anyone else ever been stuck in that waiting period?

How do you pass the time and maintain your flimsy grasp on reality?

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Know Your Source Material

While this tip is mainly for non-fiction writers, it is applicable for you fiction writers too!

For scholarly, nonfiction writers it is so important to know your chosen text better than the back of your hand. Insights and epiphanies come on the 10th or 20th time when re-reading a series not the 2nd or 3rd. This is because every time you read, you gain a new insight, and then the next time you read the same story your view will change and you will read the same events in different light. So keep on reading again and again.

And AGAIN.

While some people prefer to make handwritten notes in the margins, I use color-coded post-it-notes. I do this for several reasons. 1. I can assign different colors to different ideas. For example in the picture below yellow post-it-notes mark something to do with the physical body, pink marks morality and blue marks trauma. These are the three topics through which I am analyzing Katniss’s agency. No doubt when I get into additional characters I will have to add more colors. 2. The post-it-notes give me more room to write out my thoughts than the margins do. 3. If I see a large grouping of post-it-notes in one section I know to more carefully re-read those portions. Of course everyone’s strategies might be different but this is mine.

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Also, while your source material should be your PRIMARY focus, you should always be reading other books, articles, blogs, etc on the same topic. Why? It’s smart to read what other people are saying and noticing. Sometimes you might agree and realize that there is nothing left to say on a particular subject. However, other times you may find something that you disagree with completely or something that was mentioned but never fully answered. In your own writings you can address such arguments and give more insight to previously ignored ideas. Also, if you realize that what you are writing has already been done, you can save yourself some time and effort by finding a new subject.

FICTION readers and writers: the same goes for you! Read what is out there, specifically books in your preferred genre. What are they doing that is working? What are they doing that isn’t working? Read like your life depends on it, because really, your career does.

Before writing comes reading.
My advice: read, read, read, read, read!

Happy Writing Everyone!

***If you liked today’s tip be sure to visit “Writing Tips” on my main menu for more tips and tricks! Have any questions about writing? Leave them in the comments!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Read!

Read? But we are writers, we write!

Yes, but we should also be READING.

A large part of what we do is based on what we know, what we have experienced, and what we have read. Let’s be honest, most writers are also reading enthusiasts. Reading and writing often goes hand in hand. Through reading we come to learn about this wonderful world of writing.

At one point in your life, a certain book or series truly inspired you. You decided, you wanted to write something like that, you wouldn’t to create worlds and characters that touched not only your heart but the hearts of others. That’s because reading inspires and encourages. For me, my writing is inspired by hundreds of books such as Harry Potter, Eragon, Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, etc. These books and their authors have encouraged me to become the best author I can be. Reading also connects us to others, whether they are fictional characters or real people who share the same interests.

In order to be a successful writer, you want to be a frequent reader. Now of course, you have deadlines to meet and reading every day may not be possible, but in your writing journey don’t forget or underestimate the power of reading.

Reading can be inspirational.
Reading can be an escape.
Reading can be an adventure.
Reading can be a connection with others.
Reading can encourage.
Reading can be comforting.

What else, in your experience, can reading be?

In the comment be sure to answer, “reading can be ______________.”

Happy Writing (and reading) Everyone!

 

Spotlight:

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Lloyd Chudley Alexander was an American author of more than forty books, primarily fantasy novels for children and young adults. His most famous work is The Chronicles of Prydain, a series of fantasy novels whose conclusion, The High King, was awarded the 1969 Newbery Medal for excellence.

A successful author of more than 30 publications, Lloyd enjoyed reading Shakespeare, Dickens and Mark Twain. He asserts that King Arthur is his favorite hero. If Lloyd Alexander can find the time to read and places so much importance on it, we should too.

Happy Writing (and Reading!) Everybody!

***Be sure to check out more tips under the “Writing Tip” tab on my main menu! Have questions about writing or blogging? Leave them in the comments below!

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.