author help

It pays to learn the craft first

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Are you new to writing? Have you been writing for a while? I’ve been writing for a long time, but it wasn’t always full-time and I would go for long periods of time where I would be too busy with life to write. I went through some rough patches which eventually led to me getting a divorce and I can tell you that it’s extremely difficult to write when your life is in chaos.

But now, I’m concentrating on my writing, blogging, book conversions, proofreading, and cover designs.

I want to say that I think it is very important for all of us to learn the craft of writing. We should never stop learning. And if you’re just starting out, I think you should try to learn as much about writing as you can and do it as soon as you can. That way, you’ll avoid a lot of mistakes. The mistakes that I made and the mistakes made by so many authors before us.

I had basically finished my first novel – well, I thought so – when I read a blog post on Live Write Thrive by CS Lakin that said to not start your novel with lots of backstory and especially don’t start with a flashback. And what did I have in the first chapter? A flashback.

It didn’t start out that way, but I’d read a few novels with a flashback at the start and thought that it might make it interesting, but Ms Lakin said in her blog that if you start with some action, then slip into a flashback, you’ve stopped the action and slowed down the novel, which is a bad thing. And when I thought about it, she is dead right. I changed it immediately.

I still have a lot to learn, of course, but if I’d known then what I know now… life would’ve been a lot easier when it came to writing. So my suggestion is to get on the Net and get your head into some books and learn as much as you can. Now.

Some book suggestions:

  • “The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction” by CS Lakin. (You can buy the book or read it in blog form on Live Write Thrive.)
  • “The 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing” by CS Lakin and four other top authors. (You can buy the book or read it in blog form on Live Write Thrive.)
  • “Shoot Your Novel” by CS Lakin. (You can buy the book or read it in blog form on Live Write Thrive.)
  • “Say What? The Fiction Writer’s Handy Guide to Grammar, Punctuation, and Word Usage” by CS Lakin. (You can buy the book or read it in blog form on Live Write Thrive.)
  • “Writing the Heart of Your Story” by CS Lakin. (You can buy the book or read it in blog form on Live Write Thrive.)
  • “Story Engineering – Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing” by Larry Brooks.
  • “Story Fix” by Larry Brooks.

YouTube suggestions:

  • Film Courage. They talk about movies, but you can learn a lot from the structure and development of characters, etc from these videos
  • Jenna Moreci
  • Vivien Reis
  • Shaelin Bishop (ShaelinWrites)
  • Kristen Martin
  • Kim Chance
  • Rachael Stephen
  • Natalia Leigh
  • Ellen Brock
  • Michael Levin
  • K.M. Weiland
  • Derek Murphy
  • Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn)
  • And last, but not least, Cinema Sins. They go through movies and pick them apart. Weak characters, plot holes, you name it. It is a great learning tool.

If you’re not a newbie, don’t worry. It’s never too late to learn.

Do you agree? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.


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Short stories are NOT good practice for writing novels

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I’ve heard that a lot of people who want to write a novel think that they should write short stories first as “practice” before diving in and writing a full-length novel.

There’s a major flaw with that plan. Writing short stories is very different to writing a novel.

The structure is different. This means that if you write a few short stories first, you will have practiced writing short stories. Sure, it’s practice at writing – sentence structure, prose, descriptions, action, and dialogue – but maybe diving in and writing the full-length novel that’s been in your head for so long might be the answer for you.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t write the short stories if that’s what you want to do. I’m just saying that it might not be the best thing for you. You’d have to weigh up your options. Everyone’s situation is different. With me, I dove in and wrote a full-length book. I have recently written a short story of seven chapters, followed by a really short story of only a few pages, but I enjoyed writing them and I’ve had some great feedback on them. They are the stories I’ve uploaded to Wattpad. For more info on Wattpad, click here to see my previous post about it.

Again, my advice is to do what you think is right for you. Don’t let anyone dictate to you. They don’t know what’s in your head or your heart and they don’t know what works for you and your situation. You may not know that either just yet, but you will.

What about you guys? Have you written a full-length novel? A short story or two? Both? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.


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Music to write to and for inspiration

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A lot of authors on YouTube in some of the recent videos I’ve watched have been talking about using music as inspiration for writing. I love music and have something playing nearly all day every day and I’ve gotten some ideas for stories from songs, so I think what they’re saying is so spot on.

One of the things they talk about is to have a playlist for writing, meaning that they listen to a certain playlist of songs that inspire them for that particular story. They’ll have a separate playlist for each book they’ve written and it really inspires them to get into writing with some enthusiasm.

I haven’t tried this myself and I’m not sure how I’d go with it. My problem is that I always sing along with songs and I can’t write because my mind is focusing too much on the tune and the lyrics. Having said that, when I write, I do have the radio on, but it has to be turned down low and used as background noise. Sometimes I’ll sing along if a really good song comes on, but most of the time, I can concentrate on writing.

What I want to try is to make up a playlist and play it right before I start writing. I think that would work for me. Now all I have to do is find some songs that inspire me and that tie in with the mood and atmosphere of the story I’m writing. I think this will be the hardest step, but I still plan to try it.

What about you guys? Do you have a playlist or something that you do that inspires you to write? Put something about it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.


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Know your characters

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I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately to improve my writing and one thing that stands out to me is that you have to know your characters before you start writing.

I haven’t really done this much in the past (for my first book, Tamisan) and I think it lead me to “Writers’ Block” and total dead ends and just hours of not knowing what to write. It ends up being very frustrating. And a waste of a lot of time.

After reading posts on Live Write Thrive, which is a fantastic website by author, editor, and writing coach, CS Lakin, I started writing character sketches for the main characters in my first novel, Tamisan, by using her templates, and the difference it made was amazing.

I know a lot of people like to pants their way through things and “discover” their characters’ personalities as the story progresses, but besides it being harder to do, you end up with a character that is flat and one-dimensional at the start of the book, and someone who is more complex and three-dimensional by the end. Then how do you go back and make them more realistic and interesting afterwards? It’s not easy. And it takes longer to write your book.

For my short story, The Alien, which is up on, I took the time to delve into the characters more and I noticed how much easier things were. I knew their backstories and a bit about their likes and dislikes and even their attitudes. Lilliana is a bit of a smart aleck and it showed in my writing. Even something as simple as nicknames that they have for each other just flowed easily. It was the most natural thing in the world for one of the crew members to walk into the room and say, “Hey, Wildcat. Ready to get outta here?”

So, of course, with my work-in-progress, I have been spending the time to get to know my characters a lot more and I’ve even developed Character Development Sheets based on some that I downloaded from Live Write Thrive. (Ms Lakin has to take most of the credit – I just tweaked the one she made.) I’ve even created a World Building template based on a couple of websites that gave some great info on what should be included in your world building. So I’m all set.

Now that I’ve finished with those things, I’m back to writing. I can’t wait till it’s finished. I plan to keep you posted on my progress.

What do you think? Do you agree with what I’ve said? Let me know in the comments.


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To the readers who have recently purchased Tamisan

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To the amazing readers who have recently purchased my book, Tamisan, I’d firstly like to thank you. It means a lot to me.

Secondly, I’d like to ask a small favour. Could you please write a review on the site you purchased it from just to say what you thought of it? Even if it’s just a short paragraph, that would be enough. You don’t have to be an expert on writing reviews. It would mean the world to me personally to know that you enjoyed my book, or if you didn’t, but professionally, it would really help me out. Word of mouth is the absolute best way to get more sales in any profession.

The fact that no one has written a review yet, even though the people I know who have read it have given me terrific feedback, gives the rest of the world the impression that it’s not a good book.

I admit I didn’t use Beta Readers during the writing process – mainly because I have only recently discovered how important they are and how to go about getting some. I have Author-tubers like Jenna Moreci, Kristen Martin, Vivien Reis, Kim Chance, Rachael Stephen, Natalia Leigh, and Shaelin Bishop to thank for the excellent info on the Beta Reader process and the importance of having Critique Partners. And a bunch of other stuff.

You can never have too much help when it comes to writing. Well, you can, but I only find it overwhelming if too many people are giving conflicting information, which doesn’t happen too often. I encourage any authors out there to check out the above authors who have amazing videos up on YouTube that give great writing advice.

And if you can’t write a review, a comment here would be really nice.

Thanks in advance!


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Don’t delete your deleted scenes!

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Okay, so you’ve been editing your novel and found that there are some bits of your novel or a whole scene in there that you didn’t need. It needs to go. But… there’s some good stuff in there. There are some good descriptions and some action sequences that just don’t fit into your current story, but they’re still good. Too good to dump in the electronic garbage disposal of the computer world.

This is my advice to you: DON’T THROW IT AWAY! Don’t just delete it!

Copy it and paste it into a new document, give it a meaningful name so you know that it’s your deleted scene and save it to a folder with a meaningful name. Call it “Deleted Scenes” or “Extras”. Whatever you want. You might just need those scenes one day. It costs nothing to save and takes up such a small amount of space on your computer, and you never know, that action scene – or whatever it is – may just fit perfectly into another novel one day.

Please note that there will also be bits and pieces that are not worth saving. You be the judge. If it really sucks, trash it.

I have kept all sorts of bits and pieces out of my first novel, Tamisan, and may never use them anywhere, but I’ve still got them, just in case.

The thing is; if you delete stuff you’ve written, it’s gone forever. Just think about that.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.


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Bonus scenes

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A couple of novels I’ve read – I think they were all YA – had bonus scenes at the end of the story. I’m not sure what you think of this idea, but I thought it was really great. They’re usually a key scene in the novel retold from the point of view of the other character in the scene. Usually the love interest of the main character. It’s a great way to give the reader a glimpse into the mind of the other character and a new perspective.

The best example of this is Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout. The novel itself is a fantastic story about a girl that moves to a small town and discovers that there are aliens living next door. It’s the first book in the Lux Series and I recommend it to anyone who has even a slight interest in the genre. And there are actually two bonus scenes from Daemon’s point of view.

I love the idea of doing a bonus scene so much that I have included one in my work-in-progress, Spark of Lightning (formerly called The Andromeda Mine). It will be from Daniel’s point of view.

When I get to the Beta Reader stage, I will be asking my Beta Readers for feedback on the bonus scene to see if they like it.

For all the authors out there, what do you think? Let me know in the comments.


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