• All,  Setting,  Writing

    a bit about setting

    As I’m neck-deep in editing lately, I’ve discovered one of my greatest weaknesses as a writer is creating any sense of setting. I really like action, momentum, consequences, and tend to focus on these aspects of the story because I’m confident in my ability to properly convey them. But setting? Not so much. I leave readers with the impression that everything is happening on a two-dimensional plane, and while the action is captivating, there’s nothing to give the reader her bearings or set the tone for the scenes or the story as a whole. With all these problems, I’ve decided to focus this week’s edits on the setting of my…

  • All,  Life,  Tools and Tips,  Writing

    setting up a writer’s notebook

    You may have noticed by now that I’m planner and that I love to keep things neat and tidy, even in my writing world. While total structure is out of the question when it comes to creative writing, I’ve been able to keep a sliver of organization by using writing notebooks. Like most writers, I’ve always kept a notebook handy to log thoughts and inspiration, conversations and revisions (and by notebook, I mean anything to write on — slips of paper, notecards, paper napkins, the back of your hand). I’m of the notion that notetaking and freewriting, writing without the pressure of the craft, are essential to healthy creativity, and…

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  • All,  Characters,  Tools and Tips,  Writing

    mbti for richer characters

    Annnnnnd we’re back with characters. What can I say? Creating deep and interesting characters is one of my favorite parts of starting a new writing project and is one of the most important parts of forming a flavorful plot. Usually, an idea for a character is what sends me flying to my computer for a five-hour writing binge at two in the morning (okay, I exaggerate, but that’s how it feels). I have this lively person in my head with a bright and loud voice and I just need to get down some of the things he’s telling me. From there, some semblance of a story follows, especially when I…

  • All,  Lesson Learned,  Life,  Writing

    making time to write

    This time of year I usually find myself limping through the weeks like it’s a three-month-long hell week from college. When life gets busy like this, my writing tends to suffer the most; daily writing goals go unmet and my typical schedule flies out the window for the holidays and anniversaries and sudden emergencies this season brings. But if that kind of busyness is your everyday, 365-days-a-year reality, if you wake up most days wanting to write only to arrive at the end of them not having written one word, I want to help you make time for writing in your busy schedule. Before I committed to publishing a novel,…

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  • All,  Editing,  Writing

    what to do when you finish a draft

    So, you’ve finished the first draft of your novel. It’s wonderful and perfect and you feel just dewy about it, right? Right? More than likely, your first draft is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad manuscript, and at this point you may be doubting your ability even to write your name. But fear not: you’ve just finished, in Anne Lamott’s words, a shitty first draft, and that’s something to be proud of, plot holes and typos and question marks and all. Once you’ve gotten over your existential crisis and self-loathing, however, you may be hit with a tidal wave of fear as you encounter the prospect of combing through…

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  • All,  Lesson Learned,  Life,  Writing

    overcoming obstacles

    It feels at times as if the universe just doesn’t want me to write. Whether it’s finally getting into the groove of things only to lose my nearly complete draft in a software crash, an onslaught of “real life” events eating into my usual writing time for weeks, or having my daughter break two laptops in the span of six months (yep, this really happened), I’ve experienced my fair share of obstacles since plunging into writing a novel. Some have been more defeating than others, completely knocking the wind from my sails and leaving me wondering whether I can (or should) continue. If you’ve ever felt this way, I’d like…

  • All,  Lesson Learned,  Life,  Writing

    lessons from my one-year-old

    One the eve of my daughter’s first birthday, I thought it apropos to recount the lessons she’s taught me during her year on earth, specifically with regard to writing. Though absolutely welcome, Molly was a surprise, and her sudden arrival meant the end to many plans, particularly for me. Before finding out I was pregnant, I had been planning to attend graduate school for creative writing, but with Molly on the way, it didn’t pan out. So, instead, I decided to start a novel — for real this time — and began my trek somewhere around five months pregnant. I write all of this to demonstrate how instrumental Molly was…

  • All,  Tools and Tips,  Writing

    tools for the uninspired

    Usually when I’m writing fiction, I’m having a good time, especially when I’m really trucking along, in the heart of the action, no pesky transitions or trying to slip backstory inconspicuously into conversation. But there are days — and with this work load as of late, I’ve experienced these days often — when writing really seems a lot like work, something I have to glue myself to a chair for an hour in order to accomplish. And I’ve found that when those days come knocking, it’s usually because I’m hopelessly uninspired. If you’re a writer (and not a unicorn) you probably have these days too. Maybe you’re knee-deep in a…

  • All,  Lesson Learned,  Life,  Writing

    take it seriously

    I distinctly remember, as a child, hating to read. Summer reading was the bane of my vacation; my school’s spring reading challenge grated me because every year, before the competition had even begun, I knew I stood no chance of winning; and reading comprehension quizzes? They were a surefire reason to doubt my intelligence, and not to toot my own horn, but I was a pretty smart kid (until about seventh grade, that is, but everything falls to crap then anyway). And yet, as a child also, I distinctly remember wanting to write a book. I loved to scribble little stories, short fantasy pieces, adventure tales, and in the sixth…