World Building Over Beer

Your story is YOUR story. Doesn’t it sound like a marvelous free-for-all, especially when it comes to world building? Oh, how I wish it were only that simple. I’m a very visual person and love descriptions so much that I typically use double-adjectives, according to my CP. While you do want to leave some descriptions up to the reader’s imagination, you still want to be the ruler of your world and help your reader see what you see.

On a business trip to London with my husband, we had a conversation about my novel at a British pub. He was curious about the world I was building for my story. As I described the world aloud for probably the first time, the questions started pouring out. We changed some things, he asked pertinent questions that questioned my ideas. I liked the hard criticism especially when it makes me say, “Wow, I didn’t think about that.” I highly recommend discussing your world with someone in person because it really helps your world come alive

How to work on World Building:

  • Invite a guest into your world.
  • Discuss your world over beer (or your drink of choice).
  • Imagine yourself and your guest in your world and be observant of your surroundings.
  • Describe your world out loud, as if you were a tour guide, showing your guest your world for the first time.
  • Have an open mind and let them ask questions. I repeat. Let me ask questions.
  • Reflect on their questions (take notes). You don’t always have to implement every comment, idea or criticism that passes you.
  • Edit, revise and review!

Questions to ask yourself about your world:

  • Is it magical or realistic?
  • What is the time period?
  • What is the history of your world? Yes, you have to invent the past.
  • Do they have technology or not?
  • What is the language?
  • What sounds do you hear? Birds? Wind? Water?
  • What is the weather like? Cold? Hot?
  • What is the season?
  • What about the sky? The sun? The moon? The stars?
  • What is the landscape like? Trees? Beach? Mountain?
  • Are there structures, buildings?
  • What are the people wearing?
  • What is the government like? The law? The rulers?
  • How are people treated?
  • How does your MC fit there?
  • What about the other characters?
  • What is everyday life like there?

On crafting names:

  • As you craft names for places (and people), say those out loud.
  • Can you pronounce them yourself?
  • Write out how you would pronounce those names.
  • Research the meaning of words. (This is super important for all the obvious reasons!)

And finally, get ideas from other worlds and periods of history and twist it into what you want to see in your story.

“Stories start working on you in a thousand different ways.” ~ Orson Scott Card

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Cheers!

You can’t be an author without being a reader

Every writer needs a reading break. It is my belief that you have to be a reader before you can be a writer. And how can you improve your own writing if you don’t take breaks or change things up? See my friend Claribel Ortega’s post about How to Beat the Crap Out of Writer’s Block for ideas and tips.

It is November. Some of us are feverishly typing out our next novel with an coffee iv drip and some of us are still revising and editing our WIP with random fits of wall staring. I am the second one.

typing cat giphy

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when thousands around the world write their hearts out every day and every night. They try to hit their word count goal to inevitably write a novel in a month, at least 50,000 words – which breaks down to at least 1,666 words a day. It is a community and a competition. It can be heart wrenching to read the tweets of word count goal overachievers when you are struggling to write a 140 character tweet. However, having a sour attitude against other writers will get you no where fast. The writing community should be supportive and attentive. Writers should celebrate each others accomplishments because wouldn’t you want them to do the same for you when your time comes?

As much I want to start a new novel, I am not participating in NaNoWriMo because I am revising my MS that I pitched for PitchWars. I had started with 47K (which is low for a YA Fantasy) and now I’m over 56K…and I’m still going. I need to keep going and hopefully it will be over 65K. I feel really good about it, however, none of this positive revising would have happened if it weren’t for my reading breaks.

As an example, I’ve read “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige, “The Walls Around Us” by Nova Ren Suma and now I am hooked on the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I am in the middle of “Ruin and Rising.”

I recommend signing up for GoodReads, so you can easily keep up with your TBR list too.

book spine giphy

Reading other books can be motivating, inspiring and relaxing. You expose yourself to different styles, genres, and voices. Read books that are in your genre of your writing and read books that are not in your genre of your writing. Writing your own novel can be disheartening, stressful and intimidating. Every day you want to quit. But look at reading as an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to support other authors. You can only get better in time the more you write, but how can you write better if you don’t learn and read from other authors?

We all need a break, a pep talk and a swift kick in the ass, as writers. We also need to celebrate the accomplishments of our peers because in the end we all want the same thing, readers.  We can’t be authors without the readers. And in order for that to happen, as authors, we also have to be the readers.

What is truly important to you?  

At an environmental education conference, I participated in an activity about personal values. We individually had to write down all these different values (about 30) on index cards. Each of these things were important to us in some way and categorized into the following:

Family, Occupation, Activities, Religion, Health, Traits

Some of mine included: mom, dad, husband, each of my kids, painting, social media, television, teaching, creativity, book and financial stability.

Then, little by little, the moderator asked each of us to eliminate a few things from our life by ripping up the cards. The process was hard when I ripped up an activity or a trait. It was tough to get rid of things like my cell phone and my house. But it was very emotional and heartbreaking when I had to eliminate people from my life.

Tears gathered in my eyes as I tore up my parents cards and my husband.

In the end, I was supposed to have one card. However, I am a rule breaker and I had two cards: each of my two kids. I just couldn’t bring myself to rip up their cards. I would have much rather ripped up myself.

Personal Values

But what this activity did do for me is help me focus on the things that are truly important in my life. And that one thing (or, in my case, two things) should be the real reason you do anything and everything else during your life.

Definition: A personal value is an individual’s absolute or relative and ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action.

So, ask yourself: what is truly important in your life? What keeps you going? What helps you get up in the morning? What helps you fall asleep peacefully at night?

Personal Values (and there are so many more than this!)

Accountability, Achievement, Adaptability, Ambition, Attitude, Awareness, Balance (home/work), Being the best, Caring, Coaching, Mentoring, Commitment, Community Involvement, Compassion, Competence, Conflict Resolution, Continuous learning, Cooperation, Courage, Creativity, Dialogue, Ease with uncertainty, Enthusiasm, Entrepreneurial, Environmental, Efficiency, Ethics, Excellence, Fairness, Family, Financial stability, Forgiveness, Friendships, Future generations, Generosity, Health, Honesty, Humility, Humor/fun, Independence, Integrity, Initiative, Intuition, Job security, Leadership, Listening, Making a difference, Open communication, Openness, Patience, Perseverance, Professional Growth, Personal fulfillment, Personal growth, Power, Recognition, Reliability, Respect, Responsibility, Safety, Self-discipline, Success, Teamwork, Trust, Vision, Wealth, Wellbeing, Wisdom

My Manuscript is a Victim of Distraction

I’ve been working on my manuscript for two years and am currently in my third or 10th draft of revisions. I honestly have lost track. Writing is a tough process, but getting published is way more challenging and painfully heartbreaking. But I haven’t even gotten published yet.

When you come to a stopping point in your writing, you typically take a break to see what everyone else is doing. There are zillions of distractions and temptations, especially on social media.

Every few days, I am tempted to research lit agents or participate in a Twitter pitch contest or something related. However, each of these distractions take me away from my main purpose and goal: To have a complete and polished manuscript.

Temptations come in all different forms to distract you from your writing/revising focus. If they offered free donuts and coffee, I would be screwed. Here are some typical questions that may come to your mind when you are feeling tempted:

  • Am I ready to query?
  • Is my MS good enough?
  • Am I missing my big break?
  • Does anyone care about my story?
  • What if I just try it now and see what happens?
  • What have I got to lose?

Stop! Be HONEST with yourself. Are you really ready? Sometimes, you have to pull your head out of the clouds and ask yourself the tough questions. Combat those questions with ways to continue working on your MS:

  • What is your story goal?
  • What does my main character want? What does my main character need?
  • Why is my character reacting like that? What fuels him/her? What is their motivation?
  • What is my word count?
  • Do I have a plot? Is there tension, conflict?
  • Who is the antagonist?
  • Do my characters have bios?
  • Have I checked for overused/unnecessary words? Should I check for crutch words?
  • What does my CP think? Do I even have a CP?
  • Have I received all feedback from my beta readers? (Tip: make sure you have objective beta readers, not just friends who will tell you what you hope to hear.)

During my process, which is always going to be a process, I found some great resources to link to:

Writer’s Digest

Better Novel Project

Helping Writers Become Authors by K.M. Weiland

If you know of any other resources, which there are tons, please let me know!

However, for all those seeking temptation and information, here are a few Twitter Pitch Contests/Resources to know about for your future (in no particular order):

PitchWars

PitchMas

PitchSlam

PitMad

Pit2Pub

MSWL

…and there are SO MANY MORE…check out Carissa Taylor’s Blog for a massive list. Pitch Contest Calendar.

 

 

 

Disastrous Rainy Days in South Carolina

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Rainy days are supposed to a time to hunker down and catch up on anything and everything indoors. However, when it rains for days, things tend to have a much different, disastrous outcome. We just experienced historic rainfall in South Carolina, tremendously impacting my coastal county. My family and I are very fortunate for not having any flooding issues in our neighborhood or any problems with our home or vehicles.

However, several friends and coworkers have had a different experience. Here is a slideshow of images from a local news station. Scenes of Flooding. As we get phone calls and texts checking on everyone, my heart aches as we work to rebuild and try to find normalcy.

Schools and daycares have been closed due to road closures and flooding, so I have been home with my kids for a few days. Weirdly enough, I haven’t gone stir-crazy. But I have been obsessively watching social media updates, news stations and contacting friends and family.

While it was fine for me, I am praying for others and waiting to see how my friends’ homes are doing as the river continues to rise. It has not been a good situation and we aren’t out of it yet. Thoughts and prayers are welcome for South Carolina.

Aerial Video of Flooding

Concerned About River Flooding

South Carolina ‘We Lost Everything’