NaNoWriMo for Newbies – Part 3, Subplots

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Okay, so the picture is completely unrelated, but I found it on the NaNo page on Facebook and I think it perfectly sums up how it feels to be a writer.

Anyways, today I’ll be talking about subplots. So, here’s all we’ve got so far with parts 1 through 2 1/2:

My story is about a fun-loving girl who needs to keep her secret hidden in order to continue impersonating the princess until the real one is found. When Wild meets Daviat, she thinks he’s boring and rude. Then, he’s assigned to guard her at all times, and they are forced to put up with each other.  Daviat proves his love when he runs away from the castle with Wild to protect her.

So, it’s hard to distinguish what is plot and what is subplot, so I’m going to call it safe and say that both the romance and impersonating the princess counts as the main plot, because they’re really tied to each other, and I can’t have one without the other. To keep things interesting, you need a subplot. Or two. Or six. Really, this being NaNoWriMo, I’m not going to tell you how many you can have (especially since my novel Kiss of The Fey has more than a few, though they are tiny) but here is a quote from another blog on the matter:

That being so, here is my formula for the maximum number of subplots, by word count, you can have in your novel (a novel being a minimum of 60,000 words).
60k words: 1 subplot (e.g., in a category romance, you might have the female Lead plotline, and the love interest plotline, which intersect)
80k: 2-3
100k: 3-4
Over 100 k: 5
James Scott Bell

So, since NaNoWriMo’s goal is 50,000 words we’ll focus on one subplot today. Because I like them so much, here’s another fill in the blank:

While (MC) (blanks), (blank) happens to (character). (Character) must (blank) to make things right.

Yes, that’s very vague, but there is so much room for subplots that it’s hard to narrow down. I’m not trying to give you ideas, but to help you translate your imagination into a paragraph you can work on to write you novel.

Here’s my fill in the blank:

While Wild learns to be a princess, the real princess is taken by the kidnappers and kept as a hostage. The real princess must survive the savage band of barbarians if she ever wants to see her family again.

Again, it’s not exact, just a general guideline. This is a reminder that there are adoptable in the NaNoWriMo forums, so if you still can’t think of a plot, a character, or a subplot, you can snatch one from over there. Here’s another example of how a subplot would fit into the fill in the blank: While MC fights the villain, she begins seeing a dark figure lurking out of the corner of her eyes. She must find the source of this shadow before she can hope to send the villain back to the dark realm. (If you want that plot, you can have it. It was from the adoptable.) 

I hope that helped some of you. Next time I will be covering outlining, and then there will be one post on general tips for reaching 50,000 words.

If you missed it, part one on plot was here, part two on your main character was here, and part two and a half on your love interest was here.

NaNoWriMo For Newbies – Part 2 ½, Your Love Interest

As you can see, I’ve labeled this as part 2 ½ because I know that many of you aren’t writing romance. That’s fine. Tune back in for part three, but for those of you who want to put that spark into your writing, this is the place to be. (If you missed it, part one, the plot is here and part two, your MC is here.)

Alright, so your MC is going to fall in love with this love interest, who’ll be called Squishy from this point on. If you’re writing a romance, you likely considered Squishy when writing your plot from part one. However, you might not have. I didn’t:

My story is about a fun-loving girl who needs to keep her secret hidden in order to continue impersonating the princess until the real one is found.

Because there are other elements in my story, there’s no hint of romance in it. So we need another fill in the blank.

When MC meets (Squishy) he/she thinks (blank). Then, (blank) happens and they (blank).

That’s very broad, but here’s how I would apply it to my story:

When Wild meets Daviat, she thinks he’s boring and rude. Then, he’s assigned to guard her at all times, and they are forced to put up with each other.

Clearly, just from that sentence you can see a plot emerging. Wild is fun-loving, but Daviat is a stick in the mud. He guards her to keep her in line while she’s impersonating the princess, and you can think of all the situations where they could connect since they’re together 24/7.

Here’s another fill in the blank to be applied to the second act of your novel (or at least it shouldn’t happen in the beginning if you’re writing a romance):

(Squishy) proves his/her love when he/she (blanks) for (MC).

My example: Daviat proves his love when he runs away from the castle with Wild to protect her.

Once you’ve completed that, here are some general romance tips:

  • If your main genre is romance, you need subplots. You can’t have an entire novel of MC and Squishy falling in love.
  • Avoid love triangles, please.
  • No matter what genre you’re writing, your characters CANNOT fall in love instantly unless they acknowledge that it is way too sudden but they can’t stop it OR you’re using as a plot device in YA like, “Oh silly teenager you think you’re in love.” By taking out the slow progression of romance, you’re killing the genre.

Anyways, I hope this helped! Part three will be sub-plots!

NaNoWriMo For Newbies – Part Two, Your MC

So, you’ve got your plot. A basic one, at least. Now you need a character. I think it’s important to develop your character before fully developing your plot, because your character can change the plot. My nano novel was going to be about a girl who was a shapeshifter, but shapeshifting had to be her secret power that she was afraid of. Once I learned more about my character, I realized that Wild would think that shapeshifting was AWESOME. She would LOVE it. So I had to change her power, which changed the plot.

In my opinion, the best way to develop your character is to take as many character quizes as you can. Not the “Your Character is XYZ” type of quiz, but the ones that ask you tons of questions about your characters. Quizes for dating sites might work too. Here are some sample questions that you all can start with.

What is your character’s full name?

Wistar “Wild” Banister

Who are your character’s parents?

She was raised by a washerwoman and her husband along with her three daughters. Wild’s real parents are hidden to avoid possible spoilers, but I know who they are 😉

What does your character look like? (Tip: Never should this entire description appear in your novel in one area.)

She has short black hair and bright purple eyes. Her skin is very pale, almost white, and she’s a very dainty woman. She looks very young and has a slender nose and red lips.

Does your character have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics?

She’s eager to talk to anyone new she sees, almost like a dog. She trusts everyone she meets and thinks that everyone has good inside of them. She gets annoyed when someone doesn’t want to do whatever fun thing comes into her head (like climb a tree or go swimming).

Has your character had his/her first kiss? Is he/she a virgin? Are they currently in a relationship?

No, yes, no.

Who means the most to your character (at the start of the novel)?

Quade. He found her when she thought she would die from loneliness. Granted, he’s the only person she interacts with, and if her dog was a person she’d probably pick her, but that’s that.

What is your character’s greatest fear?

That she’ll be lose control and end up completely alone again.

If your character could change one thing about him/herself, what would it be?

Wild wishes that she was just like everyone else, with a family and something to do every day other than run around with her dog.

 

I’ll leave you guys to find your own quizzes, because you might be able to find some tailored to your exact gender GENRE (I cannot believe I wrote gender, this is because the Amish people in Breaking Amish are wearing distractingly bright clothes). So go forth, flesh out your main character! You can do it for as many characters as you want, knock yourself out.

Next time we shall be talking about how to develop a love interest (so feel free to skip that for those of you not dealing in romance).

Part One is here.

Make an Inspiration Folder!

Someone gave me this idea on the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook, and I have to admit that I think it’s a great idea. Basically, before you start a project you collect a bunch of pictures related to the story that you can look back on and be inspired by. I started one for my NaNoWriMo novel. Here are some examples.

Castle Galin

I was just looking up castles and found this and decided it was perfect. Half the story takes place in a castle, and I love the idea of a castle on the river.

Dead Butterfly

I was just looking up random things when I found this. It created a whole new scene that will fit perfectly in my book (and yes, that’s a dead butterfly).

Princess Wild

Now, I don’t find pictures of characters that look just like them. Wild is dainty with pale skin and black hair, but I imagine that this is how mischievous she would look sneaking around the castle.

Warrior Woman 2I’m so glad I found this. One of the characters is a crazy warrior who leads a band of mercenaries with her husband and she is just fearless and fierce and this picture is really perfect to describe her.

Try something similar before starting a big project and see if it helps! I need to look up more pictures now relating to the weather or the seasons so I can be more inspired when I look at them.

(I found all of these pictures on DeviantArt, none of them are mine.)

 

Don’t Lose Momentum While Writing!

I cannot stress this enough. I wrote the first quarter of A Game of Madness then put it aside, then picked it up again this summer and wrote up to the halfway point. Now I have to start again with no idea what to write or how I should go about getting to the end of the novel. I forget what happened previously and the characters’ voices are all but lost in my head. It’s going to be like pulling teeth to get started again, and I need to finish it before November.

When you start writing something, finish it. Even if it’s only 100 words a day, that’s better than nothing. If you can’t find any inspiration to write that day, don’t wander from your story. Take a character quiz or draw a map of your world; anything to stay invested in it. I’m beating myself up for letting so much time go between when I started writing A Game of Madness and now. I need to finish it, but the spark is gone. I need to make a new spark and get my ass in gear!

I have all the time in the world, but I’m procrastinating to avoid starting to write again. I’m hoping that once I get some more reviewers, I can give a little less attention to publishing Kiss of The Fey. I’ve read that there’s no use marketing a book if it’s the only one you’ve published, so that’s why I want to write more in the first place. Once I get the ball rolling again I should be fine, but in the meantime I’ll continue trying to remember why I even started writing this anyways. :\

How to Choose a Topic To Write About

I sat down and though, “Hmmm, I should write a blog post. But about what? Oh, I know! About picking topics to write about! Gosh I’m clever.”

I think that what I’m going to talk about will apply to all writing, whether it be your novel, poem, essay, or blog post. Writing is just tapping into your creativity and using words to express what you mean to say. Writers who have a firm grasp on the mechanics of writing might find this easier than others, but in the end anyone can write as long as they have creativity (they might need a really good editor, though).

What I feel helps me think of a topic is just blocking out everything else and letting something come to mind. For example, I was wondering what I’ll do when I’m done writing the Fairy Curse novels. That will be years from now, but I was still a little concerned. I tried to think of how I could stay in the same genre so that my readers would like the new content without having to repeat what I already had done. I thought, “Okay, what would exist in the context of magic, medieval world, and romance. Well… witches, of course!” Then you need to expand on that. “Well, what makes my witch special? Well, how about how she uses her magic. She likes using potions to help cure the villagers around her! And she’s very choosy about her friends, her only companion is a transsexual vampire who hates people.”

It can work for essays the same way. I have to do a research project later in the semester so I was brainstorming on what I want to do. I was thinking that I should have it connect to both my majors, psychology and criminal justice, and that it should be something I can potentially connect to my senior project. I want to possibly work with juveniles, so I was working within that context. Juveniles, criminal justice, psychology…. How do people perceive juvenile offenders verses adult offenders in minor crimes? As in, who deserves to be punished more for shoplifting, a 14-year-old or a 46-year-old?

Finding a topic is just about narrowing down your choices. Say you have to write a novel about something. Anything. You don’t have any ideas, but you need to write it (we’ll assume it’s getting close to November). Alright, you can do this. I believe in you. What genre do you want to write in? Romance? Fantasy? Both? Science Fiction? Historical Fiction? If you can’t decide, just pick the genre you like reading in most. From there, ask yourself a few more questions. Do you want the main character to be male or female? Why? Will their gender be an important part of the story (females being paid less, a man being forced to join the army)? What is this person going to do? Solve a mystery? Go on an adventure? Fall in love? Navigate intergalactic high school? Outrun death? Where does the story start in their life, and where does it end? What do you want to change by the end of the story?

It’s too overwhelming if you just ask, “What should I write?” The importance is in narrowing down the questions.

As you ask more questions, you’ll get more details. It doesn’t matter if they’re good ideas or not, write them down until you have something better. At some point you’ll say, “No, it’s stupid if my character goes to intergalactic high school and is still dating a human. She’s not going to date an alien, so I guess it’s just going to be a normal high school” until all the details are how you want them (though these changes might continue well into the final drafts of your novel).

If none of that works for you, just use a plot generator. You can write about the gnome who fell in love with the ballerina dancer on Mars. Best of luck to you.

 

Does anyone else have any specific techniques they use to find inspiration?

How to Self-Publish Your Novel Professionally – Step Three: Interior Formatting

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Edit: Clearer instructions on page numbering.

Alright, so your content is done. Your cover is done. What’s next? The interior formatting. I’ll tell you right now that I am not going to tell you the easiest way to do this. Why? Because I know nothing about Word. I’m sure some of you will know an easier way than this, but this is how I did it and it worked for me. My print version looks great. It works.

Before anything, you’re going to want to download Createspace’s template. I actually recommend copying the page specifications from that to a new document so that it’s completely fresh. You should have mirrored margins and the page dimensions should be the same as your cover (if that wasn’t obvious). Do not alter their suggested margins. You don’t want your text looking funny.

I used Microsoft Word for all the formatting. I typically use LibreOffice to write, so I had to copy the file over to a computer with Word on it to get everything looking pretty. If you don’t have Word, go to a library and use theirs for a day. You need something with full editing capabilities.

  1. First, you need to do the opening page. This is basically going to be your title restated in print. You can skip that, if you want, but most books have it. Do you want your book to look like other books? If so, don’t skip this.
  2. Next, the copyright. You know how I told you all to apply for copyright for your book? Did you do that yet? (I mean, I didn’t, but that’s because our printer broke, I’ll get to it). You’re gonna need that for this part. You put that in as well as the “this book isn’t based on your mom” thing and “if you pirate this you die” as well as your ISBN.
  3. Third, you can make a page for previous work you’ve published. For me, my third page says “A fairy curse novel” because it’s in that universe. All the other books in the universe will say the same thing, then the back page will have all the books published so far. So if this is part of a sequel, you can put that there. If you want to put reviews like they do in NY Times Bestseller books, go ahead. Also any dedications or acknowledgments.
  4. I then have a blank page. That’s fine. Gotta love blank pages.
  5. Next I have a map someone drew for me. It is the most amateur thing about this entire book, but it looks good enough. I don’t have the money to pay someone so hopefully people will think I’m going for the simple look rather than the poor look.
  6. I have another blank page. Typically, you don’t want anything like the copyright or dedications beside where your story starts. It’s just distracting.
  7. Alright, now the story starts. Notice, I haven’t mentioned page numbers up until now. That’s because you shouldn’t have page numbers before the story starts. Supposedly, if you create a page break between the last page and this page, you can start the numbering at 1, but I couldn’t get it to work, possibly because the document has mirror margins. What I had to do was create three separate documents, one for the pages before the story that didn’t need numbers, one for the story, and one for the part after the story that didn’t need numbers. So now that you’re finished with the first few pages, covert that to a pdf and save it as “Start” or something like that.
    EDIT: You should be able to start the page numbering by inserting a section break at the end of the first section. You then have to unclick the “link to previous” option for both the header and the footer. The footer/header should now say section 1/section 2 and so on. Do the same thing for the last section or for each chapter break if you want a chapter heading in the actual header.
    Formatting the bulk of the story just required common sense. Go through and look for single words that have been left on pages of their own and make sure line breaks look alright. Do NOT use **** for a line break in a printed book or anything like that. It looks super unprofessional. I used two paragraph breaks and started the new section without an indented first line. It works great.
    To start a chapter, you need a chapter heading. Whatever you do, don’t make it a random italic font in large letters. Or Comic Sans. It looks bad. Use the same font you use for the story and make it a few sizes bigger or get a free font off the web that looks cool. Just use your common sense for this one. Do the fonts work? Are they easy to read? Could you expect to pick up a book that looked like that in the bookstore?
    As for page numbers, the mirror margins mean that page 1 and page 2 will be different. So you can put the number for page 1 and all odd numbers on the left and the number for page 2 and all the even numbers on the right. Do not put them on the same side. One of them will be eaten by the book’s spine when printed and it will look like shit.
    If you want, you can also put your name/ the book’s title in the header. Lots of books do this, just “Author Name” on the top of one page and “Book Title” for the next. If you want each chapter to have it’s own header saying which chapter it is, the only way I know how to do this is to break up each chapter into a separate document and convert them to a PDF. It will be extra work, but the finished product should look normal.
    Again, once you finish with the story save it as a PDF named “middle”. Or “farts”. Really, it just has to be something you’ll remember.
  8. Not everyone will have something at the end of the book, but I don’t think it looks right to go from “The End” to the back cover. I added an “About the Author” segment. Again, no page numbers. Make sure that for your proof copy the back cover is left blank, because they’re going to print PROOF real big (assuming you’re using CreateSpace). Save the file as a pdf named “end”.
  9. Alright you now have three separate PDF files. Again, sorry if there is an easier way, but this is how I did it. Go to this site and upload start, middle, and end. Download the result. Upload that to CreateSpace and see if there are any issues.
    If for some reason the margins aren’t coming up right, it could be because you didn’t merge them right. Say that you had the blank page before your story in the first document. That’s fine, but then your second document needs to start on an even page or the margins won’t be correctly placed. To do this, leave the first page in the second document blank and when converting it to a pdf, only convert page 2-251 to the pdf. That way, the first page in that second document should flow seamlessly with the first one.
  10. Finally, you’ll need to review the proof copy of your book. You have to make sure that everything looks good, from the cover to the interior formatting. Maybe get a few friends to look through it for you so you know that there aren’t any silly mistakes you’re missing.
  11. For kindle, the formatting is a lot simpler. Put your story into a new document. Don’t add page numbers or anything like that. Upload it to Amazon. Preview it. Does it look alright? If not, fix it. (Sorry, I don’t have much more to add. I uploaded a short story to Amazon as a test and it looked just like it was in the document.) Don’t try to format paragraphs specially (other than first line indents) or set the text a certain size. Kindle changes all that. Just use Times New Roman size 12.

I hope this was clear enough to be helpful. Part four will be marketing.

Here are some crappy webcam pictures of my proof copy:

Snapshot_20140815 Snapshot_20140815_1 Snapshot_20140815_2 Snapshot_20140815_3

How to Smash Through Writer’s Block

Writer’s block sucks. Seriously. There are almost 7 million results when you Google “How to get through writer’s block,” but I like to think that my advice is different. Because I’m going to tell you to suck it up.

You see, writer’s block isn’t a physical block. I’m not going to hold your hand and tell you to drink tea and take a vacation to a relaxing tropical destination. I’m going to tell you a little secret.

The only way to get past writer’s block is to write.

Now, this seems pretty obvious, but some people don’t treat it as such. They act like the only way to get past writer’s block is to do yoga and meditate until you get an answer from above on how to write your next scene. The truth is, it’s a lot simpler than that.

However, I believe there are two different kinds of writers block. First, we’ll talk about the hardest type.

“I don’t know what to write next. I have no ideas on how to continue the story!”

Alright, I know that feeling. It sucks. You get the princess out of the dragon-guarded castle, but then what? Is she going to go on an adventure? Sail the world? Fall in love?

Lots of time this type of writer’s block comes from improper planning. You get started on a story without really knowing where it’s going. This is how I first started writing back in middle school. “Oh! I know! I’ll write a story about two girls running away from an orphanage to find their real father!” So I would write them slipping out of the orphanage… walking along the highway…. then nothing. The story ended there. I didn’t know how to continue.

Unfortunately, there’s sometimes no way to salvage a story in this state of writer’s block. Sometimes your brain won’t give you the answer when you ask “What happens next?” You can try to write another story or a few poems, or to look at pretty pictures and listen to music for inspiration, but if there’s no spark, you’re not going to get anything. Some stories don’t have the potential to make it to their final draft.  It’s sad, but true.

However, maybe your story isn’t lost to the world. Visit plot generators (even though their suggestions are always completely off the wall) or visit this forum for ideas. If you know that the story started with A and ends with Z but just don’t know how to get there, make something up. Zombies, vampires, random volcano, new girl at school, a death in the family, anything. Write literally anything just to keep the plot moving. If it’s a terrible idea, you can always edit it out once you’re done.

“I’m stuck at this scene. It’s really important and I don’t want to get it wrong.”

This is the second type of writer’s block, and it can be a bit trickier. However, I’ll tell you the secret to getting that scene over with: Stop caring. Unless you’re writing an essay for the SATs, you’re going to be able to go back and fix mistakes. That means fixing the sex scene where both characters acted like cardboard ducks and rewriting the tearful confession that was so bad it brought tears of laughter to your beta reader’s eyes. Honestly, in longer pieces, it’s better to write “JESUS THEY KISS OR SOMETHING MOVING ON” and keep going than to sit there staring at the screen wondering how to word everything.

Luckily, this is the easiest form of writer’s block to get past. You just have to sit down and force yourself to write. Tell yourself you’re not eating until you finish that scene (though I recommend against this if the scene is going to be upwards of 5000 words). I had a tricky sex scene that I put off for days that I finished by locking myself in my room until I got it out there. It really hurt my writing since those were days that I had set aside specifically for writing. Had I gotten that scene out of the way, I could have written a lot more.

Basically, this is all about tough love. Suck it up and write it. Write nonsense if you have to, you can go back and fix it later. Give it a day or two to stew if you MUST, but no longer than that. Momentum is very important when working on longer pieces. If you are away from a project for too long, you’ll not only forget where you were, but you’ll forget the voices of your characters. I once stopped a project for so long that I changed a character’s name from Joy to Hope and didn’t notice until I went back through for editing. Just force yourself to write. Even if your wrists hurt and your fingertips are sore, you’ll thank yourself later.

What was the worst writer’s block you ever had, and how did you get rid of it?

Who is the character you sympathize most with?

I always try to make characters you can sympathize with. Since I’ve started reading The Host I can see how wrong it can go when you fail to make a sympathetic character. Stephanie Meyer wrote the main character to be a parasite that took over a human body. We’re supposed to feel sorry for her because she feels she doesn’t belong and all the humans want to kill her. The problem is, she is constantly complaining and crying and she won’t stand up for herself. She’s a really terrible character overall, but you can’t sympathize for someone you find annoying who won’t do anything to help her situation.

There are two characters I’ve always sympathized with. The first one every knows; Professor Snape.

snape

Professor Snape was an asshole to Harry, yes. However, we learned that there was a reason that he was so mean. Harry’s father bullied him, all the Gryffindors bullied him. He grew up in a shitty neighborhood with shitty parents. His entire life sucked, and the only people who were ever kind to him were the evil people. Then he lost the woman he loved most in the world. He spent the rest of his life trying to make up for it, then was killed ultimately for a mistake he made as a teenager.

The second one might not be as well known. It’s the cop from Bridesmaids.

Chris_O_Dowd_in_Bridesmaids

I sympathize with him because he’s just such a nice guy. He is like the nicest guy ever, and he’s cute and charming and adorable. If you haven’t seen the movie, Annie used to have a bakery but it failed so she stopped baking. The cop (yeah, I forget his name) and Annie spend the night at the cop’s place and she wakes up and finds that he went out and bought baking supplies to try to get her back into baking. We then have to watch him get all sad and stuff because Annie gets confused and turns him down and is basically a bitch. (Don’t worry, they end up together, I’m pretty sure… I forget).

So which characters do you really sympathize with? Do you ever examine what makes you sympathize them to apply it to your own characters?

What is the hardest thing about writing?

What is the hardest thing about writing?

I put that question into Google to see what others thought about the hardest part of writing. Here are the top answers (one from each page).

lala1

1. Showing up. Actually starting your project. Just sitting down and getting it written.

I can see how this can be difficult. There are so many things that go into a novel that it can be hard to actually start that first chapter. You have the characters to sketch and name, you have the back story for your world and your characters to plan, you might need maps for your fantasy world or extensive research to get your period piece just right. All of these things can distract from actually getting started.

The trick to get past this is… to write. Shove everything else aside and get some words down. You can research later and use Bob, Bob1, and Bob2 in place of names until you have time to get them sorted out. When you’re enthusiastic about a project, start writing before you lose that enthusiasm.

lala2

2. Dialogue. Getting it to sound realistic with a good flow.

I see lots of people that have trouble with this. You read their dialogue and think “No one would ever talk like this.” It gets more difficult when writing historical fiction, fantasy, or anything out of the ordinary that might call for a change in dialect.

To get past this, play it safe. Write like you were talking to a friend. Try typing up a few scenes like a script to get a better handle on the dialogue or write a piece that’s only dialogue and see if your readers can still figure out what’s going on. Have others read your story while focusing on your dialogue and give tips on how to improve. Even just reading more will help you improve.

Exercise Amalgam Dart

3. Finding something to write about.

I always had trouble with this when writing non-fiction for school. Sometimes I still struggle with it. I’ll think okay, I want to write about dragons. But what about the dragons? The dragons themselves, or the people in that world? Will the dragons be good or bad? What will the actual plot be? Who are the character? What is life?

If you honestly have nothing to write about, find a writing prompt website or a plot generator. Write a short story or a silly little parody in which you replace the vampires in Twilight with gnomes. As long as it keeps you writing, go with it.

lala4

4. Not just writing, but writing something good and finishing it.

I struggle with this so much. Starting it is the easiest for me, but finishing is the hardest. The first four chapters are always easy, then getting past the fifth is the hardest. Then once I get past that point I tell myself that I have to finish the book since I put so much effort into it already. It’s the middle of the book where things really get difficult for me and I usually take a few weeks off rather than forcing myself to write.

How to fix this? Force yourself to write. Either set up a time that you’ll write each day, tell a friend to bug you about it, or set yourself rewards like every hundred words you write gets you a cookie. Just keep in mind how proud you’ll be of yourself when you finally finish that project. Won’t it be awesome?

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5. Creating complex characters that win over an audience.

Is your character a Mary Sue? Is she boring, too perfect, or too bitchy? Does she complain so much that the readers will want to strangle her? Is your love interest boring and lifeless? Does your boy wizard happy to have the same personality as Harry Potter? Are your characters inconsistent, calling themselves nice one second and screaming at a child in the next?

This is a difficult one. Characterization is something a lot of beginning authors struggle with. For an example of amazing characterization, read A Song of Ice and Fire. His characters are all distinctly different and all have their own personalities. Alternatively, find a character quiz and fill it out for each character. If all the answers are starting to look the same, you know you need to do more work to make your characters unique.

What is most difficult for you? Is it on this list? Do you know of a good way to beat it?