Being an author is a messy, amazing, and rewarding job. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way...
1. Read! (Says the girl who read seventy books last year.) By read, I mean read critically. By analyzing what makes a good book, I’ve unconsciously learned to take those components and add them to my own writing arsenal.
For example, I read a lot of books for younger kids. Enough to know that mysteries, special trips, and amazing food make those books soooo much fun. When I wrote my short story “Enjoy the Poodle Skirt”, I included some of these themes. The story is original to me, but I learned how to make it tick from reading other books.
2. Observe! Some of my favorite story ideas, props, and characters originate from paying close attention to the everyday. We have a tree in our yard with “dragon scale roots”. I have several youngers sisters and four nephews under the age of four. (Story material right there!) I’m constantly adding things to my “Use in a Story Someday” file consciously or not.
My character Brennan from my story “Kiera” could be described as “looking like Kirk Cameron (more hair, though) with the personality of Chief Sanders from a tv show, but when he’s sad he shuts off like such and such we used to know”. He’s quite the combination!
3. Study, study, study! I’m not a big fan ofstudying… It’s so boring when I’d rather be writing, writing, writing. While analyzing books and observing life does count for study, there’s still nothing quite so helpful as some good ol’ non-fiction how-to books. That’s right. The boring kind of study.
A few resources I’ve benefited from are Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” (short and helpful!) and “Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink” by Gail Carson Levine. This book is so encouraging and gives some great writing tips without being too dry. Another good one is “Finding the Core of Your Story” by Jordan Smith. It’s short and humorous, encouraging authors to sum up their story plot in ONE SENTENCE for marketing purposes and staying on track.
There are plenty of other great books, websites, and coursesfor aspiring authors, and I’m just getting started discovering them. ;)
4. Keep deadlines by writing every day. This is the hardest one on the list, but the most important too. Traditionally published authors follow very tight schedules, and even though I’m self-published I’m learning to hold myself to the same standard. A lot more gets done this way. ;)
Noble Novels has been a great place to learn what it’s like to have recurring deadlines. Even if I have to take a break to prepare a backstock of stories for when life gets crazy, the accountability is worth it. ;)
NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo are also great ways to set goals and deadlines to get those words written! I’m using the April session for revisions and this November to hopefully start a brand new novel. *grins* (You can read more about both of them here. http://nanowrimo.org/abouthttp://campnanowrimo.org/about)
What do you think? Do you have any tips to share?
Kate has been homeschooled her whole life in a loving family where the Gospel of Jesus Christ, creativity, and good conversations are high priorities. She loves red shoes, a good story, little children, and chai tea. It is her desire to serve God in the home ultimately having a family of her own in the future. She is the author of The Treasure Hunt, numerous short stories, and many other works she hopes to share with you.
Have you ever been in a place where you were so consumed by missing or wanting this one thing? It seemed like you were stuck in a rut and couldn't get out. But then God met you. He revived you and gave you amazing strength! Whether you have been in that place or not, you are sure to enjoy Maggie's story today called "Keep Walking".
I really like this banner for today's story by Grace. You want to know why? Okay, so read the title and the author together aloud. It's sounds kinda of funny together, but if you think it about it after you read the story, in some strange way, it is really insightful and gives a new perspective about the story! See if you can figure it out! (Grace, if you knew that, awesome job! If not, please don't think I am trying to make fun of your name or your story. Quite the opposite, I assure you!) Anyway, despite what the title may imply, this story is just fine for young readers to read. I will only give you a little hint: it is based off a story in the Bible. Head on over to Grace' page to read her story! As always, it is thought provoking and well written!
Also, some of you may have noticed something on your page that looks like this:
That is something for a new feature coming soon (that is not related to anything going on currently, by the way.) Please just ignore it for now and I will tell you more about it soon!
On another note, I am leaving today for San Antonio for a week. Consider this week Spring break and for those who are on the schedule this week, you can send in your stories the next week after. That means we should have double the stories two weeks from now. Thanks!
Before we get on to today's challenge, I just wanted to share something. Maggie brought up a good question that I want to explain on here for you all. She was wondering if her description could be more character based vs. just describing the scene. Now, the point of this challenge is to stretch you all in writing descriptions. It is a bit of a challenge to just stick to a description for a scene vs. a character. (I think we all can agree that it's easier to write a description of a character over a scene! )I want to challenge you all and help build your writing skills as well as have some fun! What I have decided to do is to have a scene picture for two weeks and then the third week throw in a character type picture! That way you can get challenged to describe both. Feel free to write a scene from a character's point of view, however, don't focus so much on the character. The point is to describe the picture itself and not the characters reactions. But when it is a character picture week, describe the picture anyway you want to!
Without further ado, here this week's picture to describe!
Since I’m a Christian author, I want to include my Savior in my stories. I do have my characters share the Gospel, listen to a short sermon in church, or seek advice; but one of my favorite ways to accomplish this is modeling a relationship with Christ in their everyday lives. When we first watched the Jimmy Stewart movie You Can’t Take It With You, we were struck by the way the father of the family prayed. He talked to God as His friend.
Sometimes I think we can tend to move along in our stories and suddenly remember, “Oh, wait. I’m not a humanist. This character can’t do it on his own! He’ll pray, and then it will work out.”
Basically calling 911. That’s no relationship.
What happened to praising God for everyday gifts? Ordinary things? Asking Him to help find mayonnaise in the refrigerator? Chatting about struggles in how to treat a friend properly?
I’m not very good at this in my own life much less in my stories. After all, stories are about conflict; so naturally it’s hard to slow down to have a character read their Bible and pray about something other than that huge plot point that just happened.
It’s fine for them to pray about the life-altering wringer you are putting them through (I’m looking at you, author!) but let’s bring God into the everyday joys and struggles. Let’s have the character pray for mayonnaise or sing a joyful hymn. (Like Aggie does!) Maybe show them going to church. I even put a sticky note on Kiera’s mirror reminding her to read her Bible, since the struggle is real. What do you think? Do you have any tips to share?
Holly is a nineteen year old writer, musician, budding filmmaker, entrepreneur, and photographer. She is thankful for the amazing grace that God has poured out on her life and desires to live her life to fully glorify Him!
Pages recently updated as of 7/18/17: Resources (some links were changed and/or added)