Defiance: Dragonics & Runics Part I
Rule #1: Stay the Udlast away from the Dragons.
Rule #2: Defy the Council or die trying. Read more
Unbelievable worlds and stories are just A. Wrighton's cup of tea. Refusing to let traditional rules bind creativity, she constantly pushes the boundaries on genres and storytelling. So, if you want something new & fresh, you want to read A. Wrighton. More >>
Translating the concept of script coverage & development to all media isn't a new concept, but A. Wrighton has trademarked this process with compassion, attention to detail, and dedication. More
Content to maintain her brand & creative control and armed with a MFA in Creative Writing, A. Wrighton has navigated the indie book world and offers a blog full of writing tips & advice including publishing, marketing, branding, & storytelling. More
Take a Stand & Defy the Council!
Defiance: Dragoncis & Runics Part I is now available in paperback & Kindle formats. Coming to all other ebook formats this June.
Allegiance: Dragonics & Runics Part II is due to be released this Summer/Fall.
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Rule #1: Stay the Udlast away from the Dragons.
Rule #2: Defy the Council or die trying. Read more
You know the last few pages at the end of a manual where they tell you in this neat little grid (which I swear is actually mocking your feelings of inadequacy for having to go to the last few pages in the first place) how to fix what is wrong and what you’re doing that is wrong?
Consider this one of those troubleshooting pages for writers. A fiction troubleshooting section if you will. It is in by no way complete and I will have to continue building on it as I continue on my writing journey. I did, however, want to bring forward some of the common troubleshooting problems I see in stories I’ve read, edited or written and how to take a stab at fixing them.
This character started out so true-to-life and realistic but now it’s just a stereotype (and a bad one at that)!
Pump the brakes! Stop and go back through everything you’ve written and find the best essence of your character. Maybe it’s on that napkin or notepad. Maybe it’s in that email that you sent to your bestie about this great story concept with such-and-such character.
Re-familiarize yourself with your character. Sit down and say hello, re-explore who and what they are.
Then, and only then, look at where that particular character went wrong. Where did they start turning into a common stereotype? Why? What are they saying that makes them a stereotype? Go through your story with a flea comb and weed out all the naughty mistyped moments you’ve placed into your story.
Highlight them. Read them. Review them.
Then, rewrite them to match with that first great excerpt.
Everyone who has read my story is saying they don’t get emotionally involved with the main character(s) and that they can’t relate to the story because of it!
Deep breath. Take a moment and step away from the manuscript. Put the pencil or pen down. Back away from the computer. Just because you know everything about your characters doesn’t mean that your readers do. In fact, you can bet that unless you have taken utmost pains to convey and express everything well about this character, there is going to be some degree of disconnect from how you perceive your character to how your reader perceives them. This happens in every story. As a writer, your job is to minimize the disconnect of perceptions.
You can’t do that if you’re freaking out over critiques saying they don’t get your character or commenting on something that they’ve missed because they don’t understand who or what your character is…
You can do that by exploring why people should care about your character. What is their strength? Weakness? What makes them likeable, admirable, relatable? Make a list. Yes, a real list – on paper.
Now, look at that list and expound. How does your character exemplify each of these character signature traits?
How is Kalyna brave? She defies the laws against peddling. She hides in plain sight despite her ungodly abilities. She gives up revenge to save others. She fights against beasts three times her size without hesitation.
When you’ve done this, go to your story. Find where each of these qualities are exemplified and, when you find where there’s no example of how a quality is expressed, that is where you start rewriting and re-exploring your character.
This character isn’t behaving like they should and they’re acting like someone else!
Check your ego and really look at who the character in question has become. Maybe they are someone worth keeping and using instead. Maybe not.
If not, backtrack and find where your character put on this other character’s persona. Now, figure out why. Were you trying to accommodate needs in the scene? in the plot?
Take a look at each scene after where your character shifted in personality and note what they should have done had their character remained the same. After you finish writing all the notes down, go back and use them to rewrite.
This character was amazing and now they’re just blah!
Go back to your story and find all the blah parts. Blah! Blah! Blah!
Highlight them, circle them, whatever them, but make sure you know where they are. Now, stare at them. Figure out what you made your character do that is not natural to them – not in their character and fix it.
Everyone is saying that my plot isn’t original – that they’ve seen and read it a million times.
If they’re all saying this, believe them. We are all influenced by outside perceptions, events, and objects. It’s okay that it happened but you have to admit it first. Then, you have to figure out what you were influenced by. Was it a movie? A book? A true story?
Find those influences and weed them out. Once you do, you can start dissecting them. Why are they the same? What worked from the original plot that you wanted to borrow? How can you put your own twist on that aspect?
Once you’ve admitted and brainstormed accordingly, you can start fixing it.
This plot sucks… and by sucks I mean it’s boring.
If you are dead set on the plot, reevaluate it through another’s eyes. Think of the great writers, your fellow writers, genre-specific writers (comedy, romance, sci-fi, etc.) and what they would do at any given scene (especially the boring ones) or with the entire concept. How can your plot translate into fantasy? 19th century America? horror? thriller? sci-fi? Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to be crazy, ridiculous, melodramatic, or absurd. Just get those creative juices flowing. Think. Think. Think. Think until your own version reappears with rejuvenated life.
If you’re still stuck, think of what the most spectacular WTF? or OH NO! or DAAAANG! moment would be in any given scene. Now, write it.
If, and only if, after all that brainstorming, creative juice whirling, and muse exploration you’ve got nothing – shelf the idea. It might suck, it might be painful, but shelf it. Don’t trash it – just put it away so you can revisit it later when your writing mind is back in it and ready to run away with it.
My story’s theme is unsteady and definitely uneven. It kinda wobbles around and flops about…
Never force creative juices to stop dead in their tracks. Ever.
Just slow them down a bit to evaluate where the theme is skipping about and how that theme runs its course. Maybe, in the end, your muse gave you something better in the end. Maybe your writing guided you there.
You really shouldn’t ignore your own creativity, should you? Embrace it and give it the due justice of serious consideration.
My story has a lot of themes… a lot of themes.
It’s okay to have more than one theme. Really. But when you start collecting them like toddlers collecting dandelions and making crowns out of them, you have a big issue. Having too many themes is the same thing as having none. It doesn’t end well for any involved.
Having too many of a good thing is going to so dilute the taste of it, that your readers will want none of any of it.
Pick the themes that have the most impact and strongest presence in your writing – characters, dialogue, voice, tone, etc. – and stick with them.
My backstory is repetitive and redundant.
Don’t harp on something. Yes, backstory will need to be told but you don’t have to beat your readers over the head like a caveman with a spiked club (back to the spikes we go).
You know that cool Find & Replace tool word processors have. Use it. Make it your bestie.
You know what the backstory contains so search for keywords and see if they’re repeated in various locations. If they are, take a leap. Make a commitment and choose where that piece of the backstory is most effective. Delete the others.
My exposition is dumb, contrived, and overly dramatic (at times funnily so).
Exposition is a balancing act. If you’re too over the top or under the expected, you’ve failed and it is time to re-evaluate everything. Hunt the cliches and extinguish them without discrimination. Be ruthless. Rephrase and rewrite with your own, original words. Tone down the over the top. Lift up the dumb. Find that happy balancing act and work it through.
Your exposition will be fixed in rewriting so don’t panic. Just put your nose to the grindstone and get moving.
My voice isn’t strong … it is kind of all over the place.
First step is to figure out where your voice is piecemeal. A professor I once had (and a wonderful woman who wrote a lovely book that most of these lessons and solutions are derived from) said to create a key for the symbols you will use while marking voice variations. So come up with your own and figure out where your voice is too light, too heavy, too formal/informal, too whatever. Make the symbols to match your concern and go hunting.
Take each section that you’d like to fix. Say it is a passage where the voice is too light. Read that passage and write a sentence or two saying what that passage should accomplish, have, say, do, etc. Now, go to a blank page or piece of paper. Start writing. Go with that inner voice. Freewrite until you find the voice you need.
Nobody is getting the emotion from my writing.
Try, try again. Get in touch with your emotions before rewriting. If your emotions are heightened and titillated by music, art, exercising – do it. Use the six senses as you write. Include the smells that will evoke the emotion you’re trying to relay. Fresh baked cookies remind most people of home and comfort, right? Use the common human experience and scale of emotion to your advantage.
My pacing isn’t working – it’s like two different books because something is unbalanced.
Okay, so pacing should vary to a point. The romance scene can’t be the same pace as an action scene – that’s a given. But, what should also be a given is that your story should have a rhythm and a connecting flow. If you don’t, it’s going to look like you’re either a schizophrenic or you asked your friend, and your friend’s friend, and their mom to come write the story with you.
Take a look at passages where the pace is off. Think about why. Why is the pace skipping about? Try rewriting the skipping passages in the pace they are meant to be in – action should be rewritten when you’re hyped up and excited, romance when you’re feeling all cuddly and warm. Then, try rewriting those same passages in the opposite pace they were meant to be in – action will be rewritten when you’re feeling cuddly and warm, romance will be rewritten when you feel amped up and ready to go, go, go!
Explore the rewrites and figure out which remedy worked for you. Then, go global.
For now at least. That was pretty much what I’ve encountered in the last few months editing, reviewing, critiquing, and writing. And hopefully, it’ll help you a smidgeon (or a wholelotgeon).
Now, back to the keyboard I merrily go…
Happy Mother’s Day to all my fellow mommy writers. You’ve certainly earned it!
I just wanted to take these few moments of your day to tip my hat to those who write in between naps, diaper changes, school drop offs, recitals, soccer practices, and dinner making.
We work our butts off for love of family and love of writing. And I don’t know how we do it (sometimes I wonder why) but we just do. So congrats, well done & thank you for never giving up on family and dream.
Hope your Mother’s Day was as amazing as mine since it’s back to the grindstone tomorrow.
Well then, now I feel better. At least, I can pretend I do because, let’s face it, getting any kind of writing criticism that isn’t shining, sparkling, you-are-the-next-best-writer-ever comments sucks.
If I had to boil down the complaint list of every writer – published, produced, or budding – they’d all point to the big ugly C word as their worst enemy. In fact, as of late in the writing communities I am a part of the discussion of writing criticism – how to give, how to receive, how not to flip out after/before/during – have all been hot topics. And, rightfully so. I mean, look at this word, will you? Read more
So I met D. Jon Harrison through author networking. Hey – it’s important, ya know? Anyhow, I am pretty sure he is one of the busiest authors I know and he somehow manages to stay sane. I admire his ability to work seamlessly in multiple genres and his sense of humor is giggle-sanctioned to say the least.
Anyhow, take a look at the following interview to see what it takes to be a successful busy author in multiple genres all while making it look easy and patting your head while rubbing your tummy. Read more
Think about it. What scares you about the writing process. For most people, it’s getting through and finishing a complete first draft. That is a huge hurdle. That’s thousands of words on hundreds of pages (in most cases) that you have to sit and type away until your eyes bleed, you become a walking zombie that repeats your story in mumbles as you walk about the streets, and until your friends forget what you look like.
For others, the scary part is the what to do after you have that first draft — editing.
These are crucial – critical – muy importante parts of the writing process. But I won’t be talking about that aspect of the writing process today. Read more