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    If it Can be Cut, Should it?

    Anonymous asked: “So I’m trying to write a book and I’ve recently come to realize that a sort of world building/cultural detail that is included COULD BE removed. But it’s sort of silly and if it CAN be removed, does that mean it should be? It would alter the story slightly, but only slightly.” Not everything that can be cut should be cut. It’s always going to be a bit of a balancing act. Let’s chat a little about how that might look.  First off, there’s a huge difference between dumping loads of information about a world on your reader and giving them only the bare-minimum to get by. Ideally, you…

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    On Writing “Better”

    Anonymous asked: “Can I ask you for tips to improve my narration? I don’t like the way I’m writing and I think I need a little help.” I don’t think there’s any one way to do it. When I’m not in love with my writing, I turn to a book of writing that I really admire and try to experiment with style. To some degree, a lot of writers will “hate” their own writing.  Part of it will be that writing is personal. It can feel revealing, like you’ve shown too much of yourself. For new writers, so much of the time, I hear that the writing just feels “wrong” – like it…

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    On Scenes and Editing

    virginiatesta13 asked: “Another thing I wanted to ask was how do I understand what scenes are needed in order for the plot to develop and what scenes I should get rid of?” There is no explicitly right or wrong way to choose which scenes to cut and which to keep. In general, reading you novel after not looking at it for a certain amount of time will help you to figure out what scenes are lagging and which ones are particularly interesting.  If you book is still feeling long-winded, there can be too many interesting scenes and then too you’ll have to turn to relevance. Is there a way to combine scenes?…

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    Character Changes in all the Wrong Ways

    Anonymous asked: “I have been writing a story that is coming along well, but reading through my story again, I see how much my character has changed. Of course I want him to have some character development, but he is now just out of character and a completely different person. Can you help me get back on track or do you have any tips on how to avoid this in my next stories? Thanks! You’ve helped me a lot before, writing-guru!” I think that’s completely natural for your characters to change along the way, especially if you wrote this story over the course of more than a few months. Part of…

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    The Editing Process: The Basics

    @emmamazerunnergeek asked:  “I’m almost done with my first copy, do I simply go through and edit or do I read and rewrite the whole thing?” I personally recommend something between the two. Print out your novel. Put it in a drawer for a month. Then take it out (30 days later) and go to a coffee shop and read it with a red pen. Mark it up. Any line that you don’t like, any scene that needs work, take note of it. What’s working? What’s not? What keeps this story from feeling like a published novel? (Let me tell you, if the answer is nothing, you probably need to take…

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    Quick Editing Tips for a Series

    Anonymous asked: I am currently in the middle of editing my first novel (the first of four in the series) and so far the process is crippling. I need to change so much in this YA cliché-filled story, so I’m wondering, any tips on editing a 2nd or 3rd draft? There are a lot of ways to go about editing. Here is my shortened version for you.  Print your draft and read it with a pen in hand. Now, start making notes. Look for awkward phrasing. Little things that you don’t like. Try not to cross out whole scenes or chapters, just because you think they’re “bad,” but be aware that…