• Novel Writing,  Revision

    The Art of the Draft

    Because writing is writing is writing is writing! When you first make that enormously huge decision that you are going to write a novel, you’re not really just writing a novel. You’re committing to drafts, edits, multiple revisions and eventually, a finished novel.

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    Writing a Dialogue-Heavy Scene

    magicallynormal asked: “Hi Lizard, I was wondering, what do you do when everything you write feels disjointed? I have trouble working in dialogue and description and emotions and when I try, it feels like I’m just trying to connect things with with a few extra words in between.” Oh, I’ve been there I practically live there. But really, that is a very familiar feeling for me. I start with dialogue and can just get carried away in the conversation and lose track of the rest of the scene. It’s a natural thing I think actually.  In general, I think if you’re great with dialogue, you just have an ear for it.…

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    Why this Character?

    Anonymous asked: “Hi! I’m having trouble showing my protagonist’s personality while writing. It seems like I’m doing just fine with the others, but my main character is just getting pulled along by the plot. Do you have any tips on showing the protagonist’s personality and making them more active in the story?” If your main character is more acted upon than active, I think it’s time to ask yourself, why is this the character who is telling the story? Would it be better if a more involved character told the story? Active characters do have a tendency to take over a novel.  This happens all the time, especially for new writers.…

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    Writing and Originality

    One question I get all the time is how do I make this idea more original?  The answer is you don’t. The greatest thing I’ve learned in my writing experience is that originality is practically a myth. Plots can be put down in a list. So can tropes. A story that is too unique might be ahead of its time. Nearly all however in someways will draw on the literary tradition that came before it.  Of course there are exceptions, but typically what we consider a unique story will have a long and old literary tradition, it just might have a medley of influences and inspiration that we haven’t yet…

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    First Frightening Experiences

    Anonymous asked: “How do you write a pure innocent character who is subjected to a life-changing challenge and doesn’t know how to cope? How do you write an arc from being overwhelmed to learning to adapt?” Now, if it were me trying to write this kind of a scene, I’d think of big life-changing events in my own life. Life-changing events don’t have to be all that remarkable or novel, but they felt big to me while going through them (hence life-changing).  Like going to a new school where I didn’t know a soul. Or starting college and really living on my own for the first time in my life. Other life-changing…

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    The Word Count Catch-Up

    I won’t lie. I had something else planned for today, but I’ve been in state of crisis the last few days over some new developments in my own writing life. It’s nothing I won’t get over, but because I’m in crisis, I’m talking about it. Besides, NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. Let’s make the most of this and talk about the Word Count Catch-Up so you can meet goals and deadlines.  I have a few methods that I turn to in times of desperation. Some are more brutal than others, but remember these are things I do on my own, use them if they help, ignore it if it’s…

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    Writing with Teen Angst

    Anonymous asked: “How do I make a main character’s death sad, but not too angsty?” I don’t really associate character death with angst. With a teen protagonist, angst will be there, but it’s more likely to bring out the extremes of existing emotions.   I get a lot of questions about writing angsty characters and sometimes I think people forget with angst means. There’s no shame. When words get thrown around a lot they take on different meanings. Angst is a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general. Often we hear about teen angst which is often associated…

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    Writing Love/Hate Relationships

    “Hey Lizard. How can you do a love/hate relationship? Not romantic, but friendship.” So I want to start this by saying there isn’t just one kind of love/hate relationship.  The thing is love/hate is an expression that gets thrown around and it can mean anything from a terribly abusive relationship to an otherwise healthy relationship with some annoyances or joking jabs.  Sometimes love/hate relationships can be abusive or cruel but that’s not the case across the board. Love/hate relationships can be more love than hate and hate in the places that matter less in the relationship. The hate can be more annoyance, aggravation, or frustration than actual hate. It varies. …

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    Writing the Anti Hero

    Anonymous asked: “Hi Lizard. What are your opinion on writing a good anti hero? What if I have a main character who’s motivations are selfish and methods are deplorable and still want people to root for them?” I get questions about anti heroes all the time and I think sometimes people forget what an anti hero is. Anti heroes are simple heroes that seem to lack heroic qualities though are thrust into this role anyway. This means that sometimes they are flawed, sometimes they don’t look the part of the hero, they might be a bundle of nerves and stress in the face of danger, or morally ambiguous. I just read…