30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (11)


Not to be confused with being drafted into the military. Which, with Memorial Day on the horizon, let’s show our respect daily to those who have served our country. It does not matter if you are for or against war, men and women are dying for your sake. To protect you. To ensure your freedoms. This is the greatest act of love, and when you think of it that way, I’m sure it will soften your heart.
-End of Soapbox-

Now where were we? Ah yes, Drafting. Understanding that it has only been a day since the last lesson, this one is for those who have completed the first draft of their manuscript. It can be autobiography, fiction, nonfiction, magazine column, blogging, et cetera. This is relevant to all fields of writing.

Now first, I need to point out ‘do as I say, not as I do’, only because my goal with this blog is to write 500 words and edit later. And by edit, I mean I give it a quick proofread and that’s it.

That being said, let us begin. This is one method of editing, you do not have to follow it step by step, but the point is you have to edit. The first step which is probably the most helpful, and if your deadline allows, take a break from your manuscript. It is too fresh in your mind, you have been training yourself to write daily, and you are not going to look at it objectively. I recommend at least a week, but that is entirely up to you. Once you have finished the haitus, step again into the wonderful world of your story.

This second draft is where you place your work on the chopping block. I always go in with an analytical eye, this is where I will look out for plot holes, discrepancy in character, mistakes in the world itself, and, yes, grammar and spelling. I do a lot of cut, paste, and rewrites, because a lot of times my first draft is a piece of crap.

Yes, I said that. My first draft is a piece of crap. That is not being self-depreciating. That is being honest and humble. You cannot throw a first draft at your agent or editor and expect them to be wowed. They will be too annoyed with all the errors they discover to appreciate your awesomeness.

The third draft you will want to print out, if you haven’t already. (Make sure the pages are numbered when you hit print. I always forget that step). Now you can go through with your Mighty Red Pen. It is easier to find errors on printed paper, that is why many editors will ask you to send them a full printed copy. Read through it carefully. Take your time. Scribble notes and corrections at will. Then return to the computer and type all those corrections into your manuscript.

Note:  You can have separate copies of your manuscript if it will help you keep track of the edits. E.g. 1) First Draft.doc, 2) Second Draft.doc, et cetera.

Fourth draft is where you find a willing and able volunteer to read your work. Whether it is a coworker at the newspaper office or a friend in your writing group, give them the full manuscript to review. Give them a list of things you want them to keep an eye out for–plot holes, character development, discrepancies, et cetera. Once you have it back, add those corrections into the latest manuscript (Fourth Draft.doc or Ultimate Manuscript).

The fifth draft you finally send to your editor. Now you wait, biting your nails and anxiety ridden, as they spend an alloted amount of eternity going over your work. Best case scenario, they return it in one piece. Worst case…That-Which-We-Do-Not-Speak-Of. When they return your manuscript, go over the edits and suggestions with steel skin. Brace yourself. Sometimes it’s not too bad, sometimes it’s very, very bad. But you must turn your eye to the massacre and make sense of it.

It doesn’t end here. Depending on your editor, they will want to review your corrections. So put all those into the computer, rewrite what needs be, look it over, and feel proud. Then send it back to the doctor editor. They will look over the manuscript, seeing how you took their suggestions. You can send them notes of your own if you felt their suggestion was unnecessary for your story. You have the power to say no, but before you do, at least entertain their suggestions. I have rewritten whole endings and realized my editor was, of course, right.

Think of an editor as your proverbial wife; they are always right.

This process goes on for awhile. The editor may run a final proofread to catch any slippery typos. Then you have to let it go, knowing you raised your child up with all the tools it needs to succeed in life. You have to let the bird fly the nest. Send it out into the world.

Tomorrow we’ll go over where to find editors. Yes. The journey continues.

I lied. We can’t find editors yet, you know why? We have to learn how to talk to editors first. Queries, here we come!

May the Force be with you.

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (10)

‘Every adventure requires a first step. Trite, but true, even here.’ Alice in Wonderland


We have arrived, friends. This is it. Are you ready to finally sit down and write this beast? You are now the wanderer of the Labyrinth, at the end of which awaits the fierce Minotaur.

Good luck.

Many adventurers recall the fear of the Page. The Blank Page. Look at it. It’s laughing at you. It’s scoffing your ambitions. Stare at it. Become hypnotized by all that emptiness.

Really there is nothing for me to teach you at this point. You just need to write. If you haven’t learned how to write, I can’t help you. I’m not a kindergarten teacher. I’ve given you the basic tools for your first draft. Now write it. This should take you awhile. Weeks, months, maybe years. I’ll see you then. Stop back for more whimsical posts. But really, this is now officially procrastination, so you should go. Leave. Right now.

Still here? *Sigh* Stubborn.

Fine. Let me warn you about Writers Block. Oh, you know of which I speak. That Dark Lord of the Underverse. It lingers on the edges of your dreams, whispers to you when you’re alone and lonely.

Come find me when you run into it.

I’m so not helpful today.

But trust me, just write. Write away. Right away. Write 500 words a day. That is your challenge. No less than 500, but you can certainly write more. Try these helpful exercises.

Set a timer for twenty minutes. Do not stop writing until twenty minutes is up.

Write 500 words.

Turn off the TV and hide the remote.

Play music you enjoy.

Brew coffee/tea.

Write timed word sprints to get your adrenaline pumped.

If you’re using a computer, write blindfolded.

Lock your door.

Hide the key.

Release yourself to the magical world of words.

Welcome to a writer’s world. I’ll see you here once you’ve finished. Then we can talk about drafting.

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (9)

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.


We are almost there, friends. We have been arming ourselves with the tools to write amazing stories, now we will turn our sights on the crux of the matter–plot.

The plot is the reason your hero exists. It is the reason for the world. Websters Dictionary says,  “Plot is a literary term defined as the events that make up a story, particularly as they relate to one another in a sequence, through cause and effect, how the reader views the story.” Without plot, you have no story; without plot, you lose your readers. A plot can be as simple as:  Jane’s family is cursed, and a stranger takes it upon himself to help her break the curse. Concise, simple, and to the point.

Sum up your story in one sentence. If you’re having trouble pulling out the plot line, maybe consider your story and your plans for it. What do you want the ultimate goal to be?

E.g. Harry Potter:  a boy discovers he is a wizard and is the only one who can defeat the most dangerous wizard the world has known.

E.g. Clockwork Dreams:  a girl learns of her family’s history of witch hunting, and she must stop them from waking an ancient evil before it’s too late. 

The plot is the most basic explanation of a story. You may think you can’t condense such an awesome vision into one sentence, but doing so will help clear out all the dust building up in your mind which might distract you from the goal. The reason we outline and research and tweak our characters is so that we can uncover the diamond beneath the rough.

Know where you’re going even if you don’t know how to get there yet.

This is where the magic of writing takes place. Whether you’re an outliner or a pantser, knowing the plot will enrich your story. Once you have an idea of what you want, you can make steps toward that goal. This is what we call vision and can be utilized in all areas of your life. But what does this look like to writers?

In the case of Harry Potter, the author takes seven books to explore this world she created and grow the characters. She unravels a massive mystery surrounding Harry’s past and his connection to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Without giving away any spoilers (but really, you should have at least seen the movies by now), each book has a villain connected with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and a plot, a mystery which Harry and his friends must solve to save their school–Hogwarts Academy.

Plot looks like this:


Conflict is the “foreshadowing” of the climax. Throughout the seven books of Harry Potter, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is mentioned, hinted at, discussed in secret, then glimpsed, shadowed, and finally revealed. That is the climax, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s final reveal. The falling action then is the battle of good verses evil, and the resolution wraps up the battle with a winner rising from the ashes.

I freaking love JK Rowling.

To build your own plot more clearly, try this exercise. Describe your story in one sentence. Take that sentence and explain it in five sentences.

E.g. Jane’s family is cursed, and a stranger takes it upon himself to help her break the curse.

Jane’s family is cursed by an ancient dragon cult. When her curse results in a fire to a local middle school, one teacher is the only one to take notice. Instead of alerting the authorities, the teacher, John, coerces her to meet up. She tells him all about the curse, where it started, and how her family has been managing it. John convinces her to take up a quest to break the curse.

In only five sentences, you now have 1) Introduction, 2) Conflict, 3) Climax, 4) Falling Action, and 5) Resolution.

Now take the first sentence and write five sentences to explain it. Do that with each sentence so you have five paragraphs of plot. You can grow this exercise in compounding explanations until you’re satisfied with the information. If you get stuck halfway through the story, you can also use this exercise to help yourself out of a hole.

Practice this with the plotline  of your story until you’re satisfied. Has this helped you? Did it make your plot more clear? Write your experience in the comments.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Also typos.

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (8)


A participle is a form of verb that is used in a sentence to modify a noun and/or verb. You may or may not have given much thought to participles. In every day speech, participles let our listeners know the time frame in what we say.

“I went to the store.”
“She goes to the store.”
“They are going to the store.”

Just by the verb tense, you can assume what has been done, what is being done, and what will be done. This is what humans categorize, covet, and cope with–time.

I am not about to give you a lecture on English grammar, but the verb tense is very important to the structure of your story. Participles will determine what is transpiring and give a time frame for your readers.

Past Tense:  Past tense is just what it sounds like–everything in the story has happened in the past. It is history. Most stories, books, magazine columns, newspaper articles, and biographies are written in past tense for very good reason. The events being recorded have already happened and are finished.

E.g. John Doe was a curator at the Museum of Natural Art. He was in charge of bookkeeping and purchasing items for the collection. Often he traveled far distances to acquire items that could not be shipped by air mail. John Doe enjoyed the challenge of digging up old artifacts.

Present Tense: Present tense is a verb form of current action. For example, the critically acclaimed book series Hunger Games was written in first person, present tense.  Often times books in first person are written in present tense to give a feel for events happening now,  as in right now. First person can be written either in present tense or past tense, but do not feel restricted to present tense just because you want to write in first person.

E.g. 1. I am a curator at the Museum of Natural Art. I am in charge of bookkeeping and purchasing items for the collection. Often I travel far distances to acquire items that cannot be shipped by air mail. I enjoy the challenge of digging up old artifacts.

E.g. 2. I was a curator at the Museum of Natural Art. I was in charge of bookkeeping and purchasing items for the collection. Often I travelled far distances to acquire items that could not be shipped by air mail. I enjoyed the challenge of digging up old artifacts.

As you can see, both are acceptable forms of writing. Admittedly, present tense can be more difficult to write, because you might be more accustomed to thinking, speaking, and writing in past tense. If you choose to use present tense, keep in mind the verb changes, but don’t get frustrated with your writing if it proves difficult. You can always go back and edit those verbs later.

Future Tense:  Future tense is rarely used, except in rare instances of narration. It describes an event about to transpire that has not happened yet, and is looked forward to–in the future.

E.g. John Doe will be a curator at the Museum of Natural Art. He will be in charge of bookkeeping and purchasing items for the collection. He will travel far distances to acquire items that cannot be shipped by air mail. He will enjoy (we hope) the challenge of digging up old artifacts.

Future tense can be used when characters are planning a battle strategy or other event to be held in the near future. You can write your whole book in future tense, it is possible…If you like that sort of challenge. But you may find it too wordy with all the extra verbs, and confusing to boot. Your editor might not appreciate it, but then again, this is your story. And who knows, you might be the new JK Rowling. So push the boundaries and be who you want to be.

That’s all for today, friends. Have a pleasant Easter and Passover week.


30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (7)

Note: I actually wrote this lesson yesterday. I wrote halfway through this and realized it didn’t belong as lesson 6. This is a good example of letting go of control as a writer. I outlined each lesson, organized them, researched for them, and still managed to run into a hiccup. No worries. Just postpone one chapter and figure out where to put it later. In our Editing lesson, we will talk about this more.

Without further ado…

Point of View

PoV (Point of View). The PoV alone can set the tone of the book. Do not take this lightly, this may be the single most important aspect (not really, but it is important!) It is the view point of which your readers will follow, and will determine how they connect to the characters.

First Person:  First Person is written from the main character’s (or any character of your choosing) view point. It is the direct link to the character’s thoughts and feelings and, when done appropriately, can be very impactful.

E.g. The sound of my shoes click-clacking on the cobblestone was soothing. The air was cold, and my breath came out in ghostly puffs. I walked slowly, trying to draw out this trip as long as possible–even though I was running five minutes late. John was surely waiting at the coffee shop already. I didn’t want to talk to him. But I had already agreed. Why was I always so agreeable?  He knew something, I had seen it in his eyes–the suspicion.

When writing in First Person, remember to use pronouns of “I”, “me”, “myself”, etc., because you are writing a direct line from the character’s thoughts. Think of it as the MC’s personal diary. However, unless you are writing straight from a diary, be careful not to treat First Person as such. Note in the example, I maintained a past tense, giving it the same flow of a story being told. Now take into consideration that excerpt written like this:

Click-clack, click-clack–I love my tappy shoes. I love high heels! I’m so short, I feel like this gives me an extra edge, lol. Brr, it’s cold out here. I wish it was summer. Omg, why did I agree to meet that weirdo John? Geez! What is with that guy? I think he knows my secret. But what does he care anyway? I don’t even know him.

Notice the lack of description, and the intimacy of the text. This writing certainly gives you a strong voice of the main character, but the average reader will not suffer through this long. This loose and exaggerated writing works well with middle school to young adult books (e.g. Diary of a Wimpy Kid). If you’re trying to write a serious novel, I would caution you from this writing. Editors and agents will not take you seriously, because this is not good writing.

Second Person:  Rarely will you see second person point of view in a novel, because it is a difficult view to write. This is not to say it’s a bad style, it is just difficult for both writer and reader. However, it can be done. Second person is used when the narrator (meaning you) is telling the story to another character using ‘you’, or when the narrator is telling the story directly to the audience in which pronouns of ‘you’, ‘your’, or ‘you’re’ is used. This blog is an example of Second Person, as it is a narration from me to you.

E.g. You walk along the cobblestone street, listening as your shoes click-clack noisily. The cold wind bites through your light jacket, and you shiver.

If you’re up for the challenge, fiction can be written using Second Person. You might struggle with it, but it can be done, and it can be done well. But mostly it is reserved for email correspondence, educational blogs, and manuscripts.

Side note: I always thought second person was weird. What if you portrayed your MC as a girl and it was a man reading your book “your high heels, your luscious long hair”, etc.

Third Person: This is the most frequently used form of writing. It is versatile in the fact that you can cover a variety of characters with your story and can illustrate the world from a panoramic view. It uses pronouns of “he”, “she”, and “it”, and allows you to get into any character’s head–even an animal’s, such as a dog.

E.g. John tapped his foot absentmindedly. The bustle of the coffee shop surrounded him, voices mingling in the air, a never ending buzzing drone. He wasn’t a coffee drinker–to be honest, he never liked the stuff. It was too bitter and reminded him of dirt. But he had found coffee shops to be the ideal place to meet strangers. His thoughts were on the woman he had met the other day–the incident. He hadn’t been able to get it out of his head, even now, his hands shook just thinking about it. She had tried to cover it up, tried to run away even. So why had she agreed to meet with him–a stranger, the only witness to the incident, but a stranger none the less? Seven minutes after. She was late…or not coming at all. He leaned forward on the table, raking a hand through his blond hair.

Homework: Decide which PoV you will use in your story. Commit to the view point, to your decision to write this story. You’re on an adventure, and it started when you conceived this brilliant idea. Write three paragraphs in your MC’s PoV in a setting of your choosing. Discover the “voice” of the character, get a feel for what they will sound like on paper. And for gravy’s sake, have fun!