Those Word Count Feelings

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this about their writing, but I have this particular feelings every time I reach a certain word count in my novels. I’ve been struggling to come up with a good post idea for today, so this is what you’re all getting stuck with!

0-5k: This is a reasonably slow period. I’m both incredibly excited, and a little nervous as to where this new story is going to take me. For me, this is really make it or break it time as to whether I’ll fall enough love with my main character to continue on.

5-30k: I breeze through this part. I don’t know why, but this section is always incredibly easy for me to write. This is usually the stage where I’m completely in love with my characters and plot, and I start to telling myself this is the best thing I’ve ever written.

30-40k: This is the most difficult stage for me. I’m starting to see plot holes, or I’m sick of my characters a bit. I start to stress myself out about all the editing I’m going to have to do. At that moment, the book will be put back down and I’ll struggle to write more than 300 words at a time. It’ll continue like this for months.

40-End: It really depends on the story as to where the ‘end’ is. Book number one was originally 66k, book two was 41k and book three is currently 44k with somewhere between another 5 and 10k to go. At this point, I’m still dragging my feet along from the previous section, and then one day I suddenly realise I’ve only got another few thousand words to go. Suddenly I’m working double time. I eat, sleep and breathe this novel, and there’s absolutely no way I’m giving up on it now. I finish the last word, and then I let out a sigh of relief.

So that’s how the first draft process usually goes for me. Do you share any of these feelings, or do you have ones of your own?

The YA Novel Recipe

Hello writerlies, and welcome to today’s cooking episode with me, Olivia-Savannah. Today we are going to be making the ultimate YA novel that any reader should be able to enjoy.

Step 1

First things first. You need to make a genre decision. Whether you want to end up with the fantasy baked cake, or the contemporary love pudding or either the crazy sci-fi planet cupcakes, the first step is always to choose. Sometimes your readers will even be able to appreciate when you mix genres together. Who said you can’t have a little paranormal biscuit with your mystery pie?

Step 2

As soon as someone bites into your cake of a novel, you’re going to want them to fall instantly in love. We’re going to add some exciting spiced jam to the mix. You want to kick things off with excitement, with mystery or maybe with something sadly beautiful in order to hook your readers.

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Step 3

In these modern times, a novel isn’t a novel without something crunchy in it too. Readers crave deep tough themes thrown into your novel for them to chow on for a while. Family issues? Mental health issues? Physical disabilities? Friendship problems or maybe self-acceptance? The truth is, whether it’s something more related to yourself or more to do with other people or situations, everyone in life goes through a hard time and your readers need a deep tough theme to be able to relate to. To let them know there are others out there who understand too.

Step 4

We need some chocolate sprinkles in here to serves as our beautiful descriptions. Readers fall in love with these, but only if they aren’t too long! Too much will make them sick. Take the lovely descriptions of food in The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, for example. I mean, I’ve seen YA readers trying to eat the book itself.

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Step 5 (Optional)

Throw in some eggs. It’s cliche and necessary. But for some reason, YA seems to be full of cliches. If you want something readers are familiar with, go for the love triangle egg, the insta love egg or the damsel in distress egg. Personally, I detest this step and bake my cakes with as few eggs as possible.

Step 6

It’s time for us to add a bit of flavour! Every YA novel, whether the main character is male or female, needs one kick-butt character who has sass, spunk and WON’T be defeated. Make sure you show ’em whose boss.

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Step 7

 

Pink food colouring is next. Trust me, EVERYTHING is better with a little pink. A little romance never hurt anyone. It doesn’t have to take the front seat of the novel. But many readers love when there is some romance thrown in there. Or at least, a hint of the possibility of one happening. Fangirls can go wild in terms of shipping two characters.

Step 8 

Because we’ve thrown things of all sorts into this cake here, we’re gonna have to water it down. And that means some tears have to be shed. Probably because you’ve just issued the death of a character. Or maybe some other kind of sadness. I don’t know why, but YA loves to break readers hearts. Or is it the readers that love to have their hearts broken?

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Step 9

Time to shove it all into the oven. We’ve got the get the ending just right. Whether it’s going to be a jagged cliffhanger that is a burned black and blue cake to make readers scream with frustration, or if it will be perfectly whole and neatly wrapped up, is up to you.

Step 10!

Now for the final step of all. Decoration. Whatever it tastes like, don’t worry. If you top it all off with a gorgeous cover you’re highly likely to get readers anyway. Why? Because probably 95% of readers will see a shiny cover and fall for it. Don’t worry about the actual writing.

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And there you have it! Your 10 step guide to making the best novel cake any reader will have eaten 😀

Do you agree with my steps? Do you think there is an ingredient I am missing for making a good novel? What do you think is a MUST in YA novels?

Olivia-Savannah x

 

Writing a Query

So you’ve finished your novel. Hot-diggity, that’s amazing! Pour yourself a drink first because you, my good fellow, deserve one.

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Next step on your list is querying agents. Precious few writers ever get to this stage, so pour yourself another drink. Literary agents are the magical gateway to publishers and that contract you need to swaddle your brain child. Some publishers, usually small and indie ones, accept unsolicited manuscripts, but for big ones like HarperCollins or Penguin or Bloomsbury, you need an agent. Editors often have lunch dates with agents, talk about what they’re looking for, then the agent—you see where I’m going with this, right?

Even if you’re planning on reaching out to publishers directly, you still need a query. Queries are basically the blurb on the back of a book. They need to hook readers in.

People, even professionals, have different opinions on what the first line should be. Should it be “I’m writing to query Super Awesome Novel, which is a 90, 000 word YA Paranormal” or “If you think your job is bad, try torturing souls in Hell for all eternity. Without pension.”

Personally, I lean towards the second. (FYI, that’s a line from my own query letter for a YA Paranormal.) It’s something you’d see on the back flap and more inviting. Remember agents read hundreds of queries a day. Hook ’em in early. Don’t make them work for it.

The body is what your manuscript is about—and what’s at stake. This is very important. Something has to be at stake in your novel, or it’s just a discourse of events. Take Harry Potter: if he doesn’t defeat Voldemort, the Wizarding World will be doomed. Even fluffy contemporaries have stakes, like will the boy get the girl, or will the MC achieve self-peace. Stakes are what keep readers turning pages.

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Don’t make it too complicated. The blurb of Veronica Roth’s upcoming book confused me to no end and if she wasn’t Veronica goddamn Roth, I’d click away. You do not have that luxury. You are a nameless author in a sea of aspiring writers. Keep it simple, keep them wanting more.

Try to stay away from words you invented within your manuscript. If they’re an essential plot point, explain them. A good rule of thumb is three foreign words maximum. A query is no longer than a page and you have to add in word count, the genre, comp titles (published novels that are similar to yours, like The Maze Runner was marketed towards The Hunger Games fans), and maybe why you’re querying this particular agent especially. The last part is honestly up to you. Some agents like the personal touch, some agents don’t care. The actual blurb should be no more than 200 words. All that stuff I mentioned, including a one-sentence About You, should be put at the very end.

Now you’re probably shaking in your boots. 200 words? My manuscript is 100k! How do you expect me to condense that to the price of a good steak dinner?

Well, you can. Look at all those titles on your shelf. They don’t have mile-long synopses, yet something attracted you to buy them. True, that back flap was probably put together by a marketing team, but they had to go through querying, too. If they can do it, so can you.

If you’re looking for an example, here’s the rest of mine:

Matt is bored. Stoking the fires of Hell is a nice gig and all, but anything gets old after a couple of centuries. So he comes up with the most brilliant plan to pass the time: possessing a human. Soon, Matt’s having the time of his life: munching down cheese, taking joyrides on wheelchairs, experiencing high school—the works.

There’s just one little catch: he’s technically not supposed to go body-snatching, and certainly not allowed to stay long-term. If he gets found out, there’ll be hell to pay.

Yet Matt can’t bear to leave his host—or his new life.

But whatever his decision, he better make it fast. An Archangel’s already on his tail and his demon siblings are getting suspicious. And to top it off, he might, quite possibly be falling for an atheist with muscular dystrophy and an attitude.

It’s time to decide once and for all: is he a man—or a demon?

Did it do well? That, my friends, is a question I’ll answer in another post. Stay tuned for step two of the querying process: The Checklist. Or as I like to call it: Stuff To Do Before Pressing Send to Every Agent in New York.

Ciao, darlings!

Autobiography Writing Competition – OPEN!

Hey everyone!

Welcome to our autobiography writing competition 🙂 If you want some tips on what we’re looking for, make sure you go and check out my previous post all about autobiographic writing! We would love you to join in. So here’s how everything is going to work:

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WHAT TO SUBMIT

It’s a either a chapter of your autobiography or an autobiographic short story… the word limit is 2500 words! We won’t be reading beyond that. And make sure it’s a true story (I mean, we can’t prove that but it would really be appreciated.)

HOW TO SUBMIT

Email us your submission at thesewriterly@gmail.com

In the subject please include your name, and the title of the chapter/piece you are submitting. Microsoft word submissions can be attached or the chapter can be copied into the body of the email. Make sure it is maximum 2500 words because we will not read any further than that mark. In the body of the email make sure to include how we can reach you if you are a winner as well.

WHEN DOES THE COMPETITION END?

All submissions must be sent before the 25th of June. Anything received after that date will not be entered into the competition.

WHAT CAN YOU WIN?

Read about the prizes in detail below. The wonderful author Ruta Sepetys who has recently released her novel Salt to Sea is sponsoring the competition! Here are the prizes below:

1st Place: A paperback copy of Sathnam Sanghera’s The Boy in the Topknot, an autobiography that has to do with schizophrenia and culture, as well as a Salt to Sea bookmark. Also, your winners certificate!

2nd Place: Salt to Sea bookmark, a Shakespeare and Company bookmark and also 2 Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor temporary tattoos. Also, your winners certificate!

3rd Place: Salt to Sea bookmark and a Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor temporary tattoo. Also, your winners certificate!

MORE ABOUT HOW EPIC RUTA SEPETYS IS

25614492Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

About Ruta: Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in RUTA SEPETYSa family of artists, readers, and music lovers. As an author of historical fiction, Ruta is drawn to stories of strength through struggle. Her award-winning debut novel, “Between Shades of Gray” was inspired by her family’s history in Lithuania and is published in 45 countries. Her second novel, “Out of the Easy” is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950, and her third novel “Salt to the Sea” exposes one of the greatest hidden disasters of World War II. Ruta lives in a treehouse in the hills of Tennessee.

Stalk her here: On her Website, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest and Goodreads.

So will you be submitting and joining in with the competition?

How To Write More Than One Novel At A Time

I am one of those readers who can read four different books at a time and not get confused. Somehow, that’s translated into my writing life too. As of right now, I’m actively working on two books and planning countless others, so I thought I’d share a few tips.

Different genres
This works with reading too, but if you’re going to try to write two different novels at once then try and make them different genres. That means when you get stuck or bored with your sci-fi novel, for example, you can move onto your historical fiction. Sometimes that change in scenery is all you need to move past a block.

Different places
By this I mean try and keep the books in different places in terms of word count. Basically, don’t start the novels at the same time because if you tend to get stuck in the middle of books (like I do) then you’re just going to get stuck there with two novels. If you keep them at different stages of the writing process then when you get stuck with one you can switch to the other until you’re unstuck.

Don’t ignore other ideas
If you get attacked with a really good plot bunny in the middle of the night write it down. Don’t give up on anything just because you’re already working on something, just note it down and see where it takes you. It might end up helping you to get another book finished!

So those are a few of my tips. Do you write more than one book at a time? Or do you just focus on one? Do you have any tips of your own?

All About Me, Myself and I…

Hey guys!

Today I wanted to discuss the art of autobiographic writing. I know that sometimes it can be a bit hard to imagine. You? Writing about yourself? No one is going to want to read that, you think. Especially when I haven’t gone through some miraculous self-finding journey, I’m not funny, or I’m not famous (because sometimes famous people do write autobiographies that include nothing much but their life. It only sells because they are famous). But the thing is…

YOU don’t have to be any of those things.

Anyone can write an autobiography, or even a short story that is autobiographic. I’m going to give you some of the main tips you need to make writing about yourself more interesting for other people. And then it’ll be up to you whether or not you want to do it.

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So, first things first! All books have a beginning. The difference with an autobiography is that you don’t have to start with when you born. You can choose a different beginning and that is completely up to you. Make sure the beginning you choose is where your life story starts becoming relevant to your overall message. If your childhood has something to do with it, then you can start there. If you want to include a bit of your childhood and then skip along to the adulthood part where other things should be the focus, then make use of the power of prologues. 

The MOST important thing in writing an autobiography has to be your voice. It can’t be the voice of another person, like in fiction. It has to be original, it has to be yours and yours alone. Which is why some writers do find it easier to write an autobiography after going on a self-finding journey. Then it because easy to write as you. But you don’t need to go on some kind of self-discovery-Kung-Fu-Panda-movies-esque kind of journey. All you need to do is think about what makes you YOU and then chuck it into the mix. If you’re someone who uses a lot of made up words in their speech, then do so in your writing too. Do you like lists? Use lists in your autobiography. Do you listen to music? Maybe match a song to each situation. Little things like this let the voice show through your writing and molds a style that no one else can match.

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The next thing you need to make sure you is a story. If you are writing an autobiography there has to be some kind of reason for it. If you did go on a self-discovery trip, that’s what you would talk about. If it has to do with family history and drama, that’s another story. It could be anything from the way to survive-high-school with funny stories of your own in it, or how to overcome embarrassing moments with a personal touch. Just don’t forget that like any kind of fiction novel, there has to be a storyline and it has to be enough to grip the reader as well.

In line with the storyline, every book needs to have a message or a lesson. Something that the reader can take away with them for the future. It can be said that every book has this if you look deep enough, and I would agree with that myself. So in par with your storyline, there should be some kind of lesson that is important enough for you to want to know about it.

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And last but not least… the end. Now because you’re alive and writing the autobiography, it’s impossible for you to end the book with your death. Unless of course… you want to put a fictional spin on things. Choosing where the end should be is vital to your autobiography. Once the story is done and the lesson is learned you don’t want to drone on and on and let it drag. You want to wrap it up on the perfect note. So be careful where to you choose to end things!

NOTE: The best tip I can give you is to read other autobiographies and memoirs with a massive range in genre and try and catch the patterns. See what you like and don’t like and adjust it to your own.

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What about you? Have you ever thought of writing an autobiography or something like it? Would that interest you? What’s one exciting thing that has happened in your life?

Olivia-Savannah x

Make Writing TOP PRIORITY in Your Life.

Gosh guys, it feels like I’ve been gone for a super long time! Everything has been super busy I, along with some other members here, had to sort through a lot of LIFE stuff. But we’re all back and happy to jump back into it!
HAPPY
As a fair warning, just letting you guys know that this post is going to be kind of short. 😉 but it’s still an important post and I hope you guys take a lot out of it like I did as I wrote it. ♥♥
Well, what are we waiting for??

Let’s get to it!


So today I wanted to share with you guys something that I found in one of my emails (it was from one of the many emails I sighed up for bettering my writing)

It was a message that was really powerful to me and the best part about is that what I’m about to share, you guys  can use in their life. (Whether it be centered toward your writing or your own personal lives). Whatever floats your boat 😉 I originally got this AWESOME-CAKES idea from the lovely ladies over at Go Teen Writers, (if you’ve not yet subscribed to them and you call yourself a writer, YO, OMG WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??) Any who, what they talk about is basically about a mason jar, some sand, and some super huge rocks. 

Am I making any sense? Calm down, calm down. I know. But shh, listen. All of this is about to make sense.

They talk about setting your priorities to make sure you’re not stressing and that you never lose sight of what’s important in your life. (family, job, friends, etc.) So, remember how I talked about that sand, mason jar, and rocks? Well, the example they gave, talked about going through life and being able to decipher/remember the difference between the filter things, or “the sand.” This is how it works: You get a jar, fill it with rocks, then add the sand and watch as the sand particles ease their way between the rocks, navigating their way to the bottom, A.K.A. the “big” things in our life, or the more important things. 

Isn’t that just the bestest thing EVA??

Also, I have absolutely no idea if I made any sense just then because I, Kei Lei, am a total fail whale at explaining things. I kid you not. Don’t even try to get me to explain directions to you. I’d half you somewhere in Hong Kong by the time we’re through. 

So, anyway, Go Teen Writers’ post is super freaking awesome and if I have you the slightest bit curious about what they’re all about and you’re a writer then PLEASE, PLEASE go check them out guys!


I don’t know about you guys but this message really helped me out a lot! It really changed my perspective on a lot of things in my life. So, let go of all of the stress of life (whether it be with writing, school, work, etc.) and just remember to let the sand slip between the rocks today. Decide what is is the most important at that moment. Soooo, have fun, plan it all out. You’ll be happier for it.

Let the sand fall between the rocks. ♥♥


Now it's your turn 2

Any other quotes that you guys have come across that have really changed how you look at things? Or helped you to see things differently ehen you were going through tough times? I’d love to hear them, yo!

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