writing help

Beta Reader….What’s that?

Greetings My Lovelies!

 

When writing, our stories go through several changes before it makes its way into the hands of our readers.  We as authors, write, revise and edit.  Then we send it to the editor who does the same thing.  We do this to ensure that the story that makes it out to the readers is the best one that we can make.  But there’s one more level that sometimes doesn’t get used – Beta readers.

I can see some of you tilting your heads.  Let me clarify.  A beta reader is someone who reads over your WIP by chapter, page count, or word count.  They provide feed back that you as the writer may not see.  I know I’m bad about not fully explaining everything.  Betas can help you catch that.

How do I get a beta reader?

There are services that charge you to read your work samples.  But one of easiest things to do is to ask your friends, family, or fellow writer friends.  Ask them if they would help you by reading your WIP and giving constructive feed back.

How do they do that?

The easiest way to help them help you is to a) tell them what you want them to look for or b) give them a survey that they can fill out.  You can find beta reader surveys all over the internet but they can be lengthy.  A good survey should be (in my opinion) no more than 10 questions.  I also like to provide a section where they can tell me what they liked or didn’t like about the chapter.

How can I thank these people who are doing work for free?

This is important.  The people who agree to be betas for you are taking time out of their day to read you WIP.  One way to thank them is to give them a shout out in the acknowledgement section of your book.  You can also send them a free signed copy of your book for their efforts, because hey, they put in work too.  And if they’re writers as well offer to beta for them in return in a you scratched my back so I’ll scratch yours.

How many should I have?

Two to three is a good number.  But if all you get is one then don’t worry over it.  But too many betas can mean a headache for you.  The more betas you have the more notes you have to go through the more suggestions you have to contemplate.

I’m too shy to ask people.  What if they hate it?  What if I’m bothering them?

Hey I get it.  I hate asking people things for these very reasons.  I always feel awkward and bothersome.  But you ask your friends for favors all the time for other things right?  This is nothing different.  Just make sure that you pick the most reliable of your friends. One that will be with you for the long haul.  And make sure that you choose the one that will be honest with you.  Avoid yes men.  For your writer friends….they might turn you down but it’s no big deal.  They’ll usually surprised that you asked and they’ll appreciate that you thought of them.  If they say yes they can help point out some areas where your writing is weaker and provide tips to help.

 

Asking for help can be terrifying but in the end taking the plunge and getting yourself a few beta readers can only help to improve your story.  Plus you don’t have to do what they suggest because it’s their opinion.  But its always good to get a second set of eyes on your work.

Well that’s all I have for today.

See ya next time!

 

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Greetings My Peeps!

NaNoWriMo: is it worth it?

Greetings My Lovelies!

 

For years I’ve heard and seen people talk about NaNoWriMo, which stands for National November Writing Month.  The basic premise of this event is for you to pump out a 50k word story in 30 days.  I’ve never worried about it because that seemed like an awful amount of work that I wasn’t sure if I was ready to tackle.  But this year I decided to give it a go.  I mean what’s the worse that can happen?  My writing has been pretty much non-existent lately so I’m hoping that this will help kick my butt into gear and get me back into the habit or writing a little bit each day.  

So here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Setting up is pretty easy.  It’s free!  The daily goal is 1667 words a day.  But there a ton of resources to help you.  There are forums for any and all topics to help you if you get stuck.  They also have this nifty thing called Word Sprints which is basically a timer that you set and try to punch out as many words as you can within that time frame.  When racing against the clock, you don’t have time to worry over every single word.  Using sprints is a great way to really hit the word count.  You can also join up with your region and gain access to write ins around you.  Write ins are exactly what they sound like.  People participating in NaNoWriMo meet up and write together.  It’s a great way to meet your fellow writers.  The region I’m in has their own open chat room where you can join in on word sprints or ask questions and get help in real time.

It’s only four days into it but I’m going pretty strong.  I just attended my 1st write in it was nice to meet writers near me.  At the end of the month I’ll check back in with you guys and let you know what pros and cons I discovered during this process.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?  Comment below and share your tags!  We can pair up and do this challenge together!

 

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See ya next time!

 

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World Building: Maps

Greetings My Lovelies!

 

So here we are!  The last piece of my world building segment and everyone’s favorite thing to look at MAPS!

After all this planning and speculation, it’s time to take it all and put it into a coherent world.  I love maps.  I love reading a story and following along on the maps provided, and in all honesty I wish they could fold out so I could read and look at them at the same time.  They add a whole other level to the story telling.  But just how do you do this?  Well there are several options.

Option 1

Hire someone.  This is by far the easiest method.  It’s gonna take some time to find one that works within your budget but that’s easier than making it on your own.  They’ll ask you questions to get a general idea of how your world should look and adjust from there.  To find these wonderful people, you’ll need to search for fantasy cartography freelancers.

 

Option 2

The pasta/6sided die method.  This is a pretty fun method that could be at least a good starting point.  Basically what you do is take a large handful of macaroni noodles or 6 sided die and drop them onto a piece of paper.  From there you can adjust as needed.  Areas with large concentration of whatever you use could end up being cities or other features.  Then when you’re happy, trace first in pencil then marker and voila! A map.  Click the link here for full details: macaroni map

 

Option 3

Use a map generator.  I like this as another good reference because most of the hard work is done already for you.  In the generators, depending on which one you use, you can adjust everything right down to the coastlines.  A simple google search will give you plenty to choose from but I liked Asgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator.  They create maps randomly and if you have the patience you can build a whole map with cities, ports, and natural features.  You can also add whatever you need to make it fit your story better.  The link for it is here: Fanstay Map Generator.  One word of warning however, if you close the page, you’ll lose everything.  There’s no save option where you can go back later and work on it some more.

 

Option 4

Draw it yourself.  If you’re artistic or just like torturing yourself, you can always make your own map.  Maps don’t have to look fancy or pretty, they just need to give you a basic understanding of the layout of the world/country.  There are plenty of blogs that will help you draw them from scratch (I reference one above) but if you don’t like that then you need to read Fantastic Maps’ blog post on the matter.  These people make maps for a living and collaborate with other creators to help others create realistic worlds.  Their post is very easy to follow and applies a healthy helping of real world logic.  A great tool for anyone wanting to create their own map.  You can read the post here :World Building by Maps

 

As always, if you have any tips or tricks about creating maps or just world building in general, please comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!

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See ya next time!

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World Building: Economy

Greetings My Lovelies!

 

It’s time again for another segment in my world building series.  This is the last one that pertains to the planning stages.  Next week we’ll dive into the final segments.  But without further ado, let’s talk about money.  I actually only have four things for you to consider today.  Like with everything else these don’t have to be completely hashed out as long as you have a good understanding.  The reason why I’m even bringing up money is because that is the force that drives the world.  It doesn’t always have to be coin or paper.  Use what ever system you like.  Let’s go.

Are all my countries wealthy?

In the real world there are countries who struggle for one reason or another.  Is your single country or multi country world well off?  Poor countries might try to steal what they need or work out some kind of deal with countries who are better off.  On the flip side, countries that have an abundance of wealth are usually targets for those who either have nothing or want more.  Your countries status will change how other countries interact with them.

What (if anything) is your country know for economically?

I live in the US and each state has a couple of crops that they have claimed as their state crop, or they produce a large portion of a certain crop.  What is your country known for economically?  It doesn’t have to be a crop.  It could be meat, a trade, or spices.  This just adds another layer of realism to your world/country.  Everyone is known for something.  If your country isn’t known for something then you might want to ask yourself why?  Is your country mediocre?  Do they have seat at the table but no real power?  These are some interesting questions because they could end up as driving points for certain characters.

How do the masses access the goods and in what form?

This is where you get to decide what system does your country use when it comes to the acquisitions of goods and services.  Do they use a coin system?  A digital credit?  Rations?  Barter?  Are there any taxes or other fees?  Just put yourself in your world and figure out how would you go about living your daily life.  That will really help you figure out some, if not most, of the small details that might pop up later.  Doing it a head of time will keep you from having to stop and think about it later and then go back to establish it earlier on.

Crime.

Unless you set it up as some type of utopia, there needs to be a shady element.  There are going to be people who’d rather steal for what they want.  Let’s not forget about assassins and other thugs.  Crime is a lucrative enterprise.  Just look at the Cartels and Mofias.  The crime element can also add a bit of unpredictability to your world or settings.  Like the saying goes, there’s no loyalty among thieves.

Well there you have it folks, just four simple things to think about when you’re setting up your country’s economy.  So what about you?  Do you have any ideas that you would like to share?  Did I miss anything?  Comment below!

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World Building: Religion

Greetings My Lovelies!

 

It’s time for part three of my World building segment.  So far we’ve talked about you country and the people who live in it.  Now it is time to talk about religion.  I know some of you may already be rolling your eyes, but you cannot deny that religion is an important aspect for any people, culture, world.  So without further ado, here’s the five things you need to keep in mind when creating a religion for your world.

 

Do I even need a religion?

Let’s go a head and nip this in the bud.  If your people don’t need a religion then there’s no reason to continue on.  But if your character doesn’t but the the rest of your world does, then you need to keep going and hash it out.  Now I can hear some of you asking….”What do you mean if they need a religion?”  Your world may not need religion.  Are then science driven, then they may not need to have a religion at all.  Think of the Vulcans.  They don’t really have a religion (that I’m aware of) because they value logic above everything.  Religion is about faith not logic, so if your people don’t need faith then you need not worry about the next four steps.

How does my culture and landmass effect the religion.

I took a religion class in collage and one thing stuck with me.  Did the religion have an effect on a culture or did the culture have and effect on the religion.  Religion is an organic thing.  It tends to evolve over time not just with text but with practices.  But it still depends on the people who follow it.  A desert culture isn’t going to jungle goddess.  A people who are matriarchal will probably not have god as the ruler of their gods. Whether you believe the divine is 100% real or archetypes, it has to make sense to the people that are going to be involved in it.  You really don’t have to spend too much time on this just make sure that you do.

What type of gods are there?

This is where it gets fun.  Let your creative juices flow unrestricted.  Are you going to go for an all encompassing singular god/ess?  Or will you create a whole pantheon?  Are all your god/ess good or do you have some trouble makers (looking at you Loki and Coyote).  Are they tied into certain aspects like seasons, trades, skills?  Research the gods of religions past and present.  This should give you a good idea where to start from and let you spend more time on baby name websites looking up cool and unique names for your new gods.  Maybe they just pray to the vast Universe knowing that humans could never fully understand or perceive the divine?  Go crazy and have fun.

Do your people worship something other than gods?

In some cultures families are so important that you pray to your ancestors to intercede on their behalf and in turn the living family provides sustenance for the dead family in the afterlife.  Perhaps your people worship nature spirits.  Just know that there are always options and if you choose to go this route, you can still have fun with it.

How do your people access their gods?

Are there holy text that only a few can read?  Are there sacred sites or buildings?  What are the holy days?  Basically how do the masses practice their faith? This is important because if only a few really understand then that can lead to corruption and oppression.  If it’s open to all then that could mean that there’s less rigidity in the religion.  Perhaps there are holy people who travel and teach?  Maybe there’s holy sites that they only go to at certain times but the rest is handled in their homes?

 

There’s probably a hundred more topics just related to religion but I believe that these are enough to get you started.  But the main thing is to not be afraid when creating your religion.  All religions sound a little crazy when you really think about them.  But religion is something that can either mean a great deal to your people or not.  But in our world there have been plenty of wars waged in the name of religion so it can’t hurt to at least think about it in your new world.  Well that’s all that I have this week.  Be sure to comment below if you have any questions or have points you think others should know.

See ya next time!

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World Building: The People/Cultures

Greetings My Lovelies!

Sorry this post is a little late.  I’ve been dealing with a stomach issue (thank you lovely children).  I’m feeling a bit better so I figure it’s better to post late than never.  Today we’re delving into the second segment of my world building series…The People.  Now I don’t mean your characters.  When I refer to people I mean the humans in the background and the factors that create the basic foundation of your characters.  

Last week we created the countries that made up your new world (insert Little Mermaid reference) now we got to fill it and like before we have to apply a little bit of common sense.

So here are five things to keep in mind when creating the people for your new world.

How are they structured?

Do your people group themselves by families, profession, or lifestyle?  Do they have war chiefs, elders, councils, or singular rulers?  Are they lead by their religious leaders?  All societies have a structure so make sure that you have this thought out because each one will cause your people to act differently.  For example, if your people are ruled by war chiefs then that means that they value strength.  That also means that leaders can change.  How would they go about this change?  Is there a specific time to challenge the old leader or can it be done anytime?  What about lineage?  Does that come into play at all.  These are just a few questions for one way.  You don’t need to go too far into it, just get a basic understanding.

In what ways does their environment affect them?

World building is laying layer upon layer.  And here is where your work with the countries come into play.  If your country is cold and full of ice, then your people aren’t gonna wear shorts and tank tops (unless you provide a logical reason for it).  My recommendation is to use real world examples.  This will help to give your culture a more realistic feel and you can always tweak from there.  Another thing to bear in mind is how your countries interact with each other.  Some countries get along better than others.  If your countries have conflict, then why?  Are they fighting over resources?  Land?  Differences in religion or culture?  Blood feuds?

What does your culture value the most?

You could pick something from what you’ve already worked out with the land or what you’ve hashed out while planning your cultures.  But you could always choose, or not, something entirely different.  Some cultures value respect above all.   For some it’s all about advancing your family.  While some it’s all about that green.  Even different regions in your country can value different things like people in cities verses rural environments.  It could provide some fun depth or the possibility for conflict which is always entertaining.

Religion

I’m not going to delve too far down this rabbit hole because it’s a post all it’s own.  But a religion can have just as much influence on a culture as the landscape.  Even the lack of a religion can drive a people.  They might scoff at religion and strive to be logical and pursue the sciences and other areas of learning.

Outsiders

In every culture there are those who lie outside the cultural norms.  Who are these people for your culture.  Are they people who despise the ruling class?  Sexual orientation?  Genders?  Mixed ethnicity? Who are your low status people and why are they there.  There’s no culture that is all bright an shiny.  There are areas of gray or full on black.  By having at least thought about these people can add complexity to your story and add that much needed realism.

 

Well that’s all I have for now.  Like I said earlier, I’m getting over a stomach bug.  It honestly took me three days to get this post done.  I tried to work on it a little bit so I wouldn’t miss it.

If you think I missed something please comment below.  I’d love to hear your suggestions on creating a rich and complex culture.  Until next time!

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See ya next time!

 

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Digital vs Paper Outlining

Greetings My Lovelies!

 

I hope that everyone is doing well on this fine Wednesday.  For my people on the east coast watching the hurricane roll in, I hope you got all your provisions and let’s keep our fingers cross that we don’t loose power too long…

On a different note…I was supposed to have a book signing event this past Saturday but something fell through and I had to cancel.  I’m not gonna lie, I cried.  But I pulled up my big girl panties and went on with life.  I’m hoping to get it rescheduled soon.  It was my first event and I was really looking forward to it.  Sigh…oh well let’s in on to the matter at hand.

Outlining is something that you either do or don’t.  Some writers get their ideas and just see where they go organically while others (like myself) outline our works.  I outline because if I don’t I either run off onto weird tangents that have nothing to do with the story or I don’t put enough details into it.  And if you’re like me then I highly recommend outlining.  Now I know that this seems like a simple concept…and it is but it’s not either.

When I realized that I needed to outline, I did everything on paper.  But I ended up with piles and piles of paper, post-it notes, and scribbles in my writing journal.  My thoughts were scattered every where, so I searched for paperless options and came across Notebook.ai and I thought that all my problems were solved…not quite.  I ended up spending a hellish amount of time on little things, but I still like the site.

So here are the pros and cons of using paper and digital forms of outlining.

Paper pros

You can work anywhere as long as you have something to write on and with.  Also your ideas are locked into where you initially thought they would fit.

Paper cons

Lots of little pieces of paper to organize.  You can also loose them.  Plus once you’ve finished your story, it’s a lot of recycling.

Digital pros

Everything is in one place and you can access it anywhere and everywhere.  It’s a lot easier to make changes and you don’t really have to worry about loosing your ideas.

Digital cons

If you’re like me, you’ll end up getting sucked into a new toy.  If it’s not something you’re used to working with you’ll end up forgetting about it and not utilizing it thus making all that work that you put in a waste.

 

In the end it all boils down to preference.  I like having paper.  It helps me to remember but I do the vast amount online.  I use notebook.ai for world building but avoid the character fields bc I will get stuck there.  For my paper options, I have this cork board that I pin picture inspirations, notes, and whatever else on.  The blended option works for me, and you just need to find what works for you.

So what do you guys use for your outlining?  Do you even need to outline?  Comment below I would love to hear from you!

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See ya next time!