Writing is all about exploring the human element. To write, one needs to ask what makes us human. Our dreams, our desires, our wants, and our struggles. Empathy. This is what makes us human. – Angela B. Chrysler
In 2014, I built two websites: angelabchrysler.com and BraintoBooks.com. As a reader, there is nothing I hate more than entering an author’s site to see what they’re writing and when they’re releasing, only to find the place plastered with writing tips instead. From day one, I’ve made a point of keeping material for authors and writers at Brain to Books while reserving this site for readers. I think…I will change this.
My preferred writing schedule (when I’m not employed) is to write from 6:00 AM to 12:00 Noon. Edit (whatever I wrote the day before) from 12:00 to 2:00 PM. As for advice… Persevere and endure. This can be applied to anything really. For a quick glance (and because I keep losing this list and am tired of spending an hour hunting it down), here is my writing check list. May it guide you as well as it has guided me.
Part One: Brainstorm and Outline
- Thought conceived
- Create Main Character. Create the MC’s goal and create their obstacle. Remember! Goal + Obstacle = Conflict.
- Provide setting, time period, and location. Research.
- Create additional characters. Assign names, backgrounds, conflicts.
- Compose a culture for your MC.
- Flesh out rising actions and compose plot. Rising Action and Climax. Remember all that stuff you learned in 10th grade English class?
Part Two: Write
- WRITE! Write. Write. Write. Set a goal and do it! My goal is 2,000 words a day.
Just do it and accept how bad it’s going to be. I remember my 9 year old learning to knit. She can knit beautifully, but if it wasn’t perfect, she would frog it (unravel the knit) and start over. It took her a long time to finish anything she had started because she hadn’t learned to accept less than perfect. Writing is the process of an author building a skeleton from nothing. For me, it is the hardest part.
Check out dailygrammar.com before you begin writing. It will save you a lot of time in the editing department.
Part Three: Revise and Edit
If writing is building a skeleton, then revising is breaking the bones and resetting them so they heal properly. Editing is just physical therapy.
- Read through once, revise for pacing.
- Edit for characterization
- Edit for historical consistency
- Edit for grammar, spelling, punctuation,
- Edit for foreign word spelling and definition consistency
Time to start thinking about the next book in the series if there is one.
- Begin outlining next book (Repeat Part one for the next book)
- Edit current project for foreshadowing in following books.
- Edit for clarity. Edit for flow. Edit for prose.
- Insert more scenes were needed to fill out or flesh out characters and setting
- Edit for pacing, adding and deleting scenes where needed.
- Edit for pacing, prolonging and shortening scenes where needed.
Part Four: Trial and Feedback
This is the part where you start getting feedback and appeasing readers.
- Post on www.scribophile.com and weigh the feedback received from members.
- Read through and correct.
- Rinse and repeat the first two steps of Part Four until no more errors are located.
- Hand to beta readers and review critiques (I recommend three to seven beta readers). Too many, and you’ll forget what you want.
- Read through and correct.
Part Five: Polish and Prepare for publication
- Submit the manuscript to a professional editor.
- Hire a Cover Artist
- Purchase ISBN’s
About Character Development
I will forever praise anime for what it has taught me in writing story. No one writes character development better than anime writers. Unlike all other writers, anime writers must introduce a character and make you love them before the end of the first episode, which is only fifteen minutes long. In anime, you don’t have time to develop a love for the character, provide background, or develop plot. You have to love the MC within moments. Anime writers only have 13 to 24 episodes to tell their whole story. If viewers don’t love their character within fifteen minutes, viewers won’t stick around.
For examples and lessons on writing characters for story, I recommend Naruto from Naruto, Edward and Al from Full Metal Alchemist, Yagami Light from Death Note, and Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece. If you can handle the gore, I also recommend Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan. These animes are available at Crunchyroll.com, Hulu, and Netflix. The first five minutes is usually enough to fall in love with each of these characters.
In every case, the goal and/or dream of the main character is introduced, their obstacle is defined, and you want to cheer them on. In most cases, you witness their suffering, their defining moment, and they are humanized right before your eyes.
In most cases, all of this is done in fifteen minutes. Now that‘s what I call storytelling.