Morgan’s 200th BlogPost-aganza!

One Month Shy Of 3 Years…

Today, I’m celebrating my 200th blog post!

When I first started this blog, I imagined a handful of posts, just enough so that my author website wasn’t an empty wasteland.

200 posts later, I’m still going, stronger than ever.

In honor of my 200th blog post, I’d like to invite you to introduce yourself! If you have one, share YOUR blog with me! Tell me what you’ve been up to and what you blog.

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Happy International Women’s Day!

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Here’s A Trick To Fix Your Rough Draft–In 30 minutes Or Less

Note: The TRICK takes 30 minutes or less, not the process of fixing your rough draft

When You’ve Finished A Rough Draft…

Congrats!

You’ve done what so many people dream of doing. Butt-in-seat, you got your story out.

But now what?

You’ve got this mess of a draft sitting there in front of you. Sometimes, it’s long and messy, other times it’s short and sparse.

But it doesn’t matter. You wrote a novel!

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Pour yourself a toast!

Unfortunately, your friends and family, the ones who are supportive (or at least are faking it), are now asking when they can read it!

One problem: it’s a mess! So step one? Edit it! Get your butt back in your seat and make that thing readable.

After You’ve Edited It…

If you’re anything like me, you thought you edited it, but really, you’ve just been doing line edits and making the sentences readable. You haven’t actually revised it.

The plot, pacing, and flow? Everything’s still a mess.

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It’s just a pile of pages and papers…

You’re beginning to despair of ever turning this manuscript into something people might want to read.

That’s where my secret trick comes in.

Well, maybe it’s not a secret, but it is a nifty trick.

Sit down, think about your dream agent, and write a query letter!

What, Morgan!? You gasp in horror and fear. It’s not remotely ready for outside-eyes, especially not an agent!

As you know, it’s not polite to keep querying an agent every time you make a new draft. You want to wait to query until you’re sure it’s ready.

So Morgan, why am I writing a query and how is this going to fix my rough draft? you ask.

Query Yourself!

I can feel you looking at me askance and sighing, this sounds like one of those mumbo-jumbo esoteric writing exercises.

Well, yes. Yes, it is. But when you write your query letter, you’re reducing your story,  your world, all your beloved characters in their most basic form:

Main character + wants A + but B  + stands in their way

Writing queries is hard. It’s a completely different skill than writing a novel, or even a short story. You’ve barely got 200 words to say EVERYTHING.

Yet, when writing your query letter, a strange thing happens…

You find out what the story you wrote is about.

What? You ask. I wrote the thing. It can’t be possible for me to NOT to know what my own story is about: clearly, it’s about Main Character and Major Plotline!

But, when you reduce it down to its bones, that’s when you can see what lies beneath the skin of your story.

You find your story’s theme. Often, something you didn’t even know you were trying to say.

You find your core plot, which may have been an over-arching plot that you couldn’t see for the trees.

Together, the theme and the core plot provide you with a compass to help you plot your way through your rough draft.

Finally, It’s Time To Revise.

Once you know both:

  • Which plot points you want to emphasize
  • What the theme at the core of your story is

Then, it’s easier to see which scenes and characters are supporting those plots and themes.

If you have a scene or a character that doesn’t support the core plot or theme, you’ve got a few options:

  • Delete it
  • Edit so it DOES support the core plot or theme
    or
  • Revise the query to re-analyze your manuscript and reorient that ‘compass’

After You Revise?

Rewrite your query.

Every new draft deserves a new query. The story may have taken you in new and exciting directions.

And that’s it. That’s my trick to figuring out how to revise that rough draft of mine.


What tricks do you use to get your rough draft in shape?

Do you ever write your query before you even draft?

 

3 Things To Consider Before “Fixing” Your Writing

3 Things To Consider Before “Fixing” Your Writing

How Do You Please Everyone With Your Writing?

Spoiler Alert: You can’t.

I’m back in the query trenches again, alternately deciding that “this is the agent for me!” and “no agent will ever love me!”

So, while I’m sorting through agent profiles, trying to decide who might “swipe right” back at me (right’s the one where they’re interested, too? I don’t know these things), I see agents posting about what they don’t want.

And there’s this knee-jerk reaction, when I recognize a trope from my writing in their ‘no thank you’ list. The feeling of, “Oh! I can fix it! And then you’ll love it!” Especially when you see so much of your story in their ‘please send me’ list.

But before you go an fix your story to appeal to that agent, you need to stop and consider a few things.


3 Things to Consider before “Fixing” Your Story:

1. Are there other Agents looking specifically for that trope?

If so? Well, there you go!

Just because one agent pooh-poohed the trope you played with in your story, didn’t mean every agent out there was shying away from it. Clearly, that agent just wasn’t the right match for you!

I know it can be hard to walk away from an agent that looks ideal!

You see them asking for X and Y, both of which your story does amazingly! And then you hit that “hard pass if the Manuscript does Z”. *insert screeching to a halt sound clip. And maybe a sad trombone noise*

It’s hard to stop yourself from justifying sending to them anyway. “I have everything they’re looking for,” you think.

Yes, but if you also have something in your manuscript that will make them auto-reject you, why set yourself up for failure?

You’ve heard the dating analogy. Everything else might be good, but if my date is looking for a partner who cooks, we’re not going to be a good fit.

You should be querying people who want what you have to offer, without that deal breaker.

2. Is Not Wanting That Trope A Trend?

Agents are people, and no two people are exactly the same. Which means they have different wants and needs.

If ONE agent talks about not wanting a specific trope, it can be hard not to start reading into what the other agents are saying. You start convincing yourself that the other agents were obliquely referencing that trope and that no one will ever want your novel.

Oh wait–that’s just me.

But EVERY story has its own tropes. It’s how you play with them, subvert them, or make them shine that makes your story unique.

Don’t immediately assume your story is broken! Look around at other agents, at other agencies. Look at what the editors are looking for and see if there’s a pattern.

If, and only if, you find a pattern of agents and editors saying specifically that they do not want this particular trope, that’s when you might think about looking at your manuscript.

3. How well integrated is this trope in your story?

Just because the publishing world isn’t in the mood for this trope, doesn’t mean there’s a problem with your story!

You have to think long and hard before removing a trope from your novel. Start by asking yourself the following questions.

  • Does it make sense for your story?
  • How will this affect your characters?
    • How much of their backgrounds, personality, and goals are influenced by this trope?
  • Will your story be worse off by taking it out?
  • How well did you write the trope?
    • Perhaps you’ve gotten to the heart of the trope and made it real and fully three-dimensional!
    • Perhaps you’ve subverted the trope, in an unexpected, but fascinating manner.
    • Perhaps you’ve played with the trope, in fun and exciting ways!

If you’ve taken the trope and made it yours, then leave it be!


What Happens If You Leave It In And The Trope Causes People To Reject It?

A – Maybe your story ends up being a ‘practice book’…

It’s still not a waste of time. No one tells the musician who practices their scales that they’ve wasted time.

B – Maybe you need to wait for trends to change.

Shelve this project for 6 months or 6 years, and then send it out to agents again.


Don’t Give Up Hope Before You Query

It could be that your take on this trope is just what the industry has been waiting for!

5 Ways To Use The Moon For World-Building Inspiration

5 Ways To Use The Moon For World-Building Inspiration

When you look at our history books and the artifacts that exist from prehistory, there’s a definite trend.

Humanity has always looked upwards.

From Stonehenge, to the Pyramids in Maya and Egypt and elsewhere, to China’s Puyang Tomb and its mosaic of constellations, the moon and stars have always inspired us.

Note: There’s even a science devoted to studying it! Archaeoastronomy is the study of how people in the past “have understood the phenomena in the sky, how they used these phenomena and what role the sky played in their cultures.”

Even today, people from around the globe admire the moon and take the time to step outside and look up when we know there will be an eclipse.

The moon has a lot of influence: it creates our tides, gives us a sense of the passage of time, and provokes our imagination.

So, when it comes to creating a fantasy world, the moon (or moons!) can help inspire you!

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5 Ways You Can Use The Moon To Enhance Your Fantasy World Building

1 – Gods and Goddesses

From Sumeria to Greece to India, lunar Gods and Goddesses abound, often a counter-part to an opposite-gendered Sun God or Goddess.

When creating your world mythology, try to decide what your people made of the moon and the sun. Do they believe everything to be part of the divine, do they believe in a singular god, do they have stories of the celestial bodies?

Even if your world has ‘advanced’ past that sort of thing, there is likely to be a sort of holdover from earlier in their history. References, stories, and holidays.

2 – Holy Days and Celebrations

New Moons, full moons: holidays based on the lunar cycle are popular. From the Chinese New Year to Ramadan to Easter here on Earth, we pay attention to the moon when we want to honor a momentous occasion.

Any society you create is going to have a major holiday. Whether religious or not, people like breaks.

When creating a culture, decide in what sort of ways your people recognize their holy days. Do your people meditate? Do they hold large festivals? Think about ways the moon may influence the timing.

3 – Calendars

Following off the holidays, our months started out approximately the length of a lunar cycle, only politics and the solar cycle got them misaligned.

Our weeks are carefully subdivided lunar cycles, drawn and quartered. 28 days to our lunar cycle, divides evenly into 4 weeks of 7 days each. It’s not a coincidence.

If you’re writing a new world, is your week going to be the same length? Why? What about your months?

4 – Tides

The sun has a bit of influence, but our moon is the main game-player when it comes to dictating high-tide and low-tide here on earth.

If your story is placed on a version of Earth, tides can play a part. If your story is placed on another world, how many moons do you have? Are they closer or further away? Think about how that’s going to affect the tides!

5 – Moods

Legends talk of werewolves running rampant when the moon is full and even mere mortals acting strangely.

Despite scientific studies pooh-poohing on this theory, some people, even today, believe that people act more impulsively when the moon is full.

Does your world have this sort of syndrome? Is it reversed? Do you want your world to have superstitions about the full or the half or the new moon? 


New worlds are fun to create, but I find I really enjoy making up reasons why things are the way they are in my worlds.

What sort of things do you look to, when designing your worlds?