5 Tips for Continuity Edits Pt 2

5 Tips for Continuity Edits Pt 2

Hello all, sorry there was no second post last week. I had a few real life things come up in the form of an unexpected script and a large essay due. Now, we were talking about how to edit for continuity in your novels or short stories.

We talked about how using a spreadsheet can help to keep track of scenes, characters and dates. Then figuring out why there are discrepancies so that you can keep track of them. Finally, we talked about tracking characters.

I want to expand upon that. By tracking your characters in the form of interviews, knowing their background and their path for the story you can make sure that in one scene your character isn’t saying their favorite food is pizza and in the next is disgusted by the thought of tomatoes in general. I know that is an example that probably wouldn’t happen but I had to think of something to use as an example.

The fourth point about continuity edits is that with each change to the novel’s timeline, there needs to be a look at the entire novel/story. I know that seems like a lot of work but it is important to make sure that you haven’t changed something that could be essential to your plot.  It can be a long process to edit for continuity editing but it is well worth it to avoid errors similar to those in the Star Wars Universe. (I’m talking about where Luke says he remembers their mother and that she was beautiful and then Padme dies in childbirth.)

The fifth and last point, is that like all edits, remember that there is such a thing as too much. You don’t have to have a 100% accurate timeline. What I mean is, you don’t have to look up every fact, figure and tiny detail. Just don’t say that it takes five hours to drive from San Francisco to LA when it really takes almost twice that. (I know that from personal experience.) What you’re going for is the idea that a story has a timeline that has to be kept intact. You can’t have one scene take place in October and the next in September.

So, what do you all think? On Wednesday we will be talking about the ways that writing a script treatment for your novel can be helpful to you. ~ Jessica

Five Reasons to Do a Character Interview

Five Reasons to Do a Character Interview

So, this is my last semester as an undergraduate in college. I’m taking classes in Creative Writing and Writing the Screenplay and by some miracle (even though they’re in different departments) they’re talking about the same things at the same time. This last week we were covering characters and character building. So now I want to share what I learned along with what I usually do while I’m writing to create a character interview and profile.

Top five reasons to do a character interview:

  1. It gives you an idea of who your character is, their flaws, likes, dislikes, goals, and more.
  2. It allows you to hear your character’s voice as they answer your questions about themselves.
  3. The details you learn in your interview will bleed seamlessly into your story and create a more vivid and realistic character.
  4. You’ll have a physical profile of your character in his or her own words.
  5. You’ll have a record you can go back to throughout your writing and can reference whenever you need to know something about your character.

 4 Books to read about character building (Before I go any further I will say that I make no money from these links and they are not sponsored whatsoever):

  1. Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Authors Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland – K.M. Weiland is a writer whom I am very grateful to have found. Her books and workbooks have improved my writing and converted me from a certified pants-er to a plotter and I couldn’t be happier with the results. This book is newer, and I has help me to see how a character arc works and how I can use them to plot out my character.
  2. The Weekend Novelist by Robert J Ray – I found this book on my dad’s bookshelf when I was a kid because the edition I have is from 1994. I took it to be one of my writing bibles as a kid. Now, the entire book isn’t about creating characters but there is a section devoted to character building in the book and it taught me the first things I learned about writing characters. He speaks about a character sketch, back story, dream and dressing your character in the section entitled weeks 1-4.
  3. A Writer’s Guide to Characterization: Archetypes, Heroic Journeys, And Other Elements of Dynamic Character Development by Victoria Lynn Schmidt – This book is one that I acquired recently in my effort to expand my writing bookshelf. At first I thought it was odd to compare characters to archetypes like the female ones, males ones, then broken down into animal archetypes, but it makes sense as she provides specific examples and each animal and character (For the fox she uses Bilbo in The Hobbit). It provides something interesting and unique that I think helps to craft more interesting characters. It is published by Writers Digest books.
  4. Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints (Write Great Fiction) by Nancy Kress – This book is another fairly recent purchase that is again from Writers Digest books. What I enjoy about it is the exercises that are included at the end of each chapter to work on the concept that she talks about with character building. She also talks about how to choose the right POV for each story and how that will affect the character and use of character building exercises.

Top 5 Things I learned in Class:

  1. Character building is essential for all forms of writing (movies, novels, short stories)
  2. There are so many different ways to build character.
  3. It helps to have a standard form to build your characters.
  4. Sketching out a character’s private place is one of the best ways to learn more about your character.
  5. Sometimes the best way to create a believable character is to take a small detail you see somewhere and use that in the story.

 

Now, I’ve discussed the importance of character interviews and character building in this post. On Wednesday, I’ll post the next part of this series and have part of a sample interview that I’m using for my DFM Screenwriting class as well as a PDF for my character interviews and character sheets that I use for my stories.

~Jessica.

 

Top 5 Resources for Writers

Top 5 Resources for Writers

Hello and welcome to this week’s Monday Musings. I’ll be discussing my Top 10 Resources for writers this week. Everything from computer programs to books to websites. I’m not listing them in any particular order, just my top five resources. I will also say that I am not affiliated in any way with these products or people and am just listing the products that I find helpful in my writing life and as such, want to share.

  1. Writers DigestWriter’s Digest I’ve had a subscription to this magazine on and off since I was about 10 years old. The things that I love most about WD is their articles and tips for writers. Even though they run the same type of issues every year, I constantly find myself learning something from them and their magazine. The magazine also has monthly contests for writers, and a helpful breaking in section in every magazine featuring new writers in every issue. Writers Digest also publishes a list of writers resources every year that I highly recommend purchasing even if you don’t have a subscription to the magazine.
  2. The Creative Penn Website & Podcast– The Creative Penn website/podcast run by author Joanna Penn is one of my favorite writing resources. She gives great writing advice about her own journey to self publishing and interviews many writers and industry professionals in the Indy publishing industry. Her website offers links to her books, courses, free information, videos, social media and more for writers to connect to.
  3. The Self Publishing PodcastSPP The self publishing podcast, hosted by Johhny B Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright is published weekly and talks about trends in self publishing. Each week the three successful authors share their take on what’s going on and interview others in the industry. They also talk about how to be more productive as a writer, using tools to advance your writing, and systems to write faster.
  4. ScrivenerScrivener  A writing software that I use on my computer to write my novels. I am so glad that I invested in it. It has a feature that I love, called the binder where you can organize everything in one place and see it for your novel. Screen-Shot-2013-12-18-at-8.43.37-AM-e1387390545224.png                                         It allows for you to organize your scenes, move them around, even keep old drafts and restore them to see where your writing has been and how it’s changed so you can restore old changes to it. It is about $40, so it’s a bit of an investment but it does export directly to Kindle format so you can write and theorectically have a properly formatted book however, I have heard that there have been some problems with that function as of late. I don’t know if that will continue to be the case or if it has been fixed yet.
  5. HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.comHelping Writers Become Authors K.M. Weiland runs this site and podcast. It is both a blog and a podcast that offers articles about everything from story structure to character building. Her podcast takes the articles on her blog and expounds upon them, giving deeper insight and information on them.

The Top 5 Books for Novel Writers

The Top 5 Books for Novel Writers

So, for this week’s Monday Musings I am talking about my top 5 books for novel writers. Not that they won’t help other writers as well, but these books are especially helpful to those who are writing novels. I have not been compensated in any way for the listing of these book and resources, they are my opinions.

  1. Outlining Your Novel & Outlining Your Novel Workbook

This book by writing guru K.M. Weiland helped to turn me from a pantser to a plotter. I honestly don’t remember where I heard about this book, but it helped me go from a nebulous idea of a novel to a healthy 20,200 words in two weeks of writing. I count the workbook as part of this book as it helps to use both in conjunction while outlining your novel.

2. Crafting Novels and Short Stories

This book, put together through many of Writers Digest editors and full of essays, opinions, and segments on the Writers Life, is full of useful insights and tips from writers who have been where you are. I find it especially helpful when I’m trying to remember things like POV, description and revision methods. From the beginning novelist to the successful author, this book has tips, tricks and anecdotes to help you along. I’ve found that it was especially helpful in reading about overcoming writers block.

3. On Writing 

Stephen King’s memoir about the craft has been an iconic book on many a writers shelf since it came out in 2000. I find that his book inspires me to keep writing and also helps me to take in one of the masters of the crafts advice to the novelist. His memoir and advice book is an essential on every writers shelf.

4. No Plot, No Problem 

Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo wrote this book as a guide to writing a book in 30 days. While I have yet to master the writing of a full novel in a month I find the tips that he shares to be helpful, especially when it seems so easy to make an excuse for not writing. I find his week-by-week guide to be helpful even if I do expand it to longer than  a week for each section.

5. Structuring Your Novel & Structuring Your Novel Workbook

Again, K. M. Weiland has scored with an impressive and essential book. While most authors and novelists have a good grasp of story structure, she explains it in a way that is both easy to understand and to implement. The workbook helps to put the understanding of structure into your hands. When used in combination with the Outlining Your Novel books, these provide an easy grasp of how to craft your novel.

 

So, that’s it for my list of the top 5 books for novel writers. What are your top 5 books for novelists? Next week on Monday Musings: The Top 10 Resources for Writers.

The Mistake You’re Making: How to Work On More than One Project at A Time

The Mistake You’re Making: How to Work On More than One Project at A Time

 

Should I write more than one project at a time?

This question is one that is often posed to writers and the subject of a lot of debate in the writing world. Personally, I suggest working on more than one project at once. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Sometimes you just can’t write the next part of your story. Either you need to research, you had to change something or you can’t find the inspiration to write it.
  2. Especially as a new, unpublished writer, it helps to build a following if you can write short stories, poems, and blog posts that will be seen by a wider audience so when you do have something published you’ll have established readership.
  3. Writing Contests! These are great ways to get your work out there in an established publication, and you have clips if you work primarily on shorter stories or poems.
  4. I have too much going on in my head and sometimes it helps to write out my ideas.

 

My typical writing schedule looks like this:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Blog Post for Monday Current Novel in Progress Blog Post

Research Novel Aspects

Current Novel

Short Story

Blog Post

Current Novel

Stories for Contests

Magazine Submissions

Outline

Outline

Outline

 

Yes, I wrote outline three times on Saturday because as a reformed pantser, outlining has become one of the key tools in my writing arsenal.

I also recommend writing more than one project to prevent something I am all too familiar with: burnout. In writing my novel this April for Camp NaNoWriMo, I realized that while I was able to crank out about 2000-5000 words on my novel, it was draining. I love my story, but sometimes being too close in a world you created can make you want to write anything but what you’re working on. I find that if I run into writers block the best thing to do is to set the story aside, work on something else and let your story percolate in your brain. Your subconscious can be a huge help to working through those points you can’t think of, the things that just seem off until you have the flash of inspiration.

Now, while I may not work on my novel every day I am a huge proponent of writing every day. It has helped me create a schedule and a routine so that writing has become not only my job, but a part of the day that I treasure and try to make a priority unless I have a migraine attack and can’t get out of bed. Even then I try, and usually have to remind myself it’s okay to take a break if I can’t see straight.

 

Writing With Migraines and Other Chronic Illnesses

Writing With Migraines and Other Chronic Illnesses

Hello everyone,

Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted. I was dealing with a major migraine. And that’s what I want to talk about today. How to keep up a writing and posting schedule when you have a chronic illness such as migraines or fibro. Personally, I deal with migraines and pain from fibromyalgia on a nearly daily basis. It makes it hard to do basic things like cook and when I’m dealing with that anything else falls to the back burner. But I do have some tip and tricks for handling life with chronic illness as someone in the writing/creative arts field.

  1. Set your screen refresh rate to the highest possible on the computer. You can do that by going to display settings> screen resolution>advanced settings> and then set the refresh rate higher. It helps your eyes out if you’re working a lot on the computer.
  2. Have a non-technology alternative. For me this means on days where I just can’t look at a screen I write with pen and paper. And on days that doesn’t work, I just have to accept that I need a rest day.
  3. Set reasonable goals for yourself. If you have to stop and get up from the computer every hour do it. Don’t expect yourself to be able to write 10,000 words in one go on the computer if that hampers your other activities.
  4. Accept that some days you won’t be able to be productive, and that’s okay too. This has been the hardest thing for me to accept when it comes to my writing productivity. Sometimes I just can’t focus and I can’t write for that reason. In that case, I try to come up with ideas or just let myself relax and watch Netflix.
  5. If you need something done that day, it helps to have someone you trust work on it for you. For example, some days when I can’t work I ask my boyfriend to read my work and give me feedback so I can keep working the next day. I am also working on creating a cache of posts for days when I can’t write so I have something to go up on the blog.
  6. Some days, you just have to struggle through it. On those days I recommend comfy clothes, as calm of an environment as possible and frequent breaks for naps and resting.
  7. I keep a journal of blog post ideas, story ideas, a scene list for works in progress and changes for stories. This helps on days when I can’t necessarily think, but I have to make progress. Like my novel. I spent time working on an outline and now I can just write out a scene and feel accomplished with the work I can do.
  8. Some days when you’re worn out, it’s better to write about how you’re feeling. This helps not only with your writing, as any writing is practice, but it can help to spark a new idea once you get your feelings written down. I find that I get the best ideas after journaling.

Well, that’s all I can think of for today. I’m fighting a migraine I’ve had for three days now and I hope that his post helps you cope and keep writing. If you have anything to add please let me know at jessica.entwistle@jessicaentwistle.com

Jessica

Monday Musings- How To Create A Writing Schedule

Monday Musings- How To Create A Writing Schedule

 

One of the biggest things that has troubled me as a writer is the creation of time to write. Where does writing fit in between college classes, a part-time job, chores and spending time with friends? If you’re like me and you have a hundred things going on at once, it’s hard to find time to write. But something that I’ve learned this last month as I got back into writing is that creating a schedule and making it a priority is how productivity occurs. Since I started to implement my daily schedule I’ve been able to write anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 words an hour easily on my novel alone. This means that I’ve increased my own productivity 100% since then.

Now there is no one size fits all program that will allow for the perfect routine. For me, I find that I’m most productive in the hours just after I wake and those right before I go to bed. Usually I spend my time waking up and playing Candy Crush or browsing the internet, finding idea after idea and I was doing nothing about it. Now, I am doing something.

In order to create an effective routine I did the following:

  • Told everyone in my social circle that I would be writing from the hours of 8-12 and that I won’t answer their calls, texts or anything unless it’s an emergency.
  • Created a writing space that I loved (More on that later)
  • Found a good radio station that keeps me focused. (For me that’s Taylor Swift’s streaming from Amazon Music)
  • Disconnect my computer from the internet. (Yes, I know I listen to music but that comes courtesy of my iPhone plugged into some awesome speakers.)
  • Closed the door to my writing space so I don’t get distracted.
  • Free write before I start on anything else.

Now, you may be thinking, what if I don’t have four hours to devote to writing a day? Just go with whatever fits your schedule. When summer classes start for me I’ll be down to just two hours a day of devoted writing time. But I find that making a routine makes it easier for me to sit down and write. I usually make coffee in the morning, pour myself a giant cup and free write as I drink my coffee and eat my bagel and cream cheese. After that I get down to business. Whatever I’m writing for that day I open and start working on. I also keep a notebook next to me to write down any ideas or questions that pop up. (Did I do the laundry? Is there an airport in this town?) This lets me write down the ideas that distract me, and then I can get back to writing.

Creating a Writing Space

When I moved into this new place with my boyfriend and our friend I made sure to set up my office first. When I write I need to have my reference materials, a pen and notebook for ideas, my computer and a steady supply of caffeine and munchables. I find that having a window in my office distracts me from the view of the street outside. So I put up curtains. I also have this cool corkboard my boyfriend was nice enough to mount in front of my desk. I keep my current stories on the left side, contest dates in the middle, and future ideas (The ones of many that I have chosen to be my next projects I mean.) on the right side. At this moment I have my MFA application requirements up on the board as well. DSC00002.JPG

I also have my Darth Vader figures there and my bin of reference magazines and a novel for reference. (The desk next to mine is my boyfriends and it’s kind of a mess most of the time.)

 

Free Writing

In order to start each writing session that I do, I free write. After reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, I tried free writing and have found that it helps me, both to clear my mind before I start to write and also to find solutions to problems that I can’t figure out in my story. One of my best ideas, the novel I’m currently writing actually, came from one of my pieces of free writing. Now some days I only need to write for five minutes, some I feel like I can’t start work until I’ve written for hours. Just find what works for you.

My Writing Routine

So, to recap, find a time that works with your creativity and find a place that you can write where you can focus. Tell those in your life who need you all the time you’ll be writing and that the time is for writing unless there is an emergency. At first they may not understand, but they will. Music can help to set the writing mood and focus. And don’t forget to stock up on caffeine and snacks, which most writers can’t live without.

 

Happy Writing- Jessica