Plus Winners Announced!
I have quickly discovered that the process of writing a novel is not a one-woman job. I always read things telling me that three things every writer should do are:
1. Join a critique group
2. Read books on the craft
3. Study thier genre
But until I actually did those three things, I didn’t really know how truly vital they are. It’s like the difference between watching television in black and white versus color. You’re getting the same show, but are you really seeing the whole picture? The effect would be dimmed without the vibrant red of Snow White’s poisoned apple or the brilliant gold of Rapunzel’s train of locks. It’s just not the same without the colors.
And that is what writing a novel alone is like.
The acknowledgements section is there for a reason. Many people skip over those pages, but it’s actually the first thing I read. I may not know half the people being thanked, but I love to read about what part they played in putting that book in my hands. You will rarely find an author who claims to have done it all on their own. Actually, I would be surprised if you even found one, and if you did, I would think they are lying.
Thing #1: Every writer should join a critique group
I meet with two women writing in my same genre (YA) every week via Google Hangout. At first I was reluctant. Would this really help me become a better writer? Wouldn’t it be more productive to spend that time writing rather than talking about writing?
Without Christen and Neysa, I wouldn’t know…
That Joshua is Makai’s best friend
That book one is mostly in our realm
That Makai is Nathaniel’s son
I realize none of this makes much sense to anyone, but my point is that the more I talked about my current work-in-progress the more I started to see it, in full, life-giving colors. If my brain is made of oatmeal, my girls are there to turn that mush into something I can use. Their ideas and input have made a huge difference. I don’t know how I ever wrote without them.
Thing # 2: Three books every writer should read
There are probably as many books on the craft of writing as anything else. It can be difficult to separate the wheat from the tares, so I’m going to tell you three that are definitely in the wheat pile.
A Novel Idea from Tyndale
I think I’ve read A Novel Idea through at least three times. The pages are marked and highlighted, and the spine definitely suggests I have placed the book open faced on my table more than once. A Novel Idea has a little bit of everything for an author of inspirational fiction, written by authors of inspirational fiction. From plot formation to marketing, A Novel Idea has helped me in numerous ways. Besides the good advice, the tidbits of encouragement throughout the book are ones I turn to often. Those authors have been where I am. They have discovered what works and what doesn’t. Their experiences are ones I can learn from. Thanks ChiLibris!
Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
I knew this book would open my eyes. This book opened my eyes.
There you have it folks, shallow versus deep point of view.
After I read Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, I started to see the difference everywhere. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before! The best part is that by switching from shallow to deep point of view, authors will automatically eliminate show versus tell problems. Honestly, I never really “got it” until I read this. I would think “How do I get away from telling? Isn’t that what a novel is? A story being told?”
With Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, writers will learn how to get right inside their characters’ heads, how to do away with distant narrative, and how to write clean, linear prose. This one should be on every writer’s shelf, no matter what genre you fancy.
GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon
If you write, you have probably heard of this whole GMC thing. As someone who writes by the seat of her pants, I really hate to outline. The truth is, every writer outlines whether they know it or not. Maybe it’s in a nicely organized Word document or maybe it’s all in your head. In the end, you can’t really write a without at least some idea of:
- What your characters’ goals are (internal and external; for the whole book and within each chapter)
- What motivates those characters to achieve those goals (Is her mom dying? Does a deadline loom ahead?)
- What conflicts hinder your characters from reaching those goals (Is her mom’s disease incurable? Does he accidentally erase the report that was due tomorrow?)
Just open up your favorite book and you’ll start to notice these things. Oh, and pick up a copy of Debra Dixon’s GMC. I don’t write without it anymore.
Thing # 3: Every writer should study their genre
So I write (or am trying to write) Young Adult fiction. That’s a pretty broad term. It covers everything from The Fault in Our Stars to Twilight. Does that mean that every YA novel is good for me to study?
Not at all.
For example, I really enjoyed my recent encounter with The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It was simply one of those books I couldn’t put down. John Green has a very unique voice and I enjoyed his story. Does that mean I should grab my highlighter and start picking apart this book? No. John Green’s voice is completely different from my own. I’m sure I could learn from him, but studying his books would really be ineffective for me since I write under a more speculative umbrella of the YA genre.
Now, Twilight , on the other hand, I do study. Am I writing a book about vampires and werewolves? Ha. Excuse me while I emit a sarcastic chuckle. Obviously, as a Christian author that would not make a whole lot of sense for me. However, I can learn from Stephanie Meyer as an author because her books more closely relate to what I am writing and here is why:
She does an excellent job of melding fantasy with the real world (This is relevant to my genre)
Her voice is descriptive and elegant, something I aspire to
The love triangle among Bella, Edward, and Jacob is one I can study as I create my own
Reading books that are similar to what you write is a good idea because you can discover what’s been overdone, what you do and don’t like, and what the demographic you are writing for likes to read. Study the market. Why do teens like to read books like Twilight? How can I, as a Christian YA+ author, give them a good read while also sharing the Gospel with them?
It’s fascinating stuff, this writing thing. I can’t do it alone. Thanks to all those contributing to my novel. Whether you know it or not, you’re making a difference.
What are you currently reading? I’d love to hear why (or why not) you are enjoying that particular book. What moves you? What doesn’t? What do you think is missing in books for Young Adults/Teens today?
I love hearing from you! Until then, happy reading!
Yours in Messiah Yeshua,
And the winners are….
Next Week’s Giveaways…
Can’t Wait Willow and Jesus Calling for Kids: Deluxe Edition
I purchased the books in this post. I was not asked to write reviews. All views and opinions are mine, and mine alone. This post also contains affiliate links. To learn more, please read my full policy.
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