You may notice that things look a little bit different around the blog these days. That's because I've made a pretty big change: my name. And I built a whole new site to go along with it.
I've always intended on writing under a pen name, and I decided it was finally time to make the changeover. Here's why I decided using a pen name was right for me along with an inside look into how I chose my nom de plume.
There's a question that I sometimes see on Query Manager that asks, "Why are you the right person to tell this story?" It's one of those deceptively simple questions that usually has an infuriatingly complicated answer.
Despite the potential for infuriation, there's a variation on this question I think authors should ask themselves while they are drafting their book: "Why is my main character the right protagonist for this story?"
"Because I said so," you might say. "Because I'm writing this story, and this is the main character I picked!"
But if that's your answer, you’re at risk of writing an entire book with the wrong main character. You know what I'm talking about — we've all read those books in which we find a side character infinitely more interesting than the protagonist the author is making us follow.
To avoid writing a book that suffers from "Wrong Main Character Syndrome," ask yourself these three questions to determine if the protagonist you’ve chosen is the right one to lead your story.
It's no secret: I am a comically slow writer. Always have been, and unless I get my hands on whatever Bradley Cooper was on in Limitless, I always will be.
For the most part, I've accepted this. I work at a speed that allows me to avoid burnout while maintaining a full-time career as a magazine writer, which is no small feat. Lately, however, the self-doubt has started to creep in.
I’ve always considered myself a writer, but I didn’t really start writing until NaNoWriMo 2010. I churned out 50,000 words before Thanksgiving, and it’s probably not an exaggeration to say the experience changed my life.
Since then, I’ve always been my most productive writing self during NaNoWriMo. I love the frenzy of it, the sense of community, and most importantly, the hard, looming deadline. When the calendar turns to December, I usually decide to take a break after my month of exhaustive work, thinking “I’ll get back to writing in the New Year.” But then January is busier than expected at work and February’s so short that I can’t really expect to get anything done. All of a sudden, I’m in a creative rut.
Like a lot of authors, I often feel like I’m not doing enough. I procrastinate. I spend too much time on Twitter. I press the snooze button. I feel time slipping by and think about all the opportunities to write that I’ve missed.
As the twenty-teens come to a close, I don’t want to fixate on all the writing I haven’t done. A decade is a long time, and I’ve come a long way. For once, I’m going to sing my own praises: this is what I’m proud to have accomplished in my writing life over the decade.
I’m putting it out there, law-of-attraction-style: one day, I would like to support myself full time by writing fiction.
Until then, like a lot of aspiring novelists, I work a regular, full-time office job. And I have to admit, lately I haven’t been doing a very good job of keeping up with my fiction writing.
Since I’m feeling so overwhelmed by my job and other things, I wanted to remind myself—and hopefully teach you—how to find a balance and keep working on my personal projects.
You may remember my philosophy on New Years' resolutions. It's very similar to the old maxim, "under-promise and over-deliver." At the end of that December 2018 post, I made some very small resolutions, and since we've hit the halfway point of 2019, I thought this would be a good time to check in on my goals.
I’m perpetually in the middle of re-watching 30 Rock. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than sinking into a bubble bath with Howl's Moving Castle, which I’ve read approximately twenty times. And as much as I love to explore new stories and challenge myself with genres outside my comfort zone, I can’t help but appreciate the merits of spending time with “old friends.”
This has been especially on my mind because of Fruits Basket.
Getting good feedback on your writing is hard. That’s because giving good feedback is hard. In your quest to find a good critique partner, it’s important that you’re able to reciprocate. Giving a good critique is more complex than telling a writer your first reaction to their work, so below are some of the things I think about to give the best, most helpful feedback.
Forget brutal honesty
Often times, writers will ask for brutal honesty. “Don’t pull punches. Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly,” they’ll say. “I can take it.”
“Show, don’t tell” is the first creative writing advice most people receive. On the surface, it seems sensible. For someone putting pen to paper for the very first time, the instinct is to tell — “First this happened, then this other thing, and finally a third thing happened. The end.”
In that case, “show, don’t tell,” can be a good reminder to slow down, take a breath, smell the flowers — and let the reader know about their scent.
But as gospel writing advice, it sucks.
On the blog, you'll finds musings on writing craft, book reviews, and general updates on my work. If there are any topics you'd like me to cover, leave a comment!