Escape Endless Revision

Escape Endless Revision

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As any writer knows, it’s possible to revise forever. At some point you need to decide it’s done and move on to another project.

Two years ago, I found myself endlessly revising blog articles. The following two paragraphs outline my dilemma and solution.

I revise my writing too much. I know this because I find myself getting bored of endlessly revising articles. It seems like I’m going around and around the same group of 50 or 60 articles eternally. An article idea must have a couple of hundred words before I promote it to a first draft. The first draft must be worked on until it’s long enough and has all the components that make an article. Then, I have four revisions before I’m willing to call it finished. Even when I go through the finished articles, I won’t release them as blog posts until I’m certain they are good enough.

The endless revisions must end. But, I don’t want to stop writing. What to do? A different kind of writing is the answer. A different subject. A switch between fiction and non-fiction. A switch between articles and a book.

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Published in: on February 23, 2015 at 7:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Keep Your Characters in Character

Keep Your Characters in Character

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If you base your characters on people you know in real life, it will be easy to remember their personalities.

Examples: Mother, father, sisters and brothers, other close relatives, long time friends and co-workers, characters in a novel series, characters on TV or in a movie series that you’ve been watching for years.

You’ll never be lost on what a character would say. Just imagine what the real person would say.

To make it really simple to remember who represents who, write your story using the real names. When you’re done, use Find and Replace to change all the names to the fictional characters.

As your completed writing builds up, you will be able to base future novels and short stories on your own characters instead of the real people.


Article by Ivan Izo.

Published in: on February 16, 2015 at 7:30 am  Comments (2)  
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23 More Ways to Generate Article Ideas

23 More Ways to Generate Article Ideas

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I’ve previously written about Nine Places to Get Article Ideas. The following list suggests more ways to dream up and research articles.

1. Write about something that pisses you off.

2. Write an anti-article. For example, six ways to gain weight fast. The idea is that readers will use the tips in reverse.

3. Review your article ideas list for ideas you keep passing up and consider the opposite bias. Can’t get going on an article about how to proofread? Write one on when you shouldn’t.

4. Look for ideas when you are nowhere near your keyboard. While driving, shopping, working, or out with friends.

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Published in: on February 2, 2015 at 7:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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Your Right to Write Wrong

Your Right to Write Wrong

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When you read writing books and blogs, and participate in writing forums, you find lots of rules for writing. There are shoulds and musts for everything from comma usage to major transitions. When you read a few “100 Best Books” of any era or genre, those rules go out the window.

The truth is, there is no one right way. Any way you want to write can be the right way. It would be nice if you could make your writing clearer, a faster read, or more entertaining. It would also be nice if your books would sell. For those reasons and because it’s no fun staring at a blank page, there are guidelines for how to write a book, an article, or anything in between.

In other words, it’s a good idea to learn what writing methods have worked in the past and then write what you want. The more you deviate from tradition the more likely your writing will fail. But if you don’t deviate from tradition you’re one of the crowd. It’s conformity versus deviance. Like most situations where there are two extremes, somewhere in the middle usually works out for the best.

I was inspired to write this article after reading a post about how important it was for a novel to have major changes that break it into thirds. Many of those commenting said they stopped reading books that didn’t have a major change at the 33% point. That’s some strict reading. What about the story arc novel structure that has rising action up to the halfway point, a major change, and falling action in the second half? It may have big upsets in any part of the story but only the one guaranteed upset in the middle. I guess those writers are out of luck with the three act readers.

What follows are a few examples of writing rules that were broken by great writers. It doesn’t show every broken writing rule, you have other things to do, but enough to make it clear that it’s your right to write wrong.

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Published in: on January 25, 2015 at 9:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Your Outline Starts as a Guideline

Your Outline Starts as a Guideline

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As you know from reading the blog, I’m all about learning to write faster. One way to accomplish that is avoiding re-writes. My current novel is at about 107,000 words instead of falling short like earlier ones. I give all the credit to writing an outline first. The recommended outline length is one tenth the length of your novel. The original outline for “Book 5” came to about eight thousand words, so the novel was a little short in the early revisions. What have I learned about planning a novel? What’s my plan for the next novel?

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Published in: on September 29, 2014 at 6:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Kyokutei Bakin’s Prolific Writing Method

Kyokutei Bakin's Prolific Writing Method

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Kyokutei Bakin wrote over 470 books, including a 106 book novel. The 106 volume novel took 28 years to complete. That’s about 4 books per year. His other books included 30 long novels. Possibly there are a couple of hundred novellas in there as well. Even if it were only 470 novellas he wrote, we’d still like to know the secret to his writing output. What do we know about him?

Bakin was born in 1767 Japan, so the qualifications for publication were a little different than today. It’s seems like before 1900, if you could write a novel it would get published. That doesn’t change his accomplishment. 470 books is a lot of writing. If he wasn’t good at the start, he would have been eventually. And he was. His novel Nans? Satomi hakkenden (“Satomi and the Eight Dogs”) is considered a classic.

There’s not a lot of information about Bakin, but among the biographical information there is a clue as to how he was able to write so much.

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Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 6:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Foreshadowing Important Events in Your Novel

Foreshadowing Important Events in Your Novel

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Foreshadowing is planting clues early in a story to give readers some idea what’s coming up. They can’t be certain the clues mean something because everything brought up early isn’t foreshadowing a future event.

Foreshadowing can be as vaporous as mentioning knives a lot early in a story and then having someone killed by a knife at the end. You may only mention one particular knife and it becomes the one used in the murder.

Foreshadowing can also be heavy. Your novel could open with a serial killer at work on a seemingly random victim. As the novel progresses, the victims come closer and closer to the protagonist.

Foreshadowing doesn’t require that the reader gets any kind of clear idea that it was put there for them to see what’s coming.

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Published in: on September 20, 2014 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Good Story is Like a Good Bowl of Chili

A Good Story is Like a Good Bowl of Chili

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What’s the best chili? It’s chili that tastes like chili but has something different to it. A twist that makes it your chili. Chili is one of those dishes that can be made many ways. You can change the meats, the cheeses, the vegetables, the beans, and the spices. Stories are similar.

The best stories are ones not quite like any you’ve read before.

How do writers come up with this unique mix? They make changes to one or more of the five main elements of a story: theme, setting, characters, conflict, and plot.

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Published in: on September 16, 2014 at 6:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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38 Character Personality Types

38 Character Personality Types

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It’s important to develop the personalities of the characters in your stories lest they all end up sounding like slight variations of the same person.

Before exploring personality types, we need to know the important character roles for an effective story. You won’t use them all. For example, you usually won’t need both a hero and anti-hero.

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Published in: on September 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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13 Character Archetypes

13 Character Archetypes

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The psychologist Carl Jung believed that we share a collective unconscious within which were archetypal personalities that we use in creating ourselves. While he believed the archetypes were unlimited, he identified a few that are very common. These can be good sources of inspiration for characters.

The list below starts with positive archetypes that may be protagonists, moves along to minor character archetypes, and then lists negative archetypes that may be antagonists. There is no reason you need to use these archetypes in their obvious roles. You may have a story with an anti-hero or an evil archetype who works toward a goal that improves society.

An archetype may do anything. They may be protagonist, antagonist, or a supporting character. Their archetypal character only shows motivation. For example a hero may be championing the legalization of recreational hard drugs or a caregiver may be helping the wounded or emotionally conflicted members of a death squad. The archetypes only explain why characters act in certain ways.

The Thirteen Common Archetypes

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Published in: on September 10, 2014 at 9:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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