DSC_6334_smallWelcome to my writing pages!  The main focus of this page is to explore ways beginning writers can find inspiration.  You’ll also find information on my published works and the ones in progress. My schedule for posting is:

Monday Sparks: Writing ideas to fan your creative flame

Thursdays – Writing tips based on a monthly theme

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Prompts for NaNoWriMo

We’re over half way through November. How is your NaNoWriMo going? Having any trouble with settings? As I write my YA mystery, I seem to have a lot of scenes of people discussing the case while eating. I need to change some of those scenes to give my writing more variety.

If you notice that you are using the same kind of setting over and over, see if these photos can act as prompts for your NaNoWriMo challenge.

I know I said my characters are eating too much, but in case your characters aren’t eating enough, here’s a kitchen to inspire you and allow your characters to get some nourishment.

Go Teen Writers: Edit Your Novel

When you’re done with NaNoWriMo, you’re faced with the hardest but I think most rewarding part of writing–editing. This phase can make you want to tear your hair out or tear your manuscript up, but it will add magic to your prose if you stick to it. Go Teen Writers: Edit Your Novel by Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson provides all kinds of help through this crucial process.

Edit Your Novel is an inaccurate title because the books covers so much more than that. A little over half of the book concerns editing, both macro and micro. Don’t know what those words mean? Get the book because it will explain that macro- editing is revising the big issues, such as character development and theme. Micro-editing is all the tiny things that need taken care of, like knowing when to insert or remove commas.

One of the most helpful sections under micro-editing is the chapter on punctuation. Author Jill Williamson sets out the rules from how to punctuate dialogue to how to correctly type and use en-dashes and em-dashes. I would have loved to have had this handy guide earlier in my career

The other half of the book provides all kinds of advice on how to get published with chapters on how traditional publishing works, how to write a synopsis and a query, find a literary agent, and deal with rejection.

The extra chapters at the end are the kind of bonus material I love. There’s self-editing checklist, brainstorming ideas, and the authors’s list of weasel words and phrases, which are words and phrases each author falls into the habit of using over and over again in their first draft. “Just” is a particular weasel word of mine. When I edit, I have to find them and retain only the ones that actually serve a purpose.

For those of us who’ve found so much help in Go Teen Writers: Edit Your Novel or on the Go Teen Writer’s website, there’s good news. Go Teen Writers: Write Your Novel is coming out December 3! Be sure to pre-order a copy.

What books on editing do you recommend?

Prompts for NaNoWriMo

These prompts for NaNoWriMo will spark your inspiration if you are stuck developing plot points.

Let the setting suggest plots twists.

My stories are set in rural Ohio where cell reception can run from good to nonexistent. That fact can lead to all sorts of trouble for my characters.

Let characters’ personalities suggest plot twists.

Do you have a character who doesn’t bother to filter her comments? Let that habit kick off a plot twist. An introverted character who keeps a secret could serve a similar purpose.

Fight stereotypes

If you have a cheerleader, make her a nice one. How would that change your plot? Turn your main character’s best friend–the quirky one with all the best lines– into an antagonist. Give your teen MC one parent who actually understands him. Fighting stereotypes can freshen your writing and produce great potential plot points.

Have the main character lose something critical or gain something unexpectedly.

I saw the potential for this in my WIP novel, A Shadow on the Snow. My MC collects all the nasty notes an anonymous stalker sends her. When she’s ready to turn them over to the police, the letters are stolen. That theft added so much to the plot.

What other prompts could help twist the plot?

Outlining a Novel by Samantha Seidel

I’m very excited to introduce a writer new to JPC Allen Writes. I wanted different opinions on how to tackle writing a novel during NaNoWriMo, and Samantha has provided her insights on outlining a novel. Take it away, Samantha!

I can hear the groans just from reading the title. If you’re like me, you write off the top of your head, starting wherever you please and leaving organization for later. While it’s my favorite way to write, it opens the door for breaks in character, mysterious setting mishaps, and random plot holes. That’s why an outline, even a basic one, can help organize your thoughts and make editing a breeze. Here’s three things you need to know and have outlined before you write.

Characters

Characters are the guides in every story. Readers connect and invest in characters. If you don’t have solid characters, you’ll lose the intensity and reader connection to the book that keeps them craving the next chapter.

How do you create a solid character? I won’t go into depth since JPC Allen has a month for characters, but I’ll cover a few points. They have a distinct personality, physical appearance, and back story. Think of a family member or best friend. What key points make them unique? When designing a character, you’re designing a person. Look at people around you for inspiration on what to add or consider.

Setting

The setting is the backdrop for your entire book. Especially for a journey with multiple places, the setting needs to be solid so readers don’t get confused or lost while accompanying the characters. Even with one setting, there’s constantly changing components like time of day and weather. These elements can work in your favor, but they need to be solidified before writing.

How do you create a solid setting? Heavy description is the only answer I’ve got for you. I’ve been refining my description abilities for years just so my settings drags readers into the room or roadside. Some of it will get cut in edits, but if you start with lots of description and sensory information (think five senses), you won’t have to add onto it later. Develop the overall setting in a paragraph or two before shifting into writing.

Plot

The plot is the major dilemma of the book. You may have subplots that help move along the story, but there must be one main plot that exists from word 1 to word 50,000. Depending on the genre, this plot will vary. Every book has a plot, and those without one or with a poor plot don’t go anywhere.

How do you create a solid plot? Problems don’t simply arise; something changes that results in a problem. Take the characters and setting you developed and brainstorm on what changes. Does the character lose their job? Does the world become too polluted? Now think about the problem that arises from that change. The bigger and more impactful the problem, the more readers will want to know what happens. That problem is your plot.

Final Thoughts: Road Map

Now the three points above are easy enough, but you’re probably looking for the outline. Remember when I said the most basic outline will do the trick? A basic outline doesn’t need to be a list, but a few paragraphs on the characters, setting, and plot. In other words, we just made a basic writer’s outline.

However, I’ve found that while writing, I get a new idea and create a road map. In this scenario, grab a sheet of paper, write some key scenes down, and connect them with lines. That’s a basic road map that literally shows you how each scene moves into the next. This outline doesn’t restrain freethought writing but gives it direction and purpose.

Thank you so much for stopping by today, Samantha! Click here for more inspiration on character, plot, and setting.

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Samantha Seidel is a speculative fiction writer and graphic designer. Her goal is to inspire others to find their inner creativity through imaginative stories and meaningful design. Writing since she was thirteen, Samantha continues to improve her skills as an author and editor. She has a contract for her first book and is ready to publish more. If you ever want a different perspective on a project or some free writing help, contact her at srsinkfeather@gmail.com. Follow her in Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Prompts for NaNoWriMo

I have character prompts for NaNoWriMo today! For me to build a character, I usually have to find a face, a face that intrigues me and suggests a certain kind of personality. I went through Pixabay, looked at portraits, and selected some to share here. If you are stuck for a character during NaNoWriMo, check in here and see if these pictures can inspire you! I’d love to hear what sparks these photos ignite in your imagination.

I used the face of this little girl for a supporting character in my WIP novel, A Shadow on the Snow. Her name is Coral, she’s eleven, and she’s very practical and loves animals.
The expression on the young woman’s face caught my attention and my imagination. She inspired another character, Egypt. She’s hot-tempered and reckless but can be fiercely loyal.

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