Or…what I’m doing to improve my writing. Maybe there’s a thing or two in here that will help you as well. Who knows.
Now I know what your thinking.
Didn’t you just do a blog like this a couple of weeks ago?
Yes. Yes, I did, but this one is going to get into more specifics. The last one was more of a reminder of how things could get easier.
These blogs are essentially me talking to myself, so you may get some repeats. My apologizes in advance.
When looking over your MS, rather it is the first time or the hundredth it can still feel daunting and you do need that game plan. Hence that last posts, that sounds eerily similar to this one. What people don’t tell you is where to find those game plans. How to improve your writing.
Last week was a lot of google searching for me. Looking up how to’s and re-watching a bunch of different videos. Kind of feels like I wasted a good amount of time I could have been reworking that manuscript, but really it wasn’t. I needed a starting point. A compass of sorts that would point me in the right direction.
A lot of the feedback that I got on my MS was about my grammar and what not. Probably should have slapped a warning label on it and said, “not yet grammarly correct.” That was my own fault but since then, I’ve searched and searched. There’s the obvious choices, Elements of Style, and Self Editing for Fiction Writers, for those that are looking. Both on Amazon and both highly recommended.
Then there’s other options: blogs and websites. SkillShare is a good source for dozens of videos to help freshen up on grammar and sentence structure. There’s also a website called LousyWriter.com that focuses on improving your grammar. If you’re anything like me, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. It really wouldn’t hurt anything but maybe your ego when you finally admit you need help.
Those are just sights I have filed away and saved for later when I decide to go through my manuscript and nitpick the hell out of it.
For now, I’m focusing on the second most mentioned issue with my MS.
I knew going into this story, like way back in the first draft, that my MC and the supporting characters were not the good guys. Not really. At first, I struggled with this. Asking myself “aren’t I supposed to be writing the good guys?” But going back through and trying to write my MC and any of the supporting casts as good guys, and turning them into victims to support their decisions didn’t feel right.
So, I embraced it. Watched (what feels like) hundreds of shows with anti-heroes and read up on what makes them lovable and looked into different blogs that talked about making the perfect anti-hero and it worked.
Writer’s Digest, Writers Edit, and the Writepractice.com are some good places to start. Watching some of your favorite bad guys gone good and asking yourself why they do the things they do wouldn’t hurt either if you too want to make that wonderful anti-hero.
For the most part people like my characters. Which is great! I wanted people to like my little villains and question them and wonder just on what track they’re supposed to be on. It’s all good….mostly. What I didn’t expect was for people to say that my MC comes across as heartless and say that she loses focus in the story. I wanted people to question her, not believe she’s a total sociopath, or whatever.
Great. Okay. How to fix that?
Well….I’m basically in a ” you tell me” type of space. I’ve gotten suggestions. The book, Creating Characters Arcs, on Amazon is a good place to start and since then I’ve looked into other ways.
Rachel Stephens on Youtube creates her characters using the plot embryo by Dan Harmon. Basically plotting out each character’s story individually. Not a bad place to start, especially if you’ve got the time. I do. I just feel like I’m going to be lazy on this one and search out another method.
There’s also the Myers-Briggs 16 Personalities that I’ve written down in my bullet journal, along with the plot embryo and a few other things, that I’m going to attempt to use to flush out a few of my minor characters. See where I could take them. Make them more likable and have them take charge of a situation.
If you’re wondering, no I’m not going to do that long ass test for each character. I’ve managed to find an abbreviated route online and I’ll leave the link for you so that you can look at it yourself if you wish.
(Hint: It’s the picture box in the corner that gives the shortest explanation.)
There’s also the Emotion Thesaurus, Negative Traits Thesaurus, and a few others that I’ve mentioned before on my blog before that you could use for character and world building. Useful books. I own a couple myself.
The last and final wonderful source to improve your writing.
That’s the right.
The good old fashion form of letting someone else read your work and listening to what they have to say. Doesn’t mean you have to listen to every detail, it falls somewhere between your instinct on what works for the story and knowing when to admit that someone else might have a clearer eye on your work.
It varies, and trust me, it can be rough when you have to admit that the particular line you like doesn’t exactly work to your favor, but you’ll be thankful for those extra pairs of eyes.
I know I very much appreciate each and every person that trudged through my story to help make it better.
Best way to find these people is to head over to your favorite form of social media: Twitter, Tumblr, or even Goodreads and various forums to find Beta readers and Critique Partners. If you’re unsure where to start there’s a ton of videos on Youtube from some well-known authors like Kim Chance and Jenna Moreci that have great tips on finding Beta Readers and Critique Partners.
And remember, while you are doing all this research and crazy non-stop technical reading. Have fun and never stop improving!