Don’t Be Scared to Change Your Story

I decided to re-write the first chapter of Sacrifice because it’s the only section of the book I’ve been unhappy with. I always grimace when I have to provide that section for queries. Every time I submit to an agent I catch myself saying, “Ugh this isn’t the best part.” Well why isn’t it? Why would I keep an opener that isn’t strong enough to be a good selling point? If i’m not fully happy with the first chapter, why would I expect an agent to enjoy it?

Trust your instincts and don’t be stubborn with your drafts.

If something feels wrong or weak, you can always get another opinion or test a different scenario out.

Ask yourself questions. How could this part be more interesting? What is the weakest part? Is it the dialogue? Are the first few lines not catchy enough?

For Sacrifice, I asked myself what I thought was weak about the first chapter. I asked myself what parts worked and what parts weren’t helping the flow of the story. I came to the conclusion that I had all the information I needed to convey, but I needed to change my execution. I brainstormed different ways I could change the first chapter to better introduce my character. I decided to keep important dialogue bits, but i’m completely changing the setting. Instead of a boring phone conversation, my main character will be on the job and battling a supernatural creature. I’m currently testing different creatures and settings for this particular supernatural encounter.

So remember, don’t be scared to go back and make further revisions to your story. If something isn’t working, it’s best to improve the areas before making the plunge into queries. Sometimes I think we mentally tell ourselves the manuscript is done because we want the story to be finished, but not always when it’s actually a polished final draft. I wish I had thought to fix my “final draft” sooner. Lesson learned. (;

My Methods for Avoiding Writer’s Block

A friend recently asked how I fight writer’s block, and I realized that I don’t suffer from the dreaded condition often.

Why?

I’d like to pretend that I’m just fortunate, but the truth is that I’m always doing activities that allow for great brainstorming. I’m going to share my top methods for avoiding writer’s block, so grab a pen and take some notes!

ART- You can try to sketch your own characters, but this doesn’t have to be related to your writing at all. I enjoy both acrylic painting and sketching portraits which can act as great meditation. Art can really help you relax and free your mind for a brainstorming session.

MUSIC- I like to build a playlist of music for each of my projects. I do a lot of brainstorming when I’m in the early stages of a new writing project, and I try to consider what music would set a good tone for the story. I use the selected playlist shortly before I begin a writing session, and I let that set the mood for my writing.

I really like to implement this method when I am plotting out fight scenes too. I envision the scene with music that fits the mood, and then I ask myself one question. If this scene was turned into a live-action movie trailer, what would the scene look like? I let my mind really visualize the part.

I also love combining art and instrumental music to free my mind for ultimate creativity. I enjoy writing or painting while listening to video game soundtracks. You’ll find some really beautiful instrumental pieces inside Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim, and Dragon Age games.

DREAM JOURNAL- This is a fantastic way to spark ideas! I kept a journal by my bedside that pretty much held the inspiration behind my current work in progress. I haven’t used this method in a while, but I would wake up from some crazy dream and jot down as much detail as possible. When I decided I wanted to try writing a new story, I flipped through my journal for something that spoke to me. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that over half of the crazy events in Sacrifice actually spawned from my dreams.

EXERCISE- I saved this one for last because I’m sure it will receive several groans from my readers. Get off the couch you lazy bum! I’m kidding, it’s rude to call you that! In all seriousness though, I’ve had great brainstorming sessions during and after a workout. This is not only beneficial for your body, but also for your mind as well. Exercise doesn’t have to be some strenuous full body workout either. I spend a lot of time sitting down writing or sketching, and I find that it helps to walk away for some fresh air. I’ve spawned great ideas while taking my dog for a short walk.

So those are the methods I use to keep myself inspired, and I hope the information helps another writer! Want to know more writing tips? Send me a topic suggestion on Twitter or Facebook, and your topic may inspire my next blog!