Posts Tagged With: how to

How To Pull Off the Perfect Crime

Tired of getting all your criminal how-to tips from heist movies? Well, look no further, my friend! I’ve got you covered. Follow this simple series of steps, and you too can become an infamous master criminal the likes of which the world has never seen.

How To Pull Off the Perfect Crime

  1. Spend years plotting the perfect crime. Obsess over every detail, cover your walls in newspaper clippings and hastily-scribbled notes on napkins–the works. It is literally impossible to overthink this. The perfect crime cannot be rushed!
  2. Today’s the day! But before you start your crime spree, you should definitely stock up on snacks. If things go south and you need to make a quick getaway, you’ll want nourishment for the road. So, head to your local convenience store and pick out some tasty foodstuffs.
  3. As you approach the counter, remember that you’re a master criminal the likes of which the world has never seen. You shouldn’t have to pay for a few bags of potato chips! Turn around and walk right out of that store without paying.
  4. The cashier is telling you to pay for the chips, or they’ll blow your head off with a shotgun. Ignore them. You’re a master criminal, and crime doesn’t pay.
  5. Flinch and duck when the cashier pulls out a shotgun and attempts to blow your head off.
  6. Do a graceful 180 degree spin and throw the chips at the cashier. While they’re perplexed by bags of potato chips flying at their face, dive over the counter and initiate a desperate grapple for possession of the shotgun.
  7. Successfully acquire the shotgun. You now have a loaded weapon, your face is caught on security cameras, and the cashier is cowering at your feet. It’s okay. You can still salvage this mess. I believe in you.
  8. Take the cashier hostage. Use some zipties to bind their hands, and throw them in the backseat of your getaway vehicle. Looks like you’re making your getaway a bit sooner than you’d expected. Don’t forget to grab some more chips before you leave, though. You earned them.
  9. Drive off down the highway, ignoring the whimpering cashier in the backseat. Whatever you do, do not speed. As far as you know, the cops aren’t on your tail yet. If you just drive the speed limit and keep a low profile–
  10. I told you not to speed! I know you’re in a hurry, but come on. Now you’ve got a cop car right behind you, flashing its lights and blaring its siren. You can’t pull over–you have a tied up cashier in the backseat. What are you going to do now, genius?
  11. Apparently you’ve decided to engage in a high-speed car chase. In a beat-up old car, on a half tank of gas, on a two-lane highway in the middle of nowhere. Where exactly are you planning on going? There aren’t any alleys you can hide in, or clever turns you can make to lose the cops. It’s literally a straight road. And there’s an eighteen-wheeler up ahead slowing down traffic. I know surrender doesn’t sound like a great option, but it’s starting to look like it might be your only–
  12. I stand corrected. Clearly, the best move here is to zoom out into oncoming traffic to pass the eighteen-wheeler. The cashier in the backseat is now screaming. Judging by the smell, they’ve also wet their pants. Or was that you? Either way, you should really consider cracking a window.
  13. Okay, so you’ve managed to put some distance between you and the cop thanks to some truly impressive reckless driving. You need to get off the highway. Right. Now.
  14. Take the next exit and zoom down the main street of a small fishing village on the coast. This is good. Villages mean multiple streets, which means you’ll at least have a chance of losing the cops. Turn down that alley there and–
  15. Or you could just keep rampaging down the main street. Sure. Whatever makes you happy. You should really consider turning, though, because I’m pretty sure the street ends up ahead and turns into a dock, and the last time I checked, this car isn’t amphibi–
  16. SPLOOSH.
  17. Goddammit.
  18. I really hope you know how to swim.


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Categories: Random | Tags: , , | 20 Comments

How to litter your manuscript with typos (in 9 easy steps!)

Yes, this is based on a recent personal experience. Want the details? Keep reading!

How to litter your manuscript with typos

  1. Create a character with a short name that could easily be found in many longer words — i.e., “Kat”
  2. Write 40,000 words of a story
  3. Realize that you prefer an alternate spelling — i.e., “Cat”
  4. Do a “Search All” and “Replace All” to change the spelling — i.e., “Kat” > “Cat”
  5. Write another 10,000 words
  6. Realize you prefer the first spelling
  7. Do a “Search All” and “Replace All” to change the spelling back — i.e., “Cat” > “Kat”
  8. Casually reread the story and realize you’ve created 218 typos — i.e., “sKatter”, “reloKated”, unsKathed”, “mediKations”
  9. Success!

This definitely just happened to me, and I spent twenty minutes using Ctrl+F to find all my ridiculously spelled words and fix them. Honestly not a big deal, but still a very silly thing I could have avoided. Ahh, the joys of NaNoWriMo!


Unrelated media of the day:

This is a fun little song where a YouTuber got his followers to send in clips of them playing musical instruments, and then put all the clips together into a surprisingly catchy tune.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 39 Comments

How To Count To Ten

Today we’re tackling a tough topic, one that has caused a lot of people a lot of grief. Many are under the assumption that basic counting skills are something everyone has mastered. They are wrong. For every person out there who has successfully counted the fingers on their hands, there’s another person who spends hours staring at a calculator before bursting into heart-wrenching tears. This is not a joke. This is a serious issue plaguing millions–nay, dozens–of people on this planet. And today, I’m here to provide the answer.

If you’re ever in a situation where you need to count to ten and can’t remember how, just follow these simple instructions:

How To Count To Ten

  1. Start at one.
  2. Add one and one together. That gives you two.
  3. Add another one. One plus one plus two plus one is five.
  4. Wait a minute …
  5. Okay, forget that. We’re on step five now. Let’s start from here. Five.
  6. Six.
  7. I’m pretty sure it starts with an S. Or maybe a Z. Zeven?
  8. I forget this next one. It’s like a sideways infinity symbol. Or a not-so-jolly snowman who was robbed of his hat, eyes, nose, mouth, and arms.
  9. I know there’s a four in here somewhere …
  10. F**k it.

So there you go! A simple and foolproof way to count to ten. Never again will first-graders laugh mockingly at you for your inferior counting skills. The world is your oyster, my friend! Fish it out of the ocean of potential, crack it open, and dig out that lustrous pearl of limitless possibility!


Unrelated media of the day:

Since it’s Halloween tomorrow …

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

How To Re-Watch Your Favorite TV Show

Friday is How To day, and today we’re tackling the topic of re-watching favorite TV shows!

Now, you might say this is the sort of topic that doesn’t require a How To. And you’d be right. Unfortunately for you, I’m the one writing this post, so I have all the power! AHAHAHAHA!

Right. It’s been a weird day. Moving on.


How To Re-Watch Your Favorite TV Show

  1. Figure out what your favorite TV show is. If you can’t choose just one, there’s an easy solution. Grab a bunch of your friends and have them line up and write the name of a TV show you like on their shirt. From there, grab a paintball gun and let loose. The first person to break ranks and attack you is the winner!
  2. Acquire said show. DVD, Netflix, borrow it from the library, whatever. Just make sure you don’t pirate it. As that anti-piracy ad from the early 2000s famously said, “You wouldn’t download a car!” Except that anyone in their right mind would definitely download a car if they could, because you’d be stupid not to. So forget that ad. Just try to get your hands on the show without getting arrested. I believe in you!
  3. Create a distraction-free viewing space. This one is tricky. You’re going to be binge-watching this shizzle for at least a full two days, maybe three, so you need to make sure no one and no thing has the potential to interrupt you. If you live alone, perfect. If you have pets, regretfully inform them that everyone has to grow up and take care of themselves sometime, and that day is today. They might whine at first, but eventually they’ll thank you for the gift of adulthood and responsibility you’ve bestowed upon them. If you have roommates, dispose of them. The manner of disposal is up to you. If they’re being particularly difficult to remove, I know a guy.
  4. Plan out your food consumption. Remember, this is a multi-day event, and just stocking up your fridge with groceries isn’t going to cut it. You don’t have time to cook, dammit! You’ve got TV to watch! Instead of stockpiling groceries, stockpile delivery fliers. And don’t forget: you are contractually obligated to leave the show running while you race to answer the door and pay the delivery guy/gal. Pausing is a sign of weakness.
  5. Start watching. Remember, no pausing. You’re allowed to do other things while watching, like play Candy Crush on your phone, or two-monitor it up and check your email on the second screen, but don’t you dare turn off that show for anything less than a zombie outbreak. Even then, zombies are surprisingly polite, and will almost definitely hold off on eating you until you’ve had a chance to finish your marathon if you ask nicely.
  6. Do NOT re-watch the pilot once you’ve finished your marathon. This is a rookie mistake. You finish the last episode, you lie back, and your heart is so full of emotion and heartbreak that you think, “Hey, I know the perfect way to end this marathon–I’ll re-watch the pilot!” It seems like the perfect solution–you can hold off leaving the show’s magical world for at least another 42 minutes, not to mention you get to see the fun juxtaposition of first episode vs. last. IT IS A TRAP. Watching the pilot leads to watching the next episode. And then the next after that. Soon enough, it’s a week later, you’re halfway through your third re-watching, you’ve lost your job, your significant other has left you for an attractive panini artisan, and your landlord is knocking on the door to make sure you haven’t died and been eaten by cats.
  7. Wait 14-16 months, and do it all over again. The time gap is necessary to help you forget how royally you screwed up your life during your previous marathon.

Hehehe. I laugh, but honestly, binge-watching TV shows is one of life’s small pleasures. My current show of choice is Avatar: The Last Airbender / Legend of Korra. Don’t worry, I haven’t assassinated my roommates or been eaten by cats. Yet. I’m only halfway through, so there’s still time.

Unrelated media of the day:

I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this before, but since we’re all freaking out over the newest Star Wars trailer …

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

9 Ways to Make Your Self-Published Book Look More Professional

In my continuing attempts to promote and improve the self-publishing scene, today I present a handful of helpful tips you can use to make your self-published print book look more professional. These tips have been compiled via examining multiple traditionally published books and comparing them to the collection of self-published books I’ve acquired over the years. Read and enjoy!

Note: I’ve used my own book for all the examples below, as copyright law is confusing and I don’t want anyone to sue me.

#1: Formatting your page numbers

Step 1: Page numbers should begin on the first page of your story. This means Chapter 1. If you have a prologue, use Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi, etc.). Do not start page numbers on the very first page of the book (i.e. the title page).

page number 1Step 2: Page numbers should end once the story is over. You can obviously keep them going into the Acknowledgements, but no blank pages at the end with page numbers. Bad!

(Updated) Step 3: Page numbers can go at the bottom of the page or the top of the page. A random survey of my bookshelf indicates it’s about 50/50. I personally prefer numbers at the bottom of the page, centered, but this one seems to be dealer’s choice!

Step 4: Put enough space between the text and the page numbers. Otherwise the page will look squished, and pages don’t enjoy being squished. That’s how bloody revolutions start.

page number 3

#2: Paper choice (cream vs. white)

This is technically up to you, but cream paper really does look better than white for fiction books. White paper is for textbooks and picture books. Go with cream.

page number 4

#3: Book size

I’d suggest making your book between 5×8 inches and 6×9 inches for a fiction book. Anything bigger is kind of awkward to hold. Not to mention it doesn’t fit very nicely on your bookshelf with your other novels.

#4: Formatting your title page and front matter text

Step 1: Your title page should be eye-catching. None of this “same font and size as the paragraph text” nonsense.

page number 5

Step 2: Put the front matter text (i.e., copyright info, “please do not illegally distribute this work” info, publishing info, etc.) on the back of the title page (i.e., the left-hand side). The right-hand side page after the title is usually reserved for the dedication.

#5: Headers 

Step 1: Use headers. They look classy. You want the author name on one side, and the book title on the other side. And for heaven’s sake, make sure the header is centered.

page number 6

page number 7

Step 2: But make sure you don’t have a header on the first page of a chapter! It makes it look cluttered. Clutter is evil.

page number 8

#6: Chapter titles

Step 1: Speaking of the first page of a chapter, make sure your chapter titles are eye-catching.

page number 9Step 2: Use small caps or drop caps on the first paragraph in a new chapter.

page number 10

#7: Formatting your text / paragraphs

Step 1: Don’t use Times New Roman or Arial. These are used in everything, and will make your book look generic.

Update: The important thing to note about Times New Roman and Arial is that they’re very easy to read. So make sure the font you pick is readable. Some good options include: Georgia, Cambria, Garamond, etc.

Step 2: Don’t underline. Use italics if you need to emphasize something.

Update: Some people don’t like italics used at all in writing as emphasis, and that’s personal choice. The point here is not to underline or bold your text, as it in general looks amateurish. Unless you’re writing something a bit off-beat, like a humor book or a book where your text is spaced out to look like a shark head. In which case, do whatever crazy formatting you want!

Step 3: Don’t put space between paragraphs. Instead, tweak the space between the lines of text to make sure it doesn’t look too squished. But for the love of chickens do not use double-line spacing. This makes it look like an essay, and that’s the absolute last association you want to make. 

page number 11

Step 4 (update): Always justify your paragraphs (as in, each line of text should reach from the left to the right side of the page). Left justification is fine for your Word doc, but it looks a bit sloppy to have uneven text edges once you get to your final published version.

#8: Cover design

Get a professional cover design. Seriously. Your readers, your sales stats, and your book itself will thank you.

page number 12

Note: My Paint skills are truly out of this world.

#9: When in doubt …

When in doubt about a particular bit of formatting, pick up a traditionally published book and flip through it. Heck, pick up a couple of books. If they all tend to do the same sort of thing, formatting-wise, then you should probably do the same.

This concludes my tips! Seriously, though, flip through some traditionally published books. You can get some really great formatting ideas from them. And obviously these aren’t hard and fast rules. But if you follow them, you will definitely have a more professional-looking novel than when you started. As always, if you’ve got questions, hit me with them in the comments section below.

Happy formatting!

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

How to write a best-selling supernatural YA novel

I’ve recently been inspired to start a series of “How to write _____” posts. We’re going to kick off today with “How to write a best-selling supernatural YA novel”.

Be warned: the advice presented below is terrible. Do not, for the love of sandwiches, follow this advice.

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How to write a best-selling supernatural YA novel

  1. Decide which dangerous supernatural creature from mythology you’re going to transform into an attractive, brooding teenage guy who acts dangerous but really just wants someone to “get” him.  Options include, but are not limited to, vampires, werewolves, mermen, demons, fallen angels, elves, dragon-people, and yetis.
  2. Set the story in a small town where everyone knows each other and nothing exciting or supernatural ever happens. Props if you can give the town a seemingly-ordinary name that is actually a metaphor for the female protagonist’s life journey.
  3.  Start the story off in the traditional “new kid comes to school, everyone loves/fears them” manner. Your “new kid” can be either the female protagonist or the love interest, depending on if you want your heroine to start off with friends and then gradually abandon them as she gets wrapped up in the love interest’s far more interesting life, or just make her a loner right off the bat to simplify the process.
  4. The plot should revolve entirely around the female protagonist being pursued by the supernatural love interest. If you really want, you can get all fancy and introduce an outside threat (or something that actually resembles a traditional plot), but it’s really best if you just stick to the “boy meets girl, boy scares girl, boy desires girl, boy gets girl after inflicting severe mental, emotional, and physical trauma on her” approach.
  5. The female protagonist needs a fatal flaw that frequently incapacitates her, allowing the supernatural love interest to swoop in and save the day (preferably in a mysterious and brooding manner). Extreme clumsiness is one of the most widely-used flaws, as it allows the female protagonist to remain lovely and intelligent while still forcing her into otherwise totally-avoidable situations.
  6. Introduce a love triangle, and make it as heart-wrenching for the female protagonist as possible. Remember, the secondary love interest is exactly that — secondary. He’s never going to get the girl, regardless of whatever evils befall the main love interest. Still, don’t let that stop you from character-developing the heck out of the secondary love interest — make sure he shows up everywhere, especially at awkward, totally inappropriate times, to mess things up. And remember the cardinal rule: never admit that he’s the secondary love interest. You know he’s never going to get the girl, and so do your readers, but it’s a huge faux pas to actually admit such a thing.
  7. The female protagonist needs a female friend, but they should only ever talk about the supernatural love interest. Since you’ve definitely set your story in high school (and if you haven’t, change it right now!), your characters might occasionally slip up and talk about school instead of boys. That’s okay. It happens. The most important part is to make sure the conversation gets back on track ASAP.
  8. The female protagonist’s single parent must be bumbling, well-meaning, and totally oblivious to what is going on with her life. Extra points if your single parent decides to “take an interest” in the heroine and ground her, thus preventing her from going out to meet her supernatural love interest at a key moment and nearly getting them all killed.
  9. Don’t be afraid to wax poetic about the supernatural love interest for a good three or four paragraphs per chapter. This handsome, brooding gentleman is, after all, the man of your heroine’s dreams. If she’s not obsessing over every detail of his physical makeup at all times, you’re not doing it right.
  10. Keep the ending melancholy, but hopeful. You definitely want to set up for future sequels — no YA novel worth its salt ends after just one book. Obviously you can’t resolve whatever is keeping the heroine and her supernatural love interest apart, but you can drop hints that they might just get around to working out how they can be together three or four books down the road. Whatever you do, do not give them a happy ending. Once your characters get a happy ending, that’s the end of the story — and you need to milk this series for all it’s worth!

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Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 43 Comments

The proper way to pluck a chicken

My little brother keeps harassing me to write more blog posts, ostensibly because he feels that more content will drive more readers to my blog — but I suspect it’s because he secretly enjoys watching me scramble to catch up on my work when I spend all my time blogging instead of doing my job.

Anyway, heeding his advice, I sat down and then shouted, “Jesse! What should I blog about?” And he responded with his usual aplomb, “The proper way to pluck a chicken!” Therefore, I present to you:

The proper way to pluck a chicken

  1. Go to your local grocery store and locate the “dairy” section. Acquire a carton of eggs. Make sure to hide them in your bag so you don’t get arrested for shop-lifting.
  2. As soon as you exit the store, hug the egg carton to your chest. The adrenalin you produced during your daring shop-lifting adventure will now exude from your pores, coating the eggs in a protective layer.
  3. Find a sunny area of grass and lay out your eggs in the shape of six-point star. Raise your hands to the sky and shout, “POULTARIUS THE FOWL, MASTER OF THE CLUCKIVERSE, GRANT ME YOUR POWER THAT I MIGHT SLAY THE INFIDELS!”
  4. Get arrested for causing a public disturbance. If no police show up, you need to find a more crowded area — parks work nicely. Set up your eggs, pray to Poultarius the Fowl again, and make sure you shout really loudly to ensure law enforcement attraction.
  5. Assuming you’ve done everything right, you should now be in jail. Don’t be fooled by the police’s attempts to have you “post bail” or “plead insanity” — prison is exactly where you want to be. Hunker down for a long stay.
  6. Eventually you will be moved to a county jail and assigned a cellmate. You want to find a cellmate whose name starts with “F”. If you don’t luck out on the first try, drive off your cellmates by sitting creepily in the corner and muttering about devouring the souls of the living until you’re assigned someone who is appropriately lettered.
  7. Make friends with F. As soon as you’ve lulled him/her into a false sense of security — and here’s the tricky part — you need to brainwash them into believing that they are in fact a chicken. Hence the necessity of having their name start with F — it’s been scientifically proven that F-named people are more susceptible to poultry-related brainwashing.
  8. Now that you’ve got your chicken, all you need to do is pluck it! Chopsticks work best for plucking, so get your hands on a pair. This should be very easy if you’re incarcerated in Asia. If you’re unlucky enough to be elsewhere, you’ll want to get to Asia. Most US prisons have large tunnels drilled underneath the basketball court that lead directly to China (magma is a liquid, so it’s quite easy to dig through), so hop down one at your earliest convenience.
  9. Sneak the chopsticks back to your cell and wait until lights out. Once your chicken cellmate is sleeping, carefully approach them and use your chopsticks to pluck out the longest, most luxurious hair from their head. In the case of a bald chicken cellmate, eyebrow and nostril hairs will suffice.
  10. Congratulations! You’ve properly plucked a chicken! Since you’re stuck in prison for the foreseeable future, you might as well write a memoir about your chicken-plucking adventure. Sell it to the publisher of your choice, and then sit back and watch as the millions pile up in the bank account you can’t access!

Satisfied, Jesse? Good. Now I can go back to work!

Unrelated media of the day:

If male superheroes dressed like female superheroes …

Categories: Random, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Amateur Blogging Tip: How NOT to Request a Guest Post

I received a very amusing email a few days ago. I shall now reproduce it here for your enjoyment:

Hello Sir,

I thought I would send a quick email after coming across your website earlier today and I would like to guest post on your site. My idea for the Post is about book publishing,I believe my idea for the Guest Post will suit your website. In return, I would like to have 1 backlink in the post.

Please let me know if my idea for the Guest Post suits you, and also if there are any terms and conditions about Guest Posting.

The post will be around 400-500 words and 100% unique.

Also I would like to know how soon can you publish it?


In the aftermath of this excellent email, I have decided to put together a quick list of tips for requesting guest posts. Actually, these rules don’t have to apply just to requesting a guest post — they really apply to whenever you’re asking anyone for anything. So, I now present to you:

How to request writing an unsolicited guest post without brutally offending the blogger in question

  1. Get their gender right. I know that the name “Michelle” is technically a unisex name (according to, it’s used for boys 0.23% of the time). But still … if you’re going to be gender-specific in your query, take the time to find a bio or picture of the person and figure out if they’re a guy or a girl. Otherwise you run the risk of calling a woman “Sir”, which is just embarrassing for everyone involved. (Pro tip: When in doubt, just address them by name, and forego the “sir” or “madam” entirely!)
  2. Know your audience. This person’s email reads like a hard-core business message. The email is laid out like a contract — “I will do this, in return you will do this. Here are the specifications of my offer, here is my guarantee for originality, what timeline can I expect for our deal to conclude?” And that works really well if you’re emailing, say, Microsoft. But if you’re contacting a part-time blogger whose content quite clearly indicates that they’re writing for fun and to connect with the blogging community, tone down the business-talk a little!
  3. Capitalization Is Annoying. Capitalization is for proper nouns. “Post” and “guest post” are not proper nouns. They are normal, boring, improper nouns. Don’t capitalize them!
  4. Run a spell check. The reasoning for this rule should be self-evident. Spelling and grammar save lives!

In other news, I’m quite excited for my book reading/signing tomorrow evening at local library. I think I convinced a few people to come, but I still suspect I’ll be babbling to a mostly-empty room. On the plus side, I talked my friend into being my “reader wrangler”, so hopefully that will up the attendance a little. Check back in a few days for my victorious/lugubrious report on the book reading!


Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Blog-related | Tags: , , , , , , | 59 Comments

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

In my eternal attempt to avoid doing work, I was once again meandering about the internet, looking for entertainment. I came across this article: Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.

What’s very cool about this article is that it doesn’t just give ten rules. It gives you ten rules from each of about a bajillion different authors from various genres and backgrounds. This means that some of the rules contradict each other, which I found very interesting. It goes to show that what works well for one author will have absolutely no relevance to another author. Writing is truly about personal taste, which is part of what makes writing such a daunting task — there is no “How To” guide that speaks individually to each author. You have to make up your own, and then tweak and refine your list until you figure out what works for you.

I’m not a famous author, but I thought I’d share my own Ten Rules for Writing Fiction with you. Partial credit for the list goes to Linda Schneidereit, my mother, muse, and mentor. Without further ado, here they are!

Michelle’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

1. Write to your audience. This means putting yourself in the reader’s shoes, imagining how they will react when they read your story, and using themes and language that are appropriate for that age and gender range. Don’t even think about publishing until you’ve gotten a real live member of your intended audience to proof read the book. They are a better judge of what they like than you are, so listen to them.

2. Write what you’re passionate about. This applies doubly to projects that require research. Some people can spend hours upon hours researching every detail of the historical era they’re trying to recreate. Others can’t. If you can’t, then don’t force yourself. Write something you know more about, something that won’t make you want to beat your head against a wall until you crack open your skull. Which leads into the next rule …

3. Whatever you do, don’t think of writing as “work”. If you do that, you’re sunk. Imagine getting home from your 8-10 hour work day, then sitting down at your computer and working three or four hours more. That’s not fun, and that won’t produce good writing. Stop writing, take a break, come back later. Writing is supposed to be enjoyable.

4. Don’t become too attached to any one part of your story. You’re going to have to change a majority of what you write, be it phrasing, character development, or even the entire plot. Loving your creation is a good thing, but smothering it with unwarranted affection is not. Be brutal with your edits. It will make your story better, and make you a better writer.

5. Get someone else to edit your writing. Preferably this will be someone with a literary background, who reads a lot, or even just someone who is fairly intelligent. Spell check won’t catch logical flaws or plot inconsistencies in your story any more than you will. Know why? Because you wrote it, and it makes sense to you — you wouldn’t have written it otherwise. It takes an outside opinion to point out the problems, and I guarantee you, there will be problems.

6. Make sure your characters speak uniquely. Each character should have their own voice. This could be something as simple as having an accent (Hagrid, anyone?), or something more complex, like using overly flamboyant language, or saying “like” a lot, or using poor grammar. Choose a passage of dialogue and take out the “he said” and “she said”s. If you can’t figure out who is saying what, you need to rethink their speech patterns.

7. Don’t bog things down with description. A paragraph explaining where the characters are is fine. Three pages of description is too much. How many people have read Lord of the Rings and skipped over page after page of descriptions of trees, rivers, and assorted scenery? Your reader needs to know where they are in the world you’ve created. That’s it.

8. Close your internet browser. It will distract you. Even YouTube can be harmful, especially if you’re not using a playlist. Open it if you need to research a fact or Google a name, then close it immediately.

9. Listen to music. Pay special attention to the lyrics. Musicians are story-tellers through song. Imagine the characters in your novel singing the words, then figure out why they are saying these things. Music evokes emotions in people in a way that few other things can, and it can serve as an excellent muse when you don’t know what to write next.

10. Don’t let other people bring you down. Sharing a great new story idea with someone, and having them flat-out tell you they think it’s terrible, or that they don’t like it at all, can be extremely disheartening. Remember that you’re the writer, not them, and that you can write whatever you damn well please. Even if they don’t like what you’ve written, or something you intend to write, there are over six billion people in the world. Odds are, you’ll be able to find an audience somewhere out there who’ll love your creation just as much as you do. So grab that keyboard, or pick up that pen, and get writing!

I’m sure I have many more rules floating around in my head, but these are the ones that come to mind. I’d love to hear your own list of writing rules, so please feel free to leave them in the Comments section, or provide a link back to your own blog. And check out the article link, because there are a lot of really great tips buried amongst the hundreds of writing rules.

Awesome pic of the day:

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