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The Terror and Thrill of Reviewing My Novel

Now that I have enough of Trinian, An Epic Fantasy put together to send into the world for review, I’m getting germinal feedback. I love it! But it’s also terrifying.

My sisters, who are geniuses with artwork, have already taken a stab at illustrating a couple characters, and my best friend Sophia has started marking up my first chapter. She says she’s being harsh, and I’m so grateful to her for that! I want the feedback as truthful as possible, so I can turn out a final product that will please my readers! And, of course, help me to achieve the highest level of writing ability that I can!

I’m thrilled and nervous all at once, and the emotions flow together inside me to create general excitement! Whether the manuscript is terrible or wonderful, it’s going out into the world, and that something!

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Thoughts on Endings and Trinian, 2nd Draft

Sorry for my weekend extended absence. I spent all weekend, and some bleed through into Monday, finishing Trinian, An Epic Fantasy’s second draft. I just sent it out for review, and I can’t believe my project is actually out there, being read by other eyes! I’m all tingly.

I still have a few middle scenes to compose, and a bit more of the ending.

I intend to avoid the common writing choice of writers who write an entire book, with lots of detail and description, and then end the book immediately, as soon as the climax has passed. Maybe they have a brief wrap up, bringing the characters together who’ve been estranged, etc. But I have always felt far more satisfied by endings like Jane Austen or Tolkien, or even Dean Koontz, who really take the time to explain not just what the characters did immediately after the action, but how the action affected the rest of their lives.

So I’m making sure that I’m putting time into my ending, and not just wrapping up the major loose ends. But don’t worry – it won’t be a drag, making you wish that it would end already. — At least I hope not!

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The Art of an Artist – To Ever Improve!

As I’ve been editing the final draft of my latest novel, Trinian – An Epic Fantasy, the editing process affects the way that I watch and read other stories.

What I mean is, as I edit and pay attention to character development, all I notice when I watch a movie is the character development.

And when I edit plot and pacing, that’s all I notice in the book I’m reading.

My head is so jam-packed with characterization, mounting conflict, increasing stakes, and relatable villains that I feel like I’m going to explode!

I will be so happy when this novel is finally finished, which should be the end of December!

I couldn’t have gotten this far without all the resources I’ve benefited from along the way, so here is a brief list of some of the most helpful writing resources that helped turn me into the writer I am today. I highly recommend all of them!

  1. Shawn Coyne at The Story Grid, especially his podcast with Tim Grahl
  2. Joseph Campbell’s analysis of The Hero’s Journeya
    • Although I’ve never read his book, just studying the concept has helped me immeasurably! I love charting various heroes’ journeys!
  3. Writing the Breakout Novel, recommended by Weronika from Lightening Bug (below)
  4. The Lively Art of Writing
  5. Lightening and Lightening Bug’s Blog
  6. The Institute for Excellence in Writing

I’m so grateful for everyone who’s helped me through this process, which has benefited me so much and burned away so many bad habits and thought processes in my writing!

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How to Increase Drama by Lengthening Sentences

A paragraph with sentences that vary in length is far more powerful than sentences of all the same length.

For example,

Short: I watched him leave. The pain of his loss squeezed my heart. It burned my skin. I wanted him back. But my pride rooted me to the floor. I was too weak. I lost him.

Long: With longing, I watched him leave the room, and the pain of his loss squeezed my heart. It burned my skin because I wanted him back, but my pride rooted me to the floor. I was too weak to take the steps necessary to get him back, so he left and I lost him forever.

Compare those to this:

Combo: I watched him leave. The pain of his loss squeezed my heart. It burned my skin because I wanted him back, but my pride rooted me to the floor. I was too weak to chase after him, and lost him forever.

This paragraph begins with two short sentences, and then swells with a longer one that carries up through the emotion and out the other end, where the last sentence drives home the resolution.

When every sentence is the same length, it’s difficult to convey emotion in writing. Short, staccato sentences carry desperation and excitement, while long sentences convey melancholy or peace. But when put together, a wider range of emotions can easily be conveyed. Your writing will improve by leaps and bounds!

3 Tips to Vary Sentence Length

1. Combining Sentences

  • Combine 2 thoughts into one sentence and create a flow.

2. Clauses

  • Put a less important thought inside a longer one to extend the dramatic effect.

3. The Short Sentence

  • An occasional short sentence drives home a point, or increases the drama.

1. Combining Sentences

Two thoughts side by side can sometimes be combined into one sentence, which makes for easier reading and variety of structure.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. She floated by like a cloud.

2. I was terrified by her beauty.

1&2: She floated past me like a cloud and I was terrified by her beauty.

Or these,

1. I decided monsters didn’t scare me. 

2. I was going to be brave.

1&2: I decided monsters didn’t scare me, and I was going to be brave.

How to Lengthen Sentences

By combining the sentences, the cause and effect is much more clear, and so is the sequence of events. It plays out easily, with a flowing rhythm.

2. Clauses

Sentences can also be made longer by the addition of a clause. Whether at the beginning, middle, or end of the sentence, a clause adds information that stretches the thought, and makes it more dramatic.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. The trees grew thickly behind the house

2. I ran among them as I tried to get away from everything inside me.

1&2: Where the trees grew thickly behind the house, I ran to escape the thick, tangled thoughts inside my head. 

Or these,

1. I was thirteen and emotional.

2. That was when I decided to run away from home.

1&2:  I decided, because I was thirteen and emotional, to run away from home.

In both sentences, the first thought is not as important as the second, but it serves to paint a picture of the setting. It works better as a clause inside the second sentence, instead of on it’s own.

3. The Short Sentence

I am not opposed to short sentences by any means! They are a valuable tool and should be used when a short, dramatic statement will heighten the tension or drive home a point.

For example,

1. He loved me. I knew it now. Looking deep into his eyes, savoring the truth I already knew, but wanting to hear him say it, he whispered tenderly into my ear, “I love you.”

2. I felt like the room was closing in like the trash compactor on Star Wars. Something was coming, breathing down my neck, making the little hairs prickle and rise. Just behind me, a hoarse sigh. I whirled.

See how each short sentence is accompanied by a lot of detail, and longer sentences? This raises the stakes, and we know the short sentence is important. Everything leads up to it, or adds to it afterward.

Conclusion

Writing long and medium sentences is a good idea because it adds a rhythm and flow to your writing style. It heightens emotion and action, and draws the reader naturally into the story. But don’t forget the short sentence! It’s the best part, so use it sparingly.

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3 Tips to Improve Sentence Structure

The best way to make your book interesting – after having a good, solid plot and characters – is to improve your sentence structure.

Lately books are all the same. The sentences are short. They’re sweet. They all start with a subject.

For example,

I watched him leave. The pain of his loss squeezed my heart, burned my skin. I wanted him back. But my pride rooted me to the floor.

When every sentence begins with the exact same part of speech, it gets boring to read. It’s easy to read, but it’s boring. So if you want to write a novel that stands out, and doesn’t come across as simple, keep reading.

3 Tips to Vary Sentence Structure

1. Adverbial Opener

–Describes the verb.

When I was a child, the world was a simple place.

2. Adjectival Opener

–Describes the subject.

Chivalrous to a fault, I refused to let her open the door and did it for her.

3. Prepositional Opener

–Begins with a preposition

With the force of a mighty wind, he destroyed the sand castle.

Adverbial Opener

Don’t just open with an adverb, like ‘lately’ or ‘really.’ Stretch yourself and describe the setting with a phrase. Instead of putting two thoughts into two sentences, combine them. Place and time are good material for this.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. The trees grew thickly behind the house

2. The trees were like my thoughts, and I ran among them as I tried to get away from everything inside me.

1&2: Where the trees grew thickly behind the house, I ran to escape the thick, tangled thoughts inside my head.

Or these,

1. I was thirteen and emotional.

2. That was when I decided to run away from home.

1&2: When I was thirteen and emotional, I decided to run away from home.

Adjectival Opener

Freeing you to create free-flowing visuals, adjectival openers can be a wonderful tool. A good indication that you’re using an adjectival opener is when the first word ends in ING, although it’s not always the case. Just make sure it’s modifying the subject. Again, a good way to use an adjectival modifier is to combine thoughts.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. She floated by like a cloud.

2. I was terrified by her beauty.

1&2: FloatING past me like a cloud, I was terrified of her beauty.

Or these,

1. I felt lazy.

2. I decided to watch tv.

1&2: FeelING lazy, I decided to watch tv.

Or,

1. I was brave in the face of monsters.

2. I stood up to him.

1&2: Brave in the face of monsters, I stood up to him.

Prepositional Opener

As with any sentence variable, prepositional openers can be very useful. But these have the most potential. There are tons of prepositions, which means tons of different sentence openers for you!

Combine these sentences,

1. We looked to the sky.

2. The elephant floated like a dark gray cloud.

1&2: Above the three ring circus, the elephant floated like a dark gray cloud.

Or,

1. She mourned the loss of her gray kitten for a while.

2. But Mandy tried to get on with life after that.

1&2: After mourning the loss of her gray kitten, Mandy tried to get on with her life.

Next article, I’ll talk about how to make your sentences longer inside and at the end, and when it’s a good idea to do it.

It’s Not ORIGINAL – How to Write an Organic Story

My new series on Writing! So excited for this debut video – I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile.

I’ll still be publishing the Disney series. One writing video a week, and one Disney Video every other week.

If you want to see when I publish new videos, you can subscribe to my channel, CinderellaReads. Please feel free to share if you enjoy the info, and to let me know if you have any critiques! I’m totally open to suggestions on how to improve!

Covered in this Video:

  • A reaction to Amazon Writers Review Groups
  • What does it mean to be original?
  • The basic elements of storytelling