7 Common Mistakes Authors Make

Valerie Thomas, Author

7 Common Mistakes Authors Make

Alternate title: why I stopped reading three books. I usually finish every novel I read, so this was surprising to me; to put a book down unfinished felt oddly satisfying, but also bothered me a little. The following list is my explanation/justification for my actions.

  1. Too much exposition. This happens a lot in fantasy novels. We get that the world is amazing, interesting, and unique—but readers would rather not spend the first twenty percent of a novel being spoon-fed every detail about it.
  2. Trying too hard to make a character likeable. This comes in one of two forms: explicitly attributing a character positive attributes (“she was the nicest girl ever to come out of Compton”) or crafting situations that have no purpose other than showing how nice the character is. I’m not sure which one’s more yak-worthy.
  3. Not worrying about likeability. The flipside of #2…

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9 More Tips on Writing Fiction

Valerie Thomas, Author

It’s been a while (a few months, in fact) since I first wrote about my personal rules for writing fiction. Since then I’ve added to the list, and I thought it might be a good idea to share with all of you. Without any further ado, here they are:

  1. There should be an easily discernable main plot. As a reader, it bothers me when I can’t figure out which of three different conflicts I’m supposed to care about. Especially when they hardly seem connected.
  2. Dialogue moves stories forward. The overwhelming majority of conflicts in fiction are interpersonal, so of course the main way they progress is through interactions between people.
  3. Focus on the story. If a story is good readers will forgive stylistic problems, but if it’s bad the best writing in the world won’t save you. In the end, readers read because they want a story to take them…

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My 5 Rules for Critiques

Valerie Thomas, Author

These past few months I’ve sought out a lot more critiques on my work, and as a result I’ve heard a lot of things I’d rather not. I’d rather believe my work is perfect from the moment I put it down on paper (or Microsoft Word, which is actually more likely), but unfortunately that never happens. With that in mind, I’ve developed a few rules that I try to stick to when I receive critiques, to help get the most out of them.

  1. Give yourself some time, especially if you have a strong reaction. There have been more than a few times when I’ve looked up from a critique, certain the person behind it is wrong, and I am right, or certain they were just saying something to annoy me. Except in the rarest cases, this isn’t true, and when I come back a day or a week later, I…

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Book Blogger Hop: Sept 18th-Sept 24th

The After Dark Reading Nook

Book Blogger Hop

Passwords have always been something I have never been able to keep up with. So instead of using an address book, or tattoing them to my forhead I have a different method that works for me. I try my very best to keep the password for each site close to being the same, but then I find a piece of thick paper. I’m talking about something like construction paper, cardstock, or something similar. Using a thin tipped, so I dont make a mess, black sharpie I write down the website url and then the information I need to know like the password. Next I take a quick hop, skip, and a jump into my kitchen to my laminator. It’s real purpose is to laminate packages, or seal up meat. No matter it works as long as I make sure that the heat isnt so high it burns my paper. Once…

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Thoughts on Revision

Aarongilbreath's Blog

There is power in a first draft, but Hemingway was mostly right: first drafts are shit. Maybe it’s not that way for everyone, but for me and what seems like many people, first drafts are a start; you find your story in revision.

Revision is both the most gratifying and the most draining part of my writing life. It exhausts while it challenges, engaging my aesthetic and intellectual sensibilities simultaneously, my conscious and subconscious minds, and it leaves me so worn out that I no longer distinguish between the excitement of constantly thinking about and laboring over an essay, and the frustration of it. Revision is so essential that if I had to choose one line to describe the writing process, it would be: “writing is revision.” Maybe that’s why I love poet Robert Hass’s quote so much: “It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable…

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