Critiques 4 U—Guest Editor Edition!

It’s time for our monthly critique contest, and I’m excited to be able to introduce a new guest editor! We’ve been working with Christina Kaye on a couple of marketing fronts, and we’re so happy to have her here today to give you some expert feedback on your first pages.

If you’re game, here’s the amazing person you’ll be working with: 

Christina Kaye is an author coach, book editor, public speaker, and writing instructor, as well as host of the podcast for authors, Write Your Best Book. Through her business, Write Your Best Book, Christina and her team of editors offer a wide range of book editing and author coaching services, including content editing, line editing, proofreading, and even blurb editing. She specializes in all subgenres of romance and suspense, but she works on projects from all genres, if they are the right fit. Christina Kaye is also an award-winning, bestselling suspense novelist in her own right. 

To learn more about Write Your Best Book and their team of editors, visit www.writeyourbestbook.com. Or, to learn more about Christina Kaye’s suspense novels, visit  https://christinakaye.writeyourbestbook.com/

Contest Guidelines

Contest Closed!

This month’s contest will work exactly the same as it usually does, only Christina will be the one contacting you if you win.

If you’re working on a first page and would like some objective feedback, please leave a comment. Any comment :). As long as the email address associated with your WordPress account/comment profile is up-to-date, Christina will be able to contact you if your first page is chosen. Just please know that if she’s unable to get in touch with you through that address, you’ll have to forfeit your win.

Please be sure your first page is ready to go so she can critique it before next month’s contest rolls around. If it needs some work and you won’t be able to get it to her right away, let me ask that you plan on entering the next contest, once any necessary tweaking has been taken care of.

Three commenters’ names will be randomly drawn and posted tomorrow. If you win, Christina will be in contact to get your first page and offer her feedback. Best of luck!

Posted in Uncategorized | 39 Comments

Might as Well Jump—into the Third Act

Have you ever been burned by your story?

Often, authors get burned in the second act, and when it’s time to start the third act, the writing can feel like a relationship gone bad. By this point, it feels a bit like we’ve been living in a Van Halen song.

I get up, and nothin’ gets me down
You got it tough, I’ve seen the toughest around
And I know, baby, just how you feel
You got to roll with the punches and get to what’s real

I’ve Seen the Toughest Around

Our second act is the toughest around. By the end of it, we are tired, and our characters are bruised, battered, broken. They’re often alone, have destroyed relationships, or have gotten themselves into a dark place and can’t see the way out. They’ve seen the toughest parts of their story so far.

But we gotta…

Roll with the Punches to Get to What’s Real

Your story finds its central truth in the third act. And it’s often in the third act that you figure out what went wrong in the first act (more on that in a future post!). Here in the third act, your character puts to use all the things they’ve learned over the course of the story. From losing their relative innocence in the first act to dodging obstacles in the second, your character has stretched and grown since those first few scenes. 

The third act is the final test.

Ow Oh, Hey You!

Ow oh, hey you
Who said that?
Baby, how you been?

So here we are, ouching our way into the third act. It’s at this moment that our main character’s friends and allies are coming back on the scene, ready to make amends, asking, “Baby, how you been?” 

We start reconnecting and healing broken ties. Our character’s allies take a deep breath and decide to team up one more time to fight this final battle. Because despite the dark moments of the second act, our Big Bad is still out there, and it’s bigger and badder than before.

And there will be moments that you, the author, face the risk of your story burning you again. Even though you see the end in sight, there will still be moments of the unknown, of finding that you’ve written yourself into a corner, or you’ve forgotten about a secondary character, or something you’ve long imagined no longer fits the story. Your character, too, still makes missteps and mistakes that they have to work through.

But there will be moments of brilliance.

You Won’t Know Until You Begin

You say you don’t know
You won’t know until you begin

At this point in the story, you probably have a good idea of what secrets you’re about to reveal to your reader. That is an exciting part of the process. Your readers have no idea how you can possibly pull all those puzzle pieces together, and you get to show them the final picture. 

Even if you don’t know exactly how to tie things together, this is where your subconscious goes to work, pulling in ideas and moments you’ve already written, but didn’t realize were important until now. Because you simply won’t know until you begin the writing of this act and get the words on the page. 

Might as Well Jump

Ah, might as well jump (jump)
Might as well jump
Go ahead an’ jump (jump)
Go ahead and jump

Sure, the second act burned. It always does. And the third act is tough to write. You have to consider all the loose threads you’ve got dangling around your story and make sure there is a satisfying ending, as well as, if it’s a series, a good hook to keep reading the next book. There’s a lot riding on the third act. A lot of room to be burned.

I think Van Halen has the best advice for us here. You, and your character, well…

You might as well jump. You’ve seen the toughest there is. You are prepared to face the coming battle. You’re ready.

So go ahead. Jump.

Christina Delay

Resident Writing Coach

Christina is the hostess of Cruising Writers and an award-winning psychological suspense author. She also writes award-winning supernatural suspense under the name Kris Faryn. You can find Kris at: Bookbub ǀ Facebook ǀ Amazon ǀ Instagram.
Cruising Writers brings authors together with bestselling authors and industry professionals on writing retreats. Join Cruising Writers this November in the Easter Caribbean with Writers Helping Writers co-founder Angela Ackerman and New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones!

Posted in Middles, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Story Structure, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons, Writing Resources | 5 Comments

Conflict Thesaurus Entry: Being Physically Assaulted by a Stranger

Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.

Conflict: Being Physically Assaulted by a Stranger

Category: Power struggles, loss of control, ego

Examples:
Being attacked as part of a mugging or robbery
Being randomly victimized by a violent or unstable individual
Being targeted by a gang or group of attackers

Minor Complications:
Discomfort from minor scratches or bruises
Inconvenience arising from trying to avoid the attackers or the site of the attack
Embarrassment arising from having to explain the injuries to others
Decreased productivity due to distraction and difficulty focusing

Potentially Disastrous Results:
Suffering from severe physical injuries (broken bones, lacerations, teeth being knocked out, etc.)
Long-term physical effects (spine or brain injuries, migraines, etc.)
Living with scars that act as constant reminders of the attack
PTSD
Developing a mental illness (agoraphobia, a panic disorder, etc.)
The trauma of having to testify in court about the event
Loss of innocence
Being unable to successfully function at school or work
Abusing alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism
Becoming paranoid about the safety of family members; driving them away by holding on too tightly

Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Struggling with embarrassment, humiliation, or shame
The character wondering if they were somehow to blame
Distrusting people who are “like” the attacker (race, gender, physical appearance, etc.)
Plummeting self-esteem
Living in constant fear of being attacked again (if the perpetrator was never caught)
Developing a victim mentality
Retreating inward; being reluctant to stand up for oneself

People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: The victim’s family members, the attackers (if they’re caught and punished)

Resulting Emotions: Anger, anguish, anxiety, apprehension, depressed, dread, emasculated, embarrassment, fear, hatred, humiliation, insecurity, panic, paranoia, powerlessness, rage, remorse, self-pity, shame, tormented, vulnerability, wariness

Personality Flaws that May Make the Situation Worse: Addictive, compulsive, controlling, cynical, gullible, insecure, martyr, needy, nervous, nosy, obsessive, paranoid, prejudiced, self-destructive, timid, withdrawn, worrywart 

Positive Outcomes: 
The character becoming more aware of their surroundings
Being proactive about safety and security
Realizing that life is unpredictable, and vowing to live more fully
Gratitude to the people who helped save the character making him or her want to follow in their footsteps (as a cop, paramedic, doctor, physical therapist, etc.)

If you’re interested in other conflict options, you can find them here.

Need More Descriptive Help?

While this conflict thesaurus is still being developed, the rest of our descriptive collection (15 unique thesauri and growing) is available at our main site, One Stop for Writers

If you like, swing by and check out the video walkthrough, and then give our Free Trial a spin.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Occupation Thesaurus Guide Is Releasing Soon…Will You Help Us?

One thing that never gets old is being able to share when a new book in on its way, so as you might imagine, Becca and I are pretty happy to pen this post.

The Occupation Thesaurus will be here in July!

Covid-19 wasn’t a factor when we set a date, and so when it reared its ugly head we waffled a bit as to whether to hold off releasing this book. People are dealing with a lot, and it might not be the right time to get excited over a new thesaurus. But as a few lovely people have reminded us, while life is challenging, many writers are trying to write, research projects, or strengthen their writing craft, and this book might help. And helping…well, that’s what we do.

So that means it’s time to show off this lovely cover!

The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers

We all strive to create powerful characters, but describing them can be a challenge. How can we reveal their personality, talents, passions, strengths, and weaknesses without resorting to the dreaded info dump? How do we combine their morals and inner complexities to the plot, providing guardrails for character arc growth? And finally, how can we do all of these things while reminding readers of their own hardships, epiphanies, and growth?

Answer: the character’s job!

Considering how much time your character spends at work, it’s no wonder that their job can influence the story in many ways. This guide will help you find the perfect occupation for your story’s cast and show you all the ways a career, character, and plot collide.

So many of you have helped us with past launches–thank you so much! And now, we hope you’ll consider doing so again.

Will You Join Our Occupation Thesaurus Street Team?

We strive to make every launch easy to help with and especially now, we don’t want to add stress to anyone’s plate. Street Team members choose what they would like to help with. Options might be:

  • Loaning us your blog for a day
  • Helping us with social media support
  • Book reviews
  • Helping us with a surprise (we are big into surprises!)

Interested in finding out more? Just fill out this form here.

We understand everyone is juggling more than usual and our hope is that this launch will be a fun diversion. A big thank you for checking it out!

Questions about this book or the street team? Shout them out!

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

How Plotlines Add Dimension

When writing a novel, you need to use more than one plotline. In fact, most successful books need at least three. If they only have one or two, the story will feel flat, bloated, or repetitive, because the writer doesn’t have adequate variety to draw from. But it’s not enough to just pick any three plotlines. Only by picking three different types, will a story gain satisfying dimension. 

Think about it. When we talk about dimension in life, we are usually talking about three elements: height, width, and depth. We aren’t talking about height, height, and width. Or width, width, and depth. We are talking about at least three different measurements. Sometimes time is added in–a fourth measurement, and theoretically, we could add more. But until there are at least three, the object is only two dimensional (flat).

There are at least six different types of plotlines.

Protagonist’s External:

This is the most recognizable plotline. It’s the “outer journey” of the protagonist. It’s Frodo taking the Ring to Mount Doom. Or Dr. Faustus making a deal with the devil for unlimited knowledge. Or the man who is trying to win over the love of his life. Often this contains the main antagonist, so that there is a kind of a back and forth between the protagonist and antagonist.

Protagonist’s Internal:

The second-most recognized plotline. This is the “inner journey” of the protagonist–how the protagonist arcs over the course of the story. This means that the antagonist is the self–it might be a flaw, weakness, or misbelief that the hero has to overcome, to become who she is meant to be. This is where the “inner demons” lie and fight back.

Relationship/B Story:

Depending on who you listen to, some teach that the first two plotlines are part of the “main story” or “A story.” Then there is a secondary story, the “B story.” As professionals like Blake Snyder and Robert McKee state, this is most often a relationship plotline. Usually this is about the protagonist and a love interest, but it might be the protagonist and a best friend, sibling, mentor, parent, classmate, or even rival. It’s a plotline about how a relationship develops, grows, or changes. 

The reason the relationship plotline works so well, is because it fits between the protagonist’s external and internal plotlines. It’s not as extreme and far-reaching as the external plotline, but it’s not as intimate and deep as the internal plotline. Therefore it adds dimension

The B story may not always be a relationship. But it needs to be something that is not as big and broad as the protagonist’s external journey, and not as deep and personal as the internal plotline. 

Society/World:

In many stories, there is conflict within the society and world the protagonist inhabits. Luke Skywalker may have his own external and internal plotlines, but beyond him, is a whole war between the Rebels and the Empire. In Catching Fire, Katniss is pinned against tributes, but there is a plot playing out between the Capitol and the Districts. And least you think this is for only epic genres, in a Hallmark movie, a community business or tradition might be at stake. The society/world plotline is broader and even less personal than the protagonist’s external plotline. In a sense, it extends the story “above” the external plotline, because it follows groups of people, instead of one individual. 

Influence Character:

This is a plotline based off Dramatica. Other than the protagonist, there is usually a key, influential character. This is often who the protagonist is in a relationship with in the B story, or at least, a lead role in the B story. This character adds dimension because, unlike the protagonist, it is someone we are observing, more or less, from the outside. The audience isn’t as close to this character as the protagonist, but they aren’t as opposed to this character as the antagonists. This is a character whose power comes from influence–either influencing the protagonist and/or the A story (directly or indirectly). Because of this, the influence character may often have his or her own plotline–goals, hopes, fears, obstacles–through the story.

Undercurrent Story:

This is a plotline of my own definition, because I haven’t seen it defined anywhere else, though it has been written many times. The undercurrent story is a plotline that happens “under” the story the audience is seeing. Rowling uses this in every Harry Potter book. For example, in Deathly Hallows, the surface story focuses on finding and destroying Horcruxes, while the undercurrent plotline is about the Deathly Hallows. In Goblet of Fire, the surface story is about the Tri-wizard Tournament, but the undercurrent plotline is Barty Crouch Jr. trying to resurrect Voldemort. Another famous example is Sixth Sense, where Dr. Malcom discovers he’s been dead the whole time.  

The undercurrent story is a plotline that usually touches the surface several times before fully surfacing at the end, changing the context of prior incidences. It may touch and influence other plotlines, but we don’t have a clear understanding of it until later. Because of the nature of the undercurrent plotline, it should be added as a fourth or fifth (or sixth) type of plotline–it won’t give the writer enough to work with as a third. It nevertheless adds dimension. 

 To learn more about undercurrents, you can check out my posts here and here.   

We have now defined six different types of plotlines. In order for a novel to have dimension, it needs to have at least 3 – 4 different types. Not more plotlines of the same type. And that’s how you add dimension!

September C. Fawkes

Resident Writing Coach

September C. Fawkes has worked as an assistant to a New York Times bestselling author and writing instructor, and now does freelance editing at FawkesEditing.com. She has published poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction articles, and her award-winning writing tips have appeared in classrooms, conferences, and on Grammar Girl. Visit her at SeptemberCFawkes.com for more writing tips, and find her on
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Posted in Action Scenes, Character Arc, Characters, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Story Structure, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 18 Comments

Conflict Thesaurus Entry: Physical Exhaustion

Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.

Conflict: PHYSICAL EXHAUSTION

Category: Increased pressure and ticking clocks, failures and mistakes, duty and responsibilities, losing an advantage, no-win situations, miscellaneous challenges

Examples:
The character’s body being pushed past it’s limits due to exertion
Being depleted due to poor nutrition or starvation
An illness that ravages the character’s strength
Forced wakefulness that takes a physical toll

Minor Complications:
Clumsiness
Sustaining an injury due to slow reaction time (a cut, a burn, etc.)
Dropping something of value and damaging it
Being unable to finish a task
Becoming a danger to others when one’s abilities decrease due to exhaustion
Making mistakes that cause them to have to expend more energy to correct (falling down a hill on an obstacle course which must then be re-climbed to continue, for example)
Having to ask another to take over because their strength is depleted
Poor decision-making that leads to mistakes

Potentially Disastrous Results:
Injuring another person due to inattention, losing a grip on something, or their strength giving out
Suffering a serious fall or injury
Forcing others to endanger themselves to perform a rescue
Causing an accident that disfigures another or causes their death (slipping while working a saw and cutting into another hand who is holding the board, etc.)
Pushing the body past its limits and causing a permanent injury or lifelong chronic pain

Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Putting their own welfare above others vs. adhering to responsibility
Insecurity over being perceived as weak or unworthy by those who matter
Self-loathing and shame at their own weakness if this situation is because they didn’t take care of their health, or they are out of shape, etc.)
Resenting their own need for help
Wanting help yet being angry for needing it

People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: The character themselves, people who are reliant on the character (family, teammates, people who are caught in a difficult predicament who must work together to survive it, etc.)

Resulting Emotions: anger, anguish, defeat, defiant, despair, desperation, determination, dread, emasculated, embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, inadequate, powerlessness, regret, resentment, resignation, self-loathing, self-pity, shame, tormented, unappreciated, uncertainty, vulnerability, worthlessness

Personality Flaws that May Make the Situation Worse: abrasive, cocky, grumpy, haughty, hostile, irrational, melodramatic, perfectionist, pessimistic, prejudiced, resentful, self-destructive, uncooperative, ungrateful, whiny

Positive Outcomes: 
Characters sometimes need to be brought down a peg and realize that everyone struggles. This can allow them to have greater empathy for others, and a better appreciation for those in a similar situation.
A character who refuses help out of a belief they are beyond such a need or because of a past hurt will find themselves challenged on the validity of such a belief, either learning the power in community and teamwork, or giving them an opportunity to move past trust issues by being forced to accept help and thereby seeing not everyone is bad.

If you’re interested in other conflict options, you can find them here.

And if you would like more ideas on how to use Physical Exhaustion to add conflict to a scene and how to describe it through your character’s behaviors, actions, and visceral sensations, take a look at our mini-guide, Emotion Amplifiers.

Need More Descriptive Help?

While this conflict thesaurus is still being developed, the rest of our descriptive collection (15 unique thesauri and growing) is available at our main site, One Stop for Writers.

If you like, swing by and check out the video walkthrough, and then give our Free Trial a spin.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

How to Juggle Writing and Parenting

While being a parent is one of the greatest joys in life, it comes with its own slew of challenges. As a mother of a toddler, I’ve had to find a way to balance taking care of my darling boy while still working and finding time to write. This has become even more challenging with all the COVID19-related changes that include the closing of schools and many people taking on the role of teacher and tutor.

Striking a balance isn’t easy, and there is no one-size-fits-all for how to juggle being a writer and parent. But these five tips might help you to find a balance in your own life and to be there for your child while not neglecting or giving up your writerly dreams. 

1. Know you can’t do everything, and that’s OK

There simply isn’t the time of day to do all the things. If you are anything like me, that means you are probably juggling working, being a parent, and squeezing in writing time when you can. And the younger your child is, the more attention and time they require. 

Embrace that you can’t be everything for everyone, and that is OK. We can’t take care of the children, clean the house, make all the meals, support our partners, and somehow manage to take care of ourselves.

Not being able to do everything isn’t something to feel guilty about. There is only so much time in the day. It just means you need to aggressively prioritize your schedule (which we will get to shortly). 

2. Set goals 

Do you want to finish a chapter this week? Do you want to send out five query letters to literary agents? Do you want to upload your book to KDP or IngramSpark? Make writing (and publishing) goals for yourself. 

Whatever your goals are, make sure you tell your family. That way, they are aware of what you need to work on and that you need time away from the family in order to accomplish those tasks. That might mean your partner watches your child (or children) in the evening for two hours on Wednesday night or it might mean that your partner handles bath time this week so you can slip away. 

The key here is to communicate your goals so you can team up with your partner, and they can help you with the kiddos so you can achieve your goals. (But don’t forget your partner will also need time to themselves for self-care, too!)

If you don’t have a partner and are a single parent or caregiver, these goals might be self-imposed deadlines to keep yourself on task. 

3. Prioritize your schedule

As I said before, we can’t do ALL the things. It simply isn’t humanly possible. Therefore, you have to aggressively prioritize your schedule. If you can, organize your list of to-dos into the following categories: 1) essential to accomplish and time-sensitive, 2) essential to accomplish but not time-sensitive, 3) not essential to accomplish and time-sensitive, and 4) not essential to accomplish and not time-sensitive. (Check out the Eisenhower Matrix to learn more!)

Examples of the first would be doctor visits for yourself or your family, while examples of the second would be vacuuming or cleaning the house. The third could be something like a phone call from your in-laws or interruption from your child. An example of the fourth is watching Netflix. 

While you do want to prioritize some downtime for yourself throughout your week, Netflix might be the first thing you give up in order to squeeze some writing time in while your child takes a nap or is on a break from school. 

However you prioritize your schedule, remember you are going to have to utilize any and all downtime you get. Is your baby watching television for twenty minutes? Get your laptop out and get some writing in! As I’m writing this blog, my son is eating breakfast and watching an educational kids show. Like I said, utilize any downtime you have! Because, as parents, we don’t get a lot of it… 

4. Treat writing like a job

If you are anything like me or the many writers I’ve talked to who are parents, we feel incredibly guilty spending any time away from our littles. But if you want to be a career author vs. a hobbyist (meaning, you want to write books for a living and make an income from your writing), that means you will need to prioritize writing. 

Sometimes, in order to make writing our job, we must first treat it as a job. In other words, you need to prioritize getting your writing tasks done just like you would for a corporate job. If you didn’t do your work in a corporate setting, you would eventually get fired. 

Now, this isn’t me saying you should treat writing like a job and shift your mindset and approach to writing so it’s so methodical and passionless that you grow to hate it. This is me saying you shouldn’t feel guilty pursuing your passions while being a parent. Just like your child, you have dreams and things you want to accomplish in this life. It’s OK to want to be a good parent AND want to achieve your writerly goals. 

5. It’s not about choosing one over another 

Striking a balance for your writerly dreams and being a parent isn’t about choosing one over the other. It’s about finding time for both.

Sometimes, that means canceling your writing plans for an evening to cuddle with your child. And sometimes, it means your child watches an hour of the television while you chip away at a manuscript. 

Whatever it is, it’s about making sure your child is loved, taken care of, and nurtured while also making time for your writing dreams. 

There is no perfect formula, but as long as you do your best, communicate, and delegate where you can, it’s possible to be a good writer and a good parent to our darling kiddos who deserve the world. 

Pssst! With Mother’s Day coming up, we’ve got a special deal going for writing moms. So if you are one, have one, or know one, take advantage of this discount off our digital Character Traits Boxed Set :).

Meg LaTorre

Resident Writing Coach

Meg LaTorre is a writer, YouTuber (iWriterly), creator of the free query critique platform, Query Hack, co-host of the Publishable show, blogger, and she formerly worked at a literary agency. She also has a background in magazine publishing, medical/technical writing, and journalism. To learn more about Meg, visit her website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, sign up for her monthly newsletter, and subscribe to her YouTube channel, iWriterly.
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Posted in Focus, Goal Setting, Resident Writing Coach, Time Management, Writing Time | 5 Comments

Celebrating Writer Moms (with a 50% Book Bundle Discount!)

You have a mom. We have moms. Some of us have moms we’ve adopted or who have adopted us. And we all know others who are great moms, people we admire, look up to, and try to emulate.

And then there are the Writer Moms.

They are the makers of grilled cheese, providers of healthy snacks, and corrallers of kids (both the two-legged or four-legged variety). These moms sacrifice so much to see to the needs of everyone else before turning to their other child, Work-In-Progress.

Dedicated. Resilient. Passionate. Writer Moms are fierce.

You might know a writer mom. Be a writer mom. Have a writer mom. If so, celebrate with us: Writing moms work hard, juggle a ton, and act as a living example to others that dreams are worth pursuing. That’s what makes them so awesome!

A Little Something for Everyone Who Is, Has, or Loves a Writer Mom

Late last year we created our first book bundle which takes the Positive Trait and Negative Trait Thesaurus pair and marries them for easier character planning, researching, and portability.

These two books aren’t just smooshed together, though…each entry is cross-linked, meaning that traveling directly from a positive trait like LOYAL to a listed conflicting negative trait like ANTISOCIAL, DISLOYAL, FLAKY, GREEDY, HYPOCRITICAL, INDECISIVE, SELFISH can be accomplished with a click. Pretty handy, right?

Use the code WRITERMOM to receive 50% off this book bundle

Reducing the price to only $4.98.

Find this bundle here:

Applying this code is easy. In the checkout, look for the add coupon link. Apply the code as prompted (ALL CAPS, no spaces), and boom, you’ll get these two fan favorites together in one book.

This is basically giving a writer mom the writing equivalent of a squishy hug, which as we know, we can’t really do right now.

This code is active until May 12th, so feel free to grab a copy for yourself too, if you like!

A big thank you to all the moms. Whether kid-moms, pet-moms, or friend-moms, where would we be without you? <3

Posted in Past Events, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 4 Comments

Conflict Thesaurus Entry: Unknowingly Sharing Incorrect Information

Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.

Conflict: Sharing Incorrect Information

Category: Failures and mistakes, relationship friction, duty and responsibilities, moral dilemmas and temptation, losing an advantage, ego

Examples:
Stating as fact information that turns out to be false
Quoting something online that is proven to be fake news
Misquoting statistics
Gathering and passing along information from disreputable sources
Sharing old information that has since been refuted
Passing along written numerical facts that contain a critical typo
The character guessing when asked a question they should know the answer to, and guessing wrong
Stating an opinion as fact

Minor Complications:
Being laughed at
People bringing up the gaffe later, reawakening the embarrassment
Being corrected publicly
People not taking the character seriously in the future

Potentially Disastrous Results:
The character doubling down and arguing their erroneous point, refusing to see or admit the truth
The misinformation being used in decision making, resulting in far-reaching impacts for many people
Losing an important client
Losing credibility at work, to the point that the character isn’t trusted with important projects anymore
A larger organization (a business, shared blog, nonprofit organization, etc.) experiencing bad PR because of the character’s association with it
Becoming disillusioned; believing that no source is unbiased and no information shared by others can be trusted

Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Struggling with self-doubt
Becoming consumed with what other people think
Hesitating to share information in the future, for fear it will also be wrong

People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: Co-workers, employers, work associates, friends who kindly try to point out the character’s mistake

Resulting Emotions: Agitation, appalled, apprehension, confusion, defensiveness, denial, devastation, disappointment, disillusionment, doubt, embarrassment, flustered, frustration, guilt, humiliation, indignation, insecurity, intimidated, nervousness, panic, regret, reluctance, remorse, uncertainty, unease, vulnerability, worry

Personality Flaws that May Make the Situation Worse: Childish, cocky, confrontational, controlling, cynical, defensive, foolish, hypocritical, ignorant, impulsive, inflexible, insecure, irrational, martyr, melodramatic, oversensitive, perfectionist, stubborn

Positive Outcomes: 
Learning from the mistake and doing more thorough fact-checking in the future
Choosing not to weigh in on topics the character is unfamiliar with
Recognizing that opinions are not facts and don’t always need to be shared
More carefully checking written memos for typos before sending them
Deciding to be grateful (rather than defensive or stubborn) when a mistake is pointed out
Determining to find factual and reputable sources for future use

Need More Descriptive Help?

While this conflict thesaurus is still being developed, the rest of our descriptive collection (15 unique thesauri and growing) is available at our main site, One Stop for Writers

If you like, swing by and check out the video walkthrough, and then give our Free Trial a spin.

Before You Go….

Angela has a webinar coming up on Monday (May 4th) that you might be interested in.

Hidden Emotion & Subtext:
Making Dialogue Crackle with What Isn’t Said ($10)

Characters aren’t always forthright; what they say and what they feel can be very different. This can be challenging when it comes to conveying hidden emotions to readers, so Angela will explore ways to show (not tell) what’s happening under the surface when your characters are trying to hide what they feel and think.  

If you need help showing character emotion & subtext, this webinar may just be your best friend. And don’t worry, if you sign up but can’t make it live, a recording will be sent to you.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Maximize Productivity with Speech-To-Text Software

I think we’re all looking for ways to be more productive these days. COVID19 has thrown our schedules into chaos and, if we’re lucky enough to still be working, it’s changed the way we do it. So I was excited to see this post from Rafal Reyzer about speech-to-text software and how it can help writers with efficiency, enabling us to do more in less time.

After writing on my keyboard for many years, I started feeling pain in my right wrist. This was a major blow to my identity as a writer because what I loved doing the most became a source of anguish.

I started searching for solutions and made sure that my workspace was perfect in terms of ergonomics. I adjusted my posture, bought a vertical mouse (this was a game-changer), started doing yoga, and adopted a healthier lifestyle.

But what made the biggest difference in my process and enabled me to write faster was getting acquainted with dictation (or speech-to-text) software.

Now, after using dictation in my day-to-day work for over two years, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in writing speed, ergonomics, and even how I’m able to express myself verbally. If you want to literally write as you speak, I have a couple of great tips you’ll find valuable and easy to learn. Let’s begin by talking about how speech-to-text software can enhance your writing efforts….

It Boosts Productivity

The average person types between 38 and 40 words per minute (WPM). If you’re a skilled writer, this number goes up to 50 or 60 words per minute. But did you know that if you speak, you can produce between 125 and 150 words every 60 seconds?

Of course, writing requires forethought and creative deliberation, so you won’t produce 1000 words of clean prose in 10 minutes just by switching to dictation. But it definitely can help. According to this Stanford study, the speech-to-text method is three times faster than typing.

We also have anecdotal evidence from writers like Joanna Penn, who’s able to dictate up to 5000 words per hour while only managing around 1500 words per hour when typing. I have to admit that I’m not that fast, but using dictation did make a huge difference in my productivity levels. I was able to type around 800 words per hour, but by “speaking to my computer,” I can produce almost 2000 words in the same period.

If boosting your productivity and writing in a more ergonomic way sounds good to you, let’s take a look at how you can start experimenting with speech-to-text software.

Suggested Dictation Apps (And How to Use Them)

The first and most obvious choice is the free voice typing tool from Google Docs. To get started, open a new document, go to “tools” and then click on “voice typing.” You’ll see the microphone icon appear on the left side of the screen, where you can pick an accent (there is everything from standard US pronunciation to English used in Tanzania or the Philippines). Click on the mic icon, and you’re ready to go.

Google Docs is fine, but you’ll soon realize that the app has its limitations, and voice recognition is not always accurate. So if you want to take it to a higher level, I suggest investing in a Nuance Dragon, which in my estimation is one of the top dictation apps. It costs $150 for the lifetime license, but it’s well worth the money, as it offers advanced voice commands and allows you to use dictation in any text field on your computer. Now, instead of being locked into the Google Docs environment, you can also dictate emails, social media posts, or chat messages.

Hardware: Which Microphone Is Best for Dictation?

With the advent of natural language processing and machine learning-powered devices and apps such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home Assistant, or Siri, you can already count on high levels of accuracy in speech recognition.

But if you’re using dictation apps for writing, hardware becomes even more important. So, if you want to achieve nearly perfect levels of voice recognition and conjure words on your screen as if by magic, you’d be wise to invest in a high-quality microphone.

If you’re working in a relatively quiet space, I suggest getting a desktop microphone, like the one that you would use for podcasting (a quality gooseneck mic is also good). Anything below $20 won’t work, so spend a bit more ($40 – $100), and you’ll notice the difference. The producers of dictation apps recommend using headsets (ranging from $100-$200) for the best results, but the idea of keeping a headset on all the time didn’t appeal to me, as I like to be as free as possible when writing.

Are You Ready To Experiment With Speech-To-Text Software?

I hope that after reading this article (which was produced entirely by voice), you can see that using speech-to-text software is not only a viable way to write, but it can also increase your daily word output and let you work in a healthier way.

Do you have any experience with speech-to-text apps? I would be happy to learn about your experience, so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Rafal Reyzer is a full-time blogger, freelance writer, digital marketer, editor and content manager. He started RafalReyzer.com to provide readers with great tools and strategies they can use to achieve freedom from 9-5 through online creativity. His site is a one-stop-shop for writers, bloggers, publishers, content enthusiasts and freelancers who want to be independent, earn more money and create beautiful things. You can also find him on Pinterest and Goodreads.

Posted in Guest Post, Software and Services, Writing Resources, Writing Time | 7 Comments