My name is Sophia Brown and I am the author of Stuck Between the Stars, a science fiction and fantasy novel coming to Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s online website on June 28, 2022.
It took me two years to develop my debut novel, and here are some unique tips and tricks I discovered in the process of completing it.
1. In your first drafts, do not be afraid to use the word “said” or to cut out attributions in general.
There seems to be a taboo on the word “said”, and you may become discouraged when you cannot find the perfect attribution to finish a line of dialogue in your story. I struggled with this and often spent hours on google trying to figure out whether I should say “stated,” “spoke,” or “exclaimed,” and sometimes the words I used to replace “said” did not make any sense at all. James Kennedy, the author of “Dare to Know” and “Order of Odd-Fish,” gave me this advice: if I cannot find a word besides said, I might not need it at all.
“Good morning, it’s a beautiful day!” Tom exclaimed.
“You’re correct!” Jack replied.
In the dialogue, the reader knows that Tom and Jack are the people talking.
“I’m going to the lake today to swim!” Tom told him.
“Wow, that’s awesome! So am I,” Jack said.
The “said” and “told him” are unnecessary. If you cut those parts out, the dialogue will still make sense and flows nicely without the tedious attributions.
2. Deciding Between an Outline or Winging It
Outlines can be a helpful tool to organize chapters, keep track of character notes, set dates for editing and write new ideas down. That is, if you prefer to be an organized person who wants to be in complete control of your document at all times.
If this sounds like you, I highly recommend writing an outline! I recommend using DND-style character sheets to log all of the information about your characters and their personalities, TYPING your outline instead of writing it so you can make changes later, and setting loose, flexible deadlines for chapters and drafts.
If you do not like the idea of an outline, I agree entirely with you as well. I cannot speak for every author, but from my own experience, outlines are a direct path to the infamous writer’s block. Writer’s block happens because of a tendency to skip chapters, procrastinate writing and add other details into the draft later on. If this sounds like you, you may be discouraged by deadlines or struggling to fit in ideas that you missed writing down in the outline. You may prefer to skip around, keep track of characters as you go along, and write at your speed instead of following a deadline.
If this sounds like you, I have an app to recommend. It’s called MyStory (I will link it at the end of this article), and it keeps track of characters, chapters, scenes, ideas, and photos you may want to include in your draft. If you prefer to skip around, you can write Chapter 8 first and come back to Chapter 4, and if you choose to get to know your characters as you go along, you can come back to the character pages and write down everything you came up with along the way. MyStory has been extremely helpful for me because it helped me stay motivated by keeping track of what chapters I finished, and it helped me become a more organized writer.
3. How to Include Your Writing In Everyday Life
When I was writing the original draft of my book, my favorite thing to do was write down the funny, motivational, or genius things the people around me have said. Not only did it make me laugh to read them all over, but it also gave me funny one-liners to fill in the awkward gaps in dialogue in my drafts. It gave me motivating things for the royalty in my novel to say and even gave me good ideas for subplots!
Another thing to do for a less-organized author like me is to carry around a notebook to write ideas in. Sometimes, I do not feel like typing and would rather write, and not only is this an exciting change of scenery, but it also helps with many other things. For example, according to Science Daily, the brain is more likely to remember things that have been written down. Also, writing instead of typing can increase creativity and help prevent writer’s block.
4. A Few Ideas For the Editing Process
The editing process is the most challenging part of writing a book. Your first draft is always the worst, and if you get through it, it is also the most rewarding part of editing. I’ve learned the most about writing when editing, so here are all of the tips I have learned about tackling editing.
The first tip I can give is to wait to edit your draft until a week after you’ve written it. It would help if you gave yourself time off from writing so you can look at it with fresh eyes and start over. I recommend printing out your draft and reading it without making any edits to the documents, just so that way you can soak in the draft and write down the changes you have to make later. Also, another important thing with this is to create a copy of your first draft before making any edits, just in case you change your mind about any of it.
When it is time for the editing phase, I recommend finding another author or professional editor to take a look at your document. Be prepared for them to be a bit harsh, but they are here to help you make your draft the best it can be. You never know what you could have missed in any of your drafts, and no one is better at spotting mistakes than another author or editor! I sent my draft to another author to look at, and he looked at it twice and gave me a ton of helpful advice.
Get beta readers! Beta readers are people in the age group and genre of your novel, and they are there to enjoy the story and be your first reviewers. Send them a google form with questions for them to answer after reading, and based on their response, you can learn a lot about what to expect in your novel. A question I asked on my google form was, “Which character was the most relatable?” I assumed it would be one character but was SHOCKED that my beta readers preferred an entirely opposite character.
For more writing tips and more information about my upcoming novel, follow my Instagram page @stuckbetweenthestars