Time to Don the Armor


Today I’m going to touch on the subject of critiques. So there you are, putting the finishing touches on the manuscript you finished, thinking, Damn, this is good! A best seller for sure! Of course you think it’s great, after all you wrote it. What could possibly be wrong with it? Time to have someone else read it. Fine, we’ll let some family members read it. They give it back, giving you high praise for such a remarkable story. Cool! You believe you are one step closer to reaching the top of the best seller list. You are flying high with the praise. So you ask a couple of friends to read it. One tells you it’s great, send it out to be published. The other, well, they have a few suggestions about the characters and the storyline. They suggest you join a group to get your work critiqued.

So you mull over this idea, while secretly thinking Nothing needs to be changed. Sure, there’s a couple of spelling errors that are easily fixed, and punctuation that needs to be dealt with. You decide to join a critique group on FB. After introducing yourself, you post your work, still believing they will love it and tell you to publish it. First comment you get back — ‘Why the long description of the main character? Are they describing themselves to another person?’ Next, ‘Too many adverbs!’ As the comments pile up, pointing out this problem and that problem you feel your heart start to sink to the floor. You’re thinking, But everyone else who reads it says it’s great! In a fit of pique, you post ‘My family and friends said this was great and that I should publish it.’ One member posts back, ‘If you believe them, then self publish it on Amazon.’

You say the hell with it, and prepare your novel for self-publishing. You set it at a reasonable price and make a few sales. The reviews you get back, however, are all one star. The reviewers point out all the problems the people in the critique group did. Feeling like you’ve been stabbed in the heart, you crawl into a dark corner with your laptop and stare at the document on the screen. Once the initial shock passes, you go back and read through the comments made in the group, making note of books or websites they suggest you read to help improve your writing and editing. You apply their suggestions to your work, doing a rewrite. You post it again and you start to get compliments! They tell you the story is greatly improved and you feel great. And relieved.

When it comes to critiques, you need to put on armor and not let the suggestions get to you. Good group members make the suggestions and comments for a reason. They’re not trying to sabotage your writing and publishing efforts, they are helping you make it better! No matter how hard we try, the first draft of what we write is going to have problems. Joining a critique group like Writers World gives you a chance to better your craft. Even though you love writing, you still want to publish what you write. When you publish something, you don’t want to end up with one-star reviews criticizing your work. The group helps you improve your grammar, descriptions, plots, and scenes. They help you improve the flow and rhythm of the story. Sure, it hurts when someone points out a problem. After all, you put your heart and soul into your writing, the words become your children. Now, if your child is causing trouble, you would want to know, wouldn’t you? Better to have a neighbor or friend tell you what they are up to, instead of the authorities. In the critique group, the members are those friends and neighbors, while the authorities are those who buy your book. Accept what they say, fix the problems, and get back to writing. Apply what you learned from them to your future works.

When you belong to a great critique group, you can comment and make suggestions on the works of others. Pointing out the overuse of certain words or phrases. When you make these comments, be courteous. Don’t slam another person’s work, since they are there for the same reason you are. The good groups have great admins who keep the trolls at bay, and make the environment welcoming. There’s nothing wrong with being a lurker at first, reading previous and new posts as they appear, but participating in the group will help you and in turn help others who post for critiques on their writing. Be polite in your responses, thank those who have commented on your work, and salute the admins who keep the group running.

May the words ever flow!

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Writing Quotes — Patricia C. Wrede


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Writing Quotes — V.S. Watson


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Questions for Beta Readers


Questions for Beta Readers

What is a Beta Reader? The short answer is someone who evaluates your story. Long answer; they give you feedback on your story. They are like beta testers for software, looking for bugs and problems. A good beta reader points out holes in your plot, point of view problems, and chronology problems. They point out confusing areas and let you know if you’re describing things too much. They let you know when something just doesn’t make sense in the story. When they finish reading your book, the good ones include their comments either in the document or in a separate document. My beta reader made her notes at the end of each chapter.

Did the story keep your interest from the start? If it didn’t, why?

Were you able to determine who the main character is and where and when it takes place? If not, what needs to be changed?

Were you able to connect with the main character? Could you feel their excitement, fear, or pain?

Did you like the setting was there enough detail or too much?

Did any point in the story drag or made you lose interest? If so, where?

Did anything in the story confuse you or frustrate you? Where and in what way?

Did the timeline seem plausible and move in a linear fashion? Were there any inconsistencies?

Did you find the characters believable? Do you think any of the characters could be improved?

Were you confused by the any of the characters? Are there too many or too few? Was there enough difference in the character names?

Was the dialogue crisp and help move the story along? Did it seem natural? Did you have any trouble figuring out who was speaking?

Was there too much description or not enough? Was there anything that should have been expanded on?

Is there enough tension, conflict, and intrigue keep you reading?

Did you like the ending? Did it seem believable?

Did you notice any major problems with punctuation, grammar, or spelling errors? If so, where?

Do you believe this writing style fits the genre? If you don’t, why?

What scenes did you like the most?

Should anything be shortened or deleted?

Any parts you think should be expanded on?

What is your overall opinion of the story?

What is your overall opinion of the characters?

When dealing with beta readers you need patience. Remember, they are taking their free time to read and comment on something you wrote. Beta readers have lives of their own and the responsibilities that go with their life. Don’t pester them, asking how far along they are or when they expect to finish.

May the words ever flow!

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Writing Quotes — William Strunk, Jr


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Do I have the Time?

make time to write

Do I have the Time?

This bit of advice has two parts to it. The first is finding time to write each day. Second, set writing goals each day.

Let’s start with the first part, finding time to write. All you need is an hour a day to do the writing. Do you need to play that video game or watch that TV show? What about the time you spend posting on facebook? Time that can be spent writing. It doesn’t matter if you write by hand or use a computer. Sit down and write.

Next we have setting a daily goal. It doesn’t have to be two or three thousand words, five hundred, or a thousand words a day is easy. I bet you write at least five hundred words a day on FB comments alone. Put those words to better use and work on your story instead. I’ve set a goal of a thousand words a day, but usually go over that which is fine. The words add up and next thing you know, you have finished the first draft of your story.

The more you write, the better you become. You need to exercise your mind the same way you exercise your body to keep it healthy.

Remember to take breaks if you decide to sit down and write for a long period of time, go outside for a bit of fresh air or raid the kitchen.

May the words ever flow!

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Creating Your Character


Creating Your Character

I belong to a number of writing groups on Facebook and I’ve been seeing a disturbing trend. Writers and would-be writers asking for help in creating their characters. This boggles my mind. People, the story and characters come from your imagination! If you are unable to name your character or define their personality and motivations, how the hell are you going to write a story? Unless you are rich and hire someone to write your story for you, every word comes from your mind. Start thinking and stop asking for help!

Naming Your Character

First off, naming your character is as simple as grabbing a phone book and creating names from the listings there. Another method is to use a Name Generator. Open a search engine, type in Name Generator and off you go. You can make an ordinary name a bit different by changing a letter or two.


In the Ravynwyng Chronicles, my main character is Ravyn Wyng. Instead of using Raven Wing, I changed a couple letters.

Name Generators

All right, back to creating characters. Name Generators. Below are several useful links for naming your characters.

Behind the Name Random Name Generator

Wordlab Name Generators

Seventh Sanctum Name Generators

If you can’t come up with a name using one of the above sites, I don’t know what will.

Character Descriptions

Again, this is where your imagination comes into play. The character is YOUR creation. You are the one that gives them life; from where they live, to their favorite food, and their deepest fears. This comes from your imagination. How much detail


Ravyn Wyng is a 26 year old female. She grew up in the foster system which has left her with physical and psychological scars. She’s married to Jennifer Wells, who helps keep her sanity intact. Involved in a car accident and road rage attack, Ravyn now suffers from PTSD and had a break down that required hospitalization.

To help you flesh out your characters, I’ve included a Characterization Chart at the end of this post. Use it for all your characters. Remember, the better you know your characters and their motivations, the better your story will be.

Characterization Chart

Character Name:  



Birth Date:

Physical Appearance: (Body Type, hair, eyes, facial features, dress, posture, movements, mannerisms, speech, first impression)

Background that may influence motivation: (Education, religion, family, early childhood experiences, financial situation, profession, marital status, other relationships, habits, surroundings/environment, health.

The inner person: (Distinctive traits, self-image, yearnings/dreams, fears/apprehensions, sense of humor, code of ethics, attitude (optimistic? Overly sensitive?)

Other details: (Hobbies, favorite foods, colors, books, music, art)

Positive traits:

Negative traits: (Character flaws)

Brief Bio:

May the words ever flow!

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