Writing Tool: EditMinion

EditMinionEditing is a tough job, especially when you simply want to bask in the glory of a finished story. EditMinion is a new tool you can use to catch basic errors in grammar, excessive adverbs, repeated words and other style-related errors.

To use it, paste your text into the wizard and click the edit button. EditMinion will analyze your text and highlight a range of errors. Generally these are quick-fixes, so your return on the time invested is pretty high.

While it’s no substitute for a beta reader, Editminion does a great job cleaning up a manuscript.

Give it a try here: EditMinion

 

 

Picture Prompt: Empty Benches

Many of you asked for more prompts and writerly inspiration on the recent survey that I posted, so I’ll be posting prompts on a regular basis. I’ll tweet them as well. (Follow me on Twitter here.)  If you need help working with prompts, please see this post.

Picture of empty benches

Prompt: Empty Bench

Image Courtesy Remy Levine Dreamstime Stock Photos

Your Key to a Great NaNoWriMo: Seven Point Story Structure

Seven Point Story StructureI am an avid listener of the Writing Excuses Podcast (features Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler & Mary Robinette Kowal) and last week they focused on something called the Seven Point Story Structure. This is the brain child of Dan Wells who adapted it from a Star Trek role -playing book. (See why I thought it would be great for Fan Fiction writers!)

I’ve Got an Idea, Now What?

Last time I focused on ideas. so now we’re going to take your idea and give it structure using the Seven Point method. Lucky for all of us, Mr. Wells has a presentation of the Seven Point Story Structure on YouTube, so I’ve included the videos in this post. I’m just going to hit the high points and provide you with a worksheet (because I love the worksheets!) so that you can get to work.  The videos are entertaining and he gives lots of geeky examples! He covers information for Romance writers too.

Begin with the End in Mind

Before you write a single word of your story, you must know how it is going to end. If you don’t know how it is going to end, you’ll just be writing aimlessly until you write yourself into a corner, or are forced to go back and start over. So before you do another thing, write down where you want your characters to be at the end of your story. (Just the end, you don’t have to figure out how they got there…yet.)

Once you know where you are ending, you can just put your character in the opposite place for the beginning…so now you have your beginning and your end. Nice, eh?

Seven Point Story Structure Components

Here’s the skinny on the Seven Point Story Structure. This method focuses on the seven pivotal events in your book that drive the story. In the downloadable worksheets for this section, you’ll find examples for this structure.

They are:

The Hook

This is where your characters start from. You set up your character’s world and set their stakes (what they have to lose) in this part.

Plot Turn 1

This is the event that sets your story in motion.  It moves you from the beginning to the Midpoint. You character’s world changes here.

Pinch 1

Pinches are where you put pressure on your hero from your antagonist to force your hero into action.

Midpoint

The midpoint takes your character from reaction to action. At the midpoint, your character determines that she must do something.  (This can take place over a series of scenes.)

Pinch 2

Pinch 2 is where your story takes the ultimate dive. Your hero is literally sitting in the jaws of defeat. Everything has fallen apart.

Plot Turn 2

This point moves the story from the Midpoint to the Resolution. Plot Turn 2 is where you character receives the final piece of information that he needs to make it to the resolution. (No new information can be introduced after this point.) You character believe he has the power to achieve the resolution.

Resolution

Your hero completes what he sets out to do.

Download the Worksheets

7 point story structure worksheet

You can apply this structure to each of the threads in your story. Along with a blank worksheet, I’ve provided you with several examples. I happened to watch the first episode (two-part) of DS9 last night, so I broke them down with the 7 point story structure as an example. It’s actually fun to see how movies, tv shows and books make compelling use of this structure. Once you know it, you will see it everywhere!

Dan Wells (see his books here) breaks down Story Structure

If you want to see this in action, I highly recommend reading Partials by Dan Wells. (It’s only $2.99 for the Kindle right now. Such a deal!) He’s also got a horror series that is excellent.

(It’s a 5 part series. I’ve listed them in order.)

 

 

Take Your Writing to the Next Level with NaNoWriMo

This is the first installment in a series that will lead you through the preparations for a successful NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo TipsSpread Your Wings

As much as this is (and will remain) a site dedicated to the art and craft of writing Fan Fiction, I’d like to start talking a bit about how to take your Fan Fiction writing skills to the next level.

With the breakout success of Fifty Shades of Grey and the rise in Self Publishing, becoming a published author is within just about anyone’s reach. That is, if you are will to work for it. In my opinion, no one is better positioned to take advantage of Self Publishing than Fan Fiction writers. Now this is not to say that you should change all the names on your latest fic and slap it up on Amazon, but Fan Fic writers are a prolific bunch. We all love to write, so  National Novel Writing Month  seems like the perfect step up.

November is just around the corner and I’ll be doing it this year. I’d like to invite you to join in. Whether you’ll be writing Fan Fiction or transitioning to original fiction, NaNo is a great opportunity to sharpen those writing skills.  You could finish a WIP that’s been languishing or tackle that new idea that’s been knocking around in the back of your head. In the next three weeks, I’ll be providing you with a series of posts to get you in shape and make sure you have a story to write (and all the tools you need to do it) on November 1.

Ready to go? Let’s get started.

How to ‘Win’ NaNoWriMo

I’m going to be realistic here. I’ve started NaNo a few times and wound up not finishing. Mostly because I can’t stand wasting time writing crap. For some writers, 50,000 words is a win. I want 50,000 words that I can actually turn into a story or novel that someone would want to read. So our goal here is to produce quantity and quality, which is a little different that then NaNo mission, which is pretty much “write words, edit later.” For some people this is a great option, but I am all about the goal!

There will be worksheets for this process, so start a file on your computer, a file on your desk or even a three ring binder. You’ll need to keep them all together so when you actually sit down to write your story, you have everything in one place.

What do You Want to Write?

What tickles your fancy? Makes you secretly giddy? What do you dream about writing. Personally, I’m obsessed with Fantasy novels and Castle. So I’m going to combine epic romance with magic for my NaNo  project.

Download WorksheetDownload the Idea Creator Worksheet and take fifteen minutes to fill out all the questions. Even if you are skeptical or plan to write a totally original story, this is worth doing. It will expand your thinking and help you to incorporate additional layers of story into your project.

The worksheet asks you to examine your favorite books, tv shows and movies on a deeper level. Look at the overall qualities of the book rather than specific details. Take that information and reassemble it into an idea for your next story or novel. Some questions to consider:

  • Why couldn’t you put the book down?
  • Why can you watch the movie over and over again and still be just as in love with the story as the first time?
  • How would your favorite characters act in a different period of history?
  • What if history were different?
  • Swap their backgrounds. (For example Castle becomes the cop and Beckett the writer.) What does that do to their characters? The story? How they meet?
  • Put your characters into a famous story–say Snow White or Beauty and the Beast.
  • Create your own characters (we’ll make sure it’s not a Mary Sue!) and spin them off of your favorite show or book.
The possibilities are literally endless (and giving me some great ideas!) so brainstorm away. Hop on Netflix or YouTube and watch some of your favorite scenes. You never know what might hit you and just think, you can have fun and work on your novel at the same time.

Further Reading

Robert’s Rules of Writing – Robert Masello’s fun, creative book of writing advice. It’s a quick and easy read and one of my favorite books on writing.

25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo – Chuck Wendig tells it like it is.  (He enjoys swearing, so if that is not your thing don’t read this!)

How to Write Fan Fiction – In my one of a kind book, I bread down how to write a great story–including a complete discussion on writing multi-chapter/novel style stories.

Get Inspired with the Fan Fiction Prompt-O-Matic

Fanfiction Prompts to Inspire You

How to Write Fan Fiction is your one-stop-shop for inspiration.

I’ve just set up a new feature at How to Write Fan Fiction–the Fan Fiction Prompt-O-Matic. (Check it out, just to the top left of this post.)

Every time you visit, you’ll get a brand new prompt. Sometimes, all it takes is a single word to set your imagination on overdrive, so if you are looking for inspiration for your next Fanfic, How to Write Fan Fiction is your one stop shop for prompts. (If you want some help working with prompts, head over to  How to Write with Prompts.) And don’t forget, we’ve got prompt tables for those of you who really want a challenge.

Once you have your Prompt, you can use the Mind Map Worksheet to really work out your idea. Spend between 5 and 10 minutes writing down everything you can think of that relates to your prompt. More than once, I’ve had a story outline itself with this process. Prompts are a great way to brush up on your writing skills–just writing a drabble (100 word fic) a day, keeps your creativity flowing. Drabbles often provide the seeds for longer stories–after you’ve had a while to let things simmer in the back of your brain.

If you have any prompts that you’d like me to add to the list, please submit them via the Contact page on this site. And when you write your story, please come back and share a link in the comments of this post so that we call all read it.