Nightmares and Red Palms

Hey everyone!

I have a new story up on my Wattpad.  It’s called Nightmares and Red Palms.

I’m considering publishing it just so some of you all can get physical copies of it, but it is possible that I may just add it as a bonus in the back of my next publication. Who knows.

Nightmares and Red Palms is a historical fiction one-act play. It takes place in the invasion of Sicily, Italy in 1943. It’s complete, but the ending might change depending on what you all think. I added at the end of the story, exclusively for Wattpad readers, a little behind the scenes blog. It tells about some easter eggs and unknown histories about the characters and stuff. It also tells how I might change the ending… I don’t want to post it here because many of my WordPress followers haven’t read it yet. I’m not one to spoil stories, especially my own.

It’s been chosen to submit to a scholastic competition for my school, so I have until November 19th to make any changes. Please go read it before then and let me know if you think I should edit the ending or not!

Warning: People have cried over it. Prepare yourself.

Anyway, I just wanted to update you all! Thank you so much for reading and if you aren’t following me on Wattpad, it’s free and really easy. There, you get exclusive access to several stories and things you won’t get on here.

Actually, since I mentioned that, I have a new series coming up. I’m going to be posting regular short stories and maybe even poetry to my Wattpad. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll post them here on my blog, too. I’ll update you when it get’s closer to starting that!

Thank you for reading!!<3

Xoxo,

Kelli.

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I’M BACK:)

Hey Reader,

I’ve been gone for like… a month? Dear lord. Just writing a blog post right now feels weird.

I do have a good excuse. You know, end of the school year and exams and that crazy beta reading… but you all deserve more than excuses. (I think I heard someone say once that excuses are like butt holes– everyone has one. Don’t know why that just popped in my head)

I’M SORRY. I miss the blogging and everything, too. AND I’M BACK.

Continue reading I’M BACK:)

Almost There…

Hey everyone!

Just so you know:

There are five days left on the Beta Reading. This means that next week, I’ll be going back to the regular weekday posting of chapters. Everything is going to go back to usual. Thank you so much for being patient with me over the last month or so. You all are great!

Again, it isn’t too late to join the beta reading. Most of the book is posted now, so you can binge read if you want… Click here if you are interested! It’s been going great so far. In fact, Holding My Breath is currently #15 in Mystery/Thriller on Wattpad.

XO,

Kelli.

My Editing Process

Hey Reader,

So my copy came early! If you haven’t been following this blog this whole IMG_2145time, I’ll explain. After NaNoWriMo, I ordered a print copy book so that I can edit it on something other than the computer and work on the cover and all that. It was supposed to come Wednesday, which would be a full week of me not knowing what to do with myself, but it came today!

So I figured that I’d write a post on my personal editing process, which takes way longer than writing the first draft.

But it works.

November

So I wrote almost the whole first draft in November, and finished it a few days afterwards. It is about 116,000 words, and exactly five hundred pages (I added some pages at the end for notes and planning for edits). I had it printed because if I tried to edit it on my laptop, I wouldn’t be able to bring it with me everywhere and I would be sort of immune to the mistakes.

Continue reading My Editing Process

Part 16: Falling Actions

Dear Reader,

How’s your summer going? Mine is great so far and I’ve had a lot of time to write, which is great for both of us. I’m sorry about posting this late, but I was in a car for what seems like half of time itself without wifi.

In this chapter, I’m going to go through what falling actions are, and where they are on the plot diagram.

If you look at the plot diagram, the next box we are moving on to is labelled, “Falling Action”. Really, there can be way more than one falling action, but that doesn’t mean there has to be. The diagram only has room for one, though, so I recommend just making a list of your falling actions on another sheet of paper if you can’t fit it all on the sheet. *

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Continue reading Part 16: Falling Actions

Part 15: Climax

Dear Reader,

Sorry I’m publishing this so late, but I’ve been querying agents all day for my book, Deception.

So in this chapter, I’m going to talk about Climaxes. If you look at the plot diagram below, you will see the box in the middle of the top, labelled “Climax”. *

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Continue reading Part 15: Climax

Part 14: Rising Actions

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Dear Reader,

In this chapter, I’m going to talk about the plot diagram again. So far, we’ve covered the exposition box and the conflict box, but now it’s time to move into the rising actions and the climax.*

Let’s start with rising actions. Rising actions are the meat and potatoes of the story, so to speak. This is all of the drama and all of the events leading up to the main action of the story. The main event is called the climax, which can occur very close to the end of the book or earlier depending on what needs to happen to close the story afterwards. And what does this mean for your rising actions? Well, they can take up a lot of the story, or can end pretty early.

The main point of the rising actions is to keep your reader interested and reading while you build up the situation that truly frames the climax. If you don’t build up the suspense, then the main event isn’t as interesting.

Look at it this way, and I think I may have used this example before. If it’s a kids birthday, then you don’t just tell them what’s in the present. You give them hints or you go on and on making them guess for days before they actually get to open it. If you don’t tease the kid with what’s in the box, they aren’t as excited to open it, and when they do, it’s not as fun. But if they are really involved and they NEED to know what’s in the box, then opening it up is that much more exciting.

So if you have good rising actions, then your reader won’t be able to put the book down when they get to the main event, or the climax. Below are a few things that I’ve learned to use when getting the reader interested and involved with the story, and are also things that could be included in your rising actions if you want to lead up to a great climax:

Foreshadowing

You don’t notice this as much when you are reading a book, but it is very important when you are writing it. You need to keep your readers interested. To do this, you foreshadow, or hint around what might come next. For example, if you are writing a situation where the character is making a huge decision, you might want to hint around what will happen next if she chooses one way or another.

It’s like when you’re watching netflix, or any television show actually, when something huge happens and you think, “Well I need to know what happens next. Maybe just one more episode…” And two hours later you realize that you had eaten a whole bag of chips while watching Pretty Little Liars.

I don’t speak from experience or anything.

For others it’s like reading a really good series and you finish one book that had just been leaving hints about how something might happen, but it doesn’t yet. And you think, “Well, I need to know if this does end up happening. Just one more book…” And a couple hours later you realize that you finished the series and that it’s two in the morning.

Again, this has totally never happened to me.

The point is that hooking your reader isn’t enough. It may get them to pick up your book and read chapter one, but you need to hook them again and again. You need to keep make them wonder what will happen next by telling them what could happen. And you don’t always have to follow through with that original possibility, either. You could just use it to get them to turn the page, and then surprise them with something completely different.

Relate to the Reader

Think about a book you love. One that you really and truly would read again and again because you loved it so much the first time around. Here’s what you may realise: you can put yourself in the character’s shoes. This applies almost all of the time, with the exception of The Great Gatsby, where Fitzgerald wrote it in a way that is a great story, yet you are kind of supposed to hate all of the characters. There is an exception to every rule, and for this one it’s The Great Gatsby.

Anyway, you need to be able to adjust your character to your target audience so that you can help the reader get into the character’s shoes. When they are visualizing the story, you want them to be looking at it from the character’s perspective, not from their own.

And how do you do this? Picture your target audience. Okay, good. Now think about fone detail about them. Let’s say your audience is young children. They don’t have jobs or mortgages or that many responsibilities compared to other audiences. So in your book, you wouldn’t want to put in a bunch of stuff about money and loans from the bank or real estate, would you? That would just push them away, since they aren’t interested in that kind of thing.

See how simple it is? Just add in things to your story that would appeal to your audience, because then they will like your story more. And when they like your story more, they keep reading.

Drama and Twists

The rising actions can go on for quite a while in some cases, so you can’t just keep doing the same things over and over. Small revelations are nice to keep things interesting, but every now and then you need something huge to happen. Like, for example, finding out that someone has terminal cancer. In The Fault in our Stars, by John Green, finding out that Gus is going to die isn’t the climax, but it is something that foreshadows what is going to happen next, and you keep reading. Another example would be finding out that two tributes can win in the 74th annual hunger games, no just one. That was a huge game changer, but it wasn’t the climax.

See what I mean? These are the things that make you go, “Dang. This book is good.”

And then you turn the page.

These are also known as plot twists. When the story is going one way, you can create a plot twist by adding in something that makes it turn around. Right when you thought that there was no hope for the gladers in The Maze Runner, they figure out how to solve the maze.

Overall, the rising actions are what push the story forward and make you keep reading so that you can get to the best part. And now I will make a Hannah Montana reference: “Life’s a climb, but the view is great.” The climb is the rising actions and the view is the climax.

Enough said.

Next I’m going to go into what will help you with your climax, but that deserves a whole chapter within itself, so keep reading next week when I move on to that.

Have fun writing the meat and potatoes of your story, and I hope all of this helped you. Thanks!

-Kelli.

*The link from which the plot diagram photo was found is here: http://www.portnet.k12.ny.us/Page/10210 . I don’t any rights to this photo so I’m giving this website the credit, but you should check out that site for more things like it that can help with writing:)

Part 13: Conflicts

Dear Reader,

This Saturday I think we should go a little further on that plot diagram, don’t you think? Well, after the exposition would come the conflict. If you look at the plot diagram below, you will see a circle with the word “Conflict” Next to it is an arrow linking the conflict to the words, “Protagonist vs. Antagonist”. Underneath there is a blank vs. blank.*

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A conflict, technically is a struggle between two forces. Allow me to explain.

Okay. This is one of the most important parts of your story. I say that about everything I have in this story, but it’s true. The conflict is where you introduce a problem in the story, introduce the thing that the character has to go after, or the thing that makes things change.

This can be confused with action that wouldn’t normally occur in daily life, and that could be true, but not always. Say, for example, the first chapter starts out with a gun-to-your-head scene. Now, for most people, this is something that they don’t exactly see everyday. This could be part of your conflict, but not necessarily. This could be an everyday thing for your character.

The conflict is necessary to drive the story forward. How about a real text example? Yeah? Well, if you insist.

In The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, the conflict is introduced very early. In the beginning of her character, Clary’s, story, someone breaks into her house while she is away and kidnaps her mom. This isn’t something that happens everyday, true, but that’s only a part of the conflict. She goes on to unravel truth after truth, so that the conflict continues to grow bigger. This would be helpful if your story is part of a series, so that the conflict is so big that it can span over several versions of trying to solve it.

If you are writing a single book, though, you might not want your initial conflict to lead to more and more conflicts.

Anyway, here’s the meat and potatoes of conflicts: there are two types of conflicts.

Internal conflicts happen within the character, the things that cannot be seen.  There is really only one kind of internal conflict:

Character vs. Self

This is when your character has a problem inside that other characters can’t truly see. They may see that the character is sad, but they wouldn’t know what is really going on. This could be them trying to make a tough decision, trying to figure out who they really are, or something else that they are struggling with inside.

They are things that would cause things to change because they make the character act a certain way. If your character had just found out that they were adopted, their internal conflict would be trying to figure out if she can still trust whoever didn’t tell her, who she really is, or even trying to figure out what to do next.

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External conflicts happen between things that can be seen. Like your character finding out that they are adopted, for example. This would be external because anyone could see it, and it is a visible cause to change things.

There are some things that you need to know about external conflicts. There are three general kinds that are well known, and each of them are different in how they can drive your story forward:

Character vs. Character

This is when one character in your story struggles against another character, or even groups of characters struggling. When your character found out that they were adopted, there could be arguing between him or her and their adoptive parents. This would be character vs. character because they are visibly struggling against each other.

How can this drive your plot forward? Think about it If your character has an argument, the things that were said could lead them to acting differently, or doing things that they would regret later. This moves them from emotional point A to emotional point B, and the story just keeps on moving.

This is also what the plot diagram means by protagonist vs. antagonist. The protagonist is your main character, and usually the good guy. The antagonist is who they are struggling against, who is usually the bad guy.

Character vs. Nature

This is when your character is pitted against some sort of natural problem, like a snow storm keeping them from leaving their house, or a wild animal attacking in the woods. If you’ve ever seen Jaws, then you know what I’m talking about. Shark attacks are a good example of nature and your character struggling to coexist peacefully.

This can move your story forward because it will force your character into something they wouldn’t usually do. They could lose an arm in a shark attack, or have to take cover during a tornado in a place they wouldn’t usually go. These are things that could push things forward because it is a chain reaction, starting with a tornado and leading to something that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

This is a great way to manipulate your story, too. If you need to get your character somewhere or have them run into someone, but don’t know how, add in some kind of natural problem that would get them where they need to go. It is a lot more interesting than having two people randomly run into each other coincidentally, or making something happen that wouldn’t usually happen just because.

Character vs. Society

This is when your character is running into problems because of where they live, or the beliefs of people around them. I have two great examples for this. In Footloose, one of my all time favorite films, the main character runs into the problem of the laws in Beaumont, a small town where he just moved. These laws restrict playing loud music and public dancing, and the characters all band together to abolish the laws.

The Hunger Games series. Do I even have to explain? I will anyway. The characters in this series stand together against the capitol to change things. This can drive your plot forward because it could be a main conflict that gives your character a goal to work towards, or it could change the way your character acts and what they might do, based on their surroundings.

What to do on the plot diagram

Since there is only one blank on your plot diagram, and I do recommend printing it out and filling it in, then just write your main conflict in the blank. This could be internal or external, but chose the one that drives your plot forward the most, the one that REALLY changes your character’s life.

I keep a notebook were I plan out my books. What I did, and maybe this only works for me but I would recommend it too, is make a list. For each story I’m writing, I have pages and pages of conflicts. If you look closely enough at any story, there are conflicts between side characters, little things that aren’t important but still have to be there, or even in the main character that you don’t notice. There are also other kinds of conflicts, tons, but I’m only providing you with the basics right now. Character vs. machine, for example is a common one too, but I couldn’t possibly name them all.

I write down a phrase that makes me remember what I’m talking about, and then I label the conflict. For example, I might write “She never knew about him.” That would only make sense to me, but it would help me remember what part of the story I’m talking about. Then I would fill in a blank vs. blank beside it. Finally, I would write a brief description of the conflict and what or who is involved in it.

This is very helpful for planning out stories so you don’t forget anything, and I literally have pages and pages and pages for even just one short story.

I hope this helped and that this is something that will make your story better. Thank you for all of the support!

-Kelli.

*The link from which the plot diagram photo was found is here: http://www.portnet.k12.ny.us/Page/10210 . I don’t any rights to this photo so I’m giving this website the credit, but you should check out that site for more things like it that can help with writing:)

Part 12: Exposition

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Dear Reader,

So, this chapter may be long, but it’s important.

Having a good weekend so far? Well it’s about to get even better because we are going to talk about your exposition. This is the first box on the picture attached, and is the beginning to any plot diagram.*

The exposition is Where you introduce the story. You give some background, introduce the character, what they are doing, where they are, when your story starts, and even foreshadow a bit.

Giving Background

Don’t take this to mean that you need to tell the horrors of your main character’s childhood, what age they were potty trained, and what high school they went to in the first chapter. Honestly, a reader doesn’t really ever need to know that unless it has something to do with your story. Extra information is good, of course, to build the character, but it always has a point. It can come up to show how they are different, or how things have changed, or to show the reader something about them.

Now, background can be more than just your characters. It could come with the setting, or the time period, like historical events, or even with characters in the story who are never actually seen, like an old family feud that started generations ago. If your story is in a small town that existed in the civil war, maybe you should mention that some of the families now had descended from the people who were famous in that time.

One thing about background information that makes it so important is that it can tell a story of its own. You can have an entire story within itself that could hook the reader, and tell it through flashbacks or interesting discoveries. But don’t give it away all at once. It would be like saying the punchline before telling the joke.

Introducing the Characters

This is one of those things that are obvious, but still need to be said. Again, don’t give it all away at once, but don’t wait until the end of the book to explain how your main character knows someone. Imagine getting to the end of the story and one of the characters calling the other “Mom”, and freaking out because you thought that they were just friends.

Unless, of course, this is like a discovery or something that the character makes along the way. But if the character knew the entire time, the reader should have too, assuming that it isn’t a plot twist or anything like that.

Plot twists are just breaking all of the rules at once, including things like how to introduce your characters, but we’ll get to that in another chapter.

But really, all you need to do to introduce your characters is say their name, or what the reader will know them as anyway, and give them a visual representation of them. Remember that golden rule? No not the “Do onto others… Blah Blah Blah.” Though that one is important too, of course, I mean the writing golden rule. SHOW, DON’T TELL.

Don’t give a description of your characters in extreme detail on the first page if it isn’t necessary. In fact, don’t describe them. Don’t write, “Clary had bright red hair and was short for her age. She wore green sketchers and…”

Instead, show the reader. Write “Clary pushed her red curls from her eyes as she spoke…”

And yes, for all of you Cassandra Clare fans out there, I am using Clary from the Mortal Instruments series as an example of a unique character. The point os, though, that giving one detail at a time over the whole book will eventually build up a great description of them, but if you unload a ton of description of them on the reader in the first chapter, odds are they will forget it by the end of the book.

And another thing too. You don’t need to describe every character that is involved in the story in chapter one. You don’t even need to mention all of them. Just start small with the characters that are involved with chapter one and build up. That’s what a story is: starting small and building into something that just keeps drawing in the reader, making them want to read more.

How to show what your characters are doing

This one is easy. Let’s say that your story starts out with your character at their summer job at a chick-fil-a. Show the reader that by having them say to the next customer, “It’s a great day at chick-fil-a, how may I help you?”

For anyone working at chick-fil-a, I am so sorry for the butchering of your words, but I think that’s what you say, right?

Anyway, the point is to show it through dialogue, and this works for almost everything else too. Have the character say something that leads to only one obvious conclusion, the conclusion you want your reader to make. If you heard someone saying this, you would think that the most likely place that they would be at is chick-fil-a.

There are other places you could say something like this, I guess, which is why you might want to use your character’s actions to support it. Maybe they continue taking their order. Maybe they pass on the order to the chef, or whatever happens after the customer tells what they want. I honesty don’t know what magic happens behind that counter to get me my food, but whatever it is, you could use it to emphasize your point: they are at chick-fil-a.

Where they are

Pretty much everything for what they are doing applies to where they are. Show it through their actions, their dialogue, or even describe the place. Sometimes, of course, you do need to tell the reader some things. Even though the golden writing rule says otherwise, it needs to be done sometimes. The writer is the one doing all of the hard work, not the reader. They don’t want to have to work for the details of things that aren’t actually important to the story. So just give it to them.

Think about it. Most of the time your characters will be doing things that most people do regularly. So many people drink coffee that reading a book describing the taste of the coffee becomes boring and the reader has to get through it to get to the next part of the story. Don’t go on and on about the flavor of the coffee and how the sugar tasted and how refreshing it was that morning. Just say that the character sipped his or her coffee, thankful for the refreshment. There, one sentence. Your reader can relate, but doesn’t have to sit through all of the description that they are already familiar with.

Same goes for where they are. Don’t go on and on about what everything looks like unless your target reader probably hasn’t been there, or if it is something that not everyone goes to regularly. For example, don’t describe the entire layout of a zoo.

At some point in their life, the majority of your readers have been in a zoo, but could care less about the layout. Instead, describe why this zoo is different, or the actual habitat that they are looking into, or something different than what everyone else sees.

When the story starts

This kind of goes along with everything else. Basically, the scene and how everyone acts and EVERYTHING about your story is going to be different depending on when the story takes place. It is just like how the story would change completely if you put it in a different setting.

If the story takes place in the 1800’s, then do some research. What did people act like back then? What did they wear? What would be their concerns? Was there any important historical event to mention? Add this all to your story and anything else you find in your research.

If it takes place in present day, great. From the fact that you are living and writing in the time period of your story, you have some experience and first hand knowledge to go off of when writing.

But what if it takes place in the future? At that point, it is up to you. You decide what happens to humanity next, and you get to make up everything.

Foreshadowing

This one is very important. Remember when you read about backstories? How you can’t give away what happened before all at once? Same goes for what is to happen next.

You don’t want to say at the beginning of your first chapter that your character is going to get into a car accident. Unless there’s is a little flashback or it’s a really early on plot twist kind of thing. Instead, let it be a surprise to the reader. The key to getting a reader to keep reading is to continue to surprise them. It’s like opening birthday presents as a kid. You open one and you love or hate it, and then no matter what it is, you still would rather open up the next present than play with it. The idea for something unknown coming next is the reason that you keep opening presents.

For adults, I think this would be lottery tickets.

But who knows, I’m just a writer.

The point is that you don’t want to tell that little kid what their present is. Let them open it. But then where does the foreshadowing come in? That would be when you give the little birthday boy or girl a hint as to what is in the present.

Don’t say that their car is going to crash as soon as your reader starts reading. Show them how distracted they are, or how the road is iced over and they really shouldn’t be on the road or even how old the car is and how they hadn’t brought it into the shop in years.

And then the possibility opens up, but nobody knows for sure what is going to happen, but when the car crashes, they are surprised. If you don’t foreshadow, it may not feel real enough to the reader, and they may not really understand what happened.

But this way, they open their present, yet all they can think about is what happens next, and what lies in the next gift.

Overall

I hope all of this helps you to set up your story, and sorry if it is a little repetitive of previous chapters. This is just really important to your story.

Another thing I forgot to mention was pacing. acing is how fast or slow you tell the story. If you pick up a book written a hundred years ago versus today, you will notice that the exposition is set up much slower. Today, there are so many distractions, especially with technology, that can draw your reader away from your book. So you need to set up the story fairly fast, but don’t rush it or anything, to keep them from wandering away to another book or, god forbid, to a television. In other words, there are too many fisherman and not enough fish. Unless you hook your reader in really quick, they may swim away to another fisherman’s bait.

Next week’s chapter will be about introducing your conflict, and maybe even talking about rising actions. Thank you for reading, and for anyone who is interested, Holding My Breath is now back up on wattpad and is being updated regularly. I might end up putting it on the A Writer’s Dilemma website soon, but I’m not sure when.

Thanks, and write to you next Saturday!

-Kelli.

*The link from which the plot diagram photo was found is here: http://www.portnet.k12.ny.us/Page/10210 . I don’t any rights to this photo so I’m giving this website the credit, but you should check out that site for more things like it that can help with writing:)