Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to Make Things Worse

Sorry about forgetting you guys! No backstory today. Maybe I'll explain later, but not now. I’m also sorry for the lack of post on organization. I was half asleep last night when I promised to write one, but I will later. Anyway, let's get on with the post.


How to Make Things Worse

Sometimes I'm convinced that people only read or write books to learn about a life more messed up then their own.

Well that sounded really depressing, but it stands to reason that no one wants to read something identical to their own life. In other words, the worse you can make it for you characters, the more you go to the extremes, the more interesting your work will be. Torture your characters a little bit. Well that was more intense than I intended. It got your attention though, right?


Okay. This isn’t making any sense.


Think of it this way.


Which would you rather read?


Story A: A girl whose brother misses going to states for tennis by one match.

Or we can make it worse.

Maybe the brother is a senior and it’s his very last chance to go the states

Maybe the brother needs this to get into college

Maybe the brother is recovering from an injury

Maybe the brother lost to a boy he’s been beating all year

Maybe the brother lost by one point

Maybe the girl is really close with her brother

Maybe the brother lost to the girl’s boyfriend

Maybe the girl’s boyfriend already had a hard enough time impressing her family and now her brother hates him


Well the world just took on a whole new kind of suckishness (I hereby declare that a word) for the girl. Whose side does she take? What will she do?


The more ways you can make something difficult the more opportunities you have for interesting story lines. It also helps to connect all drama. Now, instead of having two separate story lines the boyfriend and the brother, they both connect.


Doesn’t that just suck? How can you make things worse in your story?




Saturday, October 20, 2012


More to come later... it's been a hetic few months. Look for a post on time management (ironically enough) later in this week!

Missed ya!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Second Step: CONFLICT

Hi Everyone!

So today you're in for a treat, Gillian Adams is doing a blog post. She was kind enough to cover the major topic of conflict, so this post is going to be a bit longer than usual. That's enough from me, I'm going to turn it over to Gillian!

Conflict in the Story World
By Gillian Adams
When you hear the word conflict, what do you think of?  An argument?  Smoldering glares and hazy silence?  A high action chase involving villains, crocodiles, and cliffs?
In the story world, conflict means far more than that.  Simply put, conflict is anything that interferes with your character achieving his/her goal.
Now, wait a minute, you say.  What’s this about goals?  Isn’t that an entirely different subject?  I thought we were talking about conflict.
In order to fully understand conflict, you have to understand goals.  We’re going back to the basics here, but in order to have a novel that works, your main character needs a goal.  This goal should drive your character’s every deed and decision.  Having a goal enables your character to progress from a passive victim of circumstance to an active participant in the plot.
There are two main types of goals and they often work hand in hand – external goals and internal goals.  (This subject deserves its own blog post, so I’ll try to keep it brief.)  An external goal is something physical, easily measurable.  Your hero/heroine accomplishes it and everyone sees that it’s done.  Examples – Mary wants to win the marathon, John wants to slay his enemy, Sally wants to open a coffee shop.
The internal goal is invisible to others but it is often tied with the external goal.  Example – Mary is tired of being “no one,” she wants to be accepted, John wants to be free of the guilt of his parents’ deaths, Sally wants to prove her independence.
You get the picture?  Enough about goals, back to conflict.
Conflict is Two Pronged
As I said before, the simple definition of conflict is anything that interferes with the character achieving his/her goals.  If there is no conflict, then there is no story, because the main character can achieve his/her goals instantly.
Like goals, conflict is two pronged and can be both external and internal.
External conflict arises when any exterior force interferes with the character’s goals.  This can be any animate or inanimate object, an intentional or unintentional interference, the product of nature or connivance. 
It can be anything from a forbidding mountain pass that your character has to cross, to a hurricane that threatens to wreck the ship, to that deadly arch villain.
Pretty simply, right?  You probably naturally include this in your story, because without it, you wouldn’t have a story!  J
Internal conflict arises when the character is confronted with two competing and equally powerful choices. For example, in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, when Inspector Javert is faced with the mercy and nobility of Jean Valjean (an ex-convict), he is forced to decide between rigid adherence to duty (his own internal goal) and showing mercy in return.  Javert chooses mercy and, in so doing, destroys everything he has ever lived for.  He winds up shooting himself.  The internal conflict proved too much for a man who would have withstood any external conflict you threw his way.
Both external and internal conflict are necessary in a good story.  But internal conflict is far more powerful that external conflict.  While external conflict allows the readers to sympathize with the main character’s difficulties and feel his/her pain, internal conflict lays bare the character’s very soul.  It brings the story to a whole new level, thereby allowing readers to connect with the characters in a deeper way.
Internal conflict can be purely internal.  Consider the example of Javert that I mentioned above. Conflict caused wholly by self, where the only obstacles to the character’s internal goal are the ones he/she raises.  For example, this is useful if you have a character who is trying to make a new start after a bad past.  He’s stuck in a rut of his own making, trying to reach that internal goal, but every time, his own habits/desires/memories arise to prevent him.
  Or, internal conflict can be tied with external conflict.
Internal conflict can be the work of an enemy.  In Spider Man 1, the Green Goblin offers Spider Man a “sadistic choice” between saving the girl he loves and abandoning a bus load of children to die, OR, rescuing the children and watching MJ fall to her death.  “Now choose.”
Internal conflict can also be caused by a friend.  In my current WIP Song of Leira, Birdie meets external conflict in the form of her enemy Carhartan, but the internal conflict is provided by her best friend and protector/guardian Amos.  Amos wants Birdie to forget about the mysterious Song she hears and refuses to allow her to speak to the one person who could explain it.  Birdie is caught between wanting to honor her old friend for everything he has done for her and her desire to follow the call of the Song.  Internal conflict.
Conflict caused by a close friend is much more personal and devastating for the character, and thereby evokes a more emotional response in the readers.
How to add conflict to the story:
Alright, you say.  We’ve got all that.  Now what?  I’m glad you asked.  Here are some steps for you. 
1)      The first thing to do is figure out what your character’s goals are – both external and internal.  The concept of internal goals really confused me when I first sat down and thought about it.  I brainstormed for hours and tried to introduce more concrete goals into my book but they really just didn’t fit into the story.  Then I realized that my main character already had an internal goal, I just hadn’t developed it enough.  Sometimes, your character’s goals can be right beneath your nose!  It just takes a little “thinking outside the box.”

2)      After you’ve pinpointed those goals, a great question to ask yourself is “but what?”  Example: Mary wants to win that marathon, but… what?  Mary wants to feel accepted, but… what?  

This is where you get to brainstorm for the unique conflict you want to include in the book!  You ready?  Go, have fun.  Dream up every little obstacle you can to keep your characters from achieving their goals…

3)      But, wait, there’s one last thing.  You also have to figure out a logical way to resolve the conflict.  Conflict doesn’t just disappear on its own.  In a cause and effect world, there will always be effects.  Be sure to consider that in your planning.
Do you have any thoughts about conflict in the story world?  What are some ways you have used internal and external conflict in your own writing?  Feel free to share in the comments.

 Gillian is the author of Out of Darkness Rising, a fantasy novella that will be released by Flaming Pen Press this summer.  For more information, be sure to visit Gillian’s blog or her website

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More Changes

Notice: ALL THINGS SAYING 'the months' will be changed to say 'the steps'. Things will be sorted into steps from now on.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Second Month: Staying on Track

Wow. Has it been a full week already? Guess it's time for another post, I'll be it extra long to make up for my lack of posting. Let's start off today's post with an analogy (in honor of my track meet Thursday).

Long distance running is a lot like track.

Say you are completely sadistic and insane and weird like me and love to run long distance. While I love long distance it's not very easy to deal with sometimes. While the typical long distance event is from 4-8 laps on a standard track, sometimes it's hard to run that distance, so you cheat on your training. Run a few sprints then call it a day. And while you're making some progress in track, it's not the kind you want to be making.

Writing is the same way. The typical YA novel is 40,000-80,000 words.** And sometimes it's hard to write; so for whatever the reason, we, as writers, cheat on that too. Maybe we post our opening pages in hope of critiques, or we just quit altogether... Whatever the reason you decide 1,000 words into your novel that you should stop and re-write. Again. And again. And again. While you're learning how to write the first 1,000 words well, you aren't learning how to write a novel well.

I would know that.

I spent three, count 'em, three hours re-organizing my novel. Why? Because I had exactly forty-nine openings for the exact same novel. I have no clue how it got that way, but it did. I wouldn't have even noticed it if I wasn't reorganizing all the files on my laptop!

I realized that my story was so scattered that if unless I started over it wouldn't make any sense. At the same time, I realized that that if I started over, I'd probably quit for some reason or another and that file would be shoved along with the others. With an extremely vague name like "Intro-4". So I needed to change.

I wrote down a non-vague title that would remind me of each fragment of my story on a notecard with the title, file name, date, and number of pages.

After that I sorted them into piles. "USE!", "Useful", "Salvageable", "Useful for other stories", and "Useless".

Then I used the usefully ones to help write an outline for the start of my novel. 

The process took a while but at least this way I'll finish. If you find yourself in the same situation and don't want to waste paper I would recommend using the notecard function on Noodle Tools. (It's pretty cool for school projects too).

But that's not what today's post is on. Today's post is about how to prevent yourself from getting to this point. It's fairly easy, if you follow a few simple but vital rules.

1) Have a plan.
Or some idea of where you want to go with your story. This will also save a whole lot of rewriting later.

2) Just keep writing.

Don't stop for critiques or to edit what you've already written. This is the fastest way to convince yourself that the book sucks and you need to re-write it.

3) Write for yourself.

Don't let anyone else read what you've written. Don't obsess over what you think others will think, either. As my drama teacher would say, "get rid of your cool brain". Don't be afraid of acting like a dork or writing something badly, because SURPRISE most of your first draft will be dorky and bad.

That's it!


** I have no factual proof of this, but the minimum a story must be to be considered a novel is 40,000 words and publishers like their books to be between 75,000-85,000 words

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Second Month: Getting Started

So you have an idea. It's been in the back of your brain forever! You've planned out all the characters, the plot, the conflict until it's practically real (more on this later). You're ready; you're ready to start writing your novel. So open up a blank word doc and prepare the world for your genius. This is a monumental occasion for readers everywhere. 

Then... nothing. Zip. Nada. You have no ideas whatsoever. Nothing comes out. It sucks right?

Or, even worse, it ends up like this:
Awful, right? I won't tell you where I found it, but needless to say, it needs some work. The answer to the question is no, it turns the readers off.

And more importantly, it turns agents and publishers off. If the first page of your novel is bad, they're no going to read the rest, even IF the rest is better than Suzanne Collins and JK Rowling combined. This makes the first page of your novel the MOST IMPORTANT page. So it has to be the best.

We'll discuss using the bad example above (okay, I'll tell you where I got it; I made it up for this. But I ALMOST used a passage like this a couple of years ago.)

Rule number one: It has to be exciting

Most newbie writers love to write long descriptions without any action. Instead of writing about a spy getting assigned to something, then going to lunch, then figuring out there's a bomb, then going to save people from the bomb, drop us right in the middle of the spy defusing the bomb. It's high-stress, intense and page turning.

Make us want to keep reading, there's a time and place for semi-long descriptions, but it's not now.

Okay, so maybe not all of us have action packed, spy movies. But we can still stuff interesting, which brings us to rule number two.

Rule number two: Include a conflict

There has to be a problem, or something that makes a situation difficult. Maybe your character isn't a bomb defusing spy, but s/he still can be in a high stress situation. Maybe s/he is going to move. Maybe s/he doesn't want to move.

It doesn't have to be the main conflict in the end. It doesn't even have to effect the rest of the story. As long as you have a conflict it works.

Rule number three: Use your best grammar and spelling

This is an obvious.

And the last rule, Rule number four: Use the same voice for the first part as you will in the rest of the novel.

This one is just a must. You can't switch voices back and forth unless you're switching characters. Period. And you can't switch narrators unless you start a new chapter. This keeps it from being confusing.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Effective 4/6/2012 Every Manuscript will be located at a new link.

If you come to this link, it will not work.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The First Month: Finding Time for All Those Ideas

Ideas, unfortunately, don't respect your schedule. They can hit you while you're taking a shower, at two am, during your German Exam, or thirty three thousand words into your current WIP. So what do you do?

Organization (or the lack of) of ideas affects tons of other aspects of writing such as:

1) Writer's block
2) Inspiration
3) Keeping on track
4) Starting and FINISHING a novel.

So how do you do it?

Well, most idea's aren't going to come when you want them to. Most likely, you'll have tons of ideas when you're busy and none when you're not.

So save ideas.

That way your genius won't be lost and you'll have something to write about when you have no ideas.

There's a number of ways to save ideas, but it doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you remember your ideas you're A O K. I recommend keeping them all in one place (a computer file or binder is helpful).

Here's my method:

If I get an idea, I usually come up with a title that will remind me of that idea. This goes into a file on my laptop. Later, when I have more time, I'll write up a summary and come up with the MC's name. (This I write in pink pen in my blue mini notebook). I have this binder everywhere I go. Either in the school bag I carry all day, my purse, or my nightstand. If you do keep a notebook full of ideas, I recommend you to mini size it. (Believe me it's worth it).

This way, I never forget my ideas, but at the same time I never am out of ideas.

It's an easy fix that can make a big difference.

Friday, March 30, 2012


I'm super excited to say that Eenie Meenie Teenie Writers is going through MAJOR changes.

First off, the name.

Every Manuscript. Catchy right? It's a lot easier to remember and a lot easier to type.

Which brings us to change number two,

After April 6th, the new link for Every Manuscript will be: !

Change Three:

Every Manuscript is going gender neutral! (So guys, don't shy away)

Change Four:

I will be looking for a co-blogger or multiple co-bloggers to join me. (if you're interested shoot me an email at

Change Five:

Contest, Critiques and interviews (more on this later)

Hope you're as excited as I am!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Helpful links for April

Hi guys!

This will be the second to last post for March. We're almost done with inspiration and reading like a writer. But before we continue with Reading and Inspiration, I'd like to give a shout-out to the YA Scavenger Hunt. You know how you're supposed to read a lot if you're a writer? Here's a perfect chance to do just that. You can win up to sixty signed YA books by April 1st. Yes, sixty. That's like seven-hundred-dollars worth of good reads. All you have to do is complete the scavenger hunt and decode the anagram, it's super easy and I finished in twenty minutes.... After all, who doesn't love free books? You can also check out bonus content from some of your favorite books, like deleted scenes, first drafts, previews, book trailers. But you only have seventy-two hours to enter! Better start searching!

I have even more April-Related news!

April 1st isn't just April's Fools or the end of the Spring YA Scavenger Hunt, it marks the start of Script Frenzy, NaNoWriMo's sister contest. Your goal? Write one script in one month. Though Script Frenzy is meant for play-writers, as a novelist (that IS a real word)  it's equally useful to teen writers. I like to use it as a way to test out new ideas without getting bogged down in setting descriptions. It's all pure dialog. If you want to join me, click on the link below!

If you want to keep track of your WIP's word count for your website or blog this website is handy to html code your progress in a neat little app. You even get to choose the colors!

That's it!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

The First Month: The Difference Between Do-Able Dreams and Silly Slumbers

Hi, sorry I haven't been posting in a while. I have little to none WiFi access over my spring break. (Let's see if I can get this post done before the WiFi shuts down completely).

Reminds me of a band I was in for camp two summers ago, The WiFi is Down

(My guitar is like the one to the left. My beautiful PBTeen Cocoa Striped baby.)

Anyway, away from my past rocker life (I must admit, though, it's pretty cool, I even got a gig at a famous bar/restaurant in town).


Anyway, let's discus the difference between a Do-Able Dream and a Silly Slumber.

Dreams are some of the most fascinating things we humans (though I've also seen my puppy run and bark in her sleep) do. They are also some of the most mysterious things. Scientists still don't know much about them, but one thing is clear. Dreams, are some of the best sources for ideas we have. 

So have you ever had a dream, so awesome you can't ignore? It's calling you to write and turn into the next bestselling multi-million dollar teen novel? 

If you have, you're like hundreds of other people out there. Which include Stephanie Meyer. So it is possible to turn a dream into a bestseller, but at the same time it can turn your plot into a not-so-sweet nightmare. 

So how can you tell if your dream is a soon-to-be bestseller or a waste of your time? Here are the few key signs of both.

How long it is?

Do-Able Dreams will often be just a glimpse of an idea, lasting a few minutes before your attention turns to a dancing raisin on a kayak your long-lost cousin rented just for St. Patrick's day. Stephanie Meyer's glimpse was of a beautiful child, sparkling in a green meadow. 

While Silly Slumbers will be either way too long or way too short. If you find yourself typing up all the ideas from your dream and none of your rational ideas while your awake, that's a sign of a bad dream. At the same time, if your only taking the fact that your character was wearing a purple shirt into your story, well, it's good you found some inspiration, but if you accidentally incorporate the rest of the dream into your story it might end up like a mess. 

Does it make sense? 

This one is an obvious. If you have dancing raisins on kayaks that your long-lost cousin rented just for St. Patrick's day, it's not going to work.

Is it true to what you write?

This touches base on the find your genre thing we were discussing before. If it's not a genre in or around your comfort zone, I'd hold off until you have more experience. 

That's all for today! 


Saturday, March 17, 2012

The First Month: Reading Like a Writer

As I mentioned in the post about the first step to writing a novel, reading is a major part of writing. But just like reading an assigned book for school as a student is different from reading for fun, reading like a writer is also different from reading for fun. 


Well, for one thing, you're trying to learn from the author, not from the book. This means that you're mainly focused on paying attention to a writer's style or way of saying things, not what is actually happening in the book.  If you're the type of person who really enjoys reading and thinks that ignoring the plot is a shame and waste of a good book, then either do one of two things. 1) read a book twice, once for fun and the other time to learn or 2) if you're an extreme multitasker like me then do both at the same time. 

So what's the point?

Well, this is one way to hone your skills. Like I mentioned before, you have to watch a person do a layup before you can do one yourself... BUT there's a big difference between watching a person do a layup in a pro-game for fun and watching a coach do a layup because you're tying out for the basketball team. Chances are, you're going to pay more attention if you're learning how to do a layup. Just writing without reading is a lot like teaching yourself how to do a layup, you might do okay, but it's not going to be perfect unless you watch someone do it. 

Okay then... How do you read like a writer?

There's a number of ways. Here are some of the things I notice or do when I'm reading like a writer instead of a regular person.

1) Highlight a lot. 
I highlight or copy down the first paragraph of every book I read and pay careful attention to it. I also highlight things that make me laugh out loud, good or poetic writing, cool similes, interesting phrases, and words I don't know. No clue why this improves your writing, it just does.

2) Pay extra attention to dialog and dialog punctuation. 
Notice how fast the author goes. Do they use a action beat every time someone speaks? When do you use a comma and when do you use a period? Do you really have to say he said or she said? What happens when a character says a speech or something with more than one paragraph? How do you format that?

3) Notice things. 
This is the hardest thing for me as a writer. In good books, an author will plan ahead. They will discretely mention a character leaving her knife in her bag, then her enemy will attack and she won't be able to defend herself because her knife is in her bag. Mediocre authors will add this fact when the enemy attacks. It keeps the parts with action fast paced.

Good author:

I wiped the orange pulp from the knife and placed it into my bag; we were safe, I wouldn't need it tonight. 

blah blah blah blah blah blah. (two paragraphs later).

I swung around and automatically reached for the knife on my hip. My stomach sunk as I realized it wasn't there. The bad guy (sorry for lack of a name) gave a wicked smile before planting a round house kick in the soft spot between my ribs. I fell to the ground, blind with white-hot pain.
"Not so tough now, are you?" He grinned, standing over me. His chuckling face was the last thing I saw before blacking out. What I didn't know was I would never open my eyes again.

Bad author:

I swung around and automatically reached for the knife on my hip. My stomach sunk as I realized it wasn't there. This was because I didn't think I needed it because thought we were safe. I put it away after cutting up oranges for the fruit salad even though I'm a really bad cook because Peter asked me to. The bad guy (sorry for lack of a name) gave a wicked smile before planting a round house kick in the soft spot between my ribs. I fell to the ground, blind with white-hot pain.
"Not so tough now, are you?" He grinned, standing over me. His chuckling face was the last thing I saw before blacking out. What I didn't know was I would never open my eyes again.

Do you see how the second one has an awkward pause in the action. It doesn't really matter that moment and interrupts from what's really important. It is possibly the most irritating thing as an author and a writer. I want to know what happens at that moment, not why she was chopping up oranges. If you get used to noticing it in writing, you'll get used to doing it in YOUR writing.

4) Pay attention to characters, what authors describe and what they imply.
This is a lot like the the other one, if you look for this more often you'll get used to doing it.

A good  author will work in a character's personality through one of seven ways:

1) Their actions
2) What they say
3) What other people say about them
4) What they think
5) What other people thing about them
6) How other people treat them

and the worst: 

7) What an author tells about them.

This goes into showing vs telling (which we'll talk about later).

A good author will do this: 

"I-I just don't know, Peter. Maybe I wanted to become friends with you because of your mom, but I didn't fall in love with you because of her," Amy cried.
Peter thought for a second. His expression didn't change. "I don't know what to believe anymore. Congrats on being published, I hope your book was worth it," he said coldly. 
Tammie stepped between them, pushing the two apart. "I think that it doesn't matter and you should believe her, Peter. You love each other and she's your girlfriend. It doesn't matter why she loves you."
"This is none of your business," Amy and Peter shouted in unison.

(let's assume that previously the author mentioned that Tammie wasn't Amy's friend and was annoying.)

A bad author will do this:

Peter and Amy didn't like Tammie because she was always in other people's business. She butted in on their break up and said they should stay together.

See, the first one is much better.The more you pay attention to good writing like that, the more likely you will be a good writer. 

Okay, so I think that's it.

Reading like a writer in a nutshell means being more attentive.


Monday, March 12, 2012

The First Month: Finding What You Write Best

As promised, we're going into the first step more. Under this topic we'll include Reading, Inspiration, and Ways You Can Set Yourself Up For Success Before Writing. 

So today let's talk about Finding What You Write Best.

Let's face it, no one is perfect. No one is good at everything.... The list of sayings go on forever. But there's a perfect fit for you out there.

If you're meant to write young adult chick lit, and try to write a adult gore fantasy novel, you're setting yourself up for failure. You can be the best writer in the world, but it just won't work.

Let's look at it this way:

Taylor Swift is a great singer (in my opinion), iconic for her auto-tune free voice and country charm. She's one of the most down to earth stars and a good rule model.
But let's face it. As good as a singer she is, Taylor Swift wouldn't be the same or as good as she currently is if she wore all black, died her hair green, and crooned out songs with more screaming than singing while sporting multiple lip rings. 

It's the same in writing, as much as some people love Harry Potter, there is much debate as to if JK Rowling can write a good adult novel.While that isn't too far off, somethings are. There is one or two genres (or types of books) that you will truly shine in, with an assortment of other genres you might do okay in.

While the easiest way to tell what genre you should write is by what books you enjoy the best, you can try this quiz and see.

Quizzes by | SnapApp Quiz Apps

Once you pick your genres, I'd recommend learning as much as you can about them. What kinds of people write this genre? Where can I learn more about it? What research will I need? It varies from genre to genre. (If I can, I'm going to get a guest blogger for each genre). Try practicing writing this genre. Who reads this kind of genre. Google it. Wikipedia search. Learn as much as you can, because this might be the key to getting you published. 


(My genre is Realistic Fiction) 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

FAQ Month: How To Get Published Step Four

Last day of being busy! Now I have a week of relaxation... Well school... Before spring break!

Although I'm a bit sad that the play's over, we had a pretty cool after party (which consisted of lots of photos and a failed attempt at flash mobbing FroYo with songs we learned in vocal from Grease).

(picture of me after the show).

So anyway, glad I'm not busy anymore, now I'll try posting every day. Today's a quick post because I have to go to a tea party (really long story), but here it is:

The last step to getting published... Publishing!

This is the question most asked on Yahoo Answers. I'm fifteen, just wrote a book, how do I send it to publishers?

Well, you can't send your book directly to a publisher (as I just found out only a year ago),
You have to go through a process which involves a literary agent.

For most teens it's the best idea to write a query letter, no travel needed.

A query letter is a letter asking a literary agent if s/he would like to read your book. If they do they'll ask for a full copy. If they accept your manuscript, they'll sell it to a publisher and viola! You're a published author. Agents get paid based on what you make from your book (so lets be completely hypothetical here) and say your book only made one dollar :( literary agents get a percent of your dollar, so if they have a 1% rate (which most don't), they only make one cent for all their effort, you get ninety-nine.

This mean literary agents will only accept the books they think that will make a ton of money. To convince them that your book will make a ton of money.

So the last step is to find a literary agent.

Whoa, I can't believe that I've covered all the steps.

So over the next four months I'll cover each step in a LOT more detail. One step per month.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

FAQ Month: How to Get Published Step Three

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. Life got pretty busy for a while.

Exams. Play practices. Field Trips. Performances. Homework.

No time to write (unless you count the two hundred words I squeezed in during Espanol). No time to blog.

You know, the typical occupational hazards of a full time student, writer, runner, and teenager. It's a miracle that 1) I can see the floor of my room and 2) my friends are understanding about my entire no-time-for-a-social-life thing. (okay, I sort of have a social life, but just barley).

I'm happy to announce that my last performance in And A Child Shall Lead is tonight, so I'll get back to blogging, and writing, and sleeping more than four hours.

So I've got around twenty minutes to throw together this last post before tutoring (oh, did I forget to mention the SAT prep, even though I don't take it for another three years).

So we've read, and written. That means it's time to edit.

You've spent anywhere from a month to a year on your manuscript. Your fingers are now so muscular that they're unproportional (yes, I'm pretty sure I made that word up because spell check says it doesn't exist), to the rest of your body. Let's not even get started on the state of your mind. Chances are it's not good. It's so frazzled that you can only communicate with the smallest of words. Like mamma, pappa, grande vanilla bean frapachino (the kind without coffee), and book. Not even novel, just book.

That's what you need. That's what you want! YOU JUST WROTE AN ENTIRE BOOK AND GOSH DARN IT! YOU'RE GOING TO READ IT. It's the only thing you can do. So you ask mamma for a grande vanilla bean frapachino and settle yourself in your favorite chair (the one with the purple fuzzy pillows). And you read.

And you think you're the best thing since Harper Lee.

You're so great, everyone needs to see your genius, and hey, if you have a few typos or grammatical errors, that's okay, you're only fourteen after all.

So you put your work out there. On figment. On Yahoo Answers. To a critique partner. To your parents.

And this is the feedback you get.

From figment:
Some people will drool over it, others will say it's okay.

On Yahoo Answers:
Chances are they'll go easy on you, point out a few grammatical errors and say you have potential. Try publishing when you get a little older.

From a critique partner:
They'll say it's good and complement you on something.

Your parents:
Might break down in tears because their little baby has written a novel (and that tops any A+ first grade science project from your past).

And if someone doesn't like it or says it stinks, that's fine, because they're old, and ugly, and can't write better than you. They're just jealous.

So, like many other newbie writers, I ignored the people who made the slightest indication that they thought it was bad. I shunned helpful feedback. I became extremely defensive whenever anyone said anything.

I wasn't looking for a critique, I was looking for someone to tell how wonderful I was, how great it is, how it should be published right away, and possibly that they sent it to their uncle who is the top dog at a publishing company and you're being published.

It doesn't work that way. After I completed my first novel (November of 2010), I ignored all the feedback. I told myself I was as good as any published author. I let people tell me how good I was, when I should have been listening to the people who were doing this:

(Yeah, it's pretty bad. I still can't believe I thought it was publish worthy... I've written better things in the fifth grade, and I have proof of that). 

It's taken me a long time to realize this, but the only way to get good at writing is to put yourself out there. YOU WANT TO BE HURT. You need someone to knock you back down. Someone who's not afraid to tell you your writing is crap and you're never going to be published.

Here's the shocker. You need to believe them. If someone says your writing is that bad, there is something wrong with whatever you wrote. It doesn't mean you're a bad writer, it just means that the passage you gave to your critique was horrible, and you need to fix it. 

That's where the beauty of the editing process comes in. 

Everyone writes awful first drafts, but what separates the published authors from the hopeless wanna-bes is how you receive feedback and what you do with it. 

So put yourself out there. Get hurt. Then put your manuscript away for a while, a week, a month, a year. Then come back when you aren't so defensive and re-read your critiques. You'll understand that 99% of them are completely right. Then get editing. 

Start with the big stuff, like: 

The plot, the conflict and all the other things. Should this chapter go here, do I need this chapter, etc.

Then get a bit smaller:

Do I need this paragraph?

And smaller:

Is this sentence okay.

Until you're onto the tinsy winsy details: 

Do I need this word? Could I use another? Oh, should that be a period or a comma. 

Once you're done, re-read it for any mistakes and put yourself out there again.

After repeating this process until you get mostly (note mostly, because there will always be people who dislike your writing no matter what you do) positive reviews, then start trying to publish it. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FAQ Month: How to Get Published Step Two

Feb. 29th

Happy leap year everyone!

As promised, I have some examples from Monday’s ‘homework’.

Example one: By Sophie (15) in Minnesota, based on her experiences at work. (Based on a scene from What Happened To Goodbye).

… The customers are sometimes angry. The blenders hurts my ears. The tips are lousy. The hours are weird. At the end of the day my feet ache and I smell like raspberry syrup and chicken. I don’t know why I stay. But at the end of the day, I got money...

Example two: By Cora (12) Oklahoma, based on the road trip she takes to commute to school every morning. (Based on a road trip scene from The Summer I Turned Pretty).
I don’t know why I do this, but I still do. Every morning at six thirty sharp, I’m wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. My teeth are glossed with a crisp minty smell with an underlying taste of chocolate rice crispies. I’m barley ready for an hour on the road. It’s still dark out. Cars are sparsely dispersed across the highway, a car here, a dump truck there, a handful of trucks driven by people who look like they belong on some trucking show. Stereotypically, they all have beards and a dash board full of McDonalds bags. I think this is where I first developed my hate for McDonalds.

Great job!

Now on to step two: Writing

Though it seems obvious enough, this is one of the biggest keys to writing well. It’s just as important as reading or observing. Now that we’ve watched a person do a layup, we’re going to try one ourselves.
There’s no right way to do a layup… er I mean… write. The only way you can improve is to write.

So write every day. Little things, big things. Anything. Then go back and edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Work on what you wrote yesterday. Add to what you wrote yesterday. Keep all your writing in a safe place, you never know when you need inspiration.


If you’re working on a novel right now, write an entire chapter before Friday’s post.

If you’re not working on a novel, or if you’re stuck, try doing this for inspiration:

Take the homework from Monday and edit it. Make it even more interesting. Add a problem. Maybe it’s really hard for your character to put on their shoes for some reason. Maybe it brings back bad memories. Whatever, it’s up to you. Make it shine.

 Feel free to email me at


Monday, February 27, 2012

Intro: How to Get Published Step One

Maybe you’re the type of girl who can’t turn down a challenge… You shred through YA novels like tissues, laugh at the cliché, unrelateable, unbelieveable plot lines, then wonder how in the world this meek excuse for a novel was published when you came up with better ideas for that prank call to your crush’s girlfriend (you know, the one no one was supposed to know about). So you sit. And you write. And you snort about how easy it is, until you hit page three. Then, you realize being a writer is harder than you thought.
Maybe you’re the type of girl who’s always dreamed of being a novelist… You spent your early kindergarten years cut off from the rest of the class, illustrating books about a magic cake shop while dictating the narrative to your teacher. You were the one who took your teacher’s advice to heart in the first grade when he promptly announced that the use of the words ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ in stories were banned. You’re the one who spent Friday nights in the seventh grade at cotillion, dancing with sweaty-handed boys and dreaming of a way to incorporate this into your newest story instead of making awkward small talk.
Maybe you’re the type of girl who realized that she’s a pretty good writer… You wrote your heart out in a little purple journal, guarded by a silver lock for years, before stopping and re-reading. Then you realize that, hey, you’re a pretty decent writer, with nothing better to do that needs some ‘umph’ on your college admissions resume (which you’ve been preparing since fourth grade). How else will you get accepted into Yale?
Or maybe you were just looking for a download of Justin Bieber’s song and clicked the wrong link. Whatever the reason. As long as I’ve trapped you here, I might as well educate you.
Welcome to Eenie Meenie Teenie Writers, a blog by a teen writer for teen writers. Though I’m not published (yet) I’ve collected quite a bit of information over the three years I’ve been noveling. So get ready, teen writers, you’re stuck on the same roller-coaster as I am. At least I can help others along the way. ; )

This blog came to be from two of my major obsessions... Nah, make that three. 1) Go Teen Writers , 2) Writing, and 3) My guilty pleasure, Yahoo Answers.

Specifically, my obsession with the Books and Author's section of Yahoo Answers. (Above you can see a perfect example of how much I waste my time on that website when I should be writing).

I cannot tell you how many times the following question has been asked. 

"How does i get published. im only 13. Thanxsss" or 12 or 11 or 14 or 15 or 16. 

That's the reason I made this blog in the first place. To prove that teens can write too! But, as you can tell from the quote (yes, it's a quote), above these teens are going to need a lot of help. 

For starters, you need to work on grammar. (I'm not the greatest at grammar; I'm sure you can find a plethora  of typos in this post, and I'm not claiming to be an expert.) It's just one of those things that we groan, and whine, and avoid as much as possible, but let's face it. You're not getting published without it. Use your best grammar in everything you do, from emails, to essays, to texts, to passing notes in school (just kidding, if you do that you're going to end up with grades like my Spanish grades... you do not want Spanish grades like mine), to questions on Yahoo Answers. USE GRAMMAR! 

Once we undo mushy lump that technology turned our grammar into, we can get started.

Onto the first step. The secret to getting published. The key to your success. The only thing that will help you. The make it or break it key to your future!!! (Excited yet). Okay, here it is.... Drum roll, trumpets. Dah dah da daaaaa...

Step one: Read.

It's as simple as that. Read as often as you write. Read all genres, read what you're interested in, read classics, read books like you hope yours will be. Whatever it is, just read. (If you need recommendations, check out my shelfari shelf on the left, I'm only a fraction through entering all the books on my kindle). This is the key to your success. It's like sports, you have to watch someone do a layup before you can attempt one yourself. (Or more accurately in my case, you have to watch someone run in proper form before you can try yourself). The more you read, the better you'll get. I swear, this isn't a trick. Just try it. This tip reminds me of a quote I read a long time ago. It was something about how writers don't actually create anything new. They take snippets of other things and mash it together until it works. Well, the more snippets you have the more material you have. The more material you have, the better book you can write. 

This also goes for surroundings and events. OBSERVE EVERYTHING. Describe it in your head. Don't let the little details escape you. Imagine every day of your life as a movie, what would be the opening of that movie? You putting on your shoes? Describe how you put on your shoes. Which shoe do you put on first? Pay attention to details. Try to make something as boring and monotonous as putting on your shoes exciting. Make it yours. 

So here's your homework for the night:

Before I make my next post (on Wednesday morning), do this:

1) Read a book

2) Find something the character does that you do: Like putting on shoes, or driving to school, or cleaning your room, even brushing your teeth!

3) Do that thing. Brush your teeth. 

4) Describe it in your own words. Pay extra attention to the five senses. 

5) Put the description in a safe place.

6) Come back to the description a couple of hours later.

7) Polish it. Your description may be a sentence, or pages. Whatever it is polish it. 

8) Compare to the passage in the book. 

9) Pat yourself on the back.


If you want your 'homework' to be featured in the next post, email me at charlotte dot nisson at gmail dot com (

I look forward to seeing your work. If you have any questions. About this post, my blog, writing, life (jk), email me at

BUT WAIT! Before you go, I have some links you might appreciate. 

- C