Thursday, April 27, 2017

Psychology Tips for Better Writing (Part 2: Characters Who do Bad Things)

In Part 1 of Psychology Tips for Better Writing I relied on my psychology degree to discuss five tips to help create well rounded characters. In Part 2, I'm going to specifically discuss psychological tips that will help with writing characters who do bad things. This includes writing villains and antagonists, who should be just as developed as your hero.



5 tips to writing more believable bad guys based on Psychology.

1. Authority figures are incredibly powerful: The Milgram Experiment (1963) set out to test whether or not "just following orders" and obedience to authority figures was a justifiable defense for Nazi soldiers who helped commit genocide. The experiment showed that people are likely to follow an authority figure's orders even to the point of killing another person simply because an authority figure told them to do it. The reason for this is because we expect the authority figure to take responsibility for whatever it is they've asked us to do. When people feel like they are responsible for their own actions they're far less likely to listen to other people's suggestions. So, if you have a character that's going to stand up to an authority figure, make sure you take the time to show why.

Example: In Legend by Marie Lu June is a soldier who follow's the Republic's orders without question. She believes that Day is the criminal that the Republic tells her he is and follows their orders to hunt him down. June remains obedient to the Republic for most of the book. It takes a number of events for her to start questioning her authority figures. Lu also sets the scene to show why June is later able to break away from these authority figures by portraying June as a girl willing to break the rules to prove her worth to the Republic. She gives her a fierce independent streak which makes it believable when she later disobeys the Republic. At the end of the book, June learns new information that sheds lights on the Republic and she's reminded that Day is going to die because she turned him in. Feeling responsible for his situation she sets out to rescue him.

2. What we think we're supposed to do plays a big role in how we act: The Stanford Prison Experiment (1971) sought to explore the cause of brutality against prisoners by their guards. It tested how quickly regular people would conform to the stereotypical roles of prisoner or guard. This experiment demonstrated that though regular people were randomly assigned the roles of either "prisoner" or "guard" they quickly adapted the characteristics of their roles. Guards for example, began treating the prisoner's as criminals though they had entered the experiment the same as the guards had. The guards became more aggressive and the prisoners more submissive. A clear divide formed between these two groups simply because they were given specific roles. The experiment showed that much of our behavior is a result of conforming to social expectations based on the roles we play in our lives.

Example: In The Hunger Games the people of Panem watch a group of twelve teenagers kill one  another as a source of entertainment. Though this act is barbaric, it's considered normal for the people of Panem. It's expected that these twelve children will participate in the Hunger Games and fight until death.

3. People generally seek instant gratification: When given the option of receiving a reward immediately or waiting to receive it in the future, our instincts push us toward instant gratification. Delayed gratification, or holding out for a better reward is something we learn over time as we gain more self-control. Authors often like to have their villains be a few steps ahead of their lead character. This is, after all, what keeps the plot moving forward. Be careful not to have your villain planning too far ahead or your reader will find them unbelievable.

Example: In Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Amy has a ridiculous amount of self-control and sets up an elaborate (spoiler) ruse to frame her husband for her own murder. Amy is a sociopath and capable of looking ahead and waiting for delayed gratification. Most villains are not true sociopaths, and most people are not capable of planning things out to this degree. And, even Amy changes her plans at the end of the book when she decides she no longer wants to see Nick end up in prison. If your character is motivated by vengeance it will be more believable if they act quickly. The more time it takes your character to get their reward (vengeance) the more likely they are to change their mind before they receive this pay off -- whether that means they give up, come to their senses, or find forgiveness.

4. Villains should have a reason for doing the bad things they do. They need to be motivated by something.
 People justify the things they do. Basically, we want our how we act to be in agreement with what we believe. If we act in a way that disagrees with our beliefs we deal with a type of mental stress called cognitive dissonance. People generally don't like mental stress so, when our action and our beliefs are not in agreement we seek justification to remedy the disagreement. This would be like someone who insists that cigarettes won't harm them because their "grandfather smoked until he was 90 and died of old age." A person who says this probably knows that cigarettes are bad for them, but because they smoke they feed the need to justify it.

Example: In the Lux novels by Jennifer Armentrout Blake betrays Katy, handing her over to Daedalus. Though Blake cares for Katy and knows he's putting her in a position to basically be tortured, he justifies betraying her by believing that it was the only way to rescue his friend, Chris, and later it's shown that he believes it was for the greater good.

5. Discrimination, racism and hate are learned behaviors: The Stanford Prison Experiment does a good job showing how the power that came with being a "guard" affected the actions of the participants and even how the "guards" felt about the "inmates". Jane Elliot's Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise also does a good job of emphasizing this point. Her experiment, where children were told that certain kids in their class were superior to the others based on the color of their eyes, basically showed how discrimination and racism are viewpoints we are taught the believe.

Example: There are many books that explore discrimination, racism, sexism, and class and you can check some of them out here. One novel that particularly demonstrates Jane Elliot's experiment well is The Selection by Kiera Cass. In the Selection not only are people's worth determined by the caste they're born into, but so is their occupation. One's are royalty and eights are "untouchable." The book's main character, America Singer, is a five and as such must choose to work in a profession related to the arts. Like in Jane Elliot's experiment, people look at others differently based on what they're told to think of them.


If you liked this post, check out Psychology Tips for Better Writing (Part 1: Believable Characters)






Thursday, April 20, 2017

Review for Ethereal by Addison Moore

3 Stars. The writing was beautiful and the plot was both interesting and engaging. But, this book left me feeling underwhelmed. Ethereal moves at a fast pace, but at times it’s too fast. Problems develop quickly, but are also solved quickly resulting in a lack of tension. I loved all the ideas in this book, but I wanted the stakes to be higher and the emotions to be better fleshed out.

The secrets kept me reading. I wanted to know more about Skyla’s dad and Chloe. The mystery surrounding Chloe and what happened to her were the best parts of this book. I wished there’d been more flashbacks to Skyla and her father. I wanted to feel her loss more, but what was there I loved.

The mythology was also something I liked. Logan and Skyla’s abilities were interesting and different. [Spoiler] The time-travel idea was interesting at first, but by the time I reached the end of the book I felt like it wasn’t handled well enough. Skyla easily goes back in time twice to retrieve something then a third time to return it, but she doesn’t even attempt to go back to get the one thing that would keep her safe. [Spoiler]

I had some issues with this book with the characters and relationships. Skyla’s romance with Logan is very insta-love, and what’s so disappointing is that it didn’t have to be. I found her initial attraction to him believable. He’s definitely hot. But, they never really get to know one another. I never felt like their relationship developed past looks. If they would have had just a few more “get to know you” scenes at the beginning I could have been really sucked into their relationship. Also, a love triangle develops almost instantly and it’s not really clear why both these guys are so into her.

Logan is a little pushy and at times I felt like all he wanted was to get in Skyla’s pants. Skyla was a little bitchy at times and too trusting. Logan talks her into things, Brielle talks her into things, but then there’s a part where Chloe warns her about something and she completely disregards it and it just irked me. She also came across as selfish. Usually I liked her, but she made a lot of choices that I didn’t completely understand. She’s a little too paranoid in some places and acts out unbelievably, and sometimes she just does dumb stuff.

Overall, I felt like this story had good bones. It had an interesting premise and mystery, but it didn’t feel fleshed out enough. Many of the scenes were underwhelming. The threats against Skyla weren’t very threatening. The people that were after her went about it in a way that confused me. First, they tried scaring her, then they tried to kill her, and then finally abducted her. Why bother abducting her when you already tried to outright kill her? And, the ending was anticlimactic. There were a lot of things I liked about this book, but I don’t think I’ll continue with the series.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Psychology Tips for Better Writing (Part 1: Believable Characters)

The best stories have well developed characters, and being able to write well developed characters involves being able to accurately describe human behavior. Characters need to make realistic decisions and react in ways that your reader can understand and relate to. A basic understanding of Psychology can go a long way to helping writers create believable characters.

There are a lot of things I blog about that are simply my opinion. I don't consider myself an expert in most things. However, I do have a BA in Psychology and currently work in Youth Services. So, this is one subject I'm excited to write about because I do have some knowledge and experience of it.


5 tips to writing more believable characters based on Psychology.

1. All characters need a backstory: Writing backstory for your character will help your reader understand why they make the choices they make. This may include deciding if your character has a skill that comes easy to them, like an artistic ability that runs in their family [Nature]. It might also include mentioning past experiences that affect how your character sees the world [Nurture]. Psychologists have been arguing for years whether Nature or Nurture affects a person more, but what's clear is that people (and characters) are a product of both their DNA and their environment. Your character's DNA, where they grew up, their family dynamics and things they've been through in their life all affect how your character behaves.

For example, look at Harry Potter. Harry grew into a humble young man who learned to live without under the Dursley's neglect and abuse. Once Harry enters the Wizzarding word he discover's he's basically a celebrity. There are people there who idolize him, and others who hate him, but because of his humble roots Harry remains a character the reader can relate to. Both who he is because of his DNA [the one person capable of defeating Voldemort] and who he became because of his childhood [a humble young man] are important to the story. Had Harry grown up in the Wizzarding world he may have turned into a very different person. Think about where your characters came from, and even if their backstory isn't discussed much in your book, it's important for you to know it as the author. [Keep in mind, however, that Harry Potter was a children's book and much of the Dursley's abuse comes across as comical allowing for Harry to become a humble young man. Had Harry Potter been written for an older audience the things the Dursley's did would have easily been considered child abuse and Harry should have turned out to be a far more traumatized young man.]

2. You must understand your character's wants and needs: Abraham Maslow theorized that people have a heirarchy of needs, suggesting that people need to have their most fundamental needs (like water, food, clothing and shelter) met before they will want to focus on higher level needs. So, how does this relate to writing? Well, your story should be fueled by your character's desires. If you're writing a murder mystery that may mean it's fueled by their want to find a killer. A romance is fueled by your character's want to find love. But, if your character is going to focus on say safety [finding a killer] they need to have their physiological [fundamental] needs met first. If your main character is living on the street they will probably be more concerned about where they're getting their next meal or finding shelter than finding a killer. Not to say they can't do both, but you can't ignore those physiological needs.

For Example, there's a reason why street rat, Aladdin is stealing bread in the beginning of the Disney movie. He's meeting his physiological needs, and later his safety needs with having the genie make him a prince, before seeking love and belonging from Princess Jasmine.

Source

3.  What characters think they're supposed to do plays a big role in how they act: Social norms set a huge precedent for how we act. There are things that are expected of people every day. If you have a job, you're expected to show up to work. There are rules of behavior for every area of life. Everything from what we wear, to our greetings, to how we interact with each other is based on a social norm. Do people break social norms? Yes, but not without reason. Your characters should behave in the way that is expected of them in their society, and if they act differently, you need to explain why.

For Example,  In Delirium by Lauren Oliver love is considered a disease and it's expected that at a certain age people have surgery to prevent them from feeling love. The main character, Lena, follows these social norms. She takes the tests she supposed to take. She believes the things everyone else believes. Over the course of the novel, she develops different beliefs about love than what society demands, but that only happens after a series of events that change her opinion. The Hunger Games is another example. Katniss accepted that the Hunger Games were a part of life in the beginning of the book, in fact throughout the story her main goal is to return to her life as it was. She accepted the social norms around her. She only became the face of the rebellion through circumstance.

4. Character's shouldn't always say what they mean: People keep secrets, they tell small lies, they keep things to themselves that they'd be better off sharing, and sometimes they just don't want to talk about things that are bothering them. We do this for different reasons. Sometimes, we hold on to things because of social norms. It's not always appropriate to share certain things. Sometimes, we keep things to ourselves because we fear being judged. Your characters should do the same. They may even display Transference, and take out their emotions on people or things that have nothing to do with how they feel. Secrets and inner thoughts can also add necessary tension to your story.

For Example, In Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout there's a scene where Katy comes up to Daemon at lunch and he's incredibly rude to her. Katy doesn't know this at the time, but Daemon doesn't actually mean the things he says and only does this to try and calm his ex-girlfriend, Ash, who's on the brink of lashing out at Katy. This secret also adds tension to the plot as Katy's feelings are hurt and she then dumps a bowl of spaghetti over Daemon's head.

5. Characters should justify the things they do: Basically, people want how they act to be in agreement with what they believe, and when our action and our beliefs are not in agreement we seek justification to remedy the disagreement. This is called cognitive dissonance. So, how does this relate to your characters? Well, there may be times that your character does something that disagrees with what they believe. Your hero may need to kill someone when they've fought to save lives, or your love interest may try to convince the person they care about most that they can't be together. In these situations it's important to show how your character justifies these decisions or your reader won't believe that they would make those choices.

For Example, In Sweet Evil (and Sweet Temptation) by Wendy Higgins Kaidan believes that he is damned to hell and has a certain life that he has to lead. As a lust Nephilim, he's been seducing women for so long he believes that he needs it and cannot choose to live another way. When Anna enters his life she suggests that he does have a choice. Kaidan finds himself acting differently because of Anna and deals with cognitive dissonance as his actions disagree with his long held beliefs. This comes to a point when he has the opportunity to have sex with Anna -- something he's been trying to do for basically the entire book -- and instead chooses not to. This causes Kaidan distress, resulting in him leaving Anna at the airport instead of continuing their road trip as he feels like removing her from his life will help him find agreement between his beliefs and actions.




Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review for The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3) by Kaitlin Bevis


3.5 Stars. Well written plot, but wanted more Persephone and Hades. This book was different from the first two because it’s not just told though Persephone’s POV, but alternates with Hades and Aphrodite’s POV. While I loved reading parts of the story from Hades’ point of view and even Aphodite’s, it felt like less of the story was about Hades and Persephone and more about all of the gods. I enjoyed getting to know more about them, but I wanted there to be more focus on Persephone and Hades.

I loved watching Persephone fight against Zeus and getting to see inside Hades’ head as he fought to rescue Persephone was awesome. The plot was well constructed and believable. Zeus’ mind games kept both Persephone and me guessing and the way she managed his abuse was believable.

Where I was a little disappointed with this book was that this concludes Hades’ and Persephone’s role as lead characters in this series. The next two books are about Aphrodite, and though I haven’t read them yet their blurbs don’t mention either Hades or Persephone. I wasn’t as interested in reading about Aphrodite as I was about Hades and Persephone. Also, the author left a few threads hanging that I really wanted to see resolved in another Hades and Persephone book. For example, <spoiler> now that Zeus has been defeated Persephone is super powerful and has claim to multiple realms, </spoiler> there was a point in the story where this concerned the other gods and I wondered how that would affect her? It was a plot point I hoped the author would tackle in the next book, but it doesn’t appear as if it will be explored.

Overall this was a worthwhile read, and if you’ve read the first two books I definitely recommend reading this, but I was disappointed that the focus veered away from Hades and Persephone.

Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #1
Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #2

Saturday, April 1, 2017

March 2017 Wrap Up

In case you missed anything, here's everything I was up to in March!




READING:

Books Reviewed in March:

Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis - I am so hooked on the Hades/Persephone story after this book, it was awesome!

Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2) by Kaitlin Bevis - I may have liked this one even more than the first book!


Books Read in March:

The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3) by Kaitlin Bevis (I'm really liking this series!)

Ethereal by Addison Moore


Books to-read April:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (This is one of my New Years Resolution Books!)

Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle - I'm craving more Greek Mythology after the Daughters of Zeus books.



WRITING:

I didn't get a ton of writing done this month. The plot-bunnies were running rampant so I set to appease them by outlining some new story ideas and setting them aside in my "I'll start these books later" pile. My brain is a crazy place. Which can be great. I can be really creative and new ideas come to me easily. But, sometimes there's just too much going on. I always have more than one book I'm working on at a time, and sometimes that gets distracting. Hopefully, April will be more productive.



BLOGGING:

I want to say hello and thank you to all my new followers! Traffic has been increasing every month since I've been back. My current favorite social media site is Bloglovin, so if you're a fan as well, follow me there and I'll follow back.

My Favorite Blog Posts in March:

Favorite Post Written: Canceled TV Shows: What Writers can Learn from Them. The blog posts where I get to tie something unrelated to writing (like TV shows) to the writing process are sometimes my favorites, and this post gave me an outlet to rant about some shows that I loved, but could have been so much better!

Favorite Post Read: The Pressure of Not Reading Enough by Alice at The Geeky Burrow I loved this post because it talked about a feeling I've had myself as a writer and book blogger and reminded me not to feel bad that lots of bloggers read A LOT more than I do. Reading should be fun.



PERSONAL:

There is mud everywhere! We got a lot of rain this month and my dogs are determined to make all my time sweeping and mopping the floors meaningless. I'm not sure I'll ever scrub all the paw-prints away.


How was your March?


Thursday, March 30, 2017

5 Reasons Readers Put Books Down

I've been posting book reviews for years, but I decided a long time ago that I'd never write a review for a book I didn't finish. That said, there's been plenty of books that I didn't finish. So, in this post I wanted to write about why I put those books down. Below are five reasons readers put books down with examples of books that I didn't finish for those reasons.



1. Your reader doesn't relate to your characters. Your main character isn't going to be like every  one of your readers, but there should be something about them they can relate to or root for. When reading Falling Under by Gwen Hayes I found  I just didn't connect with the characters. Theia is British, and moved to California with her very overprotective father. I liked her personality but I just didn't have much in common with her, and there wasn't anything about her that made me want to root for her. Her best friend was her polar opposite, loud, reckless, and the man from her dreams felt a little too proper compared to the first glance we get of him in one of Theia's dreams. Despite feeling like Gwen had an interesting concept for the book it just wasn't something I could relate to.

Another example is Poison Princess by Kresley Cole. I normally am a huge fan of paranormal as well as dystopian stories, but this book immediately sucks you into this extremely dark post-apocalyptic future. After reading the first few chapters I  found myself unable to keep reading. The main character Evie seemed well written, and this book certainly had a very unique style, but it was being told through the POV of a character named Arthur. Arthur was beyond creepy and I didn't like being in his head.

2. Your book reads like a first draft. Don't publish your book until it's really ready. Make sure you've taken the time to develop your characters, their relationship and tie up any plot holes. After that, edit, edit, edit. A great story will have a hard time keeping readers until the end if it's riddled with grammatical or spelling mistakes. A lack of editing is distracting, it's like watching a movie on your laptop with a poor wifi signal and every few minutes it cuts out to buffer. Make sure your novel's ideas are fully fleshed out and that you've gone through it with a fine tooth comb. After that hire an editor and a proofreader to do the same. When I read Miss Underworld by Racquel Kechagias I had a hard time getting sucked in to the story because it felt unfinished. The interesting combination of vampires and Greek mythology fell flat because I felt like I was reading an early draft of a novel that had yet to completely come together instead of a finished project. To be fair, I did finish this book (unlike the others on this list) but I didn't leave a review for the above reasons. This novel may have been updated since I read it years ago.

3. Your book opens with a scene that your reader has seen before. It's impossible to avoid all cliches. Everything has been done before, but if you can't show your reader something new in your opening chapters they'll wonder why they should continue. When I picked up Dark Lover by JR Ward I was really feeling like reading a vampire novel, but Dark Lover just wasn't what I was looking for. Ward seemed to be trying to create his own world, but there were just too many things about this book that had been done before. Ex: Main character, vampire, long black hair with a widow's peak. Ex: Main character, female, nearly gets raped in an alley. Ex: Vampire names like "Thorment" and "Wrath". I suppose for me the 'vampire' world of it was a little cheesy.

4. You don't have a good enough hook. You need to catch your reader's attention asap. Fill the beginning of your book with boring backstory or take too long to jump into the action and you risk losing your readers. When I started reading Existence by Abbi Glines I had high hopes that I would love this book. It sounded like it was right up my alley and had great reviews, but it just didn't pull me in. There wasn't anything in particular that bothered me, but also nothing that really hooked me either. After the first chapter or so I put it down and simply never picked it back up. It started out with a typical high school scene and a girl with an ability, but nothing stood out to me as different. Also, I hated the name "Dank," maybe a small thing, but it was a big turnoff. Your readers need to know from the beginning what makes your book worth reading.

5. Your story takes a left hand turn after a few chapters. Readers  go into a story with certain expectations based on your blurb and the first few chapters. Twists and turns are great, but change directions too radically and your readers will feel tricked. This is what happened when I started reading Seers of Light by Jennifer DeLucy. I loved the first chapter or so of this book. it had me hooked. It seemed different and, it was scary. I could tell that it was going to be a little darker of a read and that had me interested as well. But, what started out as a story that possibly revolved around ghosts or maybe demons and an eerie, mysterious forest radically shifted gears and went in a totally different direction. Suddenly, there were blue veined vampires and a handsome British character that was dragging my main character away from this wonderful world  Jennifer had created. Maybe it would have been a good read had I had a better idea of what it was about, but after having my hopes for what this book would be shatter I had to put it down.


It's important to keep in mind that what "makes a book good" will be different from one reader to the next. The books I listed above may not have been my cup of tea, but they could be someone else's favorites. That said, I think these suggestions to create relate-able characters, open with an exciting hook and set up your reader's expectations can help writer's keep their reader's reading.

Why did you stop reading the last book you put down?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review for Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2) by Kaitlin Bevis

4 Stars. Well written plot and characters. I wanted to see more of Hades and Persephone’s relationship. But, the parts we do see are awesome. Their excursion to the beach at the beginning of the book was great, and the scene where Persephone <spoiler> broke up with him was actually one of my favorites, </spoiler>. The author really nailed their emotions and it brought all of their scenes to life. They grow a lot as a couple in this book and I really enjoyed seeing Hades open up.

There’s one really great steamy scene, but I was disappointed that <spoiler> when they do have sex for the first time the author fades to black a little faster than I would have liked</spoiler>, still it was a nice scene and fit well into the flow of the story.

The plot was well thought out and intense. I loved seeing Persephone fight and work to figure out how to overcome Thanatos, and when Hades does step in to help her it doesn’t feel like he just swoops in and saves the day. I think the author gave these two characters a nice balance of power. Even though Hades is older and more powerful he and Persephone feel like a team.

There were nice twists and turns and surprises and like the first book felt complete and also ended with a cliffhanger that sucked me right into the third book.

Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #1
Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #3

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review for Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis


4 Stars. A great take on a classic myth with a modern twist. The author did a great job of keeping all the classic story elements of the Persephone myth but still made the story feel modern and new. I liked that she used the story of Boreas to set the scene at the beginning of the book and I loved how she interpreted Persephone’s abduction. While Hades still technically brought her to the Underworld against her will, he did so to save her life and protect her.

All of the characters in this book were well developed. I liked that they had their own wants and needs and that each one felt real. I thought that Demeter was represented well and I loved that more minor mythological character like Orpheus and Eurydice made it into the story as well. I thought the author did a good job with the push and pull of Persephone and Hades’ relationship. She managed to make Hades feel young and thousands of years old at the same time. I also thought she addressed the age difference between these two characters well and did as well as explaining the “sibling” relationship between the gods. And, I loved seeing Hades struggle with his growing feelings for Persephone considering that age difference and the fact that she was Demeter’s daughter.

The plot was well written. Hades rescues Persephone a few times, but she was clearly the hero of her own story. She was strong and independent and she didn’t let people push her around. I thought she was a little foolish at the end when she took on Boreas by herself, but I was glad that she was able to hold her own and otherwise made thought-out decisions. I was also glad that while the “big-bad” of this book was defeated, the author set up the plot for the next story right away allowing this book to end with a bit of a cliffhanger that pulled me straight into the next one.

Overall this was a really solid story and I would highly recommend it. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series.

Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #2
Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #3

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Canceled TV Shows: What Writers can Learn from Them

Stories come in many different forms including, books, movies, and TV shows. And, while I may only work in one of those mediums I think all writers can learn from any kind of story, regardless of if it's written or watched. So, today I'm writing about TV shows and how we can be better writers from watching them.

TV shows get cancelled for many different reasons. Sometimes great shows get the axe simply for falling in a bad time slot. But, often there are mistakes the writers make regarding the show's plot. In this post, I'll discuss some shows I loved, where I think the writers lost their viewers, and how you can learn from their mistakes.


Terra Nova - Premise: A family living in a dystopian world travels "back in time" to the land of the dinosaurs to give humanity a second chance. It was a great mix of science fiction and family drama.

Where they went wrong: They waited too long to explain what the show was really about. The last episode revealed this show was less "Jurassic Park" and more "Land of the Lost." Knowing this, there were so many more places they could have gone with the plot, and had they reveled it sooner I think viewers may have been more interested in a second season.

What to take away from this: Twists are great and exciting, but if your twist reveals something important about what your book is about, revealing it too late may mean your readers never get to it because you've bored them for too long. Or, worse, you leave your readers feeling duped that your novel took a left hand turn and became something they weren't expecting. Terra Nova may have done better if they'd left more clues to their big twist along the way.

Resurrection - Premise: The dead return to be reunited with their families.

Where they went wrong: They went too big. I loved the first season of this show, and the beginning of the second, but the last few episodes of the second season took the story in a direction that I didn't like. What I loved about the show was that it was about people, their lives, their deaths, family, friends and love. I think I cried at some point watching nearly ever episode in season one. Seeing how the loss of a loved one affected these people struck a cord with me, and seeing them being reunited with lost loves was beautiful. At the end of the second season, it stopped being about the people. Instead, the resurrection phenomenon went global and so did the story. They also added a story line about a character's baby with religious undertones that suggested he may be the Antichrist. Suddenly, the story was about good and evil, God and the devil, overpopulation, and the apocalypse; gone were the heartwarming moments between families. The show just got too big.

What to take away from this: Your characters are what make your book great. Don't let your plot run away on you. Resurrection would have been better if they kept the phenomenon local. They lost a lot by making it global. What made the show work was that it felt close to your heart. When the phenomenon went global it became distant and I didn't feel connected to the plot anymore.

Beauty and the Beast: Premise: Soldier turned science experiment looks after local cop from the shadows and falls in love with her.

What went wrong: This show had so much promise and I loved the first season. But the show quickly diverted from all the things that made it great. The caring yet quiet male lead that hid away in the shadows became an arrogant asshole who reveals himself to the world. His relationship with Cat took strange and unrealistic turns and she became unlikeable as well. The writers went to the extremes to push them apart and then when they got back together everything felt too easy. Their relationship became boring.

What to take away from this: Know what your story is about. If your readers get angsty star-crossed love in book 1, don't give them an easy going couple living happily ever after in book 2. Pay attention to what's working in your story and bring back those feelings in different ways as the story progresses. Characters change and grow, and sometimes they do out of character things. But, if there isn't at least hope that what we love about them most is still there, your reader will stop caring about them. If you go to the extremes to push them apart, accept that you may not be able to force them back together. An example of writers doing this right can be seen in the SyFy show The 100. At the beginning of season 2 Finn goes too far trying to rescue Clarke. He kills a number of innocent people and it's clear things won't be the same between him and Clarke after this. Instead of trying to force these characters back together Finn's story progresses in a more logical way, ending with his death. Though sad, it felt far more satisfactory than the path Beauty and the Beast took.

Second Chance: Premise: A twist on the classic Frankenstein novel, a retired sheriff with a shady record dies, then is resurrected as a young man. He sought to do right in the world, fix his own mistakes and mend the broken relationship with his son.

What went wrong: I tuned in every week for this show. It was great, and still is. Where they went wrong is that they didn't have anywhere to go after Season 1, and though they tried setting up a new storyline in the last episode, it felt forced. Unlike Terra Nova, that had a lot to explore and just revealed it too late, this show wrapped up an entire concept then tried to introduce a new one too late. They wrapped up all their threads, leaving no mysteries to be reveled in a subsequent season. Viewers want to see a continuation from season 1 to season 2, something needs to carry over.

What to take away from this: If you're writing a series make sure you think about where your second book is going. Think about which characters you're killing off. Would keeping them around make your sequel better? Think about which characters you've introduced. You need to think about where your story is going and writing the elements you need to take it there. Some mysteries should be set up in book 1 to be revealed in book 2. Otherwise you should consider writing a solo book instead of a series. Maybe Second Chance would have been better as a mini-series?

Penny Dreadful: Premise: Classic monsters, including Dracula, the wolf man, Dr. Frankenstein, and Dorian Grey come together in one series that follows Vanessa Ives as she tries to escape the devil.

Where they went wrong: This series wasn't canceled, but instead ended after three seasons, and it shouldn't have. Unlike the other shows on this list whose mistakes may have led to their cancellation; this show's only mistake was ending. This show was well written with interesting characters and dark, twisted story lines. But, they ended the series with stories left to be told. I didn't feel like Vanessa and Ethan's story had been fleshed out as much as it could have. I wanted to know more about Dr. Jekyll, and what would Dorian do now that Lily was gone. Would Ethan ever find out that Dr. Frankenstein brought his former girlfriend back to life? Would John ever find happiness that didn't disappoint him? I expected another season and I was disappointed when this ended where it did.

What to take from this: Don't leave your reader's with lose ends. If you're coming to the end of your book or series make sure you wrap up all your story lines with satisfying ends. Not everyone needs a happy ending, but don't leave them with unfinished business. Otherwise, write another book or you risk your readers being very unhappy with you.



What shows did you love that disappointed you when the writing took a turn? Have you read any books that make any of these mistakes?


Saturday, March 4, 2017

February 2017 Wrap Up

So, here's everything I was up to in February, and I'm excited to say that it includes lots of editing of Unearthed After Sunset! Yay.




READING:

Books Reviewed in February:

Red Fox by Lara Fanning - This book reminded me why I read indies. It was an awesome dystopian novel!

Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins - This was a great way to revisit a series that I loved. Awesome book!


Books Read in February:

Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis

Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2) by Kaitlin Bevis


Books to-read March:

The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3) by Kaitlin Bevis (I'm really liking this series!)

Ethereal by Addison Moore

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (This is one of my New Years Resolution Books!)



WRITING:

I've finished my chapter-by-chapter editing of the last three chapters of Unearthed After Sunset! Next I'll be reading through the entire book to make any final changes and then I'll be shipping it off for professional editing/proofreading. Read more about it here!

Also, I have this little voice in my head suggesting that I re-vamp all my book covers. I downloaded a newer version of PhotoShop than I'd been using and I may tinker that those.



BLOGGING:

I want to say hello and thank you to all my new followers! My blog has gotten a lot more traffic this month than last! You guys rock.

My Favorite Blog Posts in January:

Favorite Post Written: When to Ignore Your Outline - Outlining is an important part of the novel writing process, but your outline can also work against you. Part of why I liked writing this post is because I got to reference Harry Potter and the whole Harry/Hermione (I'm a firm believer that they are better suited for one another than Hermione and Ron).

Favorite Post Read: Review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer on Kariny's Boox Frenzy. I read A LOT of reviews this month and added a ton of books to my TBR list, but there's one book that may get pulled up to the top of the list, and that's Heartless thanks to Kariny's review.



PERSONAL:

The kitchen remodel is done, and now that all my appliances are out of my dining room I have space to write again! Also, we had a few random, super-warm days (like 60 degrees) which is really uncommon for Wisconsin in February, and I can't wait for spring. Sadly, the temperature has dropped back into the 40's and it just snowed, again.


How was your February?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Unpopular Opinion Book Tag

Last month I posted a New Years Resolution Book Tag. Which I had a lot of fun putting together. Then, the other day, I stumbled across a book tag on Cuddlebuggery that I just loved! The theme of the book tag is "Books you didn't like" and as usual if anyone else would like to do this tag, please let me know in the comments so I can check out your picks.


A Popular Book/Series You Didn’t Like

A Shade of Vampire Series by Bella Forest - This is a super long series that's well rated on Amazon and has sold millions of books, but the writing was terrible! I liked Twilight, I watch The Vampires diaries, but I did not like this book. Read my Review.

A Book Series That Everyone Hates, But You Love

This is hard. How do I define "everyone?" I guess I'll say Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I don't think it's fair to say "everyone" hates this book, lots of people love it like I do. But, I think it's a series you either loved or you hated, and many of my friends hated it. It's got some pretty scathing reviews on Goodreads, but for all the reasons other people disliked it. I loved it! Read my Review.

A Love Triangle Where the MC Ended Up With A Person You Didn’t Want Them To End Up With, Or An OTP You Didn’t Like

This is a hard one. Usually I'm on the same page as the author. I was team Peta, team Edward, team Maxon, ect... Tahereh Mafi even pulled me over to team Warren in the Shatter Me series. But, there's a book I read called Reaper's Novice by Cecelia Robert where I wanted romance to line up with Ana and Zig, but it never did and at the end it seemed things were going in a different direction for Ana's romantic future. That said, this book was published in 2013, and a second book has yet to be released. So, I may never know if Ana and Zig had a chance. Read my Review.

A Popular Book Genre You Rarely Reach For

If it doesn't have monsters or a paranormal element I usually stay away. Contemporary Romance is probably the least looked at genre for me. That said, I am trying to branch out more! I'm reading some more mysteries and thrillers that (gasp) don't have a paranormal element!

A Popular Beloved Character That You Didn’t Like

Graceling by Kristin Cashore - I hated Katsa. I honestly have no idea why anyone liked her. Read my Review.

A Popular Author You Can’t Seem To Get Into

Veronica Rossi - I read Under the Never Sky and while it was well written I just didn't connect with her story-telling or her characters.

A Popular Trope You’re Tired Of Seeing

Insta-love / Love at first sight / "I'm drawn to you for no reason!" - Relationships need to be developed!

A Popular Series You Have No Interest In Reading

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Nope, I just can't do it. All of my friends have read this book, even the ones that generally don't read. Knowing that it started at Twilight fanfiction, and not just inspired by Twilight, but actual fanfiction bothers me. Read More. I haven't seen or plan to watch the movies either.

The Saying Goes “THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE,” But What Movie Adaptation Do You Prefer More Than The Book?

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. Okay, don't chew my head off, the book was awesome! Here's the thing, the movie and the book are very different. They're both philosophical and funny, but I liked the changes the movie made. The humor in the book was drier than it was in the movie and in the movie R feels closer to Juliet's age. I loved them both, but the movie took the light-hearted, funny moments from the book and expanded them. Read my Review.

Share your unpopular opinions in the comments below.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review for Sweet Temptation (Sweet Evil) by Wendy Higgins


4 Stars. Sucked me back into a story I loved with a new perspective. I loved reading this because it allowed me to revisit one of my favorite books, Sweet Evil, but still felt new at the same time. Sweet Temptation is the Sweet Evil trilogy through Kaidan’s eyes. When reading Sweet Evil for the first time it took time to really understand Kaidan’s struggle. It was awesome to be inside his head and see how he viewed Anna and how his feelings for her changed. He’s not a ‘good boy’ but watching him realize that he wants to be ‘good’ was an incredible journey. I also loved seeing his struggles and watching him overcome his lust. You get to really understand his character in this book.

I have to say, I actually think I liked a lot of the sexy scenes between Kaidan and Anna even more in this book than I did in the originals. Kaidan’s perspective is really unique because of his inclination toward lust, making those romantic milestones between him and Anna really intense.

The only thing about this book that I wished it would have done was become its own story. We get to see lots of scenes that weren’t in the original books. The author does a lot more than just rehash previously written scenes, but it still felt a little choppy. I didn’t get the sense that someone who hadn’t read the original Sweet Evil trilogy could pick this up and understand everything. And, I wished the author would have done that.

Overall I loved this book and if you’re a fan of the Sweet Evil trilogy it’s a must read.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review for Red Fox by Lara Fanning

4.5 Stars. One of the most unique storylines I’ve read in a long time. There were some really twisted things that happened to the main character in this book, and though they were awful I enjoyed every second of watching her overcome them. Lara Fanning explores a dystopian Australia where the government seeks to take the population back to their more primitive and savage roots. Freya is a high school girl who witnesses tragedy and turmoil as her government turns her country upside down, forcing those worthy of survival to do unspeakable things. I loved this. My only complaint is that I just wish we’d gotten a little more interaction between the two main characters, Freya and Whil, in the second half of the book.

Freya was a well written character. She was intelligent and fierce. There were moments that I didn’t like her much in the beginning. At times, she came across as ungrateful and selfish. But, I admired her strength and independence and I think those parts of her personality kept me interested in who she was and what was happening to her. She could also be a little impulsive at times, but I think that played into this “Red Fox” concept the author explores.
Whil was also a great character. He was softer than Freya and I think he helped even her out, but he was also smart. I really liked their dynamic, and the time they spent together were my favorite scenes. Part way through the character’s environment drastically changed and it changed the mood of the book. Though it was a little abrupt, I really enjoyed the direction the story went in the second half. I just wish we’d seen more of Whil in it.
Overall, the writing was good. I found a few typos and maybe a sentence or two that was redundant, but the plot had me hanging on every word. One thing I found a little strange was that the book started out with some religious points that I didn’t understand how they fit into the overall story. For example, the first sentence is “Q1. Do you believe in God?” It was the first question on a test that Freya took, and while I understood how the test itself played into the overall plot, I felt like the rest of the story didn’t have anything to do with the character’s religious beliefs. It just seemed like there could have been less emphasis on religion in the beginning. This is definitely a must read and I’ve added the second book to my ”to-read” list.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

January 2017 Wrap Up

As most of you know I've only recently returned to blogging and writing after a year-long hiatus. Yes, I fell into that dark, unmentionable place that writers sometimes go and sometimes never return from. It’s a lonely place where read books are never reviewed and ideas float away in the wind, never to be brought to life with ink and paper (or more accurately, a keyboard and word-document). But, I’ve returned!

I’ve found my way back into this crazy writing world of books and bloggers and social networking, and I’ve realized a lot has changed since I’ve been gone. Many of the blogs and writers I used to follow have fallen into that dark place I mentioned before, and it seems they weren’t as lucky as myself to find their way out. But there’s also lots of new bloggers and writers out there I’ve slowly been discovering. I’ve lost followers, and started to gain new ones. Some of my old ways of connecting with people don’t work as well as they used to, and I’m attempting to find new ways to reach people.

So, I’m starting a monthly wrap-up post. These will post on the first Saturday after the first of the month and will discuss what I’ve been up to in the previous month. (Otherwise, I post on Thursdays).


READING:

Books Reviewed in January:

Goddess Interrupted (The Goddess Test #2) by Aimee Carter - I liked this but the ending really wasn't my cup of tea. Check out my review for more!


Books Read in January:

Goddess Interrupted (The Goddess Test #2) by Aimee Carter

Red Fox by Laura Fanning - I so LOVED this, and I'll be posting a review soon! This is why I read Indie books!

[Started Reading] Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins - OMG more Sweet Evil and Kaidan!?!


Books to-read February:

Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins

Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis


WRITING:

Unearthed After Sunset! Yes, I’m working on this, and sadly it went on hiatus when I did so there’s still work to be done. I’ve got three chapters left of serious editing (and the last chapters always seem to need the most) and then I’ll be doing one last read through before sending it off for a professional editor to go through with a fine-tooth comb. I’ve been pokey about getting it finished, but for good reason. Read more about it here!

I’ve been distracted by writing Unearthed After Sunset #2. Which I’ve completed the first draft of, AND I started the first draft of Unearthed After Sunset #3!

Also, on the backburner is a fantasy story I started and some outlining for something Greek-mythology related. But, it will be some time before I’ll be sharing much more about those two.


BLOGGING:

I now have a Tumbler account! And, I've been spending more time on Bloglovin.

My Favorite Blog Posts in January:

Favorite Post Written: Why You Should KILL Your Word Count - Word count and how long a novel is "supposed" to be are things that have tripped me up in the past, so I really liked being able to explore this quality vs quantity conundrum with word count.

Favorite Post Read: New Year Resolution Book Tag on BOOKS, BOXES & BAUBLES - I read lots of great blog posts in January, but this one was the most fun!


PERSONAL:

I turned 28 on January 30th! My new fur-baby (6mo yellow lab puppy) has eaten all of my socks. And, the hubby and I are remodeling the kitchen (and pulling our hair out along the way).



How was your January?


Thursday, February 2, 2017

When to Ignore your Outline

Outlining for your novel is great, it can keep you on track and help you to have a well-paced novel with well-rounded characters. But, sometimes, the outline can get in the way.

I say all the time, stories write themselves. Sometimes as you're writing, characters or plot points develop in unexpected ways and you have to be ready to adapt and change your outline as you go. Otherwise, you risk having a storyline that feels forced. Or worse, you'll have regrets when it's all over.

For example, years after the final Harry Potter novel was published, J.K. Rowling announced that Hermione and Harry should have ended up together instead of Hermione and Ron. She explained that she wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as wish fulfillment. While many readers remained loyal to the book as it was written, there are some that felt the same as Rowling herself. As a writer, you can plot and plan for two characters to end up together, but sometimes when happily ever after comes around it just doesn't feel right. Trust your gut and listen to what your characters are saying.

Romantic parings in a novel can change much the same as when a TV show introduces a new character - planning to kill them off - then discovers they have great chemistry with the lead on screen. The writers can plan to kill someone off, but once the viewers love them they often stick around, and if the writers don't pay attention to their viewers and kill them off anyway, it often results in angry fans. You need to pay attention to the chemistry that develops between your characters as you write them - not just as you planned for them to be.

The 90's TV drama Dawson's Creek ended a love triangle in its final episode. Showrunners had planned for Joey to end up with Dawson, but when it came time to finally write the final episode they changed their minds and Joey ended up with Pacey instead. The point is, sometimes what we plan to do, doesn't end up being the right call in the end.

Regrets and wish fulfillment happen when authors stop listening to their characters.

And, this doesn't just apply to romance. You may plan for a story to have a happy ending only to discover that what fits best is for your main character to die. For example, many readers felt cheated that Harry didn't die at the end of the Harry Potter series. Others were disappointed that Prim did die at the end of Mockingjay. I was disappointed at the end of The One, by Kiera Cass when the King was killed (and off-screen!) and everything seemed to wrap up in a nice little bow for America. I felt like the author had enough material to write a fourth book and it ended too easily.

Read my review of The One by Kiera Cass

Your readers want your characters to overcome struggles and to earn what they have. And, sometimes, when your characters are up against a threat that should kill them, they want them to die. You have to be aware enough as a writer to see when your outline is going in the wrong direction and make a change.

So how can you avoid this? Here's five tips.

1. Don't over-plot. Keep your outline simple. That way it can guide you without dictating what you write.

2. Be open to change. Your outline isn't carved in stone. You can, and should adjust it as necessary.

3. Listen to your characters. How do they really feel about other characters and things going on around them?

4. Think about how your reader will feel about what they get to see and what they don't. Should you show or tell this scene? (Deaths and Romance off camera can be disappointing, but throwing them in for no reason can be equally troublesome).

5. Is there anything that feels "too easy?" Don't let anything wrap itself up into a nice little bow.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Years Resolution Book Tag

I read an awesome post on BOOKS, BOXES, & BAUBLES the other day about a New Years reading challenge. It sounded like fun so I thought I'd give it a go. Below are my challenge choices to complete in 2017.




An author you’d like to read (that you’ve never read before).

Gillian Flynn - I really want to read Gone Girl before I watch the movie!

A book you’d like to read.

A Million Little Pieces by James J. Frey - This is a little outside my normal genre, but I think I'll really like it.

A classic you’d like to read.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - Seriously, the fact that I haven't read this yet is a shame.

A book you’d like to re-read.

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout - One of my all-time favorites. Read my review.

A book you’ve had for ages and want to read.

Don't Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout

A big book you’d like to read.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - This is another one that's different from my usual picks.

An author you’ve previously read and want to read more of.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver - I loved Delirium, and honestly have no idea how I haven't read this yet.

A book you got for Christmas and would like to read.

I didn't get any books for Christmas. :( But, I downloaded some awesome indies over the holidays that I'll be working my way through.

A series you want to read (start and finish)

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - Yes, gasp, I haven't read all of Harry Potter. I started the first book and never finished. What can I say, I was young and the movies came out.

A series you want to finish (that you’ve already started)

The Sweet Evil series by Wendy Higgins - I've already read the trilogy, but I haven't read Sweet Temptation, which is told from Kaidan's eyes.

Do you set reading goals? If so, how many books do you want to read in 2017?

Yes! But after returning from hiatus my goal for the year is rather pathetic. I'm setting it super low at 15 books. That's a little over a book a month and should be easy-peasy and I'll be close to hitting that with this list alone. But, I do also work 50+ hours a week at my day job and I really want to publish Unearthed After Sunset this year!


Now, I'm supposed to tag a fellow blogger to post their own resolutions, but I can't pick just one. So, if anyone wants to post their New Years Reading Resolutions, please share a link in the comments below.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Goddess Interrupted (The Goddess Test #2) by Aimee Carter


2.5 Stars. The ending of this book ruined it. After reading The Goddess Test I was eager to see Kate learn to be a goddess. I wanted to see her take on new responsibilities and for her relationship with Henry to develop. But, I didn’t get any of that in this book. Kate and the other Gods are attacked by Cronus pretty early on in the story, Kate doesn’t get a single lesson on what her responsibilities as Queen of the Underworld will be, and Henry is captured separating him from Kate and keeping them from growing as a couple. That said, this story did take me on a fun journey and Kate does discover some of her powers on her own. I liked that we got to meet Persephone and there was an interesting dynamic with her and Kate, as they are sisters. Plus she and Henry do work through some things at the end and Henry is able to resolve some things with Persephone which I think needed to happen for him to move on.

I think what disappointed me most about this book was that Kate started out as a really strong character in the first book, and even in this one she returns to the Underworld after spending her Summer in Greece. She seemed independent and capable. But the second she returned to the Underworld that all went away. She got back and turned into this girl who defined herself by her feelings for Henry. At one point she said, “without Henry, I didn’t know who I was anymore,” and it really bothered me. Then, during the fight with Cronus, she basically just got in the way and then <spoiler> got captured </spoiler> in what felt like a really stupid way. Since Kate was the main character and we see this story through her eye I really wanted to see her be the hero of her own story a little more.

She and Henry did have some time together at the end of the book, but then he went on to deal with more god-business that Kate was again left out of, and seeing her character become so dependent on him was really disappointing.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Why You Should KILL Your Word Count

Many writers, myself included, get hung up on the word count of their stories. A full length novel is described as being around 80,000 words. So, that becomes the goal - putting 80,000 words on a page. But if you don't write 80,000 words of QUALITY CONTENT, then what you've really got is 60,000 words with 20,000 words of filler.

No one wants filler. Filler is the mystery meat in a hot dog. Filler is episode 14 of your favorite TV show where nothing from episode 13 is even mentioned. Filler is the vanilla in a Neapolitan ice cream when all you want is the chocolate and strawberry. Filler is bad. All it does is take up space.

A novel that is 60,000 words, without the filler is better than one that's 80,000 and jam-packed with mystery meat and useless vanilla ice cream. So how can you cut the fat?


1. Cut Dead Words: Words like very, just, then, up, down, really, very, ect... - If the sentence makes sense without it, then it doesn't need to be there. Cutting out dead words makes your writing more concise and allows your sentences to be more powerful. Aim for short, meaningful sentences.

2. Don't Filter Actions through Your Characters: This is common in third person narratives, but happens in first person stories as well. Don't say "Anita heard the loud boom of the fireworks," Say "The fireworks boomed in the sky." Not only will you use less words, but your scenes will be more powerful. Filtering should only be used when the author wants to shift POV to another character.

3. Stay Away from Purple Prose: Don't over-describe things, and don't describe unnecessary things. Descriptions that get too detailed can pull a reader out of the story. I don't want to read ten lines describing your character's outfit. Unless Sally's red dress is important to the plot you don't need to describe it at all.

4. Cut Your First Chapter: Maybe even the second one as well. It's common when starting a novel to write a lot of backstory - even unintentionally, at the very beginning. Does your book start with something mundane, like your character walking down the street or driving to work? Do you spend a few chapters introducing characters? Then slice and dice. Kill your darlings, forget your word count and be honest with yourself about where your novel really begins. You can sprinkle any important information throughout your story later on.

5. Cut Unnecessary Scenes: When you read over your novel think about each scene as you read it. Is that scene necessary for the story? Does it progress the plot or reveal something about one of your characters? If your story makes sense without it, then it has to go. Some scenes may be able to be combined together, while others should just be cut completely.