Family shows you
who is healthy and who is
unhealthy for you.
Family shows you
who is healthy and who is
unhealthy for you.
I like to think
of finding fault
in others is more
some of you
are mostly light
with ink blotches of
and others of you
are engulfed in dark,
save for faint, shining rays.
And I am white
everything of a canvas,
for the yin-yang
of you two
to mix your
flaws as colors
my blank body
- Over-explanation. This includes prologues. “Prologues are never needed. You can usually throw them in the garbage. They’re usually put on as a patch.”
- Too much data. “You’re trying to seduce your reader, not burden them,” Friedman said.
- Over-writing, or “trying too hard.” “We think the more description we add, the more vivid it will be; but we don’t want to be distracted from the story” we open the book for.
- Beginning the novel with an interior monologue or reflection. Usually this is written as the thoughts of a character who is sitting alone, musing and thinking back on a story. Just start with the story.
- Beginning the novel with a flashback. Friedman isn’t entirely anti-flashback, but the novel’s opening page is the wrong place for one.
- Beginning a novel with the “waking up sequence” of a character waking, getting out of bed, putting on slippers, heading for the kitchen and coffee…a cliche
- Related cliche: beginning the novel with an alarm clock or a ringing phone
- Starting out with an “ordinary day’s routine” for the main character
- Beginning with “crisis moments” that aren’t unique: “When the doctor said ‘malignant,’ my life changed forever…” or “The day my father left us I was seven years old…”
- Don’t start with a dialogue that doesn’t have any context. Building characterization through dialogue is okay anywhere else but there.
- Starting with backstory, or “going back, then going forward.”
- Info dump. More formally called “exposition.”
- Character dump, which is four or more characters on the first page.
One thing I’ve always noticed is how some people find it amazingly difficult to write pregnant characters. A couple of months ago I wrote a full story about a pregnancy, and I did my research. So I might be able to help.» Make sure you want to do this
Keep in mind that a pregnancy isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It takes doctor appointments, a lot of exhaustion, sickness and, most importantly, time. If you didn’t know, it takes about nine months for a baby to be born. That’s almost 275 days. That means that you should only go on if you really want to create a baby in your story, because you can’t skip too much time - it isn’t like the movies where in one scene the lady’s finding out she’s pregnant, and in the other, she’s already in labor.
Here’s a tip: if you really want to make your characters happy and thrilled with the news of baby, but you can’t afford the time and sweat that it takes to cook one, you have from 21-23 weeks to write a miscarriage.» Pre-Pregnancy
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the conception. Even if you don’t write any kind of smutty scenes, you should let the reader know when and where the pregnancy started.
Unprotected Sex: think about how you’re going to put this in your story. If your characters are usually responsible, they won’t simply forget wearing a condom. Think about what is going on: are they completely sane? Are they under the influence of alcohol? Are they high (which, I must say, wouldn’t exactly make your characters irresponsible - it would either get them too horny to care or even more responsible than they already are)? Or are your characters already drowned to each other in a way that they can’t think of anything else? Are they married and actually planned on having this baby? All of this will have an influence on how the pregnancy will flow, and how it will affect people around it.
I often get questions from Anons asking me what is appropriate to use in a novel, from song quotes to character names of wildly popular characters from other books (names that are obviously more unique than just Sarah or Alice or Amelia). So I’m going to lay the groundwork of what writers can and can’t use in their novels—or for their novels.
- Quotes from song lyrics. You can’t do this. Period. If you want to use quoted song lyrics, you would have to get permission from the artists themselves—and you would likely have to pay a heady sum of money to obtain that permission. A big part of the reason why you can’t do this is because song lyrics are often so short in the first place, and if you misquote even one word, you run the risk of being sued. In fact, you run the risk of being sued period if your book is somehow published with quoted song lyrics from an actual band.
- Names of fictional characters. One Anon asked me if he or she could use a fictional character’s name as a nickname for one of his/her characters. As far as I know, this is not copyright infringement, especially if the character whose nicknamed Harry Potter does not in anyway resemble the actual Harry Potter. It is also not copyright infringement to use a fictional character’s name in passing. For example, in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Leonard frequently mentions Holden Caulfield as a comparison to himself. Holden Caulfield, however, is not an actual character in the book. There’s also the question of cameos, and whether or not a writer can use an actual character as a cameo in the book. This is on shaky ground, because using a published fictional character as a cameo technically is not copyright infringement, until that character actually starts talking. However, from the article I linked to you, you still run the risk of being sued. Fan fiction is an entirely different matter, as most writers don’t profit from this work, and authors want to please enthusiastic readers. (I would both cry and feel EXTREMELY flattered if someone were to ever write a fanfiction of my book, When Stars Die.)
- Public domain. Any book before 1923 is fair use. Granted this does not mean you can re-write the entire book. Basically this means you can quote these works, while attributing their authors to them, in your novels. Frenchie,from Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez, frequently talks about Emily Dickinson and quotes her as well. Libba Bray puts a part of Tennyson’s poem, The Lady of Shallot, in A Great and Terrible Beauty. And when I do revisions for my novels, I’d like for my protagonist to quote parts of Edgar Allen Poe.
- Titles. You don’t need permission to use song titles, movie titles, book titles, television titles, and so on and so forth. You can also include the names of things, place, and events and people in your work without permission. I mention Paula Dean in brief passing in the current work I’m writing, because she owns a restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, the place my character lives.
- Pictures. I’m primarily talking about if you’re self-publishing or are allowed to work with your publisher (usually small press) on designing the cover. ANY stock photos listed on any stock photo website is fair game and can be photoshopped as much as you want to. However, you often have to buy these photos, but once you pay for them, they are yours to do with what you want. Unfortunately, you run the risk of having a similar book cover as another book, especially if you don’t do too much to that image beyond slapping your name and title of the book on it. The cover for When Stars Die received a heavy makeover, so it is not likely that I will find another book using my exact cover. I may find a book using the girl on the cover, but the plum blossoms, the colors, how the girl was edited, and my title and name are probably going to be next to impossible to find on another book.
- Quoting famous people. If the quote from, let’s say, a famous speech in the past, is over 100 years old, that work is likely in the public domain, so it’s fair to use quotes from Georgie Washington or another popular figure.
- Referencing facts. If you’re referencing facts, like how the universe was made, this is not copyright infringement—they are unadorned facts. For the current novel I’m working on, I did use a website to help Gene’s teacher explain black holes, because Gene uses black holes as a motif to describe how people can have an effect on one another. However, because this is knowledge that you can pick up from any text book or even an astronomy class you took, I don’t need to quote the source I took it from because I did not repeat word-for-word what that website said. The website simply listed facts that you can find anywhere from a legitimate source.
- Using quotes from TV, films, or advertising. These are copyrighted, so don’t use them, unless you want to get sued.
For now, these are the only points I can think of on what writers are allowed to use and not use in their novels. If someone can think of anything more, feel free to re-blog and add to this list!
Ask Box is always open, and I think this is the last day for my book/Amazon gift card giveaway, so you better enter while you can!
I’ve thrown water bottles
and cell phones
and just about everything that
I see in the
corner of my eye
when my stomach
simmers with anger.
But each time
I grab my heart
and arch my arm
for another three-pointer,
this beating flesh
turns to lead
and I am forced to
put the dead weight
back into the skeleton
of my body.
I’m editing a book right now. It is its own happy brand of hell — but, for all its hellishness, it’s also a process I dearly love because it’s like purification through flames. It’s a powerful ste…
Chuck Wendig on editing. A good read. NSFW for language, if you care.
There’s a month
left of summer
and I’ve never
You should see me,
I’m out more nights than ever.
I haven’t had time to
pick up one of those romance novels
that take my breath away;
I’m too busy inhaling as much oxygen as I can
in morning runs and
Did you know I gained five pounds
just last week?
I had to buy a new bra. And then
I bought new panties and dresses too
because I forgot how exhilarating
it felt to treat
One night I stayed up
till 5 AM.
Wrote an entire song.
I was hella tired the next morning
and I’m still trying to figure out the chords,
but I have my heartbeat
and my mind is
Remind me to sing it for you when school starts again.