Camp NaNo Surprise!

In an attempt to be more regular with my blog posts on here, I have a surprise for you all.

During the month of July, I plan to interview four successful writers from Wattpad about their writing journey. Every Friday in July, you’ll get the chance to read a new interview.

I’m hoping that these interviews will motivate you all to work hard and make July’s Camp NaNo a success. (For those of you who don’t know what Camp NaNo is, click here.)

Depending on how well the interviews go, I might extend it into August with four more writers. So, if you’d like to see more interviews on this blog, please be vocal.

In other news, I made a Twitter account last month. You can find me at @astrolumi.

As of right now, there is barely any content on it, but as soon as I get more comfortable with it, I hope to use it more for sharing quote art and other miscellaneous writing tips.

For those of you follow me on Wattpad, this next bit may be old news, but I have a new story on Wattpad! It’s called The Happiness Project. Here’s the lovely cover that KellyGe designed for me:

A dialogue story about a depressed girl who signs up to have her own life sponsor. The content may be a bit triggering for some, but the story is meant to be light-hearted and inspiring.

As always, the cover above is a clickable cover, so if you’d like to see what happens in the story, just click the cover to read more. As of this post, there are seven parts posted.

Thank you all so much for reading this post! Enjoy the rest of your day/night. 🙂

Length Matters

Did I really just make a sexual innuendo in the title?

Yes, yes, I did.

Anywho, I feel like it’s been ages since my last writing guide. I swear, I must have already written on every major topic in writing, but if you guys think I missed anything, just reach out to me via my contact page. I’m all ears for suggestions, and I consider each and every one of them.

Moving on… if you haven’t guessed already, this writing guide is all about chapter length. How long is long enough and how long is too long? If you’ve ever been curious about what the perfect range for chapters is or even what to focus on in your chapters, keep reading.

As opposed to short stories, chapter novels are split up into many installments called chapters. (Yes, I know this is obvious, but give me a moment. I’m getting somewhere good.) Each chapter builds on top of the other, like a tower. If the foundation is weak, the whole tower will collapse.

But that’s not all.

Each individual chapter should have a purpose, whether it is in furthering the plot or making your characters more developed. Ever heard of the term “filler chapter” before? Well, you’re going to want to avoid those, because in my opinion, it makes your writing weak and ineffective.

Sure, I mean, some people see filler chapters as necessary, but even the most basic of chapters can move the plot forward or develop a character more. Even if we only learn that Bob is afraid of sushi or that Lucy has sex with cats, that’s great for character development!

So, to me, a filler chapter is where nothing happens, but I don’t think it’s possible to write a filler chapter because no matter what you do, something will be revealed. Even characters watching TV tells you something about what genre they like or what their daily routine looks like.

(Side Note: Please note that revealing information pertinent to the plot is most important when it comes to character development. If you go on about TV preferences in a story about surviving in the jungle, that is too much. Not unless you use it as a bridge to talk about reality TV shows the character watched to demonstrate their survival knowledge. So, be careful.)

Let’s think big picture for a second.

Does this following image look familiar to anyone?

That’s the most watered down form of how you should be thinking about novels. However, each piece in that diagram should not be reserved for just one chapter, and not all novels go in that order, but most of them do fit the chart.

If you think of your novel as a puzzle, then each individual chapter is a puzzle piece. You want each puzzle piece to fit into the puzzle so you can form a larger image; your novel. So, what do I recommend to include in every chapter?

Make sure your chapter includes at least one of the following:

1) A plot-defining event. Example: If you are writing about a fugitive outlaw on the run, this could be their great escape or even a fight scene. (Try to limit this to one event, so you can properly describe it, but depending on the event itself, you could have more than one present.)

2) An event that furthers character development. Example: Let’s say you’re writing a teen fiction novel about a boy who is bullied. He’s doing his homework in the school library. The bully shows up. If the boy decides he’s fed up and he fights back for once, this builds up his character.

3) This last one is a bit rare, but an event that foreshadows future conflict. Example: Your characters are practicing wizards. One of them gets hungry for tacos, so they all head out, but they leave their wands at home. You can briefly describe it to tease the readers and hint at possible consequences to come.

So, Lumi, this is great and all, but… how many words should a chapter be?

Well, I don’t really focus on word count when I write a chapter. I focus on the importance of the chapter as a whole. Is it doing at least one or more of the three things listed above?

Once I’ve satisfied that requirement, then…

I make sure that the chapter is between 2k and 3k words long. My weakness in writing is writing descriptive chapters, so having a range like this alongside my above requirement helps me write fuller and more engaging chapters. (If I fall short, I go back and expand my details out more.)

So far, using this method, I haven’t written over my 3k word limit.

2k to 3k words might not be a practical range for everyone, though, because different genres have different demands on the writer. For example, fantasy and science-fiction novels tend to have longer chapters than other genres. (I’m fairly sure this is because of all the worldbuilding.)

If you find 2k to 3k words too high of a target to aim for, it’s okay to lower that range to 1k to 2k words. However, I strongly suggest you to stay within 1k to 3k words for a chapter.

If you go below 1k words, then you might have a problem with not describing enough or making the scenes too short. If you go above 3k words, you risk losing your reader’s attention or the chapter could become so long that you lose focus on what it’s even about.

(That, of course, excludes short or dialogue stories where chapters are short on purpose.)

Protip: If you struggle with summarizing your chapter in one sentence, you probably made it too long.

And… that’s about all I’ve got. Thanks for reading!

Got any questions? Leave a comment below or contact me through my contact page.

Free First Chapter Book Reviews

[✓] Open

[] Closed

If this is your first time on my blog, welcome! I am so glad you could join us here. After you read through this post, feel free to explore around. I have a lot of helpful writing guides posted, and I’m sure you’ll be able to learn at least one new thing from me.

And even if this isn’t your first visit here, I welcome you anyways. It’s always nice to see a return visitor even if I don’t know who any of you are. It just makes me glad that someone could find my blog useful enough to revisit time and time again.

So, now, let’s get straight to the point, shall we?

Writing guides are great and all, but they’re not perfect. Nothing beats having a second pair of eyes to skim over your work and let you know what looks off. This post is me offering to be your second (and third pair) of eyes. (Yes, I wear glasses.)

As you can tell by the title of this post, I will be doing this service for free. However, if you find my feedback useful or you simply want to thank me for my time, I encourage you all to look at some of my works displayed on the home page of this blog.

Again, this is not mandatory, because I will be offering reviews for free.

Now without further ado, let’s lay down some ground rules.

Continue reading

Nightmare is back!

“Lumi. Why are you spending so much time on short stories lately? When can we expect to see that fantasy book that you’ve been teasing us about?”

Sshh. Patience. I’ve got a plan. Besides, Nightmare is a fan favorite and it is complete. So, posting it part by part (with some minor edits) will not prevent me from working on other projects, alright?

Also, remember Superhero Hotline? It’s going really well. I’m nearing the halfway point of it, and it’s helping me with the habit of writing daily. (Plus, it’s a nice mental break.)

“That’s a relief. I thought you were going to delete it just like you did to—”

Quiet. We do not speak of that project.

“But—”

No more words. Now, look at this lovely cover that a friend of mine made. It’s also a clickable cover, so if you click it, it’ll take you to the story. As of this blog post, there are six parts up, but I will post a new one every other day. That’s enough of me talking. Go forth and enjoy the ride!

Superhero Hotline is here!

“Lumi, what is Superhero Hotline? I’m sure it’s great, but… it wasn’t in your Writing Goals for 2017 post.”

That’s a great question. Well, for starters, for those who don’t know me, I can be very impulsive. In this past month, I’m sure some of you may remember seeing a post that Shattered Sky was now available to be read. Then I took it down shortly after.

To put it simply, I am a rather impulsive person when it comes to writing. When a great idea comes along, I can’t help but be fixated by it. But sometimes, that idea may not be as great as I originally imagined it to be, which explains what happened to Shattered Sky.

“Then why are you sharing this Superhero Hotline with us? What if it goes away, too?”

Another great question. That’s the thing with writing. Sometimes, you just have to jump in and take a risk to find out if it was worth it. The only things you regret are the things you didn’t do when you had the chance. I’m feeling somewhat confident about this story, too.

So, if you want to give it a chance, click on the cover image below. There are five parts posted so far. It is also told in dialogue story format, so it is a quick (and hopefully enjoyable) read, too.

That’s all from me this time. Hope you all have a wonderful day/night!

My name is…

Look at the title of this blog post.

Cringe.

Why? Because that is exactly how you do not want to start off your first chapter.

Not unless you want all your readers to run away mid-chapter from your book.

Um, Lumi. This is a writing guide. I feel so attacked right now.

Welcome to the real world.

Kidding. Kidding.

Back to the original topic, then.

So, how do you even start the first chapter? Well, there is no formula for writing a great first chapter, but here are some tips that can help guide you in the right direction.

1. Start as close to the ending as possible.

If your story is about a girl that gets kidnapped while she is on vacation, do not make the first chapter about her waking up in the morning and doing her routine. No, you want to start closer than that. Maybe, you write about her packing. Or maybe, you write about her already on the vacation. Just some food for thought. Starting off with an action-filled chapter raises the chance that a potential reader will stick around to read more.

2. Do not, and I repeat do not, stuff information down your reader’s throat.

I mean, sometimes, it can’t be avoided. But if you go on for too many paragraphs about things that have nothing to do with the current action, you need to stop. We get it. You created this fantastical world and now, you want to share every single detail about that. It’s great and all, but just shoving all that down at once will not leave a good impression.

Readers like me sniff out info-dumping chapters and run before it gets too long.

It’s recommended (by me, of course) to slip in tiny pieces of your world development over the span of the book (or books) to keep the reader on their toes. You get to share your wonderful world, and the reader gets to read something that isn’t just an encyclopedia about a made-up world. I mean, if you want, you could write an encyclopedia…

Ahem. Moving on.

3. Take your time when writing out your first chapter.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, you’d be surprised at how many people rush through their first chapter just to get to their second or third or… nth chapter. And because they didn’t develop their plot well enough in the first chapter, the mistakes carry over.

And what do you end up with in the end? A sloppy story riddled with plot holes. Try to be patient, if you can. Writing will get much easier once you have a few chapters written. You’ll also want to make sure your motivations are in the right place, too.

When you write because you love it, your words will glow and your writing will shine brilliantly. People can tell whether or not you actually care. It’s hard to explain how, but once you’ve read/written enough books, you can learn to tell the difference.

On that note, if you plan to share your story on Wattpad, I recommend writing a few chapters ahead of time. This way, if you decide you don’t want to continue writing the story, at least you won’t disappoint readers. Plus, you’ll seem more responsible.

This is the strategy I’m taking with my future novels. It also gives you a good buffer room if you forget to write a chapter one week. If you plan to post only once a week, imagine how long 5 chapters would last you. 10 chapters. 20 chapters. Or even 30 chapters.

You’ll be on track to complete the book. And for those who have not yet completed a book, this can be very reassuring and good news. This has gotten way off track, so I’ll start wrapping it up. If anyone wants personal writing advice, don’t be afraid to reach out!

Just leave a comment or contact me through my contact page. I’ll be happy to talk to you about your writing or just to bounce ideas with you. Please note that I won’t actually read/edit/critique your writing because I’m a university student with little free time.

I’ll try to respond back within 48 hours. Farewell for now, then.

 

Writing for Yourself

So far, you’ve written and shared a few chapters of your current work-in-progress. Things are probably going well for you. Maybe you have one or two loyal readers by now who always comment. You’re proud of all the progress you’ve made in so little time.

But then you hit a wall.

Or, better yet, you’ve completed many books before and you’re nearing the end of yet another book. You have many fans who love your writing, and you feel quite accomplished. Completing your current work-in-progress should be easy enough.

But then, you hit that wall.

All in all, it doesn’t matter where you are in your writing journey. Everyone hits a wall at one point or another. And in this writing guide, I will explain why it happens as well as what you can do to get over the wall. So, get ready to take some notes. This is important.

“Let me stop you right there. This sounds great and all, but… what wall are you talking about?”

It goes without stating that I am not talking about a physical wall here. No, I’m talking about something far worse than a physical wall. I’m talking about a metaphorical wall.

When you first start writing, you have this certain motivation that keeps you going. No matter your writing ability, you just keep writing as much as you can type. And if you can keep writing as you do while improving, you might even be able to bypass the wall.

But for those who hit the wall early on, here’s why.

You start to judge yourself for being new to writing. You nitpick over every single word and question why you can’t be as great as so-and-so. You spend so much time worrying and editing your work that you fail to do the one thing you need to do to improve; write more.

Ask any writer about the first book they wrote and very few of them will be confident about it. And that’s expected. I mean, you can’t make great books as a newbie in the writing field. If you could, there would be a lot more books getting published out there.

So, don’t be afraid if it takes you 5, 10, or even 20 books before you start to see improvement in your ability to effectively write a story that people would want to read.

I mean, you’re already at an advantage. If you’ve been reading my guides, you know a few things more than a random person that decides to take up writing today.

And just to make this super motivational, here’s a great quote I admire:

Moving onto the other side of the spectrum, let’s say you’ve written many novels before, but you still hit that wall and you can’t fathom how it could happen to you. This could apply to anyone and most people experience this at one point or another.

At some point, you’ve either written so much that you’ve burnt yourself out or you’ve drifted away from writing because of other obligations, such as work or school. Now, you barely have time to write plus you lack the motivation or the will to actually write.

If this happens to you, here is the first thing you should do.

Ask yourself if you still love to write.

If you still love writing and you are truly passionate, you will get over this wall. Trust me. I’ve been in this place many, many times, but every time, I make it over that wall and I keep going. My love for writing is stronger than any obstacle that stands in my way.

But quitting is never the answer. Even if your schedule only allows you to write for five minutes a day, make the time for it. Heck, you could write while waiting for breakfast/lunch/dinner to be ready. You could write a few words while on the toilet, even.

Because as long as you make progress day-by-day, you are moving forward. The person that writes 200 words a day every day for a month is better off than the person who writes 1,000 words once a week for that same month. Assuming a month with 30 days, the first person will end up with 6,000 words versus 4,000 from the other person.

As long as you love writing and you are truly passionate, you will find a way to write. It may be hard, but it’ll be worth it. And before you know it, you’ll be over that wall, too. Once you make it over one wall, it’ll get easier to bounce back if you ever get stuck again.

Got any questions? Leave a comment below or contact me through my contact page.

Writing Goals for 2017

Happy New Year, everyone!

Since it’s officially 2017 (as of this post), I thought it might be a fun idea to share a few of my planned writing projects for this new year.

Please keep in mind, though, that this is only my goals/plans. I might not even get to some of these projects this year. I do hope on at least starting all of them sometime this year.

Now, without further ado, here they are!

(The covers are most likely going to be adjusted, but feel free to share feedback anyways.)

1. The Last Star: A Lost Constellation

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: Spring/Summer 2017

Summary:

Dearest Aurelia,

I send my deepest condolences for the deaths of all your closest relatives, many of which I am responsible for. Without them, that leaves you as the last member of the Sanctus species, and I’d hate for you to remain ever so lonely. Do not worry, dear. I will send someone to take care of you, too.

Best Wishes,

– Victor Frost

2. Captain Flynn: Space Explorer

Genre: Science-Fiction

Release Date: Late Spring/Early Summer 2017

Summary:

“After years of searching, humans have finally found another planet suitable for supporting life. Immediately following the discovery, at the discretion of the national government, NASA filed away all information pertaining to the planet’s discovery.

However, this all changed one day, when a hacker leaked the files to the public eye. Many were outraged and shocked that their government would hide something so monumental from them for such a long time.

And due to the growing issue of overpopulation, many wished to settle this new planet as soon as possible. Threatened by the people, the government gave into the request but they had to do this the smart way.

Not wanting to risk too many lives, it was decided that a small test group would be sent out as an experiment. If they are able to survive and prove that the planet is livable in the long-term, then preparations would be made for a full-scale settlement.

The first group was selected and the date for take-off was approaching. However, the discovery of a few dangerous secrets prompted Captain Flynn and his crew to steal the ship and leave on their own.

As soon as the government found out, they decided to cut off all communication between the ship and the headquarters. They would still monitor their results in secret but the first group would be 100% on their own as a punishment for leaving too early.

Whether they can survive or not will depend on how well they are able to work as a group. Humanity is counting on them. Good luck, Flynn Morris.”

3. Shattered Sky

Genre: Short Story

Release Date: Fall/Winter 2017

Summary:

“You were my star, but I was not your sky.”

Time Management

You’re probably asking yourself this right now:

“Lumi, what does time management have to do with writing novels?”

And here is how I would answer:

“If you can’t manage your time, you won’t have the time to write.”

Because you can’t just plan the novel, leave your story notes under your pillow, and wake up with a completed manuscript. That’s not how writing works. Or how life works.

You need to put in the time and the hard work to bring that novel to completion. And how do you find the time? You make the time by getting your priorities straight. And how do you do that second part? Keep reading this lovely guide by yours truly.

Anyways, the best way to learn how to manage your time is to first identify what you need to do with your time. If you know all the tasks you need to do, you can allocate time for each individual task to make sure you complete as many as possible, if not all.

Let me illustrate this with an example.

Let’s say we need to help Sally organize her Thursday afternoon so she can have enough time to go see the school play with her friends from 7:30pm to 8:30pm. Her school finishes at 2:45pm and by the time she gets home, it’s 3pm. She also needs to eat, write a report for her history class, do her math homework, and complete a worksheet for Chemistry.

This is how I would organize her schedule:

3:00pm to 3:15pm Lunch

3:15pm to 4:45pm History Report

4:45pm to 5:00pm Short Break

5:00pm to 6:15pm Math Homework

6:15pm to 6:30pm Short Break

6:30pm to 7:15pm Chemistry Worksheet

By 7:15pm, she’s done with all her homework and as a reward, she can get dressed and ready to leave to see the school play with her friends. When it’s over and done with, she doesn’t have to worry about rushing through the rest of her homework like all her other friends. She’s even got another hour or so until bedtime that she can spend doing something she likes to do. Like working on her story or watching a TV show.

“But how will I know which tasks to do first?”

Simple. Do the things that are most important first. (ie. The ones with the nearest due date or, if due on the same day, the ones worth the higher percentage of your grade.) This might seem oddly school-specific, but if you have to pay a certain bill by a certain date, it’s going to be higher on your priority list than organizing your closet, for example.

“When I’m on my laptop, I do everything except what I need to do. What do I do?”

Luckily for you, there are plenty of sites and applications out there that can completely block your access to those so-called timewasters like social media and YouTube. I’ll link a few of my favorites right here, and you can pick to use the one that’s best for you.

StayFocusd (plug-in for Google Chrome)

Cold Turkey (downloadable for Mac and Windows)

SelfControl (downloadable for Mac)

There are tons more than just these three, so feel free to explore all your options.

“Any tips for remembering all the tasks?”

I’m glad you asked. Writing things down is the single best way to make sure you remember to do them. Your brain is designed to remember the things that you write down. Why else is note taking recommended so much in school? The more you take notes about something, the more likely you’ll remember it on test day. (Study Tip: Revisit your notes.)

Anyways, if you don’t mind carrying around a planner, writing all your tasks in there would be very helpful for you. But if you’re lazy like me and you want something more convenient, there are an abundance of to-do list applications. My favorite, of course, is Todoist. Not only does it have a mobile app, but it has its own website, too.

And both of them sync with each other. So, I can add my homework assignments to my list while I’m at class and later on, when I’m on my laptop, I can see clearly everything that I need to do. Apologies for keeping this school-focused but even if you are not attending any form of education, I am sure you’ll find these tips helpful somehow for your daily life.

I’m a university student myself, so connecting everything back to education is the best way for me to explain time management. So, moving on, I think you have all the tools to be fairly successful at time management. Don’t worry if it takes a few tries to master down the skills. Once you get comfortable with managing your time, it’ll get easier.

Got any questions? Leave a comment below or contact me through my contact page.

“Hello. How may I-“

“Hello. How may I-“

“How do I write non-traditional stories?”

“What do you mean? Like… short stories? Or even poems?”

“No. Like, those stories that aren’t just full of description and prose. Because if you expect me to ramble on and on about how the outside world looks, you’ve got another thing coming your way. I mean, can’t you just tell a story through dialogue?”

“Well, there are different ways of telling a story. Not all of them need prose.”

“Tell me more.”

“Have a seat, and I’ll explain it all.”


Just like the above example explains, there is more than one way to tell a story. And that’s great because we all have different strengths and weaknesses as writers. For example, you may be great at writing purple prose for pages on end but terrible at writing fight scenes.

You just have to pick the writing style that best suits your strengths and masks your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to play around with more than one or all of the styles. Exploring as a writer is the best way to find what works and doesn’t work for you.

Now, for the list.

  1. Traditional Story Writing: You know the type. Narrative-based. Told in chapters. Each chapter is typically around 1,500 to 2,500 words long. And there is a lot of description with these. Some writers are known to spread it all over and in thick amounts, too. Sure, description is nice and all, but it can get excessive pretty fast. So, if you choose this type, make sure to strike a balance between description and action. (Example? Look at almost every published novel out there.)
  2. A One-Shot: This is written much like the first type, aside from one major difference. Instead of being told in many chapters, this type of story is finished and wrapped up within one chapter. Hence the name. It’s definitely easier to write, but you’ll be restricted by how much you can develop your world and characters. So, a more complex plot is better off being written using the long and descriptive style. (Example? Check this out.)
  3. A Short Story: This is very different from a one-shot. While both have a short total word count, it’s all about the presentation that matters. One-shots have all their words concentrated in one post while short stories are told with short chapters. For example, I wrote a short story called Nightmare before. 25 parts. 4.8k words total. The average length of each part? About 200 words. The whole thing was a 10-minute read, but you still got a great experience from reading it. It was deep, metaphorical, and I loved every second of writing it. It also made a great freewrite, too, and I just jumped in to write a new part every time without any preplanning. Problems with it? None as far as I can tell, but you’ll have to be succinct yet descriptive at the same time and not a lot of people can pull that off well. (Example? There are many, but I will restrict myself to just one. Here it is.)
  4. Dialogue Stories: Last but not least, you can tell a story in pure dialogue. It’s been done before, and it certainly is a fun style to try out. The only problem is that you’ll need to choose a way for your characters to communicate. Phone call. Text message. Group chat. Skype. Kik. The list goes on and on. Well, there are more problems, too. Like finding a reason for your characters to speak in the first place. If they are strangers, how do they meet and switch info? But I’ll let you figure out those on your own. Who knows? Maybe I’ll make a special blog post just for this style of writing in the future. (Example? I’m addicted to reading these, so I’ll give you two. This one and this one. )

There are many more ways to write. It’s not just these four categories. A great friend of mine is writing a screenplay over on Wattpad. If you’re interested, click here to check it out. You could also tell a story in letters or diary entries, too. The sky isn’t the limit anymore. As long as you can think it up, you can do it. Anyways, time to wrap up this blog post. [It’s subject to editing like much of my writing guides, of course.]

Got any questions? Leave a comment below or contact me through my contact page.