Writing Starter Guide

Looking to get organized with your writing but don’t know where to start?

Lumi’s coming to the rescue with two free planning templates!

Feel free to modify them as you see fit.

Good luck!

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This Is War

I challenge all of you to a war.

A word war.

“But Lumi, what if we don’t know what a word war is?”

Good question.

And since you’re all here, let me explain what a word war is first.

A word war is when you and at least one other person agree to write for a set amount of time. At the end of said word war, both of you share how many words you wrote. It is optional to share what you exactly wrote, but some do it for fun.

Example:

Person A: Let’s do a word war from XX:10 to XX:20.

Person B: I’m in.

Person A: The war is over. How much did you write?

Person B: I wrote 329 words. What about you?

Person A: I wrote 284 words. Nice job!

Word wars are a fun way to encourage and support fellow writers. Sure, there may be that one person who writes more than everyone else, but it’s not a competition. It’s all done in good fun, and at the end of the day, everyone benefits. Especially if you’re prone to procrastination.

Anywho, hope you find this writing trick useful! 🙂

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

S T A T U S

[] Open

[✓] Closed

N O T E

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 anyway. 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.

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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.