Guest Post: Writing Diversity in Fiction

Guest Post: Writing Diversity in Fiction

Since it’s been difficult trying to keep up with my blogging lately due to being so burned out from technical writing because of my senior thesis (can I hurry up and graduate already?), S.A. Starcevic, author of Untouchable, was kind enough to do a guest post for me. By the way, if you would like to do a guest post for my blog, simply e-mail me at My blog receives a few thousand views each month.

So here is his post on writing diversity!

A lot of writers think there’s some magical formula when it comes to representing minorities in fiction – whether it’s same-sex relationships, gender non-conforming characters or PoCs, or something else. But the answer is a lot simpler.

Just write.

That’s not all there is to it, of course. I’m paraphrasing. You still need to do research and explore the experiences of minorities, especially if their trials and tribulations are a driving plot point. (You should be wary of doing this unless you’re really and truly well-versed; if you’re not careful, you could be exploiting their struggles, even if you don’t intend to. Just look at the hot mess Kathryn Stockett landed in.)

But the point I’m trying to make is representation should come about as organically as possible. That means not inserting token characters for the sake of being token characters, but because it fits the character, like a puzzle piece slotting into place. Bonus points for writing complex characters with clear motives, personalities and purposes.

To an extent, I’m guilty of this. UNTOUCHABLE is short. It’s a novella that tops out at 50 pages. And there’s a lot packed into those 50 pages. It’s fast-paced. It kind of reads like a comic book – lots of explosions and fight scenes and some light humour. Which means I had limited air time to flesh out characters and their backstories, especially the less important side characters.

Nevertheless, one thing reviewers seemed to agree was that while the diversity was there, it wasn’t forced. It was taken in stride as a part of the world I created – a world which is an accurate reflection of our own, albeit with added superhero awesomeness. And that’s saying a lot considering that UNTOUCHABLE features a same-sex relationship between the main protagonist, Ethan Elliot, and his love interest, as well as an agender character, a Latina swordfighter, a black lightning-generating superhero… You get the picture.

Another thing I’m guilty of? Tropes. I incorporated the hell out of tropes – partly as a form of subtle satire, since the superhero genre is chock-full of them, but mostly because it was convenient. Tropes can be an effective story-telling tool. Of course, when it strays into the realm of bad clichés, well, then I’d need to rethink my approach. But most YA these days incorporates the same tropes. Why? Readers identify with them. They function as a kind of anchor, and help make the story more readable.

So in short, don’t be afraid to write diverse characters. But whatever your reasons are, make sure they’re the right reasons, as outlined above.

The Issue With the Writing People As People and Not Characters Advice

The Issue With the Writing People As People and Not Characters Advice

success_kid_diverse_booksLet me preface this by saying that you should write people as people and not characters, but when a writer is asking a question involving diversity and the only answer you give is ‘write people as people and not characters,’ you’re completely missing the point of diversity.

Write people as people.

That’s great advice, but it completely misses that people are diverse, and certain groups of people do different things than other groups of people. For example, I had an Anon ask me how to write British characters. I could have just said ‘write them as you would write any other person,’ but that would have been completely neglecting that their culture is different from my American culture. So I let my British followers answer this Anon’s question, and let me tell you, had my Anon gone off the advice of write this British person as you would write any other person, British readers would have scoffed about how inauthentic that British character is. My British followers have diverse views that are different from my American ones.

America is a culture rife with diversity, so it’s very easy for us to say that we should write people as people, because we’re among people of all different ethnicities. We interact with these people and KNOW they are no different from us in terms of them being human at their very core. At the same time, there are differences in the ways cultures interact with other cultures. For example, let’s say you want to write a book with a girl who just happens to be Indian (not Native American). You can’t just accept the simplistic ‘write people as people.’ You HAVE to do research, and perhaps people giving this advice think this is common sense, but, again, such a simplistic answer is ignoring diversity. Unlike Americans who greet even strangers with smiles and a ‘hello,’ Indians do not do this in their culture. It is these LITTLE things that will determine the authenticity of the diverse characters you are writing about. Write them as people, but don’t neglect the idea that people are part of cultures that influence how they think, view the world, and interact with other people.

But let me mention what prompted this post. I saw a tweet on Twitter that was linked from Tumblr from an Anon asking about how to write LGBTQ+ characters without explicitly mentioning their sexualities. The author answered ‘write people as people and not characters.’ Okay, but that’s ignoring the diversity in sexual and gender identities that can go largely unseen in our culture because we are so used to assuming everyone is straight and identifies with the gender he/she was born with–because most people are straight and identify as the genders they were born with, so it’s not unfair to assume this when a person’s sexual or gender identity is not explicitly stated or shown if it is easy to be shown. For example, it’s easy to show homosexuality because all you have to do for your female character is mention she has a girlfriend. There you go. Then again, she could be asexual or bisexual or pansexual or transgender. Just because she’s dating a girl doesn’t mean she’s a homosexual! Just because I’m dating a guy doesn’t mean I’m heterosexual!

I don’t want to read a book where I have to analyze whether or not this character is bisexual or asexual or even pansexual or transgender or transsexual or gender fluid or whatever. Some of these things are easy to show, but these sexual and gender identities are still a part of those people’s identities, especially in a culture that hasn’t fully accepted LGBTQ+ people and is especially misinformed or doesn’t even know certain sexual or gender identities exist! We can’t just go around assigning arbitrary sexual and gender identities to characters in books whose identities are unknown. That isn’t fair to LGBTQ+ readers who want books specifically catered toward them (or me!) or expect to have a book with diversity but then end up assuming all characters are heterosexual because that IS what we ALL do when a character’s sexual or gender identity is not explicitly stated. Again, most people are straight and cisgendered. It would be great for me to pretend Hazel in TFiOS is asexual, but she’s not.

So if you’re writing an asexual character, you better state it in some way or eventually say something about it. If you’re writing a pansexual character, you better state it. If you’re writing a bisexual character, you better show it well, and this goes just beyond a bisexual guy dating a guy and thinking ‘What a beautiful girl,’ because even I as an asexual person can think ‘What a beautiful boy.’ These people are more than their sexual and gender identities, so it is good to say write them as people and not characters, but that is still a part of them and it’s completely unfair to ignore it. They live with these identities every single day. You wouldn’t ignore someone’s skin color when you’re writing about a character whose color is different from yours, so why would you do the same with someone who identifies as a different sexuality from yours, one that can’t be easily shown?

It’s hard to show asexuality because most people don’t know what it is or even what it feels like to be asexual. It’s hard to show pansexuality because most people don’t know what it is and what it feels like to be pansexual. People in real life often have to state their nonheteronormative identities to others. They have to be explicit about it because they don’t want you thinking they’re something they’re not. I had one girl tell me I was very good looking, and then she said something else that made sense for me to say ‘I’m engaged.’ She felt embarrassed, but I was flattered, and then she mentioned she was pansexual. Had she not told me that, I probably would have assumed she was homosexual.

So don’t accept the write-people-as-people-and-not-characters answer, because if you do that, you’re completely missing the point of diversity in the first place. We are more than just one facet of ourselves, but that facet is still a part of the greater puzzle that makes us a complete person. Being a ballet dancer and writer is a  HUGE part of me, so if you write a book on me, you better concentrate on ballet and writing and even my dang asexuality. Those are parts of me that affect how I live and interact with people.




Advice on Bad Writing Advice

Advice on Bad Writing Advice

When I’m on Tumblr as an author and editor, I feel like I have a responsibility to teen writers–or new writers–to steer them in the right direction when it comes to writing advice, especially to warn them away from bad writing advice. Let’s face it, bad writing advice exists, and it’s not subjective on whether or not it’s bad. It IS just bad.

I interceded a post on Tumblr that, yes, was from one of my followers that does writing advice. The post basically presented a list of words to use other than said. You know those lists I’m talking about, the ones with hundreds of words that you can use, some of them some nice gems you can tuck away and others that are outright ridiculous like ‘oogle.’ How do you ‘oogle’ your words? In any case, the introduction began by saying that said essentially says nothing, that it doesn’t state the tone of your character, that you shouldn’t use it too often because there are better words. That was alarming and raised red flags for me. So I felt it was my responsibility to step in, re-blog it, and set my followers straight.

Said isn’t meant to convey tone. It is not a useless word but a tag that is almost nonexistent for readers because they are so used to seeing it more than any other dialogue tag. Conveying tone is what dialogue is for. Said denotes who is speaking, when no other word is necessary to use but ‘said,’ especially if the dialogue can carry itself, or there is an action tag in front that can set up the tone of how the dialogue will sound. But, really, the tone can be set up before a conversation by creating a tense situation so that way when you go into reading the dialogue, you can already imagine the tone of the speakers. Or a relaxed situation. Any kind of situation can set up the tone of the dialogue without tags being used.

The writer of the post never mentioned to use those words sparingly. The writer simply said that ‘said’ is meaningless because it doesn’t put emotion into your character’s dialogue. That’s wrong. There is no subjectiveness to how wrong that statement is. Again, setting up a scene can help dialogue convey tone so the dialogue can carry itself. Or an action tag can set up the tone. When someone says, ‘Hey, use these words instead because said is meaningless,’ that is a thing to be wary about. Many experts in the publishing industry will tell you to treat those words like gems. Using them too much will KILL your dialogue. That is a FACT based on readers’ experiences. Readers WILL become annoyed by an overuse of a list like that. Use sparingly. Spa-ring-ly.

So what was the point of my little story? My follower threw up a recent update that said all writing advice is subjective and is not meant to be taken to heart. That I agree with. What I don’t agree with is this implication that there is no bad writing advice. There is. I’m going to give you a few pointers on what advice to avoid, advice that is popular. Now I do appreciate all of my followers. I appreciate even more the followers that are about creating content to help others. But, again, sometimes I feel it’s my responsibility to intercede, especially since most of my followers are young writers. It alarmed me that the post had over 1,000 notes, so I felt like I HAD to step in. Doing so didn’t cause any conflict, although the follower was upset; however, I didn’t read the follower’s irate words. I glanced at it, and I think there may have been some name calling involved.  

  • Avoid writing advice like the example I presented above. The best published books, the ones that win awards because of their writing, know how to create effective dialogue. If you look at the dialogue, you’ll notice that the dialogue often carries itself, that the dialogue probably lacks tags more than it has them. It isn’t even necessarily award-winning books, either, but popular books, too, where the author knows how to create dialogue without treating such a list as a bible.
  • Write like you talk. This seems self-explanatory. We tend to use a lot of filler words in our speech, fillers that are jarring to readers.
  • Write for yourself. Write for yourself first, THEN revise for your readers.
  • Write what you know. Explanatory. Just about every published book began with a lack of knowledge, which is why the writer does research.
  • Write everyday! Not even I do this–or can do this. I have a life outside of my writing career, and I NEED that life. I don’t want to burn out. It’s great if you can write everyday, but don’t extend this tidbit to all writers.
  • Advice that only insists there is one correct way to write. This actually defeats the purpose of the word ‘advice,’ which denotes that it is merely advice, something to not take as law. Plus, we all know there is no one way to write.
  • If you write several books and it still takes you a while to write a book, you’re doing something wrong. Each book is different from the last. You might be better at drafting, but some books are harder to write than others. It takes me a month or two to draft a book but pretty much an entire year to make that book submission ready. Maybe it’ll take less now, but I’m not pressuring myself to finish a book ASAP. I’m not going to sacrifice quality for quantity.

There is so much more bad writing advice out there. You can even look it up in Google, but I wanted to present you with advice that raises obvious red flags. Good writing advice is subjective. When I do writing advice on Tumblr, I try to present more than one way to do it to give my aspiring writers choices.



Follow Your Dreams

Follow Your Dreams

Today’s guest post is by Kath Unsworth! Her website can be found at the bottom.

We all have dreams. How do we make them real?


For many years I daydreamed about writing stories. I took an online novel writing class and read every book I could find on the craft of writing.
I began writing a novel with no real idea of what would be a long, drawn out learning experience. This was many years ago. I then put that half story away and started a new idea. To say that I have about four stories in different stages of completion would be an understatement.

I have enjoyed the journey and its many lessons thus far. Through my ignorance, it is safe to say I am still learning and still writing. I might not have attempted this passion if I knew back then the nature of a writer and all that is involved.

Yet I realized something: I could never go a day without writing. It has changed my world, my thoughts on who I want to write for, and it has enriched my life.


I guess there comes a turning point that you must accept you are a writer. I must write no matter what. Accepting that is not easy. the work is challenging and a lonely obsession at times.

I wrote a manifesto about being fabulously flawed as a writer (download it free on my site), and it helped me see through the haze of self-doubt, fear of rejection, and the strange looks of doubt people throw your way when you tell them you are writing novels.

My full evolution as a writer only took place recently. After discovering this brilliant community in the blogging world, my hopes and dreams turned into actual goals, solid as a mountain. Imagine if I worked hard enough I could produce something that someone out there may wish to read.


Things became even clearer when I joined the Jeff Goins Tribe/writers community. I have not looked back. At the start of the year I was struggling to finish my tween novel. I took a step sideways and realized that everyone loved my picture book ideas. The feed back was astounding.

My goals are now heading in a new direction. I am hard at work on Sugar, my picture book. Being a graphic artist and illustrator has assisted me in designing, writing, and now illustrating this book about a calf who is a little different. I have no doubt that I will finish it. Besides having my cheerleading squad at home, I now enjoy the support of my blogging community to use as my test crash dummies (not so dumb, mostly brilliant) for my story ideas. Not forgetting the vast and talented members of the tribe/writers who keep me focused and grounded to my writing chair. (Sadly, my kitchen table).

I know it’s a slow process, but I am not in a race, and if I keep going I will eventually get there. My other novels will also see the light of day.

pic 4 Sugar.jpg

If you have a dream, make it your reality by simply taking the first step and JUST start. You learn through the process by doing.

I would like to thank Amber for giving me this opportunity in sharing her writing space and hope you enjoyed my rant today. You can find me over at

Come over and say hello.

Guest Blog Post: My Writing Process

Guest Blog Post: My Writing Process

Today’s guest blogger is Teresa Kelly! You can find her here.

When writers start out with their first words, whether they know it or not, they are starting to develop the routine and habits that they will use the rest of their lives to shape, design, and modify their writing. For me writing started early in life, and while I have definitely found writing processes that do not work I have also found the process that does work for me, which I have broken down into six steps to share with you now.

1. Environment

The first step in my process is environment. Funny as that sounds, if you have been writing any length of time you know how crucial it is to be in an environment that feeds your creative thought process. I have written in almost every environment possible, but many will not allow me to focus on the words that I am trying to put down on paper. Ideally when I need to do some writing I get settled at my desk or in a room with as few distractions as possible. I detest trying to write while people are talking or watching television, so I normally pick a location where I can be alone with my notebooks and thoughts. Once I am settled the next most important environmental factor is music. I cannot write without listening to one of my many playlists! Music has always brought out my creative side and so for that reason it is a must! Once the environment is ideal the writing can commence.

2. Thoughts

Before I get into the meat of my writing I get out a notebook (I keep stacks of these everywhere) and jot down my thoughts on what I am getting ready to write to help keep me focused on characters I am developing and points I am trying to make. I find this helps me stay on course and not forget important details that may become crucial later in the story.  It is important to note that my “Thoughts Notebook” stays with me all the time during the course of the story so that I have it available when I think of something, or while writing so that I can refer back to previous thoughts if needed.

3, Initial Draft

Once my thoughts are down for reflection it is time to start some writing. When I am working on my initial draft I get back to basics and grab a pen and notebook. For each story I write there are two notebooks, one for my thoughts and one for the first draft. I love the feeling of filling up a notebook with words as my story unfolds and my characters develop.

4. First Edit and Read Through

Once my story is complete (at least as completed as it can be before editing) it is time to do my first read through and edit. During this time I use a different colored ink pen to make my changes and corrections when editing passages, and, yes, maybe even remove large sections now and then.

5. Typing and Second Edit

After I have completed my first read through and edit, and have ensured that I have wrapped up all loose ends and brought my characters to a good stopping point, it is time to take my story from the now very battered up and marked up notebook to the computer and start typing. While typing I look once more for errors in need of correcting as well as paragraph and chapter structure. When I am satisfied with the results I close the notebooks for good and hit print on my completed document.

6. Final Read Through

Ahh…almost finished, the moment I have been waiting for, the writing I have worked and slaved over for the last few weeks or months and poured my heart and soul into is now in front of me in a printed pile, ready for me to delve in once more and relive the adventure this time without worry about anything but my story line and plot.

While these steps may not work for everyone and get altered depending on what I am writing, for me it is a good concise method that helps me stay on track and come out the other side with a viable story to read and share with friends and/or family.

I hope that each of you get to develop and fine tune your writing process so that in the years to come you get all the pleasure of getting lost in your work without getting buried under it.

Advice to Aspiring Writers

Advice to Aspiring Writers

WebImageSay hello to today’s guest blogger, Quincy Allen! You can find him here.

Don’t take this advice.

That’s the take-away you’ll have by the time you finish this blog. But you’ll have to read the whole thing to understand why you shouldn’t take this advice. It’s a sort of Catch-22, one that already has a smile on my face. Oh, and if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book Catch-22, stop what you’re doing right now and go absorb that data.

But I digress.

There isn’t a writer—aspiring or otherwise—who hasn’t been informed over and over again by sage experts about the dos and don’ts of writing. We’ve all heard them: “Avoid adverbs” (so sayeth the King); “Keep it under 100,000 words,” (so sayeth the publishers); “Never use a prologue,” (so sayeth the agents); “Third person omniscient is dead,” (so sayeth the critics).

In fact, in this business you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting another “expert” who will be happy to tell you how to write, how to market, how to network, etcetera, etcetera. It’s a veritable litany of iron-clad rules doled out from the successful and not-so-successful lunatics who have chosen the publishing industry as their stomping grounds—including myself. You know who I’m talking about. It’s those writers and editors and agents and publishers who bandy about the phrase “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not” something, and do so with the certainty of Moses laying down the Ten Commandments.

Here’s a little secret: we’re all lying to you.

Most of us don’t know we’re lying, of course, but in the final analysis, we are. I’ve been watching this industry pretty closely for almost four years now, and if there is one absolute rule you can rely upon from the ocean of them that exists, it’s that there are no absolutes. They simply don’t exist.

So when you hear someone say, “Here’s how the writing world works,” or “You need to do it this way,” or “You should never ever…” as if such sage wisdom is being handed down from on high by the Prince of Darkness himself, you need to raise an eyebrow, offer a subtle but quirky grin, and go find the exception. It’s out there, I guarantee it.

Then you need to understand the rule and why the exception worked. No mean feat, that.

Having said all that, you also need to factor in a few things, particularly if you’re an aspiring writer rather than an established one. Those very same people offering such sage wisdom are mostly likely gate keepers for new writers. It doesn’t make them necessarily “right,” although it doesn’t make them necessarily wrong, either. It just means they’re in the way. You either need to give a gate keeper exactly what he or she wants, or you need to find a way around.

Welcome to the real world.

Established writers, on the other hand, get to break the rules—and many of them do. Regularly. Prologues, adverbs, 140k-word-counts, third person omniscience, etc…. There truly is no deodorant like success, and readers spoon it up like smothered burritos after a Friday night bender. (You’d have to have gone to college with me to get that reference). Basically, if you’re an established author, you’ve become an “expert,” and one providing revenue for agents, editors and publishers. It’s all a matter of which way the money flows, and at this point you have crossed a threshold, becoming a gate keeper in your own right.

The third group is the newest and, by far, my favorite. New and established writers alike are breaking rules and, by virtue of the eBook phenomenon, becoming successful at it. If ever there was an end run around the gate keepers, it is the almighty internet. But when you go at it alone on the Internet, you better know what you’re doing.

It’s all about awareness.

You can absolutely break the rules handed down from the establishment and be successful. That establishment no longer has iron-clad control of the marketplace, and so the rules they handed down for a century don’t apply nearly as much as they once did. Make no mistake, they’re truly pissed off about that. Did you see “Return of the King” when the One Ring goes into the lava? That image of Sauron’s great eye spinning and smoking and screaming as it tumbles to the earth and explodes. That’s pretty much the old-school publishing industry right now. But you better know what the rules are.

This is a golden age for writers, and the Internet has offered us an end-run around the gate-keepers. It’s a hard path, but it’s also a viable one… if you know what you’re doing.

So, why is it that with all these rules being shouted at us, we can clearly see that they aren’t rules at all? The reason is a simple one: there are nearly seven billion definitions of what a good book is on the surface of this rock we call home, one for every sentient being that has access to the Internet. Granted, there’s a fair amount of overlap and concentrations of similar definitions. What you have to decide is how big a segment of that populace you want to cater to… and then write the books that are inside you. It’s both a business and a creative decision, and only you can make it.

Ultimately, all of this depends on where you want to come in on the food chain of the publishing industry. How far do you want to step outside the guidelines? How far up the ladder do you want to go? How much are you willing to gamble on your own success rather than the success of some publishing “institution?” You need to understand all of this if you’re going to break the rules.

The bottom line is that there is a different path for each and every successful writer, and the notion of “rules” simply doesn’t apply… save one: Write a good book. And keep in mind that the definition for a “good book” has grown exponentially in the past few years because of the eBook revolution. More writers are satisfying more reading appetites because the “Big Six” (now the Big Five because one went extinct—there’s a message there, by the way) don’t control everything anymore.

So, people will tell you “Thou shalt…” and they’ll tell you “Thou shalt not…” just like I have in these past paragraphs. Take note of all of this “sage wisdom” with considerably more than a single grain of salt. But also don’t forget it.

If everyone’s path is different, then everyone has a different set of rules. You need to go out there and learn as many of everyone else’s rules as you can, and then experience or invent those rules that work specifically for you.

Look around. Research.  Know what your options are both in your writing and in the business of your writing. Be informed. And when you have a clear path, take it.

I guarantee you’ll make mistakes. And for every mistake you make, you’ll be a little wiser, a little better at your craft, and a little closer to being able to hand down sage wisdom that aspiring writers should take with more than a grain of salt.

Just like the rest of us.

The Madness of Self-Doubt: A Guest Blog Post by Mariah Wilson

The Madness of Self-Doubt: A Guest Blog Post by Mariah Wilson

tumblr_mmvohvsRXb1rnvzfwo1_500This afternoon will be a blog post by Mariah Wilson on facing self-doubt as a writer. You can find her blog here.


If you’re a writer then you know what the biggest obstacle to being a writer is. It’s not writer’s block, it’s not the critics, it’s not even the people who tell you that your dream isn’t worth dreaming. It’s the little voice inside your head that comes alive to fan all of your insecurities. It’s the little voice known as self-doubt.

Self doubt kills careers before they start. Self doubt stops novels and poems halfway through and they sit in the pile labeled “I’m not good enough” and as that pile grows, so does self doubt. See, he’s a greedy little voice and he likes to feed himself, and he’ll devour you if you’re not careful. Here’s what I do when my own self doubt gets out of control.

1) Remind yourself that you are still a student of the craft. No matter how many years you’ve been writing, you still have more to learn, if not about the craft, then about yourself. Nothing is a wasted effort as long as there was effort made. Learning is grand, let yourself learn.

2) Savour your successes. Remember that character description that you nailed the first try the other day? Print it off and pin it on your wall to remind yourself that you are capable of great things. Do the same thing with anything you wrote that you think is awesome. The pride you will feel reading those gems months later will surely light your darkest hour. Remind yourself that you can, and do, get it right. Probably more often than you give yourself credit for.

3) Be specific. When you’re looking at something you’ve written and you’re getting those dark doubty feelings, ask yourself why. Often, it’s not the entire piece we are doubting, but a specific element. If you can pinpoint it, you can fix it, whether it be weak description, poor characterization etc. etc. etc. Let your doubt guide you to the places that need fixing and know that you can fix them.

4) Remember, writing is a process, it’s not a once and done kind of deal. Characters need to be shaped, worlds need to be brought to life, catastrophe has to happen and beautiful disasters aren’t solved overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your novel won’t be either. Give it time, give it patience, give it confidence. Only you can write your story, so go write it.

5) Self doubt only grows if you feed it. So don’t feed it. A small amount of doubt is healthy, it keeps our egos in check and saves us from turning into narcissistic maniacs, but do not feed the doubt. Keep it the size of a kitten, not a cougar. Don’t feed your doubt. Tell yourself nice things about yourself and your writing. Find positive things to say and refrain from thinking or saying negative things about your writing. Be kind to yourself.

6) Find people who lift you up and inspire you. Sometimes, regardless of the methods we’ve tried, our doubt gets away on us. This is when you should find someone who inspires you and let yourself be inspired by them. Let their life and their determination help you to realize that you are capable of the same greatness they possess that inspires you.

7) When in doubt, get a second opinion. Take your piece and show it to a friend. This friend must be honest and you have to trust that they are giving you a real opinion and not a white washed, sugar coated version of the truth. Show your piece to this friend. If they like it, then stop doubting yourself, you are doing it right. If they don’t like it, stop doubting yourself and ask them where it went wrong. Once you know what the problem is, it can be fixed.

8) I do not recommend drowning your doubt in alcohol or trying to drug him out of your system. Both ways have been proven highly ineffective in the battle of self doubt and actually only turn doubt into a raging monster. Try going for a walk to clear your head instead. Go to the gym and sweat him out. Put your work away and go play, have fun and live life, enjoy life. Sometimes a good clear head is all we need.

9) We writers think we’re pretty special, like we’re the only people who are crippled from time to time by self doubt, but the truth is, doubt is not choosy. Doubt will consume anything, attack anyone. No one is immune. If you realize that everyone doubts, you won’t feel so alone when you’re stuck doubting yourself, again.

The next time you are faced with doubt just take a deep breath and think happy thoughts. Doubt hates positivity and confidence, he can’t survive through those two things. If that fails, give doubt a name and kill him in your next book.

Why I Don’t Post Tips on Grammar

Why I Don’t Post Tips on Grammar

grammar If you’ve read my blog since its inception not that long ago, you’ll notice I haven’t done a single blog post on grammar. This isn’t because there are ten bajillion other posts out there on grammar or because I was a glorified grammarian when I was a tutor at my uni’s writing center, pretty much having to work on grammar first before I could even get to content. This is because, when it comes to creative writing, grammar is unimportant to me. Grammar is the easy part, the easiest thing you will ever do with your writing.

I know there are some hardcore grammarians out there who are probably cringing reading the above sentence, but it’s true: I don’t give a flip about your grammar. Unless your grammar is so atrocious that I actually have to wonder what you’re trying to say, grammar is just not that important to me in a story. Obviously I want grammar polished in published books, but when it comes to drafts, I just don’t think it’s that important to comment on–not to mention you can find plenty of websites dealing with whatever grammar issues you have.

Grammar can always be fixed in the proofing stage.

In any case, when you guys come to my blog and read some of my ‘madness’ writing advice, I write those with the assumption that you’re not too worried about grammar, that you too know grammar is unimportant until the very last draft. Content is what I focus on first and foremost because content is the hardest to nail. You’ve got to have a developed plot, characters, sub-plots, secondary characters, and so on and so forth. Those elements are crucial to a good story. If you try and focus on grammar upfront, you could miss those key elements as you’re revising. Sure, it is important how you write your sentences in order to portray what you would like to show, but I’m just not as concerned about your commas as I am your content. Plus, I’m still not convinced that style can be taught, and style is what really gives your writing its overall flair–style being separate from grammar and all.

So I don’t offer grammar advice because I see it as unimportant, and there is just so much of it floating around the internet, far more than writing advice itself.

Don’t get me wrong. Grammar is important, but as I said, it’s not crucial until the very last draft.