Monthly Writing Prompt | April 2022

The screen in front of you riles so many emotions within you, you’re not exactly sure where to even begin sorting them out. Images of the past flutter up from somewhere you’ve managed to keep tightly locked up until now. And tomorrow weighs heavy on you.

***

Muse Stimulators:

What is the POV looking at?
Where are they?
What is the past event that happened to the POV?
Why are they worried about tomorrow?
What do they do next?

Happy Writing!
~MJ

Petey says hello!

Monthly Writing Prompt | March 2022

There’s a whisper on the breeze, and if your heart wasn’t pounding so hard in your ears you might be able to make it out. You fight to calm your breath and look around at where you are, hoping to find out what else might be here with you.

***

Muse Stimulators

Is this place familiar to the POV?
How and why are they here?
What is the whisper on the breeze?
Is something else is here with the POV?
How does this experience differ from what POV expected?

Happy Writing!
~MJ

Petey says hello!

Monthly Writing Prompt | February 2022

The field below doesn’t look how you remember. It smells different too. And maybe it’s your imagination, but it sounds different. There’s a stirring inside of you as you sweep your eyes across the scene.

***

Muse Stimulators:

What does the field look like?
What does it smell like?
Is there a sound?
What is the significance of this field to the MC?
Is the stirring one of relief, dread, horror, joy?

Happy Writing!

~MJ

Petey says hello!

I’m Editing my Novel | January 2022 Highlights

Editing is a painful, but necessary process. Blegh.

And to complicate matters, it’s not a process that is easily repeatable from one chapter to the next.

In preparing my manuscript to begin querying agents this year, I am dissecting each chapter, slashing content, adding content, moving content–everything I possibly can to make this novel the best it can be. And in this process, I am incorporating feedback from my critique group as well.

Objective third parties are amazing! If you don’t have a critique group, get one.

Here are my youtube shorts for this month describing the issues I discovered in my manuscript, what I decided was the best method to resolve them, and what my critique group thought about those methods.

There are a few general writing tips in there as well that you will hopefully find useful whether you are writing a new story or editing an existing one.

Please subscribe to my blog and youtube channel for future videos!

Chapter 23 was a total rewrite vs just an edit, which can be tricky when polishing a manuscript as a final draft. Predictably, my critique group found a few residual issues.

Chapter 25 went under the knife! See why moving half of the chapter to another character’s POV was necessary, and why I thought my characters needed major reworking here. This one made me nervous too because there’s a steamy sex scene in it!

What did my critique group have to say about my sex scene and my re-characterization of these two characters?

The small changes I’ve been making so far are beginning to amount to some pretty drastic plot alterations, resulting in another complete rewrite of a chapter, but for different reasons than chapter 23.

My critique group had some great feedback for my edit of chapter 26 here, providing an excellent example of “Author Blindness”. With the right tools, this writer’s ailment can be remedied.

“What do my characters do while they wait for the big battle?” Enter the mid-novel slog and exactly where this chapter lands. This is a BIG issue. Mid-novel slog is never a good thing.

Critique group comments on mid-novel slog and my solution to this problem: add more chapters!

Happy Writing!

~MJ & Petey

Petey says hello!

Monthly Writing Prompt | January 2022

The eyes are captivating, full of emotion. It turns them on you. Paralyzes you. If you look away it might…

But even if it doesn’t, if somehow you break away from it unscathed, you will not be unchanged.

Muse stimulators:

  • What is “it”?
  • How does the POV feel?
  • What emotions are recognizable in “its” eyes?
  • Why would the POV be unchanged?
  • What happened five minutes before?
  • What happens next?

Happy Writing!

~MJ

Petey says hello!

Editing Series | Chapter 23

Sometimes that masterpiece needs a complete rewrite. Here are some reasons why mine did.

If you want to skip to a helpful writing tip, you can jump to 3:18. 🙂

I will be posting a post-critique group video on this same chapter in the future to let you all know what they had to say about it. I’m anxious to learn what my first round of editing missed that they are able to catch. I’m so grateful to my critique group, they truly are an amazing group of writers and are such an incredible resource for me.

If you enjoyed this video, please like and subscribe and I’ll see you in a future video!

If this series is helpful for you and you want to learn more about how I can help you polish your novel:

-Check out my writing services

-Follow me on twitter

Happy Writing!

~MJ

Editing Series | Chapter 24 Critique Group Comments

What did my critique group have to say about my editing of Chapter 24?

Quite a lot, actually. Click the video below to learn more.

This just goes to show how blinded an author can be to the limitations of their own work, even when they identify and acknowledge issues and try to fix them.

Our greatest challenge is translating what we see in our head to the page, and I’ve found that it’s almost impossible to know if I’ve succeeded in doing that completely unless another person (preferably more than one) reads and critiques it.

Having a critique group to provide insight and feedback is such a great tool and it’s really helped me craft the best version of my story, and it’s what is going to make all the difference in getting this manuscript published.

If you enjoyed this video, please follow my blog and subscribe to my youtube channel, and I’ll see you in a future video!

If this series is helpful for you and you want to learn more about how I can help you polish your novel:

-Check out my writing services

-Follow me on twitter

Happy Writing!

MJ

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Editing Series | Chapter 24

The second video of my Editing Series is live!

Chapter 24 is a first draft that I haven’t read since I finished writing it during NaNo 2020. This short video describes the main issues I encountered during editing.

If you want to skip to a helpful writing tip, you can jump to 2:18. 🙂

I will be posting a post-critique group video on this same chapter in the future to let you all know what they had to say about it. I’m anxious to learn what my first round of editing missed that they are able to catch. I’m so grateful to my critique group, they truly are an amazing group of writers and are such an incredible resource for me.

If you enjoyed this video, please like and subscribe and I’ll see you in a future video!

If this series is helpful for you and you want to learn more about how I can help you polish your novel:

-Check out my writing services

-Follow me on twitter

Happy Writing!

MJ

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Monthly Writing Prompt | December 2021

Your chest constricts. Exhaustion overwhelms you to the point where you’re not sure you’ll ever get up again. To be here…you never thought you would be here. You wondered. Theorized. But never truly believed it. This changes things forever.

***Muse Stimulators***

  • What has just happened?
  • Was the experience good or bad?
  • Is “here” a real place or a metaphorical one?
  • What happens next?
  • Is there anyone else there?

Happy Writing!

~MJ

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Why You Shouldn’t Let Readers Read Your First Draft

“Hey, you like reading books, do you want to read mine?”

This might be the worst question you ever want to ask someone as a writer.

Why?

Because readers are expecting your book to be the same quality that they are used to reading. They’re expecting a fully polished manuscript: publish ready, grammar and spelling error-free, edited, streamlined, underwritten, overwritten, a killer cover. You get the picture.

So the reason why “Aunt Sal” hasn’t gotten back to you about your book is probably because, to be brutally honest, she thinks it sucks and doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

And it probably does suck according to her standards of read-worthy manuscripts.

And on the opposite end, for those people who actually read it and are honest with you about it, it can be very hurtful to hear that the book you have poured blood, sweat, tears, and a ton of time and soul into is “boring” or “slow” or “full of spelling errors” or “I didn’t really connect with the characters” or something similar.

Trust me, I’ve been there, experienced both of these scenarios and a bunch in between too. And I’m hear to tell you:

Your manuscript doesn’t suck.

It’s just not finished yet. You have the bones, some of the vital organs, but the flesh is still inside your head, and you need to get that onto the page, because that’s what’s keeping your readers from experiencing your book the way you want them to. The way you experience it in your head.

“Well. Who do I get to read it then?”

Find a Writer.

Writers appreciate the writing process. They know what a draft looks like. More important, they know what a draft is missing.

Writers can pinpoint exactly where you need to beef it up to make it readable. They’re not looking at your manuscript as publish ready, they’re looking at it as a work in progress, and this is the most helpful perspective one can have when reading your draft.

Writers are not shocked or offended by grammar errors, plot holes, or character inconsistencies, but they are honed into them and can spot them so you can fix them. Sometimes, writers can have great suggestions on how you can rework these problem areas to make your manuscript really shine.

So, when you have “completed” your novel and you’re feeling super accomplished and wildly excited to share your masterpiece, don’t give it to a “reader” to read. Or a family member. Their feedback is unreliable, probably less than honest, they might not read it at all, and they don’t understand how to tell you constructively where your manuscript needs more polish.

Find a writer. A critique group. A freelance editor. Or a designated beta reader (they are also not expecting perfection). Each of these options vary in price from free to well over several grand, with different benefits and setbacks to each one. All of them are far more beneficial than Aunt Sal and will offer you much needed constructive feedback.

Happy Writing!

~MJ

Who is the most beneficial person to read your first draft?
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