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Posts Tagged ‘How to write’

Editing a Manuscript: Inside the Editorial Process

Posted by inkpopbecki on June 8, 2011

So many of you have asked, what goes into the editorial process? Well as inkpop author Leigh Fallon will tell you, Carrier of the Mark went through A LOT of editing. Want to hear more or ask a real live HarperCollins Editor about publishing? Join us for a live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events.

Until then, check out some of the work that went in to making Carrier of the Mark the fantastic novel that will be published on October 4, 2011

Eric performed two rounds of line  edits on Carrier of the Mark. These were the first line edits, done by hand. Line-Edits

The second line edits were done through  Track_Change.

Want to see more or want to find out more about the editing process? Psst a comment or a question in our  inkpop forum events.

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From Books to Film and More: Inside the Mind of Alex Flinn

Posted by inkpopbecki on May 11, 2011

Ever wonder what it takes to go from book to film? Where were those writers before their books were movies? Join us for a live chat  with #1 New York Times bestselling author Alex Flinn to discuss this and other topics tonight at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events. In the meantime we caught up with Alex to ask her a few questions about her work.

How did you come up with the idea to adapt Beauty and the Beast into a modern day fairy tale?

I read a lot of fairy tales with my kids, and I became interested in the part of the story you don’t hear about as much – the Beast.  How did he become a beast?  Why was he all alone in the woods?  Where were his family?  I thought a lot about his loneliness and desperation, and that’s why I decided to write a book?

What was it like seeing your characters lifted from the page and brought to life on the screen? Were there things that the film did that you were unable to do in your book and conversely were there aspects of the book that were unable to translate to film?

Book and film are very different media.  I didn’t expect the movie to be exactly like my book.  What the movie does that a book can’t is, it provides a visual and also, music.  What the book did that the movie couldn’t was that it was longer and way more detailed.

Since Beastly you have created adapted another fairy tale into a modern retelling. What does it take to adeptly do these sort of reinterpretations? Are there limitations or things that you have to keep in mind when adapting these tales?

The hardest thing about adapting a fairy tale is deciding what the characters know about the existing fairy tale.  Has Kyle seen Beauty and the Beast on film, for example?  Also, do the characters believe in magic and, if not, do they come to believe in it based upon the circumstances of the story.  Since we are used to NOT believing in magic, this can be a hard transition.


Your debut novel, Breathing Underwater, is now coming out in a new paperback edition. What have you learned since publishing Breathing Underwater in 2001?

What I’ve learned since publishing Breathing Underwater is more about being published than about writing.  The main thing I’ve learned is that not every reader is going to like every book.  Even with my own books, I have books that will appeal to different readers (The reader who likes A Kiss in Time is not necessarily going to be the same reader for Breathing Underwater).   When you first get published, you want everyone to love everything you write, but a book that appeals to all may not deeply touch many.  Now, I write each book for the reader who will like it.

Want to hear more? Join us tonight at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events for a live chat with author Alex Flinn

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Breaking the Genre Code: inktips from Kimberly Derting

Posted by inkpopbecki on April 13, 2011

Most authors will tell you it’s important to write in a genre and stick with it. That’s great, but not all books are that easy. Kimberly Derting’s Body Finder series offers readers a paranormal story with a bit of suspense. So what do you do when your genre is not so clear cut. Join us for a live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop Forum Events with Kimberly Derting who will answer this and other questions. Can’t wait until tonight? We have some  writing tips from Kimberly Derting to wet your appetite.


Trying to pin down the exact genre of THE BODY FINDER was no small feat.  It was a mystery/thriller with a paranormal spin.  And, on top of that, it was a romance as well. It was a paramystamance.  Yeah…not so much.  But writing THE BODY FINDER was a whole other story.  I never once thought about how I was going to fit it into a neat little box, mostly because the secrets to writing suspense are the same whether you’re writing a fast-paced action-thriller or a toe-curling romance. For whatever genre you write, it’s all about trying to keep your readers on the edge of their seats.


1)  Use the Red Herring approach.  Sounds like some sort of cold, dead fish, right?  Well, it’s not.  The red herring can be your best friend when you’re writing.  Don’t know what a red herring is?  Here, let me help.  Red Herring: something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue. Think about it, you have to give your readers clues along the way, hints as to how your story will wrap up, but you don’t want those clues to be too obvious or you might as well just tell them whodunit and get it over with!  One way to make those hints less conspicuous is to use the “red herring” trick.  Just when you’re dangling a particularly juicy bit of information onto the page, divert their attention by giving them something even shinier to look at…something more interesting to focus on.

2)  Cast aspersions and doubt onto your characters.  This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to fall into this trap.  Make sure your “bad guy” isn’t wearing a black hat and your “hero” isn’t always riding a white horse.  Don’t let anyone off the hook.  Give your readers reason to questions everyone.  In romance, a lot of writers create love triangles to build this sense of tension for the protagonist, forcing her (or him) to choose between two romantic opposites.  Making the readers ask who will they pick?  Is he/she the same one we would choose?

3)  Ratchet up the tension.  How many times have you been reading a scene and you’re perched on the edge of your seat practically screaming at the pages—at the character—not to go in the room where danger awaits?  You know what I mean.  We do it with books, TV, at the movies.  But it’s those moments before the protagonist is wandering into dangerous territory that really get your heart racing and make you want to jump out of your skin.  Take the movie JAWS, for example.  The girl is swimming along, minding her own business, and suddenly you hear it…the music.  You know the shark is coming, but she has no idea.  You hold your breath.  You squeeze the hand of the person next to you.  You want to tell her “Swim!  For the love of God, swim!!!”  But once you see the blood gurgling to the surface, and the girl has disappeared beneath the dark waters, you already know she’s toast and you can breathe again.  At least until you hear that familiar soundtrack once more.

Take your time constructing those “moments before”.  Set the scene by describing the atmosphere, what they’re smelling, hearing, and feeling around them.  Think about the emotions the character is going through…is their heart racing?  Is their breathing shallow?  Give the reader some time to really fret over that character’s well-being.

So how does that same principle apply to romance, you ask?  Simple.  What’s really the best part of the love story?  I love a good kiss as much as the next girl, but even better than the kissing scenes are those moments before the first kiss (or kisses).  The close calls and what-ifs and will-he-or-won’t-he moments that have you leaning closer to the page and holding your breath.


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Creating a Paranormal World: inkTips from Author Cynthia Hand

Posted by inkpopbecki on April 6, 2011

Cynthia Hand knows a thing or two about writing compelling paranormal worlds. As a debut author, she was able to intrigue a HaperCollins editor so much, she sold the paranormal trilogy Unearthly on her first round of submissions. That is practically unheard of in the publishing world. How did she do it? Ask her yourself. Join us for a live chat with Cynthia Hand today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop Event Forums.

In the meantime check out these helpful tips from Cynthia on how to create an engaging paranormal world.


1.Do the research. For most paranormal worlds there is some sort of mythology and history out there. Most of the big best-selling books like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc, that have fantastic, creative and original worlds also have a very strong basis in real history and myth. Don’t be intimidated by it—dive in! Become an expert in the subject, really let yourself get into it and try to look at your topic from all angels—whoops, I mean angles. J The more you know, the fuller and richer the world you create will become. Creating a believable paranormal world is about the details, and doing the research will provide you with all kinds of beautiful details. Make it your business to collect details.

2. Follow your instincts. While you’re doing all this amazing research, let your gut lead you. If there’s a nagging little voice at the back of your brain that says that a piece of information you stumble over could be important, or that maybe you should look into this particular story or subject a little more, listen to it. Be curious. Go after what interests you, not just in a little way, but in a big way, because if something is super interesting to you, chances are that it will be interesting to everybody else, too.

3. Ditch the research. At some point you will have to push out on your own. Don’t let the information you’ve gathered confine you—break away. Take what you want from the research and abandon the rest. What will make your paranormal world successful is ultimately not about the fact-gathering you’ve done, but about your own unique vision. That’s why there can be ten great vampire novels out there or why so many writers can get away with retelling the story of Cinderella; even if the story’s been told before or we’re familiar with the subject, you, as a writer, can make it new. It’s all about your creativity, your twist, your fresh take.

4. Don’t forget the real world. Maybe the biggest, most important tip I can give you in creating a paranormal world is to put as much focus (if not more) on the real world of your story as you put on the supernatural world. When we are immersed in a real world that feels true and visceral and er, real, then it is easier for us to believe the aspects of your story that defy belief. A good story is not just about the flashy special effects—it’s about the people, and you want your people to live in as real an environment as possible. Practice restraint with your crazy supernatural stuff and think instead about what your main character eats for breakfast. (My main character, Clara, is a fan of Cheerios with banana slices.) Again, this is about the details.

5. And finally, have fun with it. Let yourself play! This is the fun part of being a writer!

Want to read more about the Unearthyly series? Check out Unearthly at HarperTeen.

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Interest, Research and Personality: Writing Tips from Ellen Schreiber

Posted by inkpopbecki on March 30, 2011

Ellen Schreiber is the author of the bestselling series Vampire Kisses and the recently released new series Once in a Full Moon. Clearly this is an author who knows writing. Want to hear from bestselling author Ellen Schreiber? Join our live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events . In the mean time check out these writing tips.

1. Write what you’d like to read. Pick characters that are of interest to you and they will flow much easier when writing about them.

2. Research can help. The internet, library, etc. can give you ideas into folklore and what has been passed down from generations and cultures. You can incorporate these ideas into your story.

3. Make the characters your own. What is special about your paranormal characters and what do they have to say about their situations and circumstances? Use your own take on them to bring originality to your work.

4. Have fun! Whatever you write about, you should always enjoy the process of writing. Sure there might be stumbling blocks, but being creative should be enjoyable and fulfilling. Always follow your passion.

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Writing Bestselling Historical Fiction: Inside the Mind of Anna Godbersen

Posted by inkpopbecki on January 5, 2011

What does it take to write historical fiction? Research? Strict adherence to the traditions of the place and time? What about writing a bestselling historical fiction series. We caught up with Anna Godbersen, bestselling author of The Luxe and Bright Young Things to talk about this and other issues facing authors today. Want to hear more? Join us for a live chat with Anna Gobersen in the inkpop forum events tonight at 8 p.m. EST.

Your first series,  Luxe, was set at the turn of the century and your new series Bright Young Things is set in the roaring 20s. What made you decide to write historical fiction?
I love writing for Young Adults, because my readership has their whole lives ahead of them, and that’s so exciting, to be writing for and about people for whom the world is wide open, who can still become anything. But I grew up in a slightly different generation… I didn’t text or facebook or email when I was in high school. So it’s somewhat more comfortable to be writing about teens who lived before all that. Also, because I’m a nerd, and I enjoy the research. Plus, I love the idea of introducing my readers to characters who, because of the era they live in, face really different problems, which creates a nice perspective. Of course, not totally different problems– love is a great unifier, always, everywhere!

What drew you to the turn of the twentieth century? What drew you to the 1920s?
They are sort of opposites actually, and I am really fascinated by both extremes– the decadent clutter of the Victorian Era, the sense that the characters are being watched by everyone lest they fail to conform perfectly, vs. the breezy, modern, fun-loving 1920s, where no one will watch you unless you do something very brilliant and idiosyncratic. In both cases I think I was drawn to these iconic moments of American history, where the fashion and the society become really distinctly our own, and where young women in particular got a chance to break out of the old ways. The little steps that Diana Holland took at the end of the Luxe series allow for the world where an Astrid Donal is possible.

Aside from the time period what is different about writing characters in the early 20th century and those in the 20s?
The everyday life of society people in the Gilded Age was ruled by really stringent etiquette–there was hardly room to breathe, much less be a full, messy human being! So when I was writing the Luxe books I was writing about these ardent, flawed characters buckingup against a very narrow morality. In Bright Young Things all that is turned on its head; I am writing about characters in a world where everything goes. The surface of that world, just like the surface of the opulent and tightly controlled Gilded Age, is glamorous, but deep

down it is treacherous, too–they have that in common. But for Cordelia and Letty, the danger lies in having too few rules– unlike Diana and Elizabeth Holland, they really can do anything, but after a while being able to do anything becomes a crutch. If they don’t determine their own morality, they will be lost in wild, footloose, 1920s New York.

Was it difficult to make the transition into a new time decade?
As a writer, it is always difficult to start something new–but once you get going it is thrilling. So yes and no! It was a challenge, with all the good and bad things that word always implies.

Want more? Join us for a live chat with Anna Gobersen in the inkpop forum events tonight at 8 p.m. EST.

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What Worked For Me: inktipsfrom Sophie Jordan

Posted by inkpopbecki on November 3, 2010

Author Sophie Jordan has a little bit of insight on writing, she is a bestseller after all. If you can join us for a live chat with Sophie Jordan at 5 p.m. EST today in the inkpop forum events.

1)    Read, read, read! That’s right. Read within the genre you’re aiming to publish within, but also read in other genres, too. If there’s a book out there everyone is talking about, but it’s not normally what you read, pick it up anyway. This is doing your homework. I call it studying the market … and at the same time you’re soaking up various writing styles and techniques … and more than likely getting inspired, too.

2)    Write! You have the ideas, so get them down on paper. Like a muscle exercised, your writing will only get stronger, better, faster the more you practice.

3)    Seek input. Whether you actually form a critique group with other writers, it’s important to have someone you trust read your material – someone who can give honest feedback that gets you thinking about ways to improve your work. Someone who reads your writing and tells you it’s awesome-great-nothing-better-has-EVER-been-written … well, that’s nice for your ego, but it won’t help you improve your book.

4)    Craft Books. There are excellent books out there on the craft of writing. Investigate, find them — read them! Every little bit you can soak up will help.


5)    Submit your work. You can’t keep your writing to yourself forever. If you never submit

your work, it can never be published. Eventually you have to put on your big girl/boy pants and submit your work to reputable agents. Brace yourself for rejection. That’s natural … and makes the reward of finally signing with an agent all the sweeter. Expect to knock on several doors before one finally opens to you.

Want to hear more? Join us fora  live chat with Sophie Jordan at 5 p.m. EST today in the inkpop forum events.

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Revising for Impact

Posted by inkpopbecki on October 8, 2010




Heather Davis, author of Never Cry Werewolf, dropped by to offer a few good tips on how to revise your writing. Check out the Never Cry Werewolf Writing Challenge on inkpop.

Some people will claim that their work is perfect as is – that they never need to revise.  But if you really want to be an author, one of the most important jobs you have is to make your story better and stronger.

I spend a lot of time revising — whether I’m writing a paranormal novel or something realistic.  It’s an important way you improve the experience of your book (and your fictional world) for your reader.  You want them to get the sharpest picture, the clearest image of what you’ve created.

Ok, so where do you begin?  Whether you have completed a long short story or just finished a novel — but the process is pretty much the same.  Start by reading through the story and asking yourself some basic questions.

Does this make sense?  Fiction has to make more sense than real life.  You have to show why the characters do what they do.  The choices they make in the story should be true to their personalities and motivations. If a character’s action seems unfounded, find a way to add clues for the reader – a line in a conversation, a small detail about the character’s environment – that back up the action. For example, someone who decides to become a ghost hunter might have paranormal research books in their room.  Or maybe, they argue with a friend who doesn’t believe in ghosts in the first few pages of the story.   You need to set things up so they make sense.

Are my characters likable? Remember that readers want to be rooting for your main characters.  If your protagonist is always whiny, or feels sorry for herself, we are going to get sick of them quickly.  Give them traits we can identify with, or show them doing something kind or noble.  For example, maybe despite having a shy exterior your protagonist goes out of her way to defend someone in her class who’s being bullied — okay, now we’re rooting for her.

Did I use interesting language and description?  Check through the story for overused words  and ditch them for more interesting ones.  Get rid of some (not all) of the boring verbs like “walk” in favor of “saunter” or “stroll”.  Make sure you’re including specific sounds (have you ever spelled “aaaaahhhoooooooooo?” for a werewolf?) and other sensory details your reader needs to imagine what you’re trying to tell us on the page.  This includes the five senses, of course, but don’t forget in paranormals, we often need to feel that creepy foreboding — something’s not quite right in the neighborhood anymore.

After you’ve gone through those questions, check for the regular stuff   You know what I mean here — grammar, misspelled words, etc.  It does make a difference, so if you’re not really great at this, ask a friend for help, check out dictionary and grammar sites on the web, or, crack open that dusty reference book on your shelf.




Get some Feedback.  When you think the story is in good shape, you might want to show it to a friend or writing group you trust.  Be brave!  Get some feedback on the story from other storytellers.  They will see things that you didn’t, and if you think they have valid points, you can use their feedback to tweak the story.

Be true to yourself.  Remember that this is your story.  You are the artist.  The things you’re trying to tell the world are important and real.  Don’t ever change your story because of feedback that doesn’t resonate or make sense to you.  Go with your gut, your heart — and your sixth sense.

Heather Davis is the author of YA novels Never Cry Werewolf (HarperTeen) and The Clearing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Heather is also one of the founding members of – a popular teen fiction blog.  She lives in the dark and rainy Pacific Northwest, the setting for many of her supernatural stories.  You can learn more about her at

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What Would They Do in WWII: Writing Historical Fiction Tips from L.M. Elliott

Posted by inkpopbecki on October 5, 2010

Think you could write historical fiction? Join our weekly inkpop challenge for a chance to receive a review from the author and win great books from HarperTeen.


Here’s the thing to remember about historical fiction—teenagers in WWII, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, even ancient Greece had the same emotions, the same growing up pangs that you do today. They wanted to fall in love, to square off and beat back bullies, ached when they failed, rejoiced when they succeeded, fought with their parents, and bucked societies’ rules. It’s just that the back-drop of events, the specific challenges the times threw at them were different.  But that doesn’t mean historical fiction can’t open up our hearts and minds to quandaries we face right now. Perhaps even because it’s not raw with today’s arguments.

In A Troubled Peace, for instance, Henry Forester has safely returned from WWII and being hunted by the Nazis, an escape story and look at the French Resistance told in Under a War-torn Sky. But Henry still has battles to fight—now against his disturbing memories and his ingrained battle-readiness that is dangerous, unnerving to his loved ones, and inappropriate for peacetime. Sound like the issues facing our soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?

Here’s how to make your historical piece real and compelling:
1.  Pick a historical event, keep it focused, and then hone in on people’s emotional reactions and struggles to survive it. Keep the historical timeline and details as backdrop. The human drama is what you’re after.
Wars are the most dramatic episodes, of course. But there are so many other kinds of events that present enormous challenges that require us to react with courage or devotion to others, to grow up quick, to grapple with ethical questions—in these stories we can witness both the worst and the best of humanity.
Examples off the top of my head—what was it like to be a doctor’s child during the influenza outbreak after WWI; a fireman’s wife during 9/11; a person sitting at one of the lunch counters that Martin Luther King’s marchers chose for one of their peaceful demonstrations.


2.   Do your research. That’s right, research. Believe me, that’s the fun part, the treasure hunt, where you get to be a detective. Accurate details make the narrative so much more real. You need the lingo, slang, music, clothes, cars, and big political questions (like communism and rebuilding Europe) to be right.
These little details are important because they let you “show rather than tell.” Ever heard that? It’s one of the most important “rules” of creative writing.
For instance, I learned in my research (reading, watching period movies, interviewing veterans), that the air temperature in those WWII bombers could be 30 below zero. That’s because the machine guns they used to fend of Hitler’s Luftwaffe fighters were fired out open bay doors.
It’s boring to say, “It was unbelievably cold.” Better to describe a pilot getting dressed for a mission, the layer upon layer he dons to guard against that cold as I did in Under a War-torn Sky—such as long-john underwear that was wired like an electric blanket that boys plugged into the plane’s electrical outlets during their flights. Have the co-pilot call out: “crack down your line, boys,” a duty he was to perform every 20 minutes, because their spit could freeze in their oxygen lines and cut off life-giving airflow.

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Characters, Plotting and Action: Writing Tips from Diana Peterfreund

Posted by inkpopbecki on September 10, 2010

How do you write a series? How do you define your characters? Diana Peterfreund, author of the new book Ascendant, is here to tell you this and more. Want to try your hand at writing action? Join the Ascendant Writing Challenge on inkpop.

On Character Names
My favorite trick for dealing with a recalcitrant character: recast him or her with a new name. Rare is the character whose disposition cannot be improved upon once christened anew. To me, changing the name of the character is more like changing the key of a musical piece. You end up with a very different person. Victor can’t be the same person as Cody. Allison is not the same person as Persephone.

“Get In Late, Get Out Early”
I didn’t make this one up, but it’s still one of my favorites.
Basically, what it means is start the scene at the latest possible point where it still makes sense to the reader. (“It’s a dark and stormy night,” isn’t necessary if you say “The lightning flashed on the hilt of her knife as she plunged it into the unicorn’s heart.”) Ditto for the ending — stop the scene on a hook that propels the reader into the next scene.

Be a Little Sadistic
Don’t be afraid to hurt your characters and make them suffer. No one wants to read a book about a happy, flawless person who never has any problems. It’s boring. They want to read about someone overcoming their problems, or dealing with their flaws. Conflict drives a story. Let the bad thing happen. Even better, let your hero be somewhat responsible for it.

Save Nothing
Series may be popular right now, but if you “save” all your good stuff “for the sequel,” your first book is going to be boring. Use what you’ve got, stuff your story to the gills. I promise, there’s more where that came from.

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