The Character Evolution Files, No. 13: Answers to Lingering Questions About the Journey Through the Character Arc


Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we look back on our Journey Through the Character Arc with File No. 13, which answers questions we might have and that readers have posed during the series.

Analyzing the components of character evolution is no easy task. So is using those components to craft a protagonist’s path of growth through an original story. Thanks to our recent Journey Through the Character Arc series, which focused on 10 stages for developing a positive arc, we’re now equipped with a step-by-step process and targeted questions that can help us develop such a path that’s logical and compelling. But have Files No. 3 through 12 answered all of our questions about character arcs? Probably not.

So, for File No. 13, we’ll explore some of those questions. For example, can the order of the 10 arc stages be rearranged? How closely should those stages align with a story’s plot structure, or with the percentage milestones or lengths recommended in each post? Plus, if you found each arc stage’s questionnaire beneficial, check out the final section for a special worksheet announcement! Continue reading

What Do You Think?: E-Newsletters by Writers (Plus, A Quick Survey for You)

One of the most talked-about outreach tools for writers today is the email newsletter (or, e-newsletter). In fact, “start a newsletter” has been among the most suggested advice I’ve heard at Writer’s Digest Conference for the past two years – from authors, publicists, and publishing professionals alike. It seems valuable, especially since other writers have found success with them. Yet despite all the positive buzz, I’ve hesitated to create one.

Why? Well, up until now, it hasn’t been a priority. I’ve had enough going on that starting an e-newsletter would have taken time away from blogging and (more importantly) novel-writing. But now, with a slower blogging schedule and edits on the WIP’s third draft coming to a close, I have time to give it serious thought.

So, what are the benefits of an e-newsletter? What cautions should we keep in mind? Plus, I’m offering readers – yes, YOU – a chance to help me decide whether I should start my own e-newsletter and what content I may want to include. More details on that shortly.

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Chronicling The Craft: A Conversation About Beta-Reading, From Nailing Your Critiques to Finding Good Candidates


Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today it’s the tips-oriented post to celebrate 80% completion of Draft #3.

I had trouble thinking of a subject to cover this time. The past three tips-driven Chronicles (word-cutting strategies, planning changes to one’s writing routine, and wrestling writer’s doubt) were inspired by challenges I experienced at different points during Draft #3. Lately, though, no one single “issue” with editing has stood out to me. Yet I’ve started giving serious thought to the next stage: beta-reading.

Yes, that terrifying yet exciting phase of sharing your writing for feedback is the topic of today’s Chronicle. I’ll share lessons and advice based on my past experience with beta-reading for other writers. I’ll also touch on how to decide who might be a good beta-reading candidate, and give you a peek inside my plans for my WIP’s beta-reading stage. So, let’s dive in!
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Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 – 80% Progress Report

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Plus, Five Non-Metal Songs That Appear on the WIP’s Playlist

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today’s post marks 80% completion of Draft #3 with another progress report and more songs on TKC’s novel playlist.

This is it, guys. The finish line for Draft #3 is in sight!!


Don’t worry. The WIP hasn’t gone up in flames. I just think this Incredibles GIF is adorable.🙂

And it doesn’t seem like long since the last pair of Chronicles, right? Well, it’s not that the editing has picked up in speed. Rather, I couldn’t schedule the previous pair until 3 weeks after I’d passed the 60% mark. But thanks to my new blogging schedule, you’re getting this only 1 week after I passed 80%.😉

(NOTE: Despite last week’s blogging schedule announcement, the second half of the 80% Chronicles pair will still post this Thursday, since it’s ready to go.)

As always with these progress reports, I’ll share Draft #3’s latest word count and what else made the past 20% of edits unique. Plus, I’m sharing five more tracks that currently appear on TKC’s novel playlist. So, shall we?
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More Changes Are Coming to the Blog (Plus, Why I’m Excited About the “New” Direction)


Some of you might recall that I’ve been struggling with blogging after a crazy-busy August. Not with ideas or visitors, but with time and energy. This week, I’m feeling the best I’ve felt physically and mentally in the past two months, but I only have one post scheduled instead of two. So, in a way, the results of that “burnout” are starting to show.

I’ve also been thinking about the time I spend on this site. I already cut back on my blogging schedule earlier this year because I couldn’t keep up the aggressive pace I’d set. Back then, I figured, “Blogging twice a week should be fine.” And for a while, along with writing every other month for DIY MFA, it was.

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The Freestyle Writing Challenge, Part 2

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Last year I tackled the Freestyle Writing Challenge for the first time. It was a fun way of writing about whatever I wanted (within the topic chosen by the blogger who nominated me, of course) and seeing how many words I could type in a short amount of time. Today, I’m *finally* accepting Sarah J. Higbee’s nomination to take on the Challenge again. Thanks, Sarah!

Here are the rules for the Freestyle Writing Challenge:

  1. Open an new Microsoft Word document.
  2. Set a stop watch or timer for 5 or 10 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
  3. You topic is at the end of this post, but DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.
  4. Fill the Word document with as many words as you can. Once you begin writing, do not stop.
  5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in Word. This Challenge is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow, not your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules.
  6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
  7. At the end of your post, write down ‘No. of words =_____’ so that readers have an idea of how much you can write within the timeframe.
  8. Copy and paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees, and include these rules with your nominations (at least 5 bloggers).

So, Sarah’s topic for her nominees this time was… Continue reading

Interview with Roshani Chokshi, Author of “The Star-Touched Queen”


I love it when authors write a story that veers away from trends yet works in every way. Roshani Chokshi’s debut YA fantasy The Star-Touched Queen is exactly that. With gorgeously vivid writing and unbridled imagination, this Hindu-inspired tale brings readers to a world of mythical creatures, surreal settings, and love intertwined with destiny. (Check out my review of The Star-Touched Queen here if you haven’t yet.) The book has been an instant hit with readers, too, debuting in the New York Times’ YA Hardcover Bestsellers List in its first week of sales. That’s pretty good, if you ask me.

Today I’m thrilled to have Roshani stop by and chat about The Star-Touched Queen. If you’re curious about her world-building approach, writing influences, her journey to becoming a published author, and flesh-eating demon horses (yes, you read that correctly), then this interview is for you. Enjoy!

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Field Trip: Writer’s Digest Conference 2016

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Now that all of the late-summer busyness has passed, I finally have some time to tell you about this year’s Writer’s Digest Conference! And what an amazing four days it was. In fact, I think it topped the 2015 edition!

With this post, I’ll give a general overview of WDC 2016, including which sessions I enjoyed most and what I learned. Last year I did a trio of posts for DIY MFA; and while I would have liked to have covered the conference for the site again this year, it wasn’t possible with my friend’s wedding 2 weeks later. The good thing is, waiting to do this post has given me time to digest (no pun intended) everything I absorbed that weekend and feel grateful for continuing to invest in my writing career.
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New DIY MFA Article on the “Why” Behind Our Writing


I took a new direction with my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul post for DIY MFA. Instead of digging into the craft of literary themes, I explore how our unique passions, curiosities, and values often emerge as themes in our work. It’s more personal than usual – especially for me, since I also share what inspired the post and how I found the “why” behind my own WIP. But I hope this article starts a thoughtful discussion on how the things that matter to us become part of our stories.

Click here to read “The ‘Why’ Behind Our Writing.”

Got any questions or suggestions for Theme: A Story’s Soul? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @SaraL_Writer with the hashtag #DIYMFA or #AStorysSoul.