59 thoughts on “Q & A

  1. I was wondering what you think of this young adult novel idea: Scarlett Baker isn’t popular anymore. Not that she ever was. But she definitely went from somewhere in the middle of the social ladder all the way to the very bottom. How? When Last week she was planning the ultimate party with her best friend Claire Sullivan and now…every ones avoiding her, calling her names and bullying her. She’s alone. And she’s not sure if what happened was worth it but the rumors are far off and only she knows the truth. No one else. Not even the one that caused her down fall. Scarlett only hopes it will get better when every one learns the truth. Or maybe she’ll keep it to herself.

    • Hi Morgan, I know you don’t want to give away what happened to Scarlett, but you do need to make sure that it’s big enough of a something to base a whole book around and that it brings a lot of complications with it that will take a whole novel to solve. There needs to be some very good reasons for your readers to understand why Scarlett doesn’t tell the truth and make things better right away. You have a lot of fun ahead of you as you work with your hero and her friends to create your story. She’s in the middle of the social ladder like so many people are, and it will be easy for your readers to identify with her. I wish you every success!

  2. Hi Heather, I wanted to ask you about writer’s bloc.
    I’ve been reading since I was a kid, I have a box full of plots and story ideas, and I know that I want to be a writer when I’m older. But as much as I love writing and cannot wait to share my stories with the world, I always find myself stuck.
    As soon as I get a new idea I jump on it and can get a few chapters into a novel before I slow down and get a little bored. This used to be okay, because I would just get another great idea and move onto it with as much excitment and vigor as the previous one, only this always ends the same way as the first.
    I decided I needed to focus on one idea and complete it, I even set a deadline and worked towards it. However, towards the end I became a little lax with myself and so passed the deadline and had to set a new one. Until two days ago I hadn’t written in a month, I just got off the story and didn’t want to get back on. Finally I did and I am excited about finishing it (only 15,000 more words to go!) and it will be a late Christmas present for my parents.
    I wanted to know what you thought about writers bloc, ways to get over it, how you, or others you know, might have overcome it, and what I can do to stay on track to meet my deadline.
    I’m writing YA fiction if you have any specific tips you know or have heard of that might help me.

    • Hi Jadzia,
      Congratulations on getting to the end of your latest story! I’m sure your parents will be so pleased to get their copy.
      Lots of writers make false starts. They begin stories that fizzle out before they are finished. Sometimes they’re right. The story just isn’t good enough to spend any more time on. Sometimes the story isn’t complex enough to last for an entire book. Novels need subplots and many characters and changes of scene, and sometimes an idea just isn’t big enough for that big a project. One way to find out is to draft a plan for your story. I tend to jump into my writing with characters and a scene and then get through a couple of chapters and come to a halt. That’s when I need to start planning ahead. I break down the action that I see ahead into chapters. I might only use one line to describe each of them, but at least it tells me that I have enough story to get to the end of the book and some directions to get there. I find this outline very handy because whenever I have time to write, I have a place to start. I sometimes write out of order because I see a scene further on in the book more clearly than the next one. So that’s the one I write.
      Hang on to all of your false starts. You may come back to one or two of them someday and find a way to outline a story that your characters will love. I’ve also used bits from stories I didn’t finish in ones that I did. I wrote a great fight scene in one unfinished story that I incorporated into another one.
      Check the sidebar on the website and Jody Hedlund’s article on organizing plot ideas into a novel. She might have just the tips you need. Also check out the Write On Teens site. There is lots of information there and also forums where you can ask other writers questions and discuss writing topics.
      Sometimes writer’s block is just a signal that the story isn’t just right for you right now. Sometimes other things happen in your life that make it very hard to be creative. You’ve done the right thing. You took a break and now you’re back to writing and meeting your goal.
      I wish you every success!

  3. hey madam heather;D do you think you could give me some help w my story?maby give me an idea for some things to ad and/or take out?thanks in advance heh.ahem..*clears throat*….Asher is returning to touchstone camp for the arts for the second summer in a row.Lately Asher been a little confused about who she is.she feels like the person she was is just someone she pretended to be to please others.But now shes ready to be her true self and hopes shell discover her this year at camp.but in the search for herself will lose and somethings along the way?Are the things she loses worth the things she will gain?

    • My suggestion is to be as concrete as possible. What specifically has she done to please someone else that she felt wasn’t something she truly wanted to do? Why did that bother her? What specific event has caused her to decide to make a change? Why will she have a better chance of finding out who she is at art camp than anywhere else? What challenges does camp provide? What events at art camp will help her learn who she is? Why does she have to overcome to learn about herself? What is she afraid to lose? If you narrow your thoughts down to specific events and people, you’ll start to develop the conflicts and characters you need to tell your story.

  4. Hey Heather, I was just wondering if you could read over my story idea! Also, I was hoping that you could give me some tips on how to stay focused on writing. Lately, I have been writing very little, except when I leave the city. I really want to write, but I am finding it hard to focus on writing for at least 20 minutes.
    Please send feedback soon.
    Here it is:

    Biome. The home of the gifted. Set apart from the rest of the world, this phase is split up into the 4 factions, Nova, Quakes, Ilumini and the Tsuns. At age ten, a child is given the ability of the faction, whether it is water, fire, earth or light. For centuries, Biome was a world of peace.

    But now, a new, unknown force has entered their world, retching the peace apart. War has broken out among the factions, a war that is likely to destroy them all.

    Brittney is an Ilumini. She can cross time and glimpse at the near future. She is certain that there is a way to resolve the conflict, far from the safety of her home. She, along with three other teens, must go and search for the peace, no matter what the consequences.

    • I love stories with a quest and yours is based on a great concept. Good for you! Focus can be a real challenge and it’s one I face myself. I generally writing in 500 word chunks and then I have to walk away from the desk and wander a bit before coming back. A couple of things help me stay on track. One is that I spend time at the beginning of the process doing a story plan. That way I always know what I’m going to write next so I don’t have to try and come up with an idea as well as the words. Because I know some of the events that will be covered in the story, I can also write things out of sequence and join them up later. Sometimes I can see a scene clearly so I just write that one, even though it’s out of order. Another thing that helps me stay focused is to turn off the internet and the cellphone. I’m easily distracted by FB, Twitter, email, etc. and if I don’t switch them off, I’m sunk. I will often write with pencil and paper because of that or I also use an Alphasmart Neo that has no internet connections. I wouldn’t worry about writing in small bites, too much. As long as you get words on the page, it’s good. If you write 250 a day (1 double-spaced page) you’ll have a novel in a year or sooner. It’s all progress!

  5. Hey everyone on the Q & A board could you help me with a simple story idea. I don’t have anything in mind except that; I don’t want it fantasy. I either want it in the future or in a different world. I want it to have an adventure in it not just boring occasional action, and lastly I would like it to be completely fiction because whenever i read non-fiction i always get bored so i don’t want to be bored while I write.

    Thanks in advance ๐Ÿ˜€


    • Hi Samuel,
      The problem with your question is that if writers come up with good story ideas, they want to write them themselves. ๐Ÿ™‚ I suggest that you explore the Writing Starters that are on this site (I think there are nearly 70 now) or check out the links on the blogroll. You’ll find more story starters there and other inspirations for how to start your story and plot it. I’m sure that if you play with some of those many ideas, you’ll come up with a story that you’ll love enough to write. Good luck!

  6. Hi Heather! Ive never written before but ive always wanted to, just because i have so many ideas in my head lol…I am trying to start a fantasy/real life plot, in which my character starts off by having a dream, and its one she keeps having over and over until it takes place..Is this a good way to start a first chapter with?

    There I was, gazing at the millions of tiny, dazzling stars that were surrounded by the deep midnight,majestic sky. I felt the warm caress of a tall, meadow-like grass, hovering over my still-laid body. Wishing, I could stay forever hidden in its whimsical-like arms,that were brushing against my skin ever-so softly. The smooth breeze that wisped around me made me motionless in time.As the soothing mist blew itself around me, I seemed to have a sensibility of an Oceans draft that swirled around my visage. It felt particular close,but I was in such a daze, that I hadn’t felt like moving any part of my somewhat numbness body.

    I have never in my life endured so much comfort in these unfamiliar surroundings, that even though deep down inside, I felt like I was a stranger, another part of me knew I belonged. Belonged, that was very unfamiliar to me. There was a connection to this exotic place and me, that I couldn’t identify with. It was like time had been abandoned, stolen from some dark rupture that had swallowed it, and would never spit it back out.

    obviously it keeps going but do you think im putting to much detail in ?
    thank you:)

    • Hi Pam,
      I don’t think there are any rules about starting a book with dreams, so you’re safe there. ๐Ÿ™‚ My only caution would be that you keep it short, so that you get your character into action quickly, which will keep your reader turning the pages. Your dream description leaves the reader asking a lot of questions about why your character feels this way in her/his dream and why he/she seems to have such a connection to this dream place–and that’s a good thing! Making the reader ask questions is the key to starting a story well. On the technical side, I’d look for ways to use more active verbs and leave out the was’s and were’s. For example: “I gazed at the millions of tiny, dazzling stars surrounded by the deep midnight sky”–and later–“whimsical arms that brushed against my skin.” Leaving out the was’s and were’s shows the reader more directly what the character is feeling and gives a little more energy to the scene. I loved “dark rupture that had swallowed it and would never spit it back out.” Great image! Here’s a link from my website that has a few more tips about novel beginnings: http://www.magicalwords.net/lucienne-diver/beginnings/
      I wish you every success with your writing. You’re off to a great start!

  7. Hey again, Heather.

    I was just wondering how to come up with a creative name for a novel/short story. I have written a couple of short stories and am working on a novel, and i am wondering if you have any tips on how to come up with a creative title that pulls a reader in.


    • Hi Logan,

      You’ve asked a really good question. I always have trouble finding titles for my stories. One trick I have learned is to look carefully at my characters’ dialogue. Often they will say something that perfectly sums up what the story is about.

      Here are some tips from Rachelle Gardner who is a literary agent: http://www.rachellegardner.com/2010/03/how-to-title-your-book/

      Find twenty books on Amazon that are in the same genre as yours and whose titles you like. Write down their titles. Try to get a feel for what works with your genre. What do you like about the titles? What donโ€™t you like? Then put the list away for awhile.

      โ†’ Sit with a pencil and paper (and maybe your critique group and a white-board) and free-associate, making lists of words related to your book. Put them in columns: nouns, verbs, adjectives. If itโ€™s a novel, list words that describe or suggest the setting. Then think about each of your major characters and write down words that relate to them. Think about the action in the story and write down verbs that capture it. If your book is non-fiction, list words that capture what you want your reader to think, feel or do after reading it. And words that describe what your book is about.

      Nothing is off limitsโ€”write down anything you can think of that conveys anything about your book. Use visual words that suggest a scene. Other words that evoke an emotion. A sensation. A location. A question. You should have at least 100 words.

      โ†’ See if any of the words would work as a single-word title. Then start experimenting with different word combinations. Adjective-noun, verb-noun. Keep a thesaurus handy and look up other words. Write down as many word combinations as you can. Try not to self-censor at this stage.

      โ†’ From these lists, come up with at least 20 possible titles. Then put them away for 24 hours. Two things will happen: your subconscious may still be working on it; and when you come back to your list, youโ€™ll have fresh eyes.

      Hope this information helps you find some great titles for your stories and your novel. Good luck!

  8. Hi Heather. I just started writing a few short stories that I truly mean to print out and put in the school newspaper. I’ve always been a strong writer but I wanted some advice from a proffessional. Hear I have the blurbs to two of the short stories that I have started.
    The Last Game
    Twins Tate Riley Duval and Colton Tyler Duval practically hate each other and fight daily, maybe even hourly and they can never seem to agree. The only thing that will keep them from fighting is soccer. They are separated here and there, even on the soccer field, and they love it, until a sports injury to Tate brings them together and they relize that they see the reflection of one in the other and need to work as a team.
    Avery is April and April is Avery
    Avery is an average teen with an average life, with great friends and a wonderful family. She takes the bus the 4.5 miles to school everyday with her best friend April. April is a heartwarming person who has always seemed to be able cure Avery sadness in any situation, but can Avery do the same for her friend? When an important device is stolen from April, it will be up to Avery to help her friend through it ’cause like the school kids say,”Avery is April and April is Avery. You’ll never see them apart.”
    Thanks. Your advice means so much to me.
    Katie ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Katie! Thanks for dropping by the site and sharing your stories. Being able to summarize a story well is a skill that a lot of writers struggle with. You’ve done a great job here!
      The Last Game has everything a story should have with characters in conflict with each other as the story opens who then have to face an even bigger challenge. There’s tension built in because, having seen their previous behavior, we might not be sure they can actually come together in order to help Tate.
      Avery is April and April is Avery has a great premise, but I’m going to suggest that you think about adding another level of conflict to create more tension for the reader. If Avery has been April’s friend for a long time, it’s natural that she will help her friend through this crisis, so it doesn’t create a lot of suspense. Think about how you could add an extra level of problems for Avery that might make it harder for her to deal with her friend’s problem right now–perhaps a secret that she hasn’t told April yet. Maybe her parents only seem happy but are getting a divorce, or maybe her father is getting a new job that means they have to move and she hasn’t told April yet, maybe her mom is going through tests to determine if she has cancer or not, and it’s hard for Avery to focus and keep up her marks that are important to her, and now April’s problem will take up even more of her time. Maybe there’s a moment when things get so bad that what the kids say might not be true anymore, and that Avery and April could be apart for the first time. Your reader will know how awful that could be and really be rooting for them to stay best friends forever and racing to find out how your story ends.
      These are just my thoughts, but trust your writer’s heart to decide if any of these ideas might work for you and your imagination to come up with ideas that work even better. I wish you every success with your stories, and thanks again for sharing them with me.

  9. Hi! This is my first piece of writing ever! Plzz give advice and tell me if it’s good! Thnx! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I brushed my teeth, turned on the water heater and stepped into the hot relaxing spray. It was heaven. After a long hot shower, I shut the water off, dried away the droplets with my towel, wrapped it around me and got out. Pulling on my cute pink baby doll nightie, I turned on my AC, climbed onto my bed and drifted off to sleep.

    I woke up to so to something shivering against me. No, it wasn’t something. It was someone. Him.
    Though my room was quite dark, I could still see him as the moonlight filtered through my curtained windows. He was lying on his side, facing me. His head was tucked under my chin, his face buried between my neck and chest. His perfect mouth was parted slightly, releasing warm puffs of air across my collar bones. His strong arms were wrapped tightly around my waist. Our legs tangled together. I was enveloped in his sexy boy smell. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put a name on what he smelled like. He smells like…him. So perfect. So beautiful.

    I was holding him too. When did he come? He only had his boxers on. I put my hand on his shoulder. He was cold. I slowly pulled the comforter from our waist and covered his bare shoulder. Reaching for the AC’s remote, which I always keep beside my pillow, I turned down the temperature. The time on the AC showed 2:13 am.

    Slowly I brushed a strand of his ink black hair from his forehead. He had stopped shivering now. I lowered my head and placed a soft kiss on his forehead before drifting off to sleep again.

    • Hi! You’ve posted this piece in a lot of places on the Internet and received some good advice, and you should consider following the suggestions you’ve been given. My advice is for you to quit worrying about this small story moment, but to go ahead and finish the whole story. Find out what happens next, or what happened before, and let your characters grow and change. When you finish your story and go back to revise, you’ll know what you need to do to improve this piece.

        • Yes. I found it in at least 4 places on the internet with the same comments from you. If you want feedback after every few paragraphs you write, then I sincerely suggest you get together with some friends who also write stories and share your writing with them, before you put your work out for strangers to comment on. There are also websites designed for teen writers that are listed on the links on this site. Some of them have critique groups that will give you the feedback you need. You would be better to get connected with other teen writers through those sites and learn more about the craft of writing, rather than asking people to criticize your work when you’ve only just written it. You’ll learn more about how to be a better writer that way and learn how to judge your own work to make it better as you keep writing in the future.

          • Hi! Can u plzz check this and give advice? And I have posted this scene in other places too but I want your opinion. Thnx! ๐Ÿ™‚

            It was a lazy Sunady afternoon. After we all had lunch, I got upstairs, took my iPad and was reading on the couch when he came in. I started to get up when he plopped down on the couch and pulled me onto his lap, his strong, warm hand wrapped around my shoulder and waist.

            ย ‘No, stay’, he said softly. I flopped down on my back. He lightly stroked my hair while gazing with these dark chocolate eyes. Eyes that I wanted to get lost in and never find my way back. His other arm was draped over my stomach, his fingers tracing small circles on my waist over my shirt around my hip. His touch was electric. We both were gazing at each other and I noticed he was breathing a bit hard. My wild heart was thumping like the tumbling of thunder. Then he slowly started bending down. I closed my eyes and the next thing I knew, his lips were on mine. Goosebumps coved me from head to toe. His lips felt so soft and smoothe, just like I thought it would. His lips didn’t move, just stayed there for some precious moments. I wanted to preserve the moment. That was my first kiss. My first real one. It felt like heaven. The whole world was turning. The feeling was so beautiful, it felt unreal. Then I felt his lips move away. Oh God, what if it’s just a dream? What if HE is just a dream? No, please don’t. It would hurt so bad.

            A few minues passed by. He didn’t talk or say anything, just kept stroking my hair. My eyes were still closed. I was just too scared to let go. Then I felt his lips on my forehead. He placed a soft peck there and gently lifted and layed my head on the couch. I felt him leaving the room.
            ^^ ย  ย ^_^ ย  ^^

          • There are some very nice moments in this piece describing the kiss, and I think readers would like your description. The confusing part is where they actually are physically. He says, “No, stay.” but the girl hasn’t shown that she was planning to move away at all, so it doesn’t make sense for him to say that. If his arms are wrapped around the girl, how does she flop down onto her back, and why would she move from where she is in the first place? If you’re sitting on someone’s lap and his arms are wrapped around you, his face is close enough to kiss exactly where you are. And if you’ve flopped down on your back, which means he would have to let go, how is he reaching your hair without moving from where he was sitting on the couch? Later you have him lowering her head back down on the couch, but I can’t see where he lifted it in the first place. This kind of confusion will take the reader out of the mood you are trying to create, so it’s worth a rewrite to get it to make more sense.

          • Hi! I don’t think it’s good enough!

            I’m writing YA where the gf comes between the 2 friends. Then the gf will make him break their friendship and they won’t talk at all. Obviously the friend loves him and all. Then the gf will cheat on him and he’ll find out an the 2 friends will be back together…I really don’t think it has any spark!! How can I make it interesting? ๐Ÿ™

          • Here’s an option. There’s a fellow who has been waiting for the friend to disappear so he can get closer to the girl that he’s liked forever. He’s a good guy and the girl likes him. When the friend gets dumped by the gf and tries to pick up where he left off, he now has competition and the girl has to decide between the two of them.

          • Sure! Why not? She can like the new guy and see his good qualities. She doesn’t have to love him, and it’s about time someone thought she was special and treated her nicely. Let her enjoy the new guy and being treated like she’s special. Maybe seeing her friend with another girl and how he behaves when he’s not around her makes her see different things about him that she might not have noticed before–good or bad. It helps her decide what she really wants in a relationship, now she’s had a bit more experience, so when the friend comes back, she knows she’s making a good decision whatever it is. If she just sits around feeling sorry for herself and pining after the friend who is gone, she’s not doing anything interesting to keep the reader interested. This way the reader has a little suspense about who she will pick, how the friend will react when he sees her with another guy, etc.

          • Thnx I’ll think about it and I didn’t tell u one thing that is the guy actually lives in the girl’s house cuz his parents died and his parents were best friends of the girls parents

          • If you’re going to deal with this age difference, you need a really good reason why a 21-year-old college student would date a teenager, especially when there are a lot of women his own age at college. It’s something that has to make sense to your readers.

          • Don’t worry too much about it now. A lot of new ideas and story twists will come along when you’re writing. My advice is to just finish writing the story and see how it all turns out at the end. Then let it sit for a couple of weeks and go back to it and see how it reads and what you might want to change to make it better.

          • Hi Heather! Can u help me with this? ๐Ÿ™‚

            My MC’s friend, Sky, has monster step parents who beat and abuse her a lot. And also makes her do all household chores. She has got bruises, cuts and burns too. She has an aunt (her real mom’s sister) who wants to taker her away from those monsters but they won’t even let Sky meet her. I need a solid reason got this! Can u suggest some? Thnx! ๐Ÿ™‚

          • If the step-parents have been pretending to everyone that they are loving parents to Sky, then when the aunt ever got a close look at her, she’d know the step-parents were lying and they could be charged. They wouldn’t want anyone to get close enough to Sky to learn their secret. Sky could have information that she knows about the step-parents, that they don’t want anyone to find out–they could be doing something illegal, for instance, and Sky knows about it. Right now they’re keeping her too scared to tell anyone. If she was with someone she trusted, like her aunt, she might tell about the illegal things the step-parents are doing and they would be in trouble. Just a couple of thoughts. Good luck!

          • If she knows, she’d have to report it. She’s the closer blood relative and should be able to get custody. Think about how the story would work if she just suspected, but didn’t know for sure. You might get a bit more tension building there, with the reader hoping she’ll figure it out soon to save Sky.

  10. Hello, I’m writing a fantasy novel, and I would love your opinion. This is the prologue, I’m about eight chapters into it. I also needed advice on overcoming writer’s block. My problem tends to be that I know what needs to happen overall, but all the scenes that lead up to the major plot points are difficult for me.
    “There was a time when Cayharan was a land of peace and prosperity. Those days are long gone, blown away with the wind. There was a time when the Four Cities lived together in harmony, sharing the land. The Ethereal Fortress welcomed all. The Light reigned and all people flourished. Since then Darkness has risen, but surely one whose courage is plentiful will rise up and strike down all evil. The Light will reign once again, and the Kingdom will live forever.”
    The tale of Cayharan was one that I had known since I just a little girl. Arjil as they were called, legends and stories told to pass the time. When I was young Arjil were told each night, passionately with the firelight illuminating the storyteller. Cayharans are born with the ability to tell stories. Not immediately, they learned to speak as normal children would, but it comes naturally. The urge to tell the legends and myths past down from generation to generation, and tell them well. I was always one of the best.

    Aiera. My name. It means story in the language of my people. I thought it was a silly name for me. Stories were told of heroes and great warriors. The name Aiera was often associated with such. I was anything but hero. With my wispy brown hair and green-blue eyes, a shy, petite girl of fourteen. My Parรจ was among the many traders in our home city of Tren. Being a merchant meant we were often edged precariously on the brink of poverty. Yet there were years when we were wealthier than most. My Mari was an organized and strict woman, but she laughed easily. I had three siblings, but you shall come to know them later.

    Growing up everyone in Tren could not imagine a more peaceful place to live.

    But that all changed.

    The Darkness. Some thought it was a disease, spread throughout the land. Others believed it was a creature, itโ€™s only objective to posses and destroy. Whatever it was, itโ€™s destructive power was unimaginable. It was said, that when someone caught the darkness, their eyes glowed red. They, changed somehow. I had never seen someone with The Darkness, so I was oblivious to the evil within it. I didnโ€™t know that the creature trapped within the dark shadow was struggling for freedom from his black-hearted master. But I would come to know, and now, our story begins.

    I’ll appreciate any advice you can give me! Thank you!

    • Hi Caralyn, Great piece of writing! And a very appropriate beginning to the kind of story that you are writing. There are only two things I would suggest tweaking. One is your self-description. It’s a great opportunity to let the reader know how the character sees herself. She says she’s not heroic, and doesn’t seem to think much of herself, but that’s not shown in the words she uses to describe herself. I’m thinking something like–wispy brown hair, eyes that can’t decide if they’re green or blue, and I was clearly the runt of the litter–a description that keeps up the self-deprecating tone you set up earlier. If you think this is a good idea, I’m sure you’ll find better words. I’d also like to see a little more suspense at the very end with something a little more edgy than ‘now our story begins.’ What you’ve said before that hints at a very scary conflict ahead, but the last few words take the scariness away. I’m thinking something like–I didn’t know that the creature … master. I didn’t know how deadly that shadow could be.–that’s not quite the right ending but something like it. I’m sure your imagination can find the right words. I’m just looking for something that makes the reader shudder a bit and then rush to turn the page to find out what happens.I think your story is off to a great start and hope you have a lot of fun writing it.
      For writer’s block, If there are scenes in the story that you see really clearly right now, just write them, even if they are out of order. You can put them in the right place later. A novel is a huge project, and sometimes it’s simply seeing the massive size of the whole thing that stops us from writing. Take it in small bites. Just write one small moment in the story at at a time, and eventually, it will all come together. It only takes a page a day to finish a book in a year, and you probably write more than that when you work on it, so, when you think about it, it really can be done. Good luck!

  11. Hello, I have started writing many stories. However, I never finish them. I have only finished two and those were for school so I had to finish them. Do you have any tips to sticking with one story? Also, I am never satisfied with my stories. Many people say that they are great and I’m a fantastic writer but they just don’t seem to flow. No matter how much I try they always seem to suck. Finally, I had a story that I liked, but I didn’t finish it. See my problem? Any helpful tips to stick with them and make it flow? Thank you in advanced!

    • Boy you sound like me! (And I don’t think we’re the only ones.) Once you get into the habit of writing a lot, the brain seems to go into high gear and come up with ideas for new stories all the time. It’s really tempting to drop what you’re working on and try a different one because it’s all new and shiny and suddenly looks way more interesting than the one you are writing now. Don’t throw any of these unfinished stories out. Often stories need time to just sit for a while. When you come back to them after a break, it’s easier for you to see where you’ve written gems and where you need to fix things. And fixing things is okay, too. First drafts are supposed to be messy, imperfect things, so don’t worry about loving every word at that stage. Sometimes what gets in the way of flow is not knowing quite enough about your characters. Do some brainstorming and find out more about them. Interview them as if you’re a really nasty reporter. Find out what they are hiding, what their secrets are. Find out what they keep in their pocket or their purse that they don’t want anyone else to see. Sometimes knowing those things gives your characters better reasons for thinking, doing, reacting, deciding about the problems you’ve given them in the story. If you think the flow is a problem with the plot, look back and see if you have given your main character enough problems to solve. Are you making it too easy for your character to reach his or her goal? Try asking “what if?” and see what kind of trouble you can come up with for your character that might be just the push you need to get to the end of the story. What if your character– broke her ankle, found out she was adopted, lied, broke a promise, found out she could do magic, opened a door that led to the past—you get the idea! Hope these suggestions help. I hope you keep writing and wish you every success in finishing some of those stories!

  12. Hi,
    I’ve been trying to write stories for a long time now and while I have tons of story ideas I can’t seem to stay focused on one idea for long till my brain gets blocked and then i start writing down my other ideas. I know that if I could get past my blocks I could work on them again but I’ve had some blocks for years now.
    Another problem is trying to figure out which person I should write my stories in? Would you have any suggestions.
    I also have troubles describing things even if a have a clear picture of it in my head.

    • Hi April, Sorry that I took a while to reply. It’s great that you have so many story ideas, but sticking with one is the only way to get the story or the book finished. I actually like to have two or three stories on the go at the same time. Then when I get stuck on one, I can leave it and work on another while the back of my brain solves the problem I had with the first one. It might sound a little strange but it works for me. Maybe you need to pick two or three stories that you love and try the same method. It will certainly stop you from being bored.
      Sometimes you don’t know who is telling the story until you’ve written your way into the story for a while. I wrote several chapters of a book in third person and then found myself wanting to switch to first, so I did. Going back to change what I’d already written wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Sometimes the genre dictates the voice. A lot of YA is written in first person, but very little science fiction. Mysteries do both. What you like reading is probably what you will like writing.
      Description is tough and I think the best thing to remember is that less is better. Your reader has an imagination that will fill in a lot of the details. If you are describing a high school, you don’t really need to say a lot as most people have been in one or seen one in TV or movies. Just concentrate on what makes this high school different (such as a ghost in the basement, all the students are twins, it’s underwater) rather than explaining all the things that are the same as any other high school (classrooms, hallways, lockers, cafeteria, auditorium, etc.) When describing people, readers don’t want a police description: 5’7″, slim, with brown hair, blue eyes, wearing … etc. All that’s pretty boring. Pick a feature that’s outstanding–hair down to her waist, brilliant blue eyes–something that sets him or her apart from all the other 16-year-olds and focus on that. As soon as readers learn your character’s name, their brains have already created that character. So if you start your story with, “Jessie slammed her bedroom door shut and threw her books on the floor,” your readers already have a picture of Jessie in their minds. Do they need to know that your Jessie is blonde? Does it make a difference if their Jessie is a redhead? Probably not. Think about what your readers really need to know and let their imaginations do the rest.

  13. Hi Heather!

    I’m 12, and I am currently writing a novel called Blaring.

    It’s about sirens (you know, the evil lure-sailors-to-death kind of sirens) in the modern day. And they’re slowly losing the meaning of their powers to these ‘resisters’, people who can resist the sirens voices, and one siren moves to a small town with her family, hoping it will have less resisters, but it turns out there are a lot. All of a sudden, her parents want to pack up their bags and leave-but what’s keeping her (the siren) from wanting to leave are the friends she’s made, particularly a boy siren she feels like she has developed feelings for (nothing gross though, just a crush!) That’s basically a really short plot line for you. Any comments?

    And I was also wondering if you know any websites where I can find writing buddies/critique partners my age, or close to my age, who I can share stories with and critique their stories as well, and just talk about writing!

    Thank you!


    • Hi Andrea,
      I think your story idea works very well. You’ve set up a unique world with sirens and resisters that provides a lot of conflict for your main characters. You’ve given your character big problems (she’s a siren in a world where sirens are losing their powers) and small ones (her parents want to move her away from her friends.) How she deals with her conflicts should make for good reading.
      One website I will suggest is http://www.youngwritersonline.net/index.php. Explore the site a bit and look at the writing forum. You can look at stories that others have written and read what people have said about them to know if this is the place for you. A second recommendation is http://www.teenink.com/submit. Another popular place for young people to post their writing is http://www.quotev.com/. Students in my current writing workshops told me about this site. They post all their stories there.
      Good luck with your novel!

  14. Hello!
    I love books about fantasy, mystery, and horror. I really want to write a book or a series using these genres but I’m really stuck. I’ve looked at some fantasy writing prompts, but none of them were interesting.
    I love books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and The School for Good and Evil.
    Do you have any ideas that would be good?

    • Hi!
      Here are a couple of ideas.
      Get a blank piece of paper and draw a map of a country, planet, kingdom–you choose. Add lots of details of cities and towns and also rivers, mountains, swamps, etc. What kind of people/creatures live in different locations in this place? Now think of what might happen if a couple of people had to move from one place in your kingdom to another. Are they going willingly? Why do they have to move? Who are they travelling with? Do they like their fellow travelers. Are they going to stay together or separate? Drawing (and even coloring) can help you clear your brain and let new ideas in. Another thing you could do would be to check out the dialogue writing prompts under the writing prompts tab. Sometimes a short conversation will suggest a location and two characters and a problem they have to solve that might get your story going.
      Good luck with your writing!

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