Tips and Tricks, writing

Quick Tip #9

If you need to re-read your story to remember exactly what has happened, don’t re-read more than three to five pages. Instead, try to write descriptive headings for your chapters or section breaks (you can make them clever later). Read the headings and don’t get sucked into your own story or the desire to edit what you’ve already done. Just keep plugging on.

Check out more Tips and Tricks for your story!

Tips and Tricks, writing

Starting Your Story: Tips For That First Sentence

We’ve all been there. The best novel idea is bouncing around in your head and you’re staring at a blank piece of paper, trying to figure how to break the ice and start putting words to paper. 

Oh, that feeling is rough. It’s like, “C’mon, I’ve got gold in here, I just need that first sentence to really kill it.”

Well, let me tell you. You will rewrite that sentence. Now, I would recommend doing it later instead of six million times before you even start. You’ll lose that golden idea you’ve got before you finally put that last punctuation on your sentence, trust me. So, I’ve come up with some tips to help combat that. These tips are things I’ve used (or learned the hard way that I should have).


  1. Write the most cliche thing ever.

You will rewrite this later in your editing phase, so sometimes I start out with something like “Once upon a time” or “It was a dark and stormy night”. It lets my mind move past it but it also sounds kind of right (thanks Disney) so that you won’t keep worrying over it.

  1. Skip the first page all together.

I know, this one sounds a bit strange. But jump right into the middle of a scene. Keep it near the beginning, but craft the scene bouncing around your brain rather than forcing yourself into one that isn’t there yet. Act as if you already have those entry scenes. This gets you into the action fast.

  1. Tell us the ending. 

This only works in some novels, so use it cautiously. But, telling your reader the ending with the very first sentence brings in this tension throughout the whole novel of how we get there. Many novels have done this well, starting with something like “This is the story of how I died” or “This is how I ended up becoming queen.” But remember, it adds suspense throughout which means no big reveal later. Weigh the options. 

  1. Tell someone about it

Things tend to come more naturally when talking so get with someone you don’t mind giving a brief overview of your story. Explain the premise and then ask yourself and answer to them “So, how did all this begin?” See what flows out and tweak that. 

  1. Don’t procrastinate

This is the most generic bit of advice but the most important one. A lot of people, myself included, try to nail that first sentence and never get anywhere else with their story. Put something, anything down and move on. If you start researching or brainstorming and it just begins to take away from your story, you’ve hit the danger zone. Remember, this is a first draft. You can perfect later.

Tips and Tricks, writing

Guest Post: An Edit Vs a Re-Write: My First Draft Problem

By: Jeremy C Kester

In the spaces where I’ve done my research, I’ve found quite a number of other writers who would argue that in every story I do, once I complete my first draft I should crumple it up, throw it out, and start fresh. The idea is predicated on advice to ignore quality (or rather, not to let it get in the way of progress) when attempting to complete the first draft.

I can’t say that I am a fan of that method. It would be a waste to just re-do it all, similar to throwing all that work away.

Though I won’t dare say that the first draft of any of my stories is a work of pristine art, I was more in favor of strategic editing, lopping off chunks or adding where needed to bolster the weak parts of the story. I would argue that there are great stretches in what I write that is worth keeping. Basically, I believe that the above advice to completely re-write the book from scratch \ was more for when one’s first draft was really bad. Like really bad— like where a surgery is more likely to kill the patient than the disease itself.

Still, I never considered it. Even when my first drafts were terrible, I stuck with the strategic editing concept… that is until I have a book with over 170,000 words staring at me with a plot that indeed went awry somewhere in there. It would take so much work that I realized something: they were right the whole time.

There’re a few projects of mine, particularly in the last year, that I plowed through the writing to get the draft done. When I was struggling with plot, I simply ran through. Eventually, when I finished these stories, I found that they were a teeny-bit away from the intentions I had put forward initially. My inadequate planning bit me in the ass. There was too much wrong to fix with simple editing. Yet, I became determined to try.

Gravity 3 was like that. As is Gravity 4, Gravity 5 (note that I am revamping that saga anyway, but this only reinforces that), Of Earth and Ice (a sci-fi epic I am working on), Antlers (a novella that I am not fully ready to say much about yet), and a few others. I learned to write a lot, and write a lot I did; although, I ended up failing at achieving the real goals I wanted to get to with those stories.

Without my planning, without the skills I’ve been working on to better the prep work before I start a project, I would have to become comfortable with the understanding that a crappy first draft would act as a substitute. It would install a rough skeletal structure to hang a re-draft onto, allowing me to take on re-writing I said project with more confidence. The first draft is the rough outline I needed to begin with.

I am throwing a lot of these projects away now (metaphorically speaking). Committing to a re-write just seems… right. Sure, it would be a lot of extra work, but wouldn’t the degree of editing I would have to do to bring a bad manuscript back in line be even more?


Today’s guest author is the talented Jeremy C Kester. To read more of his works and support a great writer, check out his site

Jeremy C Kester is an independent writer living with his family in DuPage County, Illinois. He works as an engineer with a polyurethane chemical company while he obsesses about writing. Petting cats is another hobby he would love to have more time for if he wasn’t writing, spending time with family, reading, and drinking coffee.

Original Work, writing



Mallory-waitress at Hal’s Diner
Paul- Mallory’s eight year old son
Ron- Paul’s friend
George- Paul’s imaginary friend
Reggie- waiter at Hal’s Diner

Winter. A block in a small town. A street with fresh snow on it. Stage left is the street corner. The street goes through center stage. Stage right is Hal’s Diner. Inside Hal’s Diner, booths and tables are spaced around, with one long bar going around with trendy decor. Behind the bar is a door into the kitchen. Mallory is wiping off one of the tables. Reggie is cleaning nearby. Paul and George are sitting across from each other in a booth. Paul is coloring in a coloring book. Ron and a few other boys are sitting at a table across the diner.


Paul: Look George, isn’t it pretty? (holds up coloring book)
George: (nods) Its very pretty.
Paul: (sets down coloring book) Do you want to draw some too?
George: (smiles) No thanks. I like seeing yours.
Paul: Okay. (continues to color)
(Mallory walks over to the booth her son is sitting in. She doesn’t look at George.)
Mallory: Paul, don’t you want to go sit with your friends? (gestures towards the table of boys)
Paul: (stops coloring and sets down his Crayon) Mom, I’m sitting with George. (points at George who smiles)
Mallory: (looks blankly at where George is sitting. Can’t see him. Looks back at Paul.)
Honey, he’s imaginary. Don’t you want to go play with those boys?
Paul: (upset) George isn’t imaginary. You just can’t see him because he don’t want you to.
Mallory: (sounding concerned) Pack your things. My shift ends in a few minutes and we’re going home. (walks away)
(Mallory-exits through kitchen door)
Paul: (looks at George) Don’t worry, I know you’re real.
George: (pats his hand) I know you do pal.
(Ron walks over)
Ron: Paul, do you want to come play? We’re going to go sledding.
Paul: No, I have to go home with my mom and George.
Ron: (shrugs) Oh, okay. Tell George hi. (walks back to his table)
Paul: (lifts a backpack up and puts his crayons and coloring book in it) Do you want to go sledding, George?
George: Do you?
Paul: (shakes his head) Ya. It could be fun.
George: How about you go? You need to start doing stuff with your other friends too. I’m just here when you need another friend, not to be your only friend. So you go sledding and we’ll hang out later. Sound good?
Paul: (smiles) Ya, I’ll go ask mom.
(Mallory-enters though kitchen door. Walks up to Paul’s table with a jacket in hand)
Mallory: Come on Paul, time to go home.
Paul: (stands up) Mom, can I go sledding with Ron?
Mallory: (her eyes widen) I thought you didn’t want to.
Paul: No, I do want to. (shakes his head to make his point)
Mallory: (smiles) Of course. What about George? (frowns slightly)
Paul: (shrugs) He told me to go, but he doesn’t want to go.
Mallory: (voice slightly suspicious) George wants you to go by yourself?
Paul: He says I should spend time with my other friends too. He’s doesn’t want to be my only friend.
Mallory: (surprised) Oh.
George: When will she realize I’m only helping? (smiles at Paul)
Paul: (laughs)
Mallory: (suspiciously) What’s so funny?
Paul: George wants to know when you’ll figure out he’s just trying to help.
Mallory: (ignores the remark) Why don’t you go tell Ron you’re going. Then we can head home and you can get your snow stuff.
Paul: Okay. (Hops up and goes to Ron. Talks to him for a few seconds. Lots of nodding. Comes back to the table) Ready to go.
Mallory: Okay, let’s go. (They walk to the door. George follows. Mallory opens the door.)
Reggie: (Wipes a table and turns) Mallory, wait! (Walks up to her)
Mallory: (Stops and looks back) You can go on ahead, Paul. Wait for me at the corner.
Paul: (grabs George’s hand) Okay. (heads out the door and down the street They stop at the corner and Paul starts talking to George)
Reggie: Can you switch me shifts tomorrow?
Mallory: Sure but you’ll owe me. (turns around. Looks down the street.)
Reggie: Deal. Thanks (turns around)
Mallory: Reggie, look at this. (grabs his shirt. He turns around. She points at the snow leading up to where Paul is standing.)
Reggie: (looks at her hand on his shirt and then at where she’s pointing, annoyed) What is it?
Mallory: (lets go of Reggie’s shirt) Look, there’s two sets of footprints. No one else has been out yer. It’s like someone was walking with Paul. But,no one…(trails off)
Reggie: (frowns) That’s strange.
Mallory: (looks at him) Do you believe in imaginary friends?
Reggie: (laughs) Ya, when I was eight. (walks away and starts cleaning another table)
Mallory: (looks back at Paul who is chattering away, seemingly all alone. quietly) I think I do now.
(Lights go out. Curtain closes)