How Writing has Benefited Me

Hey guys! Here's a guest post from a young writer, Jewel Dodgson. 
 
Hey! My name is Jewel Dodgson and I am 14-years-old. I have seven siblings, five sisters and two brothers. I recently moved to Tennessee seven months ago. A few of my favorite things to do in my spare time are reading, writing, and exploring the beautiful outdoors.

When I first started writing I was 12. I was writing school essays and short stories. I thought they were boring and annoying to write. Then I got an assignment to write a creative and descriptive essay. It took me about 2 days until I found a topic to write on. I was sitting at my desk in my room when BOOM! An idea hit me in the head and I ran to the get my laptop and started to type away as fast as I could.

When I started typing that essay, I realized that writing can be a whole lot of fun! That was when the door of creative writing was opened. When I found out about creative writing, I started to enjoy writing school papers. I began to see writing as a fun thing to do instead of a chore. Once I found out I actually liked writing, I started to put my thoughts on paper and started my own story. I found out that it’s a lot of fun to use my imagination to write!

  Writing has helped me to put my thoughts into words, and words on to paper. It has also helped me with communication. In the years to come, I hope to become a better writer and to explore all the different writing techniques and finish the book that I am currently writing.

Jewel with an 8 lb carp she caught in the Holsten River. 

Character Cheat Sheets

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Introducing (drum roll please) the Character Cheat Sheets!

A lot of times when we’re writing a book, especially a series, it’s hard to remember little but important details we put in, like hair colors or ages. When we come across the same character later we sometimes forget what they looked like, or what their last name was. That’s why before, or during, my course of writing a book, I scribble down these details on a chart. If I forget what Elizabeth Wilson’s hair color was, or what job Joseph Martin held, I can just scroll down my sheet and . . . voilà! Saved! No long search through the entire manuscript for that little detail.

And now I’m sharing these sheets with you!

There are two versions, complex and simple. Use the one which fits your type of writing best.

Choose Word or PDF:

 

Complex Character Cheat Sheet Word

Simple Character Cheat Sheet Word

Complex Character Cheat Sheet PDF

Simple Character Cheat Sheet PDF

 

 

My Experience on Writing a Diary Style Book

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Growing Up Wilder, my first completed and published book, was written in diary style. It wasn’t my favorite style, I think I prefer third person the most, but I had heard that it was best to start out writing in first person to help with character development. Being fond of diary styled books, I decided to go that way, plus I figured it would be pretty simple, almost like writing in my own journal except I get to make everything up (How cool is that?!). A lot of what went into the book I actually did experience, though. And, for the most part, the writing was easy.

Except….when it came to dates and the historical aspect. Because it was a diary, every date had to be correct. Sometimes I would accidentally miss a day or put the wrong date on the entry. That wasn’t most of the trouble though. It seems like I should be able to go back and just change the numbers, no problem. But no, changing the date meant changing the day of the week, meant changing what they did because of the different day of the week. And then you have birthdays, and holidays, and baby due dates! Yeah! I had to go back and fix things when I realized one of the babies was several months overdue and the other extremely premature. (Don’t get me wrong, it was fun, and even though I vowed not to do another diary book it is actually coming into a good light in my mind again.)

The historical part…every month, day, hour had to be accurate. Ahh! So yeah, researching followed.

For the writing part, what I missed with writing a diary book was putting in dialogue. I tried adding all I could. My favorite part was that it was pretty easy – like writing your own diary. I felt it was a pretty good choice for my first book.

After You Write Your Novel…

Well, you should be working on your next book, but….

There are things you can do after writing your novel to keep your readers interested and looking for more of your work. I would suggest to get your author name online, so when they research your book they can find out more about you and if you have any other works out there.

Some sites you can set up an author profile on are:

Author Central-Amazon

AuthorsDen

BookBub

Goodreads

Also, why not start a Facebook page? I’ve found that as the easiest way to go, and the easiest to keep your readers interested.  Make sure you like a lot of writing sites so if you don’t have anything to post you can always share theirs. Then don’t forget, there’s always the blog. On my blog, I give my readers more information about my book, recipes from the book, etc. Depending on how professional you want to be, these can be free, too. There are several blog hosts so before you begin I would suggest looking them up so you can find the one that works best for you. Some hosts are WordPressAltervista, and Blogger. You can also set up a Gravatar.

Then there’s what I’ve just started looking into, which is making activities that go with the book. I used Playbuzz to make quizzes and am looking into other things.

For lots of these options you will want to upload photos that go with your post/quiz/etc.  If you don’t want to take these yourself, there are some great free stock photo websites out there.  For ex. Pixabay and Stockvault.

Hope that was helpful. Get to work putting your name out there!

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Getting to Know Your Characters

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I recently decided to make some fun online games to go with my book, one of them being a character personality quiz. I thought that would be easy, but boy was it a lot of work! I didn’t know as much about my characters as I thought I did. It ended up with me taking an online personality test as each of my characters just so I could learn more about them. Not a bad idea! I learned so much about my characters that totally made sense, but I never realized before. This said, I plan on taking that quiz for my characters before writing my books now, and I would encourage others to try it. Such a help for character development.

Here’s the link to the personality quiz I took to learn about my characters:

Free Personality Test / 16 Personalities

 

Character Interviews

 

Are you trying to jump into a story but you can’t figure out exactly what each character’s personalities are? Are your characters sometimes inconsistent? Do you know their hopes, hurts, fears, dreams? How about a heart to heart interview with each of your wonderful  penned-up friends and learn more about them…and you! You can start simple; it’ll get fun as you go along. Think your characters are boring? Let them speak for themselves! Stick yourself in their shoes and you’ll learn things about them you never knew. You can make the interview as simple or complex as you want. Here are a few starter questions:

What’s your name and how old are you?

What annoys you more than anything else?

What is your greatest fear?

Who do you hold dearest?

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

Seriously try this! It’s like meeting the creative side of you all over again.

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Making a Writing Goal

Everyone has goals. As a writer, it’s helpful to make goals that push us towards completing books. I don’t mean a goal such as “I’m going to publish a book someday,” but something more specific.

When I started writing, I didn’t have any goals set, I just wrote leisurely whenever I felt like it. Don’t get me wrong, that’s totally fine to write when you feel like it. Actually, when you write and your heart isn’t in it, the writing usually isn’t any good, and you’ll have to heavily edit or get rid of it later. But set yourself a goal to write a certain amount every day.

About halfway through my first book, and four years after starting it, I decided to set myself a daily writing goal. I chose to write at least 2,000 words a day, and a little under two weeks later my book was finished (the writing part that is). I wrote the same amount in under two weeks that I did in four years!

So why not set yourself a goal? It’s easy to set goals…it’s not as easy to keep them. What I find to be extremely helpful is to find yourself a writing friend and set the goal together. That way you can keep each other accountable. When you have someone to report to, you’re a lot more likely to get the job done.

One last reason? The closer together you write in your manuscript, the more consistent and exciting it will be, and the more likely you are to finish it. Why? People change. We don’t like the same things after a certain time; we don’t think the same way. We’ll come back to a book, and all the characters will be like distant acquaintances, not like close friends. We’ll lose the excitement of our plot, and we’ll forget small details so in the end things won’t fit together as beautifully.

So do you want to finish your book? At 2,000 words a day, that’s a 50,000 word book in 25 days! 2,000 may seem like a lot of words to you, (it isn’t really, this article is already 412 words. That’s 1/5 of your whole day’s work) but if you feel like it, start small. I’m telling you, writing every day will get you more interested in your story. Your word count will start increasing, and you’ll get stuff done. What’s holding you back? Make yourself a goal and start working at it today!

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