When a character has an emotional reaction to something, it is good for he or she to have a realistic physical response to match. This is a quick graphic based on medical research as to where we actually feel the emotions in our bodies. Whether you agree or not, I hope this helps you think through your responses.(more…)
I’m so pleased to announce the release of my seventh book! I’ve been teaching English for over two decades, so putting together a writing book seemed a natural progression. Many of the charts and reference materials were items I created for my own writing, and have been sharing them with my writer friends for years. They encouraged me to add to what I had, and get it out to the general public. I hope you find it as useful as I have.
Fiction Writing Journal & Workbook
“This workbook provides a space for you to journal ideas and thoughts for your next–or first–best seller. Robin not only shares her knowledge gained by years of experience, but thoughtfully gives space for writers to reflect and hand-write their ideas and moments of inspiration.” –author and editor Tamar Hela
Writing a first draft can be daunting. This workbook provides guidance for key elements of fiction writing that help create a cohesive novel. Additionally, it gives writers powerful reference resources to create an emotionally authentic work and the space to hash it all out in one, easy-to-carry book.
Workbook sections include:
- Brainstorm and outlining
- Plotting and the “Tent Pole” Method
- Character Worksheets
- Lined pages for easy journaling
- And more!
Reference sections include:
People who don’t live in California seem to think that everyone is within an hour from Disneyland. More than once I’ve had people contact me, telling me that they were going to be in LA, so maybe we can meet up for dinner. Now, depending on where this person is in the LA Basin, drive times from San Jose (40 minutes south of San Francisco) can range from 5 1/2 hours to 6 1/2 hours. People always seem to be shocked to learn how large California actually is. In fact, if you were to drive from the most southern large city, San Diego, north to the Oregon border, it would take you over 11 hours on a good day with no stops.
Google Can Be Your Friend
The point I am making, is that you need to research your travel times. It is so easy to simply Google the directions from place to place. Google will even given you travel times for car, bus, bicycle, and walking.
But Google Won’t Tell Me
But sometimes Google won’t work. Maybe your characters are traveling on a private jet, or maybe your novel takes place in 1850. Here are some fantastic resources to help you:(more…)
Finding good resources that are truly free can be exasperating. I can’t tell you how many times I have clicked on a link claiming to provide something free, but they weren’t actually free. All of these resources are free–no email address required!
- Formatting a Manuscript: How to format your manuscript article by Jodie Renner . This will save you (and your editor) time and frustration.
- Spacing: How many spaces after a period? Okay, so this isn’t an actual resources, but it will provide you with information about how to space your manuscript.
- Book Interior Template: If you are going to be formatting your own book, save yourself hours of grief and write directly into the template. KDP has a wonderful set of free templates (my publisher even uses them). Make sure you choose the size that is standard for your genre. I use the 5.5 x 8.5 template for Young Adult Lit.
- Book Cover Template: Generate a free Photoshop book cover template. You need to know how many pages your book will be in order for the spine to be the correct size.
- Fonts: Make sure all of the fonts you are using are free for commercial use. Font Squirrel is one of my favorite sites because they are all “free for commercial use.” I also love dafont.com, but you need to be careful, shareware is not always free for publishing/commercial use. If you would like an author checklist that includes fonts to avoid, check out my post, “New Author Checklist: 10 Things to Do.”
- Postcard Template: If you would like to make postcards using PhotoShop, then you can download free templates from UPrinting here. They have lines for trim areas, etc.
- Paper Textures: I LOVE the free paper textures and backgrounds on USplash! If you don’t have time to take pics of your own, these are fabulous.
I hope you find these helpful. Do you have any free resources that you love?
Synonyms help prevent your readers from getting bored.
In the book I read last week, the author had every single character “push to their feet” at least three times in each chapter. I started getting annoyed by the tenth time. The characters never rose to their feet, eased, or even shoved. And seriously, if you are standing up, why does the author have to mention feet almost every time? Isn’t it implied they are on their feet? Nope, they all pushed to their feet. Anyway, I digress.
Do you need to use synonyms every single time? No. You should NOT use them every time. But avoiding that type of repetition will not only make your manuscript more interesting and precise.
Check out this great article by author Tamar Hela on using synonyms.
Great writers choose specific words that create impact. It is worth taking the time to find the perfect word.
Here is a PDF for personal use: Other Words for SAID & WALK
Do you like master lists? An updated version of this master list and more lists are in my Prompt Me Series: Creative Writing Journals & Workbooks.
Get inspired by photo prompts, story starters, lists, and more. Clean enough for young writers and sophisticated enough for seasoned writers.
Feed your inner muse and ignite your creativity.
When writing numbers, it is sometimes tricky to figure out if you need to write 23 or twenty-three. I have compiled some rules for you that apply to almost all of the styles.
The General Rules
- Be consistent with your style.
Whether you write 1800’s or 1800s, pick one and stick with it. See the rules for the style guide in which you are following.
- Never begin a sentence with a numeral, spell it out.
8 criminals escaped during the prison transfer. Incorrect.
Eight criminals escaped during the prison transfer. Correct.
Though, it is often better to rephrase the sentence and not begin with a number.
- Spell out centuries and decades (unless you use the entire year).
Prohibition during the 20’s strengthened organized crime. Incorrect.
The flappers of the Twenties were scandalous! Correct.
The eighteenth century was a time of change. Correct.
- Spell out small numbers.
One monkey fell off the bed, leaving six uninjured monkeys. Correct.
- Hyphenate compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine.
Twenty-two and fifty-one
- Don’t mix numeral styles in a sentence. (Yes, this may mean breaking another rule, but it is better to have that consistency thing we talked about earlier).
I walk one mile a day 14 times a month. Incorrect.
I walk one mile a day fourteen times a month. Correct.
- If you have numbers next to one another, spell one out for clarity.
The talent show had 8 8-year-olds perform during the assembly. Incorrect.
The talent show had 8 eight-year-olds perform during the assembly. Correct.
- Use numerals for figures.
1.5 gallons or 9.2 liters
Samples using the above rules
- The plant grew five inches in a week.
- The company had to pay five million dollars in the settlement.
- The family lives at 808 Eight Street in a charming white house.
- The actress earned eight million dollars for her sixth film.
- Twenty-eight days after the accident, her cast was removed.
- John J. Loud patented ballpoint pen on October 30, 1888. -OR- John J. Loud patented ballpoint pen on 30 October 1888.
Notes on MLA for my darling students:
- Numbers zero through nine should be spelled out.
- The numeral for 10 and above may be substituted.
- John J. Loud patented ballpoint pen on Oct. 30, 1888. (You may abbreviate the names of months that are less than four letters)
Check out this grammar cheat sheet:
Want more resources? Check out the Prompt Me Series on Amazon.
Oh, the drama! Oh, the debate! My answer on the subject? It depends. The publishing world is trending towards a single space after periods, yet not all of the academic world is following suit. See below for specifics.
For the Publishing World
The large publishing houses in the United States are using the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). If you are planning to submit a manuscript (or publish one and look more professional) this is the way to go.
“The view at CMOS is that there is no reason for two spaces after a period in published work…it is inefficient, requiring an extra keystroke for every sentence… So, in our efficient, modern world, I think there is no room for two spaces after a period.” More CMOS FAQs here.
I was trained to use two spaces after periods, but am now retraining myself to use a single space to follow current publishing trends. You can look up other CMOS specifications on the Purdue Owl, as well as, on the CMOS site.
For the Academic World
MLA Style (more…)
I am often asked how I manage to write a book (or more) a year with teaching, kids, and a healthy home life. Yes, sometimes I just want to curl up in fetal position and “make it all go away.” Eh, I’m human. But most days I move forward–even with a smile on my face. So this is what I do:
My Words of advice:
1. Write everyday (even if it is only a paragraph).
2. Read, read, and read. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. Know what is happening in your genre–and feed your soul.
3. Guard your writing time.
4. Be consistent.
5. Spend a little time on social media each day. Build a supportive community. Be generous. Build a platform based on you and not a single book.
6. Have your work professionally edited–by more than one editor (content and line-by-line editors). Yes, it hurts spending money, but you cannot edit on your own. I am a professional English teacher by trade and training. I use at least two editors and a slew of beta readers on every single book.
HAVE YOUR BOOK PROFESSIONALLY EDITED–no arguing this point.
Some days you will fail, some you will succeed, and if you keep at it, you will get there. Now go out an write. 🙂
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King
Naming characters can be a difficult task. Sometimes they just come to me, and other times I search and claw and bang my head against the keyboard (figuratively, at least). I want the name to not only feel and sound right, but also to convey some sort of meaning (at least most of the time). I’ve been guilty of trolling names site for so long that I use up all of my writing time (I would never procrastinate).
Favorite Free Resources
Below are some of my favorite sites for finding names for characters:
- Behind the Name: First Names: Give your novel more depth by choosing names carefully. Find out about the etymology here.
- Behind the Name: Surnames (Last): History of last names divided by nationality.
- Patron Saints names and their patronage.
- Name Generator for character names and a personality profile based on Meyers Briggs (so fun!).
- Name generator based on gender and nationality.
- Fantasy Name Generator. Okay, this is just for fun, but once in a while I need to take a break.
- Meaning of Names Type in a meaning and get a list of names. Boom.
- Name Berry allows you to search for names with a specific ending, beginning, or containing options.
- Fake Name Generator creates a name and character profile for you.
- Baby Name Pedia is a beautiful website that lists similar names, actors, rock stars, and lots more.
I also have a board on Pinterst that includes everything for a character–appearance, personality, etc. Click here to see the board.
My writing partner, Tamar Hela, gave me the link to the Saint’s Names site above. She has some awesome free resources on her site, too. Click here.
Do you have any great resources for names? If so, I would love to hear from you. 🙂