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11 Posts tagged with the draft tag

Word by Word

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 13, 2017

If you haven't read Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott's memoir and book on writing, I highly recommend it. The title refers to an incident involving her brother when they were children. He had a report on birds due the next day, and he hadn't written a word. He gathered all his research material and immediately became paralyzed by fear. The enormity of the project just became too much. That's when his father put his arm around him and said "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."


The second I read that passage I had a moment of clarity that I have never experienced before. I had never heard a more accurate description of how to write a book. It really is that simple. "Bird by bird," or to put it more accurately, word by word.


Writing a book is an enormous task. Even if it is a labor of love, it is still an enormous task. Sometimes, when you're feeling frustrated, it is hard to keep going. Like Anne Lamott's brother, you can become immobilized by the prospect of tackling such a big project. The only thing you can do is take it word by word.


Don't complicate the book writing process. Yes, plot, character development, dialogue, they're all aspects of writing a novel, but when you get down to it, they consist of words, and words are your specialty. They are your purview. Just take a deep breath, picture Anne Lamott's father putting his arm around her terrified brother and saying those magic words, "Bird by bird, buddy."


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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Writing a word a day

Increase your productivity with interval writing

1,126 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: book, publishing, writing, draft, writing_advice

What I'm about to write, I've written before, but it bears repeating. Every NaNoWriMo it becomes an especially relevant topic of discussion, and that is when to self-critique your manuscript. My feeling is clear on this. Your first draft is supposed to be terrible. The first draft is essentially a blueprint. That's not to say you should set out to write something incomprehensible. Write your story as you feel it. Entertain yourself. Get the idea out of your head.


You can repair what you've written during subsequent rewrites. The first draft is where you develop your idea. It's where the little flakes of your story build and build and create an accumulation of characters, settings, dialogue, and plot that amounts to a complete story. Let it out with passion. As I said, write your story as you feel it. I use the word "feel" purposefully. The first draft is when you are closest to feeling the story you are writing. Stopping to critique your story as your creating the first draft interrupts those feelings.


So, I implore you. Write. Make mistakes. Be careless. Let the typos fly. Make your first draft embarrassingly bad. It is for your eyes only. Your test-readers, your editor, everyone else will see your first rewrite. But this first draft, it's just for you. It's a data dump straight from the space in your brain that houses your imagination to the page. Let your fingers fly across your keyboard and don't look back until you write “The End.”


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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.



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How to get through the first draft

Writing tip: when you get stuck, use all caps and move on




627 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: revisions, writing, draft, writing_advice, author_tips, author_advice

Your author manifesto

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 11, 2017

If you've lost your way, it is time to take a stand. It is time to take ownership, to dive in head first, and shout out what you believe with passion and vigor...Well, don't shout it. Write it down.

Speaking as an author, I know how hard it is to build a brand and sell books. In a word, it can be daunting. You can get frustrated, even disheartened along the way when things aren't going as well as you imagined they would. This can lead to a lack of enthusiasm and focus. Your branding efforts will falter, and you may even be tempted to walk away from your dream.

Don't. Sit down and write your author manifesto. Turn that disappointment into passion. Why did you write a novel? What do you want readers to get out of books? Are you a storyteller that just wants to get characters from point A to point B or is there subtle commentary on the state of the world in your work? Write everything that writing means to you. Remind yourself why you devoted time and passion to writing your book. Feel that passion again.

You can do this privately or publicly. I leave that aspect of the manifesto to you, but be aware, if you choose to go public, you are inviting others to comment. That can be a vulnerable position. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a little nerve-racking.

Find that burning desire you once had to write your book again. Write your author's manifesto. 

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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Why did you write your story?

Quashing self-doubt

1,389 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: author, publishing, writing, draft, craft, branding

It's a question that doesn't produce a consensus. It's probably even foolish to explore, but that sort of thing has never stopped me before. Let's face it, what makes a book readable has a lot to do with individual tastes. There have been enormous bestsellers that I have found painfully unreadable, and there have been obscure titles that have gained no popular traction that I have devoured over and over again.


So, beyond personal proclivities, what makes a book readable? Yes, character development is a huge consideration. Story structure is pivotal. Setting matters a great deal. But they all pale in comparison to one often overlooked element to a book's readability factor: the writer's passion for the story. A reader can tell when a writer approaches a piece out of a sense of obligation instead of a sense of desire. It's obvious in the language used. There is a nuanced, invisible connectedness between author and story that etches itself into the pages (paper or electronic) when the writer approaches the story from a place of passion. Readers pick up on that. They gravitate toward it. They want to be a part of it.


Writing without passion is probably not something a lot of indie writers have to deal with. But if you sit down to write and the passion isn't there, walk away. Divert your attention toward something that brings you joy. Find a headspace that opens you up to feeling, a hunger to tell your story and get back at it. Write with passion.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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When to Walk Away from a Story

Change it Up!

5,241 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, draft, craft, book_writing, indie_authors, author_advice, story_writing, novel_writing

I can make you more creative and insightful with one word. It's not that I'm a wizard with special powers who can open your mind. I'm not an oracle who knows all and sees all. I'm just an observant writer who has learned a thing or two over the years. When some of you hear this word, you'll balk. You'll think me mad. And perhaps I am, but once you mull it over, you'll start to understand how this word is the key to being more creative. Enough of the buildup. This incredibly powerful word is "rules."


I know it's kind of anticlimactic, but I promise you rules will make you more creative. Years and years ago, I was working as a writer/producer on a corporate training video. After the client read the shooting script, she had two comments. She wanted the video to be shorter, and she wanted it to include more information. In other words, she wanted two diametrically opposed changes. I grumbled and groused when I first got her notes. I thought she was asking the impossible.


I was wrong. What she was doing was giving me a gift. I saw the project in a whole new light, and a switch went off in my brain. Suddenly, I knew the solution to work within her rules, and we ended up with a much better end product than we would have if we had stuck to the original concept.

Give your story restrictions before you sit down to write it. Your brain will go into overdrive to find a workaround that adheres to your rules, and in turn tell a story that is clear and innovative.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Fix It in Rewrites

2,850 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, author, writers, writing, creativity, draft, writing_process, craft, creative_writing

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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2,260 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, music, filmmaking, author, indie, writers, writing, films, social, draft, music_marketing, musicians, craft, filmmakers, branding, social_media, singers, writer's_block, music_piblicity, creative_process

I think we have to come up with a different word for what we all do. We don't just write. We invent. We research. We consume large quantities of coffee. We battle angst and doubt over every little word. And we spend huge chunks of time reading what we've already written. At least I do. In fact, when all is said and done, I would say that I have spent more hours reading a book I've written than I have actually spent physically writing it.


If I didn't know better, I'd say all this reading is a waste of time. But I honestly don't think it is. Reading and re-reading a novel as I'm writing it burns a story into my brain. The more I read the pages I've written, the more attached I become to the vision of it. Eventually, that vision more or less grows on its own.


I can't say for sure, but I think this organic growth of story happens in the re-reading of it every day because the tone of the book becomes second nature to me. I absorb the tone and keep it consistent throughout the writing.


Tone is perhaps the most underrated aspect of a story. With the wrong tone, a story goes nowhere. Without a consistent tone, a story goes nowhere. Reading material I've already contributed to a novel helps me fine-tune and keep the same tone throughout a story.


As far as finding a different word for what we do, I have no idea what the solution is. I'm thrilled to be labeled a writer. I just wish people understood that the act of writing is actually a very small part of what we do. We are, in essence, storysmiths.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Avoid Gratuitous Material

Change It Up!

5,596 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, book, writers, publishing, writing, story, draft, craft, tone, character_development, writing_tips, character_arc, author_advice

Word Count Paralysis

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 23, 2014

Sometimes staring at the blinking cursor on your computer screen can make it morph into a stop sign and prevent you from holding a thought long enough to tap it out on your keyboard. It can be an unintentional panic signal that freezes your fingers in place and fills you with heaping helpings of writer's doubt. Your focus shifts from what you want to write to how many words you must write before you will allow yourself to stop for the day. Gradually, you fixate exclusively on that word count goal, and you're unable to type a single solitary word.


I call it "word count paralysis," and there's really only one way to prevent it: Ditch the daily word count goal. In the end, it doesn't really matter how many words you write in a day. Your only goal is to make some sort of progress; big or small, it doesn't matter. The only thing that does matter is that you advance from where you were the day before.

I've talked before about my own word count philosophy in previous blogs. My goal while writing a book is to write one word a day. Not only have I never come short of my goal, I have far exceeded that one-word-a-day benchmark every single time, occasionally by as much as 6,000 times.  


Daily word count goals always have been the bane of my writing existence. They have served as arbitrary roadblocks that fill me with dread. As long as I ask myself to contribute only one word a day to a story, I am relieved of that pressure that leads to word count paralysis.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Writing a Word a Day

Unblocking Writer's Block

5,219 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: books, author, writers, writing, draft, writing_process, word_count, chapter_length

Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns (What a pretty house! She is tall).


Adverbs modify verbs (She types quickly), adjectives (She is extremely tall) or other adverbs (Please type more quickly).


When an adverb modifies an adjective (e.g. "she is extremely tall," no hyphen is necessary. I see many authors make this error in their book descriptions and personal bios. For example:


  • The world in this story is inhabited by fully-functional robots that act like humans (INCORRECT)
  • The tale takes place on a currently-active landfill (INCORRECT)
  • When he's not writing books, John works as a highly-trained specialist managing labor disputes (INCORRECT)


A good way to tell that a hyphen isn't necessary is to remove the adjective and leave the adverb, then see if the sentence still makes sense. For example, do these sound correct to you?


  • This world in this story is inhabited by fully robots that act like humans (SOUNDS SUPER WEIRD)
  • The tale takes place on a currently landfill (SOUNDS SUPER WEIRD)
  • When he's not writing books, John works as a highly specialist managing labor disputes (SOUNDS SUPER WEIRD)


The above sentences don't make sense because once we remove the adjectives "functional," "active" and "trained," the adverbs "fully," "currently"and "highly"aren't modifying anything.


Note: when two words are used to modify (or relate to) the same word in what is called compound modifier, a hyphen clarifies that they are both referring to that word and not to each other. For example:


  • He is a small business owner (This means he is a small man)
  • He is a small-business owner (This means he owns a small business)


I know grammar terminology is a foreign language to many people, so if you're still confused about whether or not to use a hyphen when you have an adverb followed by an adjective, try removing the adjective. If the sentence doesn't work without it, no hyphen is necessary.


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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2,334 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self-publishing, movies, writers, readers, films, draft, craft, songwriting, social_media, audiobooks, music_production, movie_competition

After the First Draft

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 25, 2012

There aren't many combinations of words that make you feel happy and sad and relieved all at once, but for me, typing "The End" on the bottom of the last page of a manuscript can elicit just such a jumbled mess of emotions. We writers invest so much of our time and ourselves into a book that by the time you reach those final glorious words, it almost feels akin to birthing a child and marching him or her through every major milestone into adulthood. The question we almost immediately confront is "Now what?"

Every writer handles the completion of the first draft differently, and I can only share with you how I approach the limbo-like state between the first and second drafts. So what does my "ritual" entail?

  1. I celebrate. I just finished a story that has taken up weeks or months of my time. Why wouldn't I celebrate? For me, it's usually dinner and a movie, but I've known authors who will schedule a weekend getaway or buy themselves some new toy they've told themselves they had to earn. Reward yourself anyway you see fit. It's important.
  2. I revisit unfinished manuscripts. I have a ton of books I've started and stepped away from before completion for whatever reason. My writing aura is peaking after I finish a first draft, so it makes sense for me to look up those in-process projects and see if there's anything there worth pursuing. If there is, I write a rough outline.
  3. I let it rest. Normally, I will close the file of the first draft and not open it for a couple of weeks. I find the time away allows me to step out of the emotions I have wrapped up in the story and return to it with a fresh perspective. I know of one particular author who sets it aside for six weeks. I've never been able to wait that long, but we've all got our process.

That's how I approach the letdown and joy of finishing a first draft. How about you? Do you have a post-first draft ritual to clear your head before you start rewrites, or do you just dive right in?

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Book Editing Tips

5 Tips for Instantly Improving Your Novel

3,427 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, drafts, draft, rough_draft