Today's guest for the Writing Lab is Nayarit. She's one of the extraordinary people who make A Different Forest such a good place to hang out and discuss.

Both readers and writers have a very strong opinion about the topic for today's discussion; let's read Nayarit's article about

Writing multiple POVs/redundant POVs.
A style of fanfiction writing that has been around since the very first fanfiction is multiple first person character point of views (POV) as a primary way of storytelling. But it’s not limited to fanfiction alone. Countless authors like Marian Keyes, Charles de Lint, and even Faulkner have taken to this technique with one or many of their works. With novels such as Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper—which used over five different first person POVs to tell the story—and Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife—which used the two main characters’ first person POVs back and forth to tell the story—we’re seeing a growing trend of multiple first person POVs in mainstream literature.

Yet, if you were to take a poll of current Twi-fanfic readers, a growing number have expressed their annoyance and even disdain with multiple first person POVs. I took such a poll recently, and out of the fifty people that answered my survey:
- 43 (most) out of 50 readers were in favor of dual POVs, specifically Edward and Bella, but felt that more than four POVs were too much.
- 17 out of 50 readers expressed a greater affinity for stories other than multiple or dual first person POVs (such as third person, a singular first person, omniscient, etc.).
Taken into context, on a larger scale these numbers would be pretty shocking considering that a great majority of fanfictions are in fact written in dual or multiple first person.

So where are we going wrong?

The truth of the matter is writing multiple first person POV is a beast! There are many things to consider. More often than not, the task is too daunting and it’s not executed to its full potential. But when it’s right . . . it’s so right. The advantages are great, the most important being the intimacy for readers; the ability to be right there with the characters, to feel exactly what the characters feel, to understand the characters on a level that other styles can’t compare to.
What I’ve got here is my little “playbook” to writing multiple first person POVs, some things to avoid and some things to consider. It’s not a standard by any means, and as a writer you’ll find what best works for you. But here is what works for me:

Maintain character voice.

Every writer has a voice, but character voice has never been more essential to writers than when employing multiple first person. This is the most important tool to this writing style; it’s also the trickiest. When you set out to write a story, you’ve got your character in mind—likes, dislikes, emotions, history, appearance. But what you’ve got to do when it comes to first person is take that character to the next level. You’re in their mind. How does that character formulate thoughts? How does that character piece together sentences? When you write dialog for them, what do they sound like? Now take that and build on it.
This is the one true style of writing where it isn’t your voice as a writer that should shine through, it’s your characters'. So don’t be afraid to take risks. You want to show your readers that character’s voice, not just tell them. Use more contractions in text if your character calls for it. Have a character that has simple thoughts? Use simple sentences. Have a collegiate character with a high vocabulary that over-analyzes everything? Take to using a thesaurus more and writing longer sentences that are more complex. Have a character from a different country that doesn’t have the same grasp on the English language as natives? Then miss a couple of words that they wouldn’t think to use, usually your conjunctions. Use singular when plural is required or vice versa.
Each individual character has to have very individual traits: no two people are alike. Reflect that in your writing.
Once you’ve got the style that that individual character has, consider their very individual attributes that set them apart from other characters. Create a sort of list of rules per character and stick to them. Small details to your writing that make all the difference.
If one character is from Canada and another from the US then the first character would use tuque for what the second character would call a beanie. If one character likes to curse a lot, go with it. Got one that stutters? Got one that repeats a certain phrase a lot (“I mean,” “you know,” “sure, sure,” etc.)? Remember to keep specific qualities to each character to help round their individual voices out.
One final trick that I like to use to help separate my individual character voices is analogies and similes. I create very specific ones that I use for my characters, making sure they revolve around their personalities so that no other character would use them. They can be something as complex as a long set-up from their childhood that compares to what the character is currently experiencing to something as simple as one pertaining sentence.

Some examples:

A character who grew up on a farm: It was longer than waiting for the corn in July.
A character who is a sci-fi enthusiast: It was longer than the lines of a Lucas premiere.
A chocolate lover: It was like Godiva good.
A broke college student: It was like finding an extra five in my pocket during laundry day good.

From my story:

Tanya: But there was that other part of me, a part that I soon discovered wasn't dormant at all, that still wanted him more than the secret, exclusive-clientele-only, unreleased Louis Vuitton line.

Bella: I felt like John Coffey from The Green Mile, innocent in the world of sin, but charged for the crimes regardless and about to face the executioner.

Emmett: The atmosphere in here was fucking tighter than a virgin.

Just remember to maintain that unique character voice!

Watch out for redundancy.

It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to tell both sides of the story, or all sides of the story as the case may be. But when writing multiple POVs ask yourself if rehashing a scene is vital to the story. Does repeating a scene from a perspective other than the first one add something to either characterization or plot? If the answer to that question is “no,” then don’t repeat the scene. If the answer to that question is “yes,” then you want to make that answer the pivotal point in the redundant scene.
If repeating the scene is vital to characterization, bring those emotions to the forefront of the new telling. If those emotions are based on past events expose that. If those emotions were what influenced the character to behave in such a way expose that.
If repeating the scene is vital to the plot make that difference what is focused on. Showcase the stuff that the first character missed. Showcase the inside knowledge that the first character didn’t possess. Unfold additional events that help round out the scene.
Also, if recreating a scene in more than one POV is necessary, make sure to keep it fresh by minimizing or eliminating the repeat action. There is no need to redo exact phrases or dialog from the first scene if it is not completely essential to characterization or plot. Instead, offer a recap from the new character so that the scene is viewed in a new light.
Remember you don’t want to bore your reader, so always keep it fresh by making sure repeated scenes in more than one POV always bring something new to the table.

Be clear on the switch.

For some writers this is a page break. For some it’s “..xx..”. For most it’s “EPOV” or “Bella” at the top of the new POV. But the thing to remember is always make the reader aware of whose head they’re in. This trick should be used along with maintaining a specific voice so that listing whose POV it is isn’t necessary just helpful. I personally switch POVs every chapter so that with each one it’s clear to my readers they’re in a new head, and I steer away from labeling whose POV it is. But many different things work. Find the one that best suits the story you’re telling.

Sentence structure: eliminate those “I’s”

It is easy to fall into this pattern when writing in first person: “I wanted him to say no. I was disgusted that I was going to say yes. I watched him fidget and I knew he was just as anxious as me.
Any first person POV is going to fall into the “I” trap. There isn’t anything more unpleasant to the reading eye then every sentence beginning with the same word/letter or constant repeated words/letters.
Always be mindful of falling into the “I” trap, especially when in multiple first person because it weighs a story down. Luckily for us, with a little editing and tweaking this trap can easily be controlled.
Here is just one way of fixing the above trap: “I wanted him to say no. Disgust clouded every emotion because of my answer, ‘yes’ teetering off my lips. His fidgeting clued me into just how anxious he was . . . how anxious we both were.
You can’t avoid the “I” trap because there will be a lot of using “I” in first person, but if you’re diligent and watchful it’s not that difficult of a fix.

Keep the mystery alive.

This one is my favorite trick of writing multiple first person because one person’s point of view is very subjective. If a character were facing away, or their thoughts were on something else, there is plenty that that character can miss. And where one character falls short, the next one can pick up.
A first character is limited by what they see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and even think. Often times our own personal opinions or prejudices cloud our perceptions of events. And where better to showcase that than in multiple first person!
Using a bevy of tools—like when to cut a scene or switch POVs, limiting attention by overbearing thoughts, limiting thoughts by action that requires attention—a writer can play up the best part of keeping the mystery alive in multiple first person.

Let’s use the following as an example:

A fight is about to break out in a high school cafeteria. There are four different characters POVs to the scene. 

Character A is a cheerleader sitting at a table in the back with her boyfriend, the star quarterback. She’s picking at her nails when she hears a grunt and looks up in time to see her boyfriend’s head get slammed on the table by a male student she’s only known in passing. She quickly pushes her chair away and runs out of the cafeteria in search of help.
Character A only saw the middle of the fight and didn’t see the end. She’s the opening portion of the puzzle.

Character B is a quiet art student that sits off to the side of the cafeteria. He enjoys watching life as a means of inspiration and a slam of a door draws his attention to the front of the cafeteria where he sees a tall male student, he recognizes the student as Character C from his homeroom class. He watches with rapt interest as Character C storms through the cafeteria, heading straight for the table where Character A is sitting with her boyfriend. He watches the whole fight in its entirety, including when Character A’s boyfriend got the upper hand. Finally, he accounts how both students were rolling on the cafeteria floor before security split the two up and the principal showed up.
Character B was another portion of the puzzle. Introducing readers to Character C and allowing readers to view the entire scene.

Character C has a quick temper and loves his car. His POV starts right off in his mind as he’s waiting for the principal. He’s angry and his thoughts are jumbled because he saw red when he attacked Character A’s boyfriend. Because of this he doesn’t remember much of the fight, but he does remember a conversation he had earlier with a classmate of his, Character D, about Character A’s boyfriend slashing his tires.
Character C finally provided the reasoning behind the fight. Adding the final piece of the puzzle.

Character D is introduced as she watches security pull both student’s away. She catches the eye of Character A’s boyfriend. Her wink to him sends her into a flashback where she was walking through the parking lot to Character C’s car. As she slashes the two back tires she thinks about how it will be the perfect payback for Character A’s boyfriend, after he refused her for the last time.
Character D provided another layer to the initial scene that readers didn’t expect, enhancing the mystery of the story.

There is no need to reveal every thought or every action a character has simply because it’s first person POV. When keeping within the limits of first person a writer can mold and create a story that always keeps a reader on their toes.

I hope my little “playbook” helped provide some insight into the exciting style of multiple first person POV. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, multiple first person can be an emotional, entertaining, and effective way to tell a story.


Thank you, Naya, for this outstanding playbook!

Don't forget to check Naya's stories! http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1806040/Nayarit

Readers and writers, you are very welcome to discuss! 


I've just made this banner:

Fairusa asked for a banner maker on A Different Forest and we got in contact.
I hope you'll like her story:
Summary: "What if Victoria had gotten to Bella when she jumped off the cliff in New Moon before Jacob pulled her out of the water? Rated M for obvious reasons."
If you read this fic, don't forget to tell the author that Raum sent you and say  "Ciao" from me! Thanks!

If you need a banner or a blinkie for your story, feel free to contact me, I'll be glad to help.


Many news this week!

On Wednesday night, I survived Emergency Beta Service Writing Boot Camp

The concept of this initiative is simple: you set a goal and EBS betas will be there to help you reach it. While you write, your assigned beta will be there to talk to you about what troubles you, answer questions, or simply encourage you.

There are three options:

Rookie. Time-driven. Sit down, start writing and try to get as much as you can in one 50 minute session.
Pro. Time-driven but with a goal (finish a scene, a chapter, an outline, etc.).
Hardcore. Time-driven while trying to reach a set word count and accomplish a set goal.

I joined a Pro camp. We set the following goals:
- discuss a scene: done!
- write 500 words; since English is not my first language, I thought that it was a very challenging goal. I ended up writing...1,010 words! I can't believe it!
- discuss a plot problem about an outline: done!

The EBS Beta, Marly580, was awesome! She helped me in every possible way! I loved her feedback and the way she encouraged me while writing.

I'm going to sign up again for a new camp as soon as possible!

I made a banner to thank EBS for this wonderful experience:

From boot to debut...this week I took an important decision too...

I've just posted the first chapter of my first multichapter story!
Summary: "The life of the Roman patrician Antonius is put at stake by his father, Felix. When Felix brings to his only son a new slave, Bella, more reasons arise for Antonius' concerns. Felix's secret can change Antonius' and Bella's destiny." ExB AU/vampires.

When I heard the sound of soft rain in the early morning, my body stiffened. The day wasn't starting under good auspices. I wouldn't see one of my men anymore. As if it was a day like every other one...

The story is already written, but now is public...

Here's the banner:

A very intense week, indeed.

Have a good weekend!

- Raum


The first advice you get when you try to write a story is "show, don't tell."
You have a plot, you think that your characters have a very interesting path to go, and you're ready to follow them on it, step by step.
You already have your good reasons to write and read your story and probably your best friend will read it too - if (s)he's a very kind friend, but if you want to involve other readers, you must provide them their good reasons to spend their time reading your stuff.
Keep in mind that readers don't like to be schooled: e.g., if you say that a character is a jerk, you are telling your readers how they are supposed to feel; you are giving them your opinions. Instead, if you show your character acting in a jerkish way, your readers will decide on their own how they judge your character's behavior.

Let's see it through an example:

Here's the summary:

"Edward's the star keeper for the Forks High School soccer team, and is already being scouted by leagues overseas. Bella's just moved from Phoenix and interferes with his…focus."

It's updated at least once a day and some thousands (yep, thousands, check her reviews if you don't trust me and add your own comment) readers jump on their seats every time she posts a new chapter.


There are many reasons, of course, but I think that Offside is also a very good example of showing vs. telling.

Let's read this passage (chapter 7, EPOV)

"My house was quiet and empty when I got there, so I cooked and devoured a pizza from the freezer, quickly finishing up my homework, and then pulled out my sketchbook. I had a couple hours before Dad would be home, and I was almost done with the goalie picture. Just a few changes here and there – deepening the shades, softening the angles. When I was done I pulled it out of the book and neatly trimmed the edges.

It actually looked pretty good, I thought. I narrowed my eyes at the paper, looking at it from different sides for a minute. I wondered if Ms. Denali would like it…I mean, it was
still a fucking soccer picture. Is that art? I shook my head a little before sticking it into my homework folder and placing everything into my book bag. I hauled the bag back downstairs and deposited it on the floor in the kitchen.

[...Dad arrives at home...]

"Edward! Get down here!"

Shit, what now?

I unlocked the door and headed back down the stairs.

"Yeah, Dad?" I asked as I walked into the kitchen where he was chowing down on Chinese food. My book bag was open, and my homework folder was sitting in the middle of the table.

"What the fuck is this?" he asked, shoving the sketch I had just finished over towards me.

Shit shit shit.


"That's not a fucking answer," he growled.

Might as well get it over with.

"I went for the art class instead of study hall," I told him. I tried to brush it off. "Another easy A for my senior year…ya know?"

"Goddamnit, Edward!" He slammed his hand down on the table, and I cringed.

"You should be out on the fucking field during that time! What the hell is wrong with you?"

"My last period is open," I told him.

"And I go to the field at lunch, I figured-"

"Bullshit," he snapped. I started to reach for the sketch, realizing too late how big a mistake that was. He grabbed it, tore it up, and crumpled the pieces in his hand. "You don't focus on this shit. Soccer, asshole. You focus on soccer, and that's it, you hear me? You think Real Volturi is going to want to look at your fucking coloring?"

"No, Dad," I admitted. He shoved the torn paper into the bag of empty soy sauce packets and fortune cookies before tossing it in the garbage can.

"Drop that fucking art class tomorrow."

My stomach tightened up into a nice little ball of pizza dough or whatever, but I swallowed hard and replied.



OK, wipe your tears.

What do we see?

1) Edward likes drawing.
Did Savage tell us that?
But if you don't like drawing, you don't spend two hours doing it and wondering about what your art teacher will think about your work.

2) Edward's dad is a jerk.
Did Savage tell us that?
But she showed him yelling and growling at his son, without a reason (unless you are on his side, but this would be another story...) and destroying his work.

3) Savage makes us feel Edward's passion while drawing: she doesn't say "he finished his soccer picture," but makes us see him doing it ("deepening the shades, softening the angles"). We can empathize, thinking about ourselves putting time and effort in something we love.

4) Savage makes us feel Edward's pain: "My stomach tightened up into a nice little ball of pizza dough or whatever, but I swallowed hard and replied." If we have ever experienced the same feeling, we can empathize with Edward and feel sorry for him. It seems that Edward's dad is destroying our own picture.

Let's try to tell the same scene:

"Edward spent two hours finishing a picture and enjoyed it very much. His father didn't appreciated it because he thought that Edward's focus must be on his soccer practice and destroyed the picture."
The facts are the same, but don't elicit the same reaction, right?

Even more telling and less showing: "Edward's dad is a jerk and he doesn't threat his son well."
No tears at all this time, are there?

This week's writing tip is: read Offside and underline every passage that makes you cry, laugh, hold your breath (it's a story that will make you underline many passages...)

Then write down what do the underlined passage tell (eg "Edward misses..." "Edward loves..." -- you have to read the story to find out who is Edward missing or loving LOL ) and notice the differences between telling and showing.

At this point, you may try to write your own scenes, e.g., try to write the scene above showing a caring dad who encourages Edward to pursuit his artistic career. You can share it in the comments to this post, too.

I've made a blinkie for Offside, you can see and grab it here: http://myreadinglounge.blogspot.com/2011/06/blinkie-offside-meet-soccerward.html

If you read this fic, don't forget to tell the author that Raum sent you and say  "Ciao" from me! Thanks!


Would you like to read a compelling story, updated at least once a day? If so, go read:

I'm working on a review for Savage's last (great) work; in the meantime, here's a blinkie I made for it. Feel free to share it!

If you read this fanfic, please don't forget to tell the author that "Raum sent you" and say "Ciao!" from me! Thanks!


Cecilia Tan

Today's guest for the Writing Lab is Cecilia Tan.
She is the author of the online serials The Prince's Boy (read online:http://www.circlet.com/?p=322) and Daron's Guitar Chronicles (http://daron.ceciliatan.com/start-here), as well as many books, including The Siren and the Sword (the Magic University series), Mind Games, White Flames, and others. You can find her on Livejournal and Twitter as "ceciliatan", on Facebook as cecilia.tan, and on her blog at http://ceciliatan.com. She also writes fanfic under the name ravenna_c_tan on Livejournal and Dreamwidth.

Many, many thanks to the lovely miaokuancha -- who wrote a lesson about Present tense vs. Past tense in fiction -- who talked to Cecilia Tan about MyReadingLounge's Writing Lab.

The Serial Form and Fanfic WIPs
by Cecilia Tan

Today I am here to write about the relationship between serialized fiction and fanfic WIPs. For those who don't know me, I'm a professional writer who started writing fanfic after I'd been publishing professionally for over a decade. I came to fanfic for fun, for the fandom community of it, for the ability to geek out and play in the world(s) that I was in love with. What I discovered, though, was that not only was fanfic tremendously fun, I could actually use it to improve my own writing. I could experiment, learn, and grow as a writer in a way I couldn't when I was only writing for commercial publication.
One of the joys I discovered was writing in the serial form. Most people assume when you are writing something "long" that you are writing a novel. But does everything have to fit into the novel form?
Modern fiction is dominated by the novel form. All the truly significant literary prizes are awarded for novels, novelists are the best compensated among fiction writers, and when most people think about being a "fiction writer" they are thinking "novelist." We typically read a lot more novels than anything else, and this shapes our expectations as readers and as writers.
However, this dominance comes more from the commercial aspects of selling fiction than from an inherent superiority of the novel over other forms (short story, serial, et cetera). Book publishers have made the novel the dominant form, but this was not always the case. In the days when newspapers and magazine periodicals ruled the roost (because books were expensive to make and own, and newspapers were people's main source of news, with major cities having dozens of daily newspapers being published!) the fiction serial was a favored form of storytelling. Many of the great stories we read today as "novels" were actually serials that were later collected. Think of Alexandre Dumas' books about the Three Musketeers and Charles Dickens.
The serial is different from the novel in much the same way that a television series is different from a movie. Everyone now accepts that a television show can tell a long, overarching story about the characters, but that each episode may only move that overarching plot forward a small bit (if at all) and that where that plot ends up may meander sometimes from where it looked like it would originally go. In television this can, unfortunately, be the product of outside forces, like actors not renewing their contracts and having to be written out of the story, for example.
But in a fiction serial, the author is in control. And at last we have a new medium that is perfect for delivery of fiction serials: the Internet. We also have another emerging form on the Internet that people have embraced: the webcomic. Some webcomics concentrate on a single story or gag each day, while others just post new pages in an ever-growing serial story.
Many writers of fanfic Works In Progress (WIPs) are trying to fit their story into the format of a novel. Your typical commercial novel is 60,000 to 80,000 words long, and has three acts. Act I, the beginning, is about the first 25% of the book. Act 2, the middle, is about 50%, and act 3, the ending, is the final 25%. In the beginning, it's all about introducing new characters, new situations, and new conflicts, and raising questions. In the middle it's all about overcoming increasing obstacles. And in the end it's all about answering all the questions that were raised and resolving the conflicts that were introduced in the beginning. Most Hollywood films follow this exact pattern as well.
But obviously the three-act structure is not the only way to tell a story. Many things that were mediocre movies made great television shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, anyone?) and likewise, some great shows made mediocre movies (The X Files).
A serial gives the author room to explore many issues without being on a time clock that says everything has to be resolved by chapter 20. New issues and new characters can be introduced along the way instead of all being thrown at the reader in the very beginning. In fanfic, we may already be familiar with the characters, but perhaps new plot elements or themes are being introduced and explored?
A really good WIP can be addictive. When I find a fanfic writer who is juggling a lot of balls in the air, multiple character arcs perhaps, multiple themes, and keeping them all going and going,  I just cannot WAIT for each new installment. And I've had such tremendous fun writing various fanfic WIPs myself over the years, especially from all the comments from readers who are trying to guess what is going to happen next, that I finally thought, hey, why aren't original fic writers doing this, too?
So I wrote an original fic serial called The Prince's Boy, a male/male high fantasy story with a kind of dark sex-magic theme, to see if I could recreate that same kind of excitement and if I could take my time letting the plot unfold at its own pace. It was some of the most fun I've had writing fiction, and I learned a lot.  I had the space to explore multiple characters instead of just one "viewpoint" protagonist, which created more for my readers to love, too.
And like with the fanfic WIPs I had done previously, the participation of readers in the ongoing creation of the fic is something that a novel just doesn't have.
The other thing I learned is to trust my subconscious, my muse, if you will. There is some reason why a writer gets the urge to write. It's usually because something deep inside is trying to bubble out.
Whether what you write is fanfic or original fic, that is still true. There's something inside trying to be expressed. In a serial, I had room to just let that engine run until it came full circle. Every time I had the urge to write, I indulged it, and the end result was wonderful. The Prince's Boy ran for two years, and the end result is close to 200,000 words, which is three times the length of most romance novels. It just would not have fit in a third the space. And many of the WIPs I've followed in my fandoms are the same. Some are now longer than the original source material by a factor of two (and with the Harry Potter books, that is a lot!) and are still going.
So the next time you start a WIP, remember you might really be writing something that isn't a novel. It might be a serial. It might be its own form. Where a novel is like a crown set with three jewels, a serial is like a string of pearls, where one after another after another is strung. If each chapter you write seems to be leading you to another and another and another, I would say keep following that trail of breadcrumbs until you find where it leads, even if the path meanders all over the forest in the middle. What you have in the end might be truly beautiful.

Thank you, Cecilia, for this wonderful, inspiring article!As usual, comments are welcome!


Emergency Beta Service offers to provide quick answers to any questions you might have concerning grammar, summaries, and/or insignificant plot points. Teasers (up to 250 words) are also accepted.
The goal is to answer within two hours of receiving the question (in their opening hours ;-) ).

The Staff of Emergency Beta is our guest for this week's Writing Lab.

10 Tips to Make Your Betas Love You

Yes, betas can love, too. A good beta should comment on all the little details that seem off, while giving you some much needed love and care for the baby that took you hours to birth. Your chapters should be filled with red marks, not only commenting on grammar, but also on the fabulously constructed sentences, the intriguing details, and that awesome character flaw you gave Alice. The biggest reason for betas not to show this love is simply obvious grammar errors every writer should be able to avoid.
So what is it that makes your betas want to tear their hair out as they go through your chapter? Here is a list of items that my fellow betas and I have come up with, along with some tips on how to fix or avoid them.

1. Commas around the one who is being addressed. It is the simplest comma rule to learn! When you’re addressing someone, put the little commas around the name/nickname/terms of endearment, etc.
  • Example: “Hello, Bella.” “So, slugger, you’re a doctor now?” “Don’t be so stubborn, dear.”
2. Commas before or after dialogue tags: the second easiest comma rule! And what exactly is a dialogue tag, you ask? It is anything following or preceding dialogue (inside the quotes) that describes the manner of the dialogue being presented.
  • Example: “Hello,” he shouted. He whispered, “Don’t tell anyone.”
    • Note: even if the dialogue tag comes before the actual dialogue, there is still a comma, and the first letter of the speech should be capitalized—unless it’s a continuation of a sentence from before the tag. Example: “You would think,” she said, “that he would learn from his mistakes.”
3. Use your spell check! Some spell checkers are better than others, so if you think you have the word right when spell check says otherwise, google it or look it up in a dictionary. A lot of the time, spell check is right. If your word processor doesn’t have built-in spell check, here is a free one online.

4. Homophones. If your spelling is poor, it’s hard to remember the difference between week and weak, or waist and waste (a spelling error I made frequently in grade school, and I still google it whenever I use either one, just to be absolutely sure). A good spell check will put blue squiggly lines if it thinks you’re using the wrong word or phrase. However, for many, it’s just something you have to learnand good writers should put in the effort to learn it! Google is your friend.
  • Did you know that if you type in the search bar define [insert word] it will show you the top definitions of that word? And you can click More for more!
    • Try to come up with mnemonic strategies to learn the difference (like I frequently have to remind my sister, “where and here; were and are”).
5. Notice the changes your beta is suggesting! Often, the beta will tell you why they’re suggesting the change, but when they don’t, try to notice a pattern. When betas can’t be bothered to put in an explanation, it’s usually because the error is so basic or that they’ve already pointed out the rule, maybe even several times. Sometimes your betas don’t even know the rule, but they have learned the pattern from someone else. If you’re not sure why your beta suggested the change, try googling for a rule or ask EBS!

6. Make sure all the tenses are consistent. If you’re writing in past tense, there should be no verbs in the present tense! You can use simple past (write → wrote), past perfect (write → had written), past continuous (write → was writing), or past perfect continuous (write → had been writing). You should also shy away from words like now, here, today, tomorrow, yesterday, this, these, etc. They all indicate present tense and will often break the past tense flow. 
  • Noteif you’re writing in past tense and/or 1st person, you really shouldn’t be using the 2nd person pronoun “you.” It’s bad form. Many people will tell you to avoid it when writing in present tense and/or 3rd person as well, but I personally say that then it’s more a question of writing style.
7. Apostrophes. They are only ever used:
  • in contractions (you are → you’re);
  • to show the possessive of nouns, but never pronouns (the man’s dognever you’re dog); 
    • Note that the plural possessive goes after the plural S (The Cullens’ house, his parents’ house, etc.). Some people prefer to add an additional S after the apostrophe (e.g. The Cullens’s house), but if you do, remember to be consistent!
  • when something has been removed from the word, like in contractions or when pointing out a g-dropping accent (hitting → hittin’).
    • The easiest way to remember when to use apostrophes is to ask yourself if you can insert something instead. You’re and they’re can obviously be changed to you are and they are, you can add a g to hittin’, and the possessive? Well, that is really clever, actually. The possessive apostrophe started out as a contraction of the noun and the possessive pronoun, e.g. this is the man his dog. This is why it doesn’t work with pronouns; you would never say this is your your dog (not even in the old days)! Clever, right?
8. Overuse of the word that. Did you know that people use that 80% more in writing than in speech? It really isn’t used as often we think. I might be making up the number, but the truth is, it is used too much in writing, and often it can be removed. 
  • Example: “the reason that it broke” → “the reason it broke.”
9. Jumps in timeif there are any in your chapter, make it clear. Either mention it in the text (which can easily be done in 3rd person and/or past tense writing), or mark it off with a page break. If you are suddenly writing a scene that happened three weeks after the last scene and you don’t make that fact clear, it will be disorienting for both the reader and the beta. Same goes for sudden flashbacks.
  • When writing flashbacks, I would recommend using the tenses and a play on the narrative as a tool to indicate the time change instead of putting whole paragraphs into italics. You’re writing in the past tense? Use past perfect to indicate the event happened further in the past. Writing in present tense? Use simple past or past perfect to indicate that it’s not happening now. Then you can also tone back the dialogue and tell the reader what happened, rather than show.
10. Use two betas! You can never have too many pairs of eyes looking through your chapter. Even the best novels go through multiple editors and are read time and time again before it goes to print, and still there are errors. Every beta has a different set of skills in her armory, so even if one of your betas isn’t particularly good with commas or explaining the rules of why that comma should be there, the other might be able to make up for that.
  • Submit your story to Project Team Beta and find a pair of permanent betas that complement each other and fit your style, or you can submit it to Sparkly Red Pen, who will accept up to 5 of your chapters and will work closely with you to help you improve your writing !
There you have it! Some of these tips might look more complicated than others, but the key is to google or ask around. The second or third chapter you submit to your beta might make or break your writer-beta relationship because those will show if you are truly taking in their comments. Once you actively start avoiding the mistakes your betas have pointed out to you, your writing will improve. One day your grammar might even be good enough for you to be able to coach someone else through their writing experience!
We here at Emergency Beta Service encourage both writers and betas to ask for second opinions or grammar rules and to ask when they get stuck on something. It can be for clearing up differences in opinions and confusion or helping the writer improve independently. We are generally available from 7am to 12am EST every day, but follow us on Twitter @emergencybeta for further information about who is on duty and when.
Rags, EBS Admin and Beta
 Thank you, Rags!
An excellent post, isn't it?
As usual, your comments are welcome!


Every story -- or at least every good one -- has the power to make its readers know, love, hate its characters. Some authors can do more: page by page, they can make the readers travel in the world and the time they describe. And then there are excellent stories, that make the readers know better themselves. I think that
is one of these.

Summary: "Sun, surf and sand. Best friends, and best kisses. Broken hearts, broken ties, and dreams that can never be broken. A bounce through time. Every road we travel leads us to exactly where we are meant to be."

Don't miss it because:

Let's imagine that you are going to spend some days at the sea, this summer, or that you have done so in the past. Could you say what you will actually miss, once you are back at home?
A kiss under the night's breeze?
A bunch of friends around a bonfire?
The idea that every summer one can dream to start a new page of his/her own life in September?
Four Summers is not only a sweet story, with many funny moments, but can be also salty like  seawater (and some tears...). It's a tale that will keep you company under the sun, but will remain in your heart when the autumn winds will blow chilly and cold too.

If you read this fic, don't forget to tell the author that Raum sent you and say  "Ciao" from me! Thanks!


K.M. Weiland, from Nebraska, is a published author of historical and speculative fiction. She mentors other authors through her writing tips, editing services, and workshops.
On her website, http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.com/p/my-books.html you can get for free her book
  • Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters To Life
Don't miss it because...
Featuring some of my most popular tips on character crafting, this pdf offers a good starting place for understanding the basics of character building, as well as some tips for troubleshooting. You’ll also discover inspiring quotes from successful authors, writing prompts, and creativity exercises. This information will give you the tools you need to tackle your latest batch of characters.
Your comments, and your suggestions for (new) writers, are welcome! Thank you!
Camilla (aka Camilla10) is currently posting Our New World on Twilighted.net.
She did a great research for her story and each chapter has its own images.
Here you can find some of the pics she chose. They'll make sense if you read the story...I absolutely recommend it!


Chapter 3

Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 14

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