Jennifer Lyon

Monday, July 6th, 2015
Favorite Tips To Writers

Happy Monday! Hope everyone who celebrated Independence Day in the U.S. had a great time. We stayed home and really enjoyed it. I got some real downtime in this weekend.

I’m also working on promo blogs for the two blog tours and started thinking about some of the best advice I’ve gotten over the years. I wanted to share these four with you guys (although they may be repeated in my blog tours :-) ):

1) No one will believe in you until you believe in yourself. This was before I was published and I was whining to a friend about people not taking me seriously as a writer and wondering if I would ever make it. My friend looked me dead in the eye and said, “No one will believe in you until you believe in yourself.” That was a light bulb moment for me. Why was I looking elsewhere for validation? I started treating myself as pursuing a professional writing career, not a hobbyist. And I quit looking for validation from everyone else. Instead of talking about my career goals, I focused on believing in myself and achieving them. Believing in myself help me focus on my goals, and once we do that, we begin achieving our goals.

2) The only one standing in your way is you. I believe this was way back when I decided to try to write paranormal and I was scared, throwing out excuses. One of my writer friends, Marianne Donley, told me the I was the only one standing in my way and it stuck. It’s very much like the time I was talking to my oldest son about colleges. I was helping him fill out paperwork for the state university, while he was telling me his high school councilors told him he “should be going to an Ivy League school.” He absolutely he had the grades, intelligence and drive. But this was a life lesson. His dad and I had clear goals about what we wanted to teach them, so I explained, “We are not paying for college. We will help, and the harder you work to make things happen for yourself, the more we will help. But if you think an Ivy League school is the way to go, then you go out and make it happen. Don’t ever let your dad and I stand in  your way. Ever. If you want it, you can make it happen.” Oldest son has done well — it doesn’t matter what path he chose, but he made his life happen and is very successful now. This is exactly what Marianne meant — the only one standing in your way is you. If you want it, then you work your butt off, as hard and long as it takes, to make it happen. No excuses.

3) Never tone down one character to match the other. This was advice from Laura Wright. It was when I was revising a book, maybe Blood Magic, and the editor felt my hero was overshadowing my heroine. My editor suggested I “tone down” the hero. Laura and I were discussing the revisions and I told her that. Her response was NO, NO, NO and NO. Never water down a character (unless he’s an offensive jerk), but bring the heroine up to match your hero. I did that and it worked. It was harder than just toning down the hero, but it made for a much better book. A stronger heroine to meet a powerful hero automatically creates more conflict.

4) If a scene isn’t working, even if that scene is “gold,” dump it. Cut it. Get rid of it! This one is my advice to myself and one I’ve repeated over and over, especially in the last few years :-) It just happened in Caged Magic. I had a scene of Linc and Risa spending some time together, laughing and building a rocket. My reasoning was trying to give the two characters a lighter-falling-in-love moment in a darker book, and at the same time, reveal more about the characters. It totally worked, except for one thing — Risa’s beloved baby was missing and there she is laughing, playing, flirting and falling in love while her godchild is out there in the hands of a demon spawn. The scene was well written (my editor said), but it didn’t belong in this book where it clashed with Risa’s internal and external motivations. And it was going to make any mother out there pissed at Risa. My editor suggested I keep the scene, but tone down some of the fun and cast more of a shadow of worry over it. To quote Laura, NO NO NO and NO.  That scene belonged in a fun contemporary book not a dark paranormal. If I’d tweaked it, I would have been forcing a square peg into a round hole. Instead, I kept the key dialogue in the scene that revealed character  and brutally cut the rest. Then I took the opportunity to write a new action scene where the two of them are trying to find the baby, and threaded in the dialogue. It made a huge difference in the book, and showcased Risa in a much better light. And it ended up showing them connecting on a deeper level than my original scene. Don’t be afraid to dump a scene and take the opportunity to up your game in the book. Yeah, I had to put some serious time and sweat into doing it, but the story improved dramatically.

So there’s some of my favorite advice to writers.

Now it’s your turn. If you’d like to share your advice or thoughts, I’d love to hear it. Or tell me if you had a good weekend, I always lover to hear what you guys are up to.

6 comments to “Favorite Tips To Writers”

  1. B.E. Sanderson
    July 6th, 2015 at 5:17 am · Link

    OMG, I can’t even imagine what Blood Magic would be like if you toned Axel down. And I want to poke that editor in the eye for even suggesting it. Thank goodness you took Laura’s advice instead.

    I agree with all your tips wholeheartedly. The best tip I got and one I sprinkle liberally when others ask me how to write: Give yourself permission to suck. First drafts are not suppose to be perfect – that’s why they’re called drafts. So what if parts of them suck? Fix them in edits.

    Of course, I have to remind myself of this every single book, but it’s there for me to remember. And it helps me chug through when I get stuck. =o)

  2. Silver James
    July 6th, 2015 at 9:30 am · Link

    Great advice! And agreeing with B.E. about Axel. Thank you for listening to Laura! What a jewel she is!!!

    I always struggle with conflict, specifically external vs. internal, especially what each actually means. Maisey Yates had the best explanation I’ve ever seen. I printed it out and put it on my bulletin board for reference. In essence, she said:

    “The external conflict pushes your characters together. The internal conflict keeps them apart.” She gave examples that made sense and whenever I start to waffle, I read through her post to make sure I’ve got it right.

    I played a little this weekend but then spent yesterday catching up. :P I got new business cards and some stuff for the librarians’ social at Nationals together. Still looking for some cheap but cool swag to go into their bags. Ugh. And I’m off on my word count for the August 17th deadline. *headdesk* Time to get my @$$ in gear!

  3. Jenn
    July 6th, 2015 at 11:26 am · Link

    B.E., great tip! And so true, I have that battle with every single book too. I mean how it can be so hard to write that first draft and I still find so many problems? Permission to suck makes that process easier :-)

  4. Jenn
    July 6th, 2015 at 11:30 am · Link

    Silver, yes! A great explanation! I could go on and on and internal and external, but that explanation is succinct and nails it.

    So organized of you on the business cards. I meant to but haven’t done it.

  5. Viki S.
    July 6th, 2015 at 2:46 pm · Link

    Great advice.

    Not all that great a weekend for us. DIL’s grandma died. She pretty much raised Cassie so it’s very hard. Bummed. The poor kid has lost so many (step-mom, mom, step-dad, maternal grand parents and now paternal grandma) and she’s only 32.

    Thank God for authors and books.

    Loved Wizard’s racing video ;).

    Have a great day.

  6. Jennifer Lyon (Apodaca)
    July 6th, 2015 at 3:39 pm · Link

    Viki, I’m so sorry to hear about your DIL’s grandma. That’s sad, and yeah, I can understand why you had a rough weekend. It sounds like she’s really going to need you guys for a while.

    Thanks on Wizard’s video :-) He has a blast doing it. He often races with middle son to which is even better.

    I’m thinking of Cassie and all of you.

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