How long should my story be?

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When I started my first novel I asked myself the question, ‘how long should my story be?’ The problem was, I was asking the wrong question and at the wrong time!

As a writer, don’t worry about the length of your story… at least not before you’ve even begun writing. Just write! Stare at the empty screen and start typing. Pound out your first draft and then ask the right question:

Is my story a short story, novelette, novella, novel, or epic?

Once your story is complete, then look at the word count in order to determine what “length” of a story you’ve written. The answer to this question is easy, because it is based on your final word count. Don’t let the desired word count dictate what you write, allow the story to dictate what you write. If you worry about word count, while you’re writing’ you may end up with way more words – and superfluous details – than necessary. 

Now, I’d love to say that there are clear-cut guidelines to how long each type of story should be, but there aren’t. I’ve done a lot of research and it seems the ‘word count’ guide changes depending on who you ask. However, I’ve put together what seems to be the most common ‘suggested’ word counts:

word count

Does this mean you have to adhere to this guideline? Nope, absolutely not! They are just a guide to get you started. Write what you want to write. Tell your story the way your characters are begging you to tell it. When you’re done, call it what you want, but get that story out there for the world to see. Then, pat yourself on the back and celebrate, because you’ll have accomplished something amazing! Something you should be proud of! After you’re done, comment below and tell me what your story is and how long it ended up being, so we can celebrate together.

5 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A STRONG STORY

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Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

5 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A STRONG STORY:

• A strong opening – Right from the start of your story the setting should set the mood and tone for your readers.

• Balance – You need to have a balance between SHOWING through strong, but not overwhelming, descriptions and TELLING through script-worthy dialogue

• Diverse, well-developed characters – Keep in mind that not everyone is beautiful, people have scars (emotional and physical). Your characters should all be uniquely themselves, with their own back-stories, personalities, etc.

• Conflict and Resolution – Every good story needs conflict, it’s what allows the characters to develop, adapt, and change, throughout the story.

• A satisfying conclusion – This doesn’t mean a Hollywood “happy” ending, it just means that all the plot holes have been filled in and questions have been answered… that is unless you’re leaving your readers with a cliffhanger! I have to admit, I love a good cliffhanger. 

What else do you feel are key ingredients for a strong story? Share your thoughts and comments below! 

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2)

Never Fade

TITLE: Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2)
AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.25)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Book two in the hit series that’s soon to be a major motion picture starring Amandla Stenberg and Mandy Moore–now with a stunning new look and an exclusive bonus short story featuring Vida before she joined the League.

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby ‘Leader’, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: Just like with book 1, I cannot stress enough how good of a writer Alexandra Bracken is. Obviously, her English and History studies at William & Mary in Virginia suited her well. She is a well-deserved #1 New York Times best-selling author.

STORY: Bracken does not disappoint with book 2 of The Darkest Minds series. This one doesn’t start exactly where the first one ends, so your left with unanswered questions and an eagerness to find many of the characters who have seemingly been left behind. However, it isn’t long before Bracken pulls everything together and you feel like the story is back on track with a new mission and new character motivations pulling (or pushing) you forward to keep reading.

CHARACTERS: Book two introduces the reader to a whole new group of characters. Although as a reader I wasn’t sure if I trusted them, or even wanted to trust them, I quickly became invested in their lives and their survival. Bracken beautifully weaves Ruby’s old life with her new life showing us both the mental and physical struggles she has to deal with and eventually overcome if she wants to survive.

APPEARANCE: The cover is again, beautiful. However, unlike with the first book, after reading book two I’m not sure how the cover relates to the story. When you pull back the cover this time, you’re no longer surprised, but instead eager to find the second full-color cover, to read the character quote, “I don’t want to just see someone’s face; I want to know his shadow, too.”

Check out my NEW YouTube channel and the video review here… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/j9KdE83MbXw

PS.. I’m still new to the YouTube things, so be patient with me while I figure it all out. I promise my videos will get better. lol

 

The Darkest Minds (book 1)

The Darkest Minds

TITLE: The Darkest Minds
AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★ 1/2
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.625)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
“Book one in the hit series that’s soon to be a major motion picture starring Amandla Stenberg and Mandy Moore—now with a stunning new paperback look and an exclusive bonus short story featuring Liam and his brother, Cole. When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. But when the truth about Ruby’s abilities—the truth she’s hidden from everyone, even the camp authorities—comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. On the run, she joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp: Zu, a young girl haunted by her past; Chubs, a standoffish brainiac; and Liam, their fearless leader, who is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. While they journey to find the one safe haven left for kids like them—East River—they must evade their determined pursuers, including an organization that will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. But as they get closer to grasping the things they’ve dreamed of, Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.”

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: Alexandra Bracken is a wonderful writer. She has a natural talent for describing things so perfectly that you can see, smell, hear, and feel everything as if you’re experiencing it firsthand. Her characters are fully developed, believable and relatable. Although there were a handful of typos throughout the book they weren’t distracting. Besides, as an indie author, I love seeing that even the big publishing houses have editing issues and types in the books they put out. We’re all just human and no one is perfect!

STORY: Bracken has taken an often-overused theme of ‘characters with powers’ and fashioned something completely new. The dystopian world she has created is terrifying and unthinkable. The story is gripping, leaving you eager to turn the page and find out what will happen next. With every twist and turn you become more and more invested in the characters and what their destiny’s hold.

As an author, I love a good cliffhanger, and Bracken does not disappoint. The heartbreaking cliffhanger at the end of book 1 will leave you wanting more! From page one to the end this book will keep you guessing and engaged.

CHARACTERS: In the beginning of the book we’re introduced to a number of characters and given just enough time to start feeling emotionally connected before they’re ripped away and out of the spotlight. Although irritated, and left with unanswered questions, the book’s fast pace and intense action doesn’t leave the reader disappointed for long. Ruby, one of the dangerous ones, and the primary character soon finds her tribe unlikely friends; Liam, Chubs, and Zu.

I’m a huge fan of back story, and for the most part The Darkest Minds delivers, but by the end of the book I was still left with unanswered questions and wanted to know more about each of the main characters. You’d think that was a bad thing but because I was able to go straight to the bookstore and buy the next three books in the series, I didn’t mind at all.

APPEARANCE: The cover is beautiful yet ominous. The mysterious glowing symbol on the front makes you wonder what to expect before you even break the spine. When you pull back the cover you’re surprised with a second full-color cover, and a quote from one of the main characters, “Time to carpe the hell out of this diem.” Very well done!

Check out my NEW YouTube CHANNEL and the video review here… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video. 

PS.. I’m new to the YouTube things, so be patient with me while I figure it all out. I promise my videos will get better. lol

It’s been to long…

OK, I’ll be the first to admit that I am NOT a very dedicated blogger. It’s true, I can’t lie and say that I am. The thing is, when I have spear time… time that isn’t already committed to work, dedicated to my family, or taken up by housework, I AM WRITING! 

The proof is in the pudding… or the publication date. lol

I’ve been writing since 2010. My first novel, Awaken, took just under 2 years start to finish. I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it, but I learned. It got easier with every book that came after.

I published one novel per year from 2012 – 2014. Three books in three years, and the Blood Angel Series was born. I was more than excited. I had a system. I had dedicated beta readers, an awesome cover design artist, and an editor that understood my writing style.

In 2015 I was able to publish the first two books in the SECTOR C Series. This story just poured out of me. I fell in love with the characters, the strange world they lived in, and I was emotionally invested in their journey.

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Published October 2016

In 2016, at the request of my readers, I went back to the Blood Angel Series to tell the story of Phoebe… She was an exciting, strong, independent female character who demanded my attention. For almost a year, she took me across the country and showed me the world through her eyes. 

I spent most of 2017 writing the third and final novel in the SECTOR C Series, but I’ll get to that in a minute. 2017 was also the year I decided to use my experiences to help others. After attending numerous author events, where I am inevitably asked the same questions over and over, I decided to put together 3 guides.

  1. The Invisible You – 52 Weeks of Meditations, Activities, and Writing Prompts to help you Discover YouThis is a work-book style guide/journal. I use the meditations, the coloring activities, and the writing prompts on a weekly basis to help keep me centered and focused. Since starting this process, years ago, I have been able to more quickly work through, if not avoid all together, the dreaded WRITERS BLOCK!
  2. So You Want To Write A Book – An Indie Author Guide to Outlining and Planning Your Next Novel I think this one is pretty self-explanatory… This is the book for all beginner authors, and even those that have been around the block a few times that just need a little extra help getting started or staying focused and organized when writing. 
  3. Multi-Level Network Marketing Business Tracker Not only am I a mom with a full-time job and an author… back in 2015 I started my own business as an independent consultant for the #1 skin care brand in North America. I designed this business tracker to help me, and others within the Network Marketing field, keep track of customers, sales, and business partners. No, it isn’t for everyone, but sometimes our projects are passions and other times they are practical. This project happened to be very practical and has proven extremely useful in growing my business. 

the bridge cover

Like I said, I spent most of 2017 writing the 3rd and final novel in the SECTOR C Series, The Bridge. I love where this series takes the reader, but I’ll admit this story didn’t go where I thought it would go. I usually have a clear picture in my mind, when I start a story line, of where it will end. This series was no different, but as the story unfolded I was excited to find that it continued to surprise me. Having just been released yesterday, I am eager and excited to find out what my readers think of where Zelina and the others take us in SECTOR C ~ The Bridge

WHAT IS NEXT?

Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what is next. I have a couple of story ideas I’ve been playing with, but I think I might take a little time off to do some more author events, market the books I’ve already published, and work on my blog a little more. If there are topics you’d like me to discuss, I’d love your feedback. Comment below with blog topic ideas and I’ll get to work! Until then, have a beautiful February!

BEGINNINGS is finally here!

 

Beginnings ~ a Blood Angel novel (BOOK 2) by Nina Soden NOW AVAILABLE on e-readers everywhere!

Beginnings ~ a Blood Angel novel (BOOK 2) by Nina Soden
NOW AVAILABLE on e-readers everywhere!

That’s right – you read the title correctly. Beginnings ~ a Blood Angel novel is finally here!

CLICK HERE to download your copy today!

BEGINNINGS ~ a Blood Angel novel

by Nina Soden

Surrounded by a new world where the horror films she grew up watching have become reality Alee finds that the most unlikely characters have become her lifeline. If she thought hunting in the wild and drinking blood was bad, what will she think when she becomes the hunted? Newly armed with the knowledge of being half witch and half vampire Alee, the only surviving Dhampir in history, is forced to learn to control a lifetime of magic and vampire powers if she wants to survive.

Part horror thriller – part tender romance, Beginnings will leave readers wanting more!

E-BOOK AVAILABLE NOW!

Rewrites… Week Five In Review

Haven't checked out the Blood Angel series on Facebook yet? Well, you should!

Haven’t checked out the Blood Angel series on Facebook yet? Well, you should! www.facebook.com/BloodAngelSeries

Why is it that when I’m approaching a personal deadline my life gets crazy CRAZY busy?!

Tech week… performances… babysitter cancelling… work deadlines leading to me having to work LATE EVERY NIGHT… stress… StReSs… STRESS!!!

Wow… So I didn’t have much time to do anything this past week, but I did get the book uploaded to the online self-publishing software. Now I just need to make the final edits, error corrections, format adjustments, etc. and then hit send!

Okay, it feels crazy that I am this close to publishing book two. If someone would have asked me two years ago if I believed I would publish a novel I would have said, doubtful! I definitely would never have guessed that I would have two full-length novels published! But man does it feel good.

Okay so here is a recap…

  • Week 1 – Reread the book and all editor’s notes – (YEAH, THAT DIDN”T GO AS PLANNED)
  • Week 2 – Outline changes, rearrange chapters (if needed) based on editor’s notes – (NOT REALLY GOING TO NEED TO OUTLINE CHANGES AND REARRANGE CHAPTERS – I WILL JUST USE THIS WEEK TO FINISH THE REREAD!)
  • Week 3 – Rewrite cover to cover – (YES IT WAS AMBITIOUS, BUT I DID IT AND I AM PROUD OF MYSELF FOR IT. ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING EVERYTHING I HAVE ON MY TO DO LIST RIGHT NOW.)
  • Week 4 – Reread the book for content, timeline, character motivation (YEAH, I KIND OF CHEATED AND TOOK CARE OF THIS DURING WEEK 1. HEE HEE HEE)
  • Week 5 – Reread the book for edits: grammar, spelling, etc. (DONE and THANKFUL FOR IT!)
  • Week 6 – Final changes, format, upload, and publish (VERY EXCITED TO SAY THAT THE BOOK HAS BEEN COMPLETELY UPLOADED AND FINAL ERRORS WILL BE WORKED ON THIS WEEK. I HAD PLANS TO HIT “SEND” AND SUBMIT IT TO THE PUBLISHER BY THURSDAY OF THIS WEEK, BUT THAT ISN”T GOING TO HAPPEN. I AM CROSSING MY FINGERS FOR SUNDAY!)

Yes, it was short but sweet… Next week my update better say “PUBLISHED”. However, I am not going to get down on myself either way… Just going to think positive!

Now, off the subject… Sunday was Mother’s Day and mine was great! My kids and husband got me the prettiest charms for my favorite bracelet and we got to go out to dinner after a day at the theatre. Spending the day on stage with my hubby and being backstage with my kids at the theatre (because the babysitter cancelled) was actually very nice. They were very well-behaved and loved by everyone.

Okay… back to work.

When you get a chance tell me how your writing is coming along. I know I talk a lot about myself here, but I really do care how my readers are doing and what you are all up to. Please share!