Author Archives: JR Wesley

About JR Wesley

JR, aka Jesi, is the PFWA’s Chief Information Officer. Her formal education was in Information Systems and Technology with a minor in Business, but her passion has always been for all things literary. Outside of PFWA, Jesi is the founding editor of Crimson Melodies Publishing – a micro-press for dark-fantasy with heart. When not editing, reading, or attempting to uncover all the writer groups in Greater Philadelphia on behalf of the PFWA, Jesi is a writer, a Dungeons and Dragons Role-Player, and small business technology consultant. There aren’t enough hours in the day, but she works with what she has and one day hopes to be able to publish her own book alongside the authors she’s proud to work with.

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

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Antagonist and Villains Event

Category : Uncategorized

Thanks again to everyone who came out! As mentioned, here’s the link for the worksheet that was part of today’s event:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/x3laxo566q1hmwa/AandV_worksheet.pdf?dl=0&preview=AandV_worksheet.pdf

If you enjoyed what you learned and have a minute, it would fantastic if you hopped over to http://writingonpoint.com/event/villains-and-antagonists-building-the-other-side-of-the-story/ and leave a rating. It would be helpful both for me and for writers who are curious about our events.

Cheers!

Jesi – JR Wesley


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When the rain isn’t just the rain: Crafting Your Second Draft, Step Two

In this post, we’ll talk about some of the ways you can evaluate your first draft’s cast, setting, and even story flow regarding the narrative plot arc and the character emotional arc. Step one is all about gathering key information on the story you wrote. Step two and onward, until rewrites begin, is the analytical part of building your blueprint.

Keeping that in mind, in all of your notes from step one, there are three major parts of your story that absolutely need to be identified. These are the inciting incident, the turning-point, and the climax. All three need to be linked both in terms of plot and in regard to the emotional arc of the story.

A keen example of this is the 2012 Avengers movie. (Although cinema is vastly different in terms of how to tell the audience a story, the core concepts of beginning, middle, and end are universal and relatively easy to spot in that particular movie. Some spoilers ahead, but it seems that most people have already seen the movie which is another thing that makes it an easy choice to reference.) The inciting incident is, of course, the opening scene. Loki steals the tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D., establishing himself as the villain. This leads to the gathering of the Avengers, and their struggles as they try to thwart Loki’s plans. The turning-point is when Phil Coulson dies. It pushes the characters toward an internal resolution of self (IE, their emotional arcs) as to how they are going to behave for the rest of the story. It’s also very much a plot point, in that Loki wins, temporarily, and shows the lengths he is willing to go to achieve his plans, making the need for the Avengers to win against him that much more dire. The climax is when the portal closes. It is the ultimate sign of Loki’s defeat, followed by the capture and imprisonment of the god himself. The heroes save the day, and each of them has a sense of a job well done, as shown in the final moments of the movie. There is also a reinforcement of their resolution as a team. This rounds out both the narrative arc and the various emotional arcs in a neat, tidy bundle.

One of the reasons why Avengers was such a widely well received movie is because of the intertwined nature of the internal (emotional) and external (narrative) conflicts. Viewers were invested equally in the story and the characters. The character struggles were of a dual nature, against themselves as a group and against an enemy that was cunning, and knew their largest weakness as a group. Additionally, each character individually hit highs and lows as the movie progressed, coordinated to the progression of the narrative, and that is very much something worth striving for in any story.

Moments have to come together. The three points that are key to that progression are the exact ones already under discussion – beginning, middle, and end. Writers should also keep their eyes open for any other opportunities where both arcs can be tied together in places other than those three points, but they absolutely must be tied together during those three.

Moving on to discuss the main character.

Although many stories have more than one character, there should still be one that comes to mind as a clear-cut protagonist.

 

Some basic questions you should ask of your protagonist are:

  • who are they?
  • is the pronunciation of their name confusing?
    • what is the meaning of their name?
  • what is their internal conflict?
    • is it easily identifiable?
  • what is their external conflict?
    • is it easily identifiable?

To give examples of the ideas of internal and external conflict, we can look back on the Avengers again. Internally, each of them has to decide if they want to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. and with each other. Externally it’s about building themselves as a team, which reflects portions of their inner conflict as well as the plot of the story.

Some ways to get to know your characters better:

  • external (outside) POV description
  • internal (self) POV description

Such things can include:

  • occupational or trained skills
  • symbolic elements (preferably that define the character or help enhance/contrast a plot concept)

Descriptions can offer insight into how your reader can see and relate to a character. Such as:

  • character traits or mannerisms
    • used frequently
    • give extra information about the character to the reader

When it comes to secondary characters, here are some helpful guidelines to go over:

  • Does this character contribute to the conflict and resolution?
    • Enhancement/Contrast – whatever you want a character to be known for, for the reader to have a chance to know, create a character / give another character something to contrast that thing
  • What is the character’s role in the story?
  • What is the character’s function in the story?
  • DECIDE
    • cut – what would happen if you did?
    • combine – can you put two (or more) together to create a more interesting character?

Ultimately, what you want are characters who count, that help reflect and enhance either the plot or important elements about the main character.

Lastly, we’ll briefly talk about the setting, and what it can mean for your story.

  • setting is an emotion
  • can the reader “see” it?
    • if Alaska, it better be cold
    • if in the back of a fast-food restaurant, better be able to smell the grease

Setting done correctly is another tool in a writer’s box to draw the reader into the story. Making the best use out of setting will depend on each scene, but it can be almost as important as a secondary character – sometimes moreso, such as in the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks.

When you begin arranging your notes from step one, and evaluating your story arcs as well as the characters and setting from step two, look to find moments that tie both the narrative and emotional arcs together. Identify the inciting incident, the turning-point, and the climax, and make certain they are linked. If they aren’t, that will be your goal for the first rewrite. If they are, that means focusing on the other elements that contribute to how the reader is shown those story components. If you find it useful, think about the Avengers movie and identify those same story parts for each character, then apply the exercise to your own work. (It would not have to be the Avengers movie, but it is a very readily available example.)

Our next update may be a bit more informational than exercise, and will either be focused on elements of stories or terminology of the publishing world.

As always, thanks for reading.


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The First Draft Read Through : Crafting Your Second Draft, Step One

So. The good news first. Writing a second draft will have different problems than writing the first.

The bad news is that it can take as long, or longer, as your first draft, and all those different problems may not be ones you’ve dealt with before. You might have a learning curve on how to craft draft two.

How much revision you need to do will depend on your particular skills, how well you planned your original outline and stuck with it – if you used one – or simply, in general, the overall quality of your first draft.

The goal of your next draft, and any subsequent drafts, is to make it as good a story as you are able. This obviously varies from author to author because it is dependent on your current skill set in this particular stage in your life as a writer. Keep in mind, too – especially for novels – that no matter how high your skill set, an editor, either at a publishing house or one you hire in preparation for self-publishing, will require even more edits. In the first case, the better the draft you shop around, the more likely an agent and then publisher will pick it up (sometimes agents themselves will offer you edits since they know they are a fresh set of eyes). If the latter – hiring an editor yourself – you’re paying them out of pocket, so you better hand them the version you can’t do anything more with yourself or it won’t receive the full worth of the money you invest.

When do you begin a second draft?

After you’ve let the story sit. This is the most common piece of advice given in regards to second drafts.

Why?

Because you need to be prepared to let go and look at your story as a reader.

The second draft should, at least in part, be about building a novel blueprint, or modifying the blueprint you started with. First drafts, in some sense, are about laying out the building materials you’d like to use. Draft two is about figuring out which of those materials is worth keeping.  – If you got moldy wood, even if it was your favorite kind of wood compared to all the other kinds, you wouldn’t use it in a house.

How you determine if it’s moldy comes after step one.

So, what is step one?

Step one is your read through. The first time you go through your story, or novel, start to finish, cover to cover, doing nothing but taking notes while looking at it through the eyes of a reader.

This can be harder said then done. You’ve poured hours of work into a first draft. You wrestled with characters, and the almost never ending question of “what happens next?” and have gotten through draft one only to be staring at it, now, and knowing you’ll need to make some very difficult decisions to ‘kill your darlings’.

Brace yourself. The first time you attempt a second draft it is going to be hard to let go. For some authors, it might never be easy, but you’ll build up callouses.

But, this first read through is all yours.

So, to help look at it with the eyes of a reader, there are a few methods that I’ve seen suggested over the years. One is to print the whole thing out – which, if you do, make sure you do it with page numbers. Some authors prefer taking their draft to Kinkos or Staples and ordering a spiral bound version. Others read it in as different a format as possible – like on an Ereader – to achieve that extra distance to really feel like a  ‘reader’ versus the writer who strung those words together. Whichever method you end up using – and don’t be afraid to try all of them, or to come up with your own – the whole point is to be able to be as distant as you’re able to be before moving forward.

Step 0.5, since I haven’t mentioned it yet, comes before the actual step 1 and is gathering your tools after figuring out how you’ll be taking notes. This can be on sticky notes with pens or pencils, maybe paper clips or highlighters to use on the printed out version, or in a special notebook dedicated to your novel.

After you sort all that out and settle on an approach, there’s nothing left to do but read the whole thing. Don’t be afraid to go crazy with the notes, or to be as sparring as possible. Be on the lookout for what jumps out at you as a reader.

To that end, you’re looking for three things.

  • confusing or not-consistent – where you’ve accidentally changed a character name, or the name of their school, or even that they picked up a machete two pages ago but have suddenly forgotten about it with a horde of zombies breaking down the door. It can also be about your author voice, or if you change perspectives between characters.
  • boring – where do you loose yourself to the desire to skip through your book. It could be dialogue, or description, or something else entirely. But write the note even if it’s just a giant ‘B’ with a circle.
  • dis-believable – when something happens that just could not happen, either in the context of your novel or because its just flat out not possible. If you have your hero on an adrenaline rush, sure, they might be able to move that collapsed piece of ceiling, but maybe their scrawny book-worm friend couldn’t. Barricading a glass door won’t keep zombies out like if it was a wooden door, but the way you first wrote it there might as well be a forcefield in place (unless there really are forcefields, then it’s all good).

While you’re doing all that, though, and picking apart your writing, wondering just how many cups of coffee you’d had or how many hours you’d been awake when you wrote it, don’t just highlight the stuff that needs to be fixed. That can get daunting, and discouraging if all your notes are full of problems. So do yourself the favor and be your own cheerleader – highlight the good stuff! Every writer has moments of sheer brilliance that can be looked back on in wonder. “I wrote this? Wow. I can be pretty awesome at this writing thing.” Star it. Put a sticker on it. Whatever you want to do. That way, when you’re looking through your notes, you can find them and see all the things you did right that mean this is a story worth telling.

And that’s pretty much how you do a read through. The next step is figuring out what to do with all the notes you came up with, which is another thing that will vary writer to writer, project to project. But you’ll want that novel blueprint before you make any hasty decisions, which means organizing the notes you just came up with and evaluating what they say about the story as a whole.

In the next post, we’ll talk about some of the ways you can weigh your first draft’s cast, setting, and even story flow regarding the narrative plot arc and the character emotional arc. In the meanwhile, practice step one. Find something you wrote a while ago (that’s at least fifteen-thousand words long) and see if your note system serves its purpose. Tweak, rinse, repeat. It’ll get easier and more intuitive the more you do it.

For homework: Are there any other labels you might use on your notes besides just Confusing, Boring, and Dis-believable? How many is too many?

As always, thanks for reading.


2/5/2015 at the Green Line Cafe in Philadelphia, N.J. Beausoleil hosts an edit-in in the style of a NaNoWriMo write-in. Check it out o the Caldendar


 


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February Updates

Category : PFWA News

First Edit-In of the Season will be on February 5th at 6:30, hosted by NJ Beausoleil. Make sure you mark you calendars (or use Google to add it from ours to yours)!

More details are coming soon for our NaNoEdMo plans for 2015. Check back this week to see what else gets announced, and maybe for a few blog posts in a new series called ‘Editing Your Second Draft: 101’ from JR Wesley.

Curious what else might be coming up? Check out the NaNoEdoMo Programming page for extra news.

 

 


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Back from Hiatus

Category : Uncategorized

After a successful Fan Fiction Initiative in the spring, PFWA took the summer off to regroup and recharge before the fall. We’re looking forward to picking up where we left off and bringing more initiative-centric programming to the writers of the Philadelphia area.

Don’t forget to check out NaNoWriMo – PFWA supported events through the month of November.

Coming in January will be NaNoEdMo – the month long editing event to shape your draft into a solid, coherent second draft ready for both peers and publishers.

We’re looking for other writer groups already in Philly to add to our event calendar, and spread the word about the great opportunities they offer to writers in the area.

There will be a newsletter tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who is here with us as we begin to get ready for entering our second year of being part of the vibrant writer community in Philly.


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Weekly Round-Up April 12

Our Initiatives

PFWA’s Fan-Fiction Initiative Continues Through April

General Literary Happenings

April is Poetry Month & Camp NaNoWriMo

April 13-19 is National Library Week

Upcoming PFWA Events

April 19: Democratizing Fiction
[Facebook RSVP]
[Twitter RSVP]
[More Details >> Add to Calendar]

May 3: Social Meetup
[Facebook RSVP]
[Twitter RSVP]
[More Details >> Add to Calendar]

For National Poetry Month

Daily Poem Sea Cans by Derek Walcott

Daily Poem October 13 by Lauren Ireland

For National Library Week

From the American Library Association
http://www.ala.org/news/mediapresscenter/factsheets/nationallibraryweek

Free Online Products from Oxford University Press
http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/oxford-university-press-is-making-online-products-free-during-national-library-week_b84538

Writing Related

Literary Map of San Francisco
http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/a-literary-map-of-san-francisco_b84427

Philadelphia Public History ‘Truck’
http://www.geekadelphia.com/2014/04/04/get-introduced-to-the-philadelphia-public-history-truck-at-little-berlin-in-east-kensington/

Writing Craft and Publication

3 Deadly Traps for a Writer
http://bestsellerlabs.com/3-deadly-traps-for-a-writer/

What Struggle Means for Character
http://moodywriting.blogspot.com/2014/04/what-struggle-means-for-character.html

So What Is ‘High Concept’
http://diymfa.com/writing/ask-becca-high-concept-anyway

Realistic vs Logic
http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/2014/04/realistic-vs-logic.html

5 Writing Lessons from ‘Game of Thrones’
http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/04/08/writing-game-of-thrones/

Writing Lesson with Sandy Pool
http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/writing-lessons-sandy-pool/

Putting Your Life In Fiction
http://litreactor.com/columns/storyvile-putting-your-life-in-your-fiction

Writing Life

How To Handle Interruptions
http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/2014/04/how-to-handle-interruptions-when-youre-freelance-writing/

Agents Going Off the Rails
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/04/2014/agents-going-off-the-rails/


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Weekly Round-Up April 5

Our Initiatives

PFWA’s Fan-Fiction Initiative Continues Through April

April is Poetry Month & Camp NaNoWriMo

PFWA Blog: From the CAO’s Desk

A Subjective History of Reading Fan Fiction by Jean Beausoleil

Upcoming PFWA Events

April 19: Democratizing Fiction
[Facebook RSVP]
[Twitter RSVP]
[More Details >> Add to Calendar]

May 3: Social Meetup
[Facebook RSVP]
[Twitter RSVP]
[More Details >> Add to Calendar]

Literary Lifestyle

How to Buy Ebooks from Anywhere and Read Them in One Place
http://lifehacker.com/how-to-buy-ebooks-from-anywhere-and-still-read-them-all-1553478027

Writing Craft and Publication

3 Ways to Write a Damn Good Syllable
http://www.copyblogger.com/damn-good-syllable/

Dear Publishers, Signed (You)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/01/dear-publishers-signed-you/

Never Stop Trying [Infographic]
http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/never-stop-trying-infographic_b84209

10 Tips About Process
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/03/31/10-tips-about-process/

Why Learning to Write Plot Matters
http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/the-ploughshares-round-down-are-you-learning-what-you-need-to-know-from-writing-classes/

Submission Calls From Around the Web

(note: linked contests and submission calls are not endorsed by the PFWA. These notifications are provided as a service to our viewers and subscribers. Before submitting, please review what rights, money, or other obligations are in question)

Amazon’s Literary Journal ‘Day One’ Seeking Submissions
http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/amazons-literary-journal-dayone-is-seeking-submissions_b84206


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Weekly Round-Up March 23

Our Initiatives

PFWA’s Fan-Fiction Initiative Continues Through April

April is Poetry Month & Camp NaNoWriMo

PFWA Blog: From the CAO’s Desk

The Stigma Against Fan-Fiction by Jean Beausoleil

Upcoming PFWA Events

April 19: Democratizing Fiction
[Facebook RSVP]
[Twitter RSVP]
[More Details >> Add to Calendar]

May 3: Social Meetup
[Facebook RSVP]
[Twitter RSVP]
[More Details >> Add to Calendar]

Writing Craft and Publication

5 Valuable Charts that Show How Publishing is Changing
http://janefriedman.com/2014/03/21/5-valuable-charts/

8 Ways Scrivener Will Help You Become a Proficient Writer Overnight
http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/03/25/scrivener-proficient-writer/

The 3 Dimensions of Character
http://moodywriting.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-three-dimensions-of-character.html

Authenticity vs Perpetuation of Bad
http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/2014/03/authenticity-vs-perpetuation-of-bad.html

An Author’s Responsibility (How Realistic is too Realistic?)
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/03/2014/an-authors-responsibility/

3 Deadly Symptoms of Self-Doubt
http://diymfa.com/writing/ask-becca-3-deadly-symptoms-self-doubt

How I Write by David Baldacci
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/03/2014/how-i-write-david-baldacci/

Are you writing the right story?
http://diymfa.com/writing/writing-right-story

Embracing (and Encouraging) A Writing and Reading Life

5 tips for Running a Little Free Library
http://bookriot.com/2014/03/24/5-tips-running-little-free-library/

What Really Matters
http://authorchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/what-really-matters/

They’re Never Just Books
http://bookriot.tumblr.com/post/80798167624/theyre-never-just-books-theyre-whole-worlds

Advice that Every Young Writer Needs to Hear
http://blog.bookbaby.com/2014/03/advice-that-every-young-writer-needs-to-hear/


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PFWA Event Calendar Woes, Being Fixed

Category : PFWA News

Our sincerest apologies to all our viewers! PFWA’s online event calendar was corrupted during maintenance and needed to be re-installed. Because of the corruption, even though our data was safe, we need to recreate all our events from scratch.

Please have patience as we update our calendar. All PFWA events should be up-to-date by Sunday, March 30, and community events will be added over the next week.

We’ve gotten to the root of the problem, and have implemented further safe guards to backup more data snapshots in the event of anything like this ever happening again in the future.

Thanks for your understanding.

JR Wesley on behalf of the PFWA Team


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Weekly Round-Up March 16

Our Initiatives

Fan-Fiction Initiative Continues Through April

April is Poetry Month

Upcoming PFWA Events

April 19: Democratizing Fiction
[Facebook RSVP]
[Twitter RSVP]
[More Details >> Add to Calendar]

May 3: Social Meetup
[Facebook RSVP]
[More Details >> Add to Calendar]

Events Around the City

Upcoming: Cherry Blossom Festival
http://www.uwishunu.com/2014/03/coming-attraction-the-2014-subaru-cherry-blossom-festival-returns-with-tons-of-family-friendly-events-across-philadelphia-april-2-13/

Writing Craft and Publication

The 10 Stages of the Creative Process
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/02/19/tiffany-shlain-creative-process/

Story as Architecture / Architecture as Story
http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/story-as-architecture-architecture-as-story/

Anachronisms: Nobody Said That Then!
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg/2014/02/masters-of-sex-nobody-said-that-then.html

Perfecting Your Plot
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/03/guest-post-by-chris-eboch.html

In Writing, There are Rules, and Then There Are “Rules”
http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/03/19/in-writing-there-are-rules-and-then-there-are-rules/

“Am I Publishable, or Not?”
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/03/18/am-i-publishable-or-not-reading-the-tea-leaves/

Where Pantsing and Plotting Miss the Real Story
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/03/13/what-both-pantsing-and-plotting-miss-the-real-story/

On Being A Writer & Creative

Confidence is a Choice, not a Symptom
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/03/confidence-is-a-choice-not-a-symptom.html

What Really Matters – What Authors Give Back
http://authorchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/what-really-matters/

29 Ways to Stay Creative
http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/29-ways-to-stay-creative-video-infographic_b83798

11 Writers on Dealing With Criticism
http://flavorwire.com/446215/11-writers-on-how-they-deal-with-criticism/

 Writing Contests Around the Web

(note: linked contests and submission calls are not endorsed by the PFWA. These notifications are provided as a service to our viewers and subscribers. Before submitting, please review what rights, money, or other obligations are in question)

“Let’s Write” – Deadline Postmark April 10 ($8 to enter)
http://gcwriters.org/contest.html

League of Utah Writers – Deadline June 15 ($10 to enter)
http://luwriters.org/index.html (left column has links)


Calendar

July 2017

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
  • First Day of Camp NaNoWriMo!
  • Event
2
3
  • PhillyWrimo Chat: Online Write-In
4
  • PhillyWrimo Chat: Online Write-In
5
6
7
8
9
10
  • PhillyWrimo Chat: Online Write-In
11
  • PhillyWrimo Chat: Online Write-In
12
13
14
15
16
17
  • PhillyWrimo Chat: Online Write-In
18
  • PhillyWrimo Chat: Online Write-In
19
20
21
22
23
24
  • PhillyWrimo Chat: Online Write-In
25
  • PhillyWrimo Chat: Online Write-In
26
27
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29
30
31
  • PhillyWrimo Chat: Online Write-In

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