Tag Archives: Writing Toolbox

Toolbox 22: What do you when your work is pirated?

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


 A long time ago I was told that one excellent use of Google Alerts was to check up on what was happening with published projects. When I created my alert, I used the work’s title and my by-line. On the weekend, I received an alert on “Dragon Eye”.

When I got the alert my work was on a reseller’s page, I wasn’t that worried. Alerts have popped up before with only some of the key words. So I’ve seen projects with dragon + Anna in it, but they were never mine.

Not so this time. Dragon Eye is available on Wattpad. It’s free and someone was selling my short for $6 USD. Wow!

I was upset that someone was using me to rip off readers.

Anyway I went to the sight and this one had this lovely DMCA form to fill out.

That was the beginning of my happy ending. They must have had an auto-response set up because my story was down within seconds. And I received an email telling me what they would do on their end:

  • They warned me that the work may be down, but it may still come up on a search until the delete rippled through the web.
  • The person who uploaded the book has been suspended (if I’m proved correct they will reroute all payments received to me).
  • They admitted that they do their best to avoid copyright complaints and have set this system up to prevent more.
  • They left me with contact info, including their physical address.

So this post is about being prepared. Create an alert for each work out there, follow-up on them; and when the worst happens, look for a DMCA page or contact DMCA directly.

If you have anything to add about pirates, etc. Feel free to comment below. Love to hear from you.


Toolbox 21: Synopsis The Hell Out of It

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


I’ve read several different methods on writing a synopsis.

Some suggest reading through the project, taking notes chapter-by-chapter, and going from there. This can work but I’ve always landed up with several pages.

Then I’m struggling all over again.

Others suggest only using plot points. This certainly shortens the summary, the number of characters included and cuts away sub plots.

I do a campfire story—my kind of outline—and tell the story as if I’ve got a captured audience. It comes out as third person present tense and I get the extra bonus of finding where the tension lags and plot holes hide.

It’s all done before the heavy lifting, my method may not be what an agent or editor wants and the why is covered farther down.

A Synopsis is a brief summary of the completed project and can range from one page to ten.

It should include the time and place, the goal, the obstacle, the main character’s motivations, plot twists and the ending. Don’t forget to show the main character’s arc.

That’s quite a bit, no need cluttering it up with the supporting cast (and their problems) or the subplots unless it takes direct action upon the outcome. Even then, keep it basic.

Read the agents/publisher guidelines for guidance. Some want the style of your project reflected (like my outline); therefore, it becomes a mini-version of the story with the same feel, word choices and emotional impact.

Others prefer a summarized report of what happens. Why and how the story is resolved. Clean, direct and sometimes dry. This one is more about the events than about writing style.

It’s a good idea to write one of each. There will be enough to worry about without adding unnecessary stress when submitting. Be kind to yourself.

Remember that a synopsis is not a book blurb (and you might as well write one of them as well). But the blurb is another beast, it is designed to prompt your reader once the cover has caught their eye.

Addition: If you use The Query Shark method, then the blurb is your query letter. Here’s the link for more on that.

To stay on track while summarizing, many write a logline. A single sentence description of the work. This is good too and could be punched up for later—twitter pitches, etc.

Formats demands vary so always check the submission guidelines. If none are available, it is safe to use what is suggested below.

One page or less general format: Single spaced with line space between paragraphs. Otherwise same as below.

Two pages or more general format: Third Person. Present tense. Double spaced. Align left. All margins 1.25 inches. Indent 0.5 inches. No spaces between paragraphs. Times New Roman, black, 12-point font. Use all caps for the first appearance of major characters. Header should include: left side only, author’s last name, title (or key words) synopsis, and page number if there is more than one.

Brenda Drake also says to include a hook as the first paragraph. Answer the question: What makes your story unique? She suggests finding and including that special something that sets a story apart from the rest. If you don’t use this in your synopsis, consider including it within the query letter.

Just a thought.

Do you have any tips that may help? I’m all ears.

Gleaned from:

Toolbox 20: Say, what?

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


Does anyone else have trouble finding/sharing/maintaining a narrative voice?

It’s supposed to be familiar. Similar to our speaking voice.

Easily recognized by tone, phrasing, and specific word choices.

Some might recognize our voice by the abundance of profanity—think Margo in The Magicians—or lack of it. Professor McGonagall, I’m talking about you. We may get louder the closer to heart we are, or in some cases quieter.

We might color our language with our own kind of slang. I’m thinking TV’s Buffy and Firefly. Joss Whedon was a master. Some people still use the term ‘Scooby Gang’.

Unless they’re doing a Lemony Snicket, the writer shares as much about their likes and dislikes as the characters. Examples: Love of Scooby Doo, or the colorful addition of human or fairy anatomy.

Whether we mean to or not, our voices can add our assumptions and prejudices. Personal perceptions can be in every descriptor. Pet peeves or favorite outlooks influence our themes. Not intentionally but naturally. The words flow from our fingers like magic because we see the world uniquely and we feel the inner need to share what we believe in.

We feel. We color. We decorate our work.

And it is glorious!

Don’t edit it out. It may bring on feelings of insecurity, a need to pull back, or worry about going too far. It’s natural because if the voice is too close to home, we feel vulnerable.

With our voice out there for everyone to read, it could be criticized. Takes bravery to put our work out there as it is.

It’s hard to stick to our decision when we seek out feedback.

But should their opinions or our inner editor squash the nuance of voice? What would Joss say to that?

“What! No Scooby Gang.”

We may choose not to be the next Joss, or Lemony. Many authors use a more neutral voice. That’s fine too. Whatever works.

You want to use your own voice? Then give yourself the freedom to say it how you see it.

Any other voices out there? How about books on the subject? Feel free to share.

Gleaned from:

Toolbox 19: Building Scenes

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


When I started writing, it was about escape. I’d leave my daily troubles behind me and visit a far off land with some far out characters. I never considered conflict or tension or any other writing convention.

I felt it was time for me to review building a basic scene. Many of you won’t need a refresher, but I did find some golden nuggets that might help any one of us.

…scenes strung together like beads on a wire, with narrative summary adding texture and color between.”

quote from Writer’s Digest.

A function of a Scene is to:

  • move the story forward
  • show cause and effect
  • reveal dilemmas and consequences
  • ensure the story is easy to follow

its Building material:

Paragraphs must not be ignored. Each starts with a topic sentence and is followed with sentences that add details, imagery, impact and emotion.

Each paragraph builds a scene block by block to its crescendo.

One Method of Writing a Scene:

1. Imagine the scene and let it play out. Do this several times increasing the tension between the players. Do not write a word until satisfied with the outcome. Make quick notes to capture the important points.

Look for the emotion driving the scene.

2. Using your emotion: Even if you’ve never experienced what is happening in the scene you’re building, there must be something somewhere that prompted a similar emotional reaction. Use it. Fill the pages not with your personal experience, but with the equivalent emotion that filled to you to bursting. This is not a time to hold back.

An example: Everyone has lost someone in some way. In your scene there is a sense of loss. Pull from the moment you discovered your loved one rejected you/died/moved away. Imagine the moment building. Feel the feelings. Let those feelings drizzle out in the scene in front of you.

3. Beginnings: As we do with sentences, changing length and style changes the pacing’s rhythm, some start organically. Many start at medias res, however, it is recommended to occasionally change-up the starting point.

Late starting points create urgency. Early starting point can create a slow burn. And jumping to a beat before the end can shock, surprise or incorporate the rule of cool.

4. Balance of action, narrative and dialogue. The balance of these elements engages the reader. However, balance is used loosely here. It may not be an exact split.

For example: A shouting match between two characters will lose its sense of urgency if its broken up with equal parts of description and narration.

*Inner thoughts—my Achilles heel—falls under this section. A personal reminder to me that unlike many authors that naturally include this, I must pepper my scenes with inner dialogue.

5. Pacing: short sentences for faster pace and urgency; longer ones for a more relaxed and slow burn. Whichever you choose keep it tight—no confusion, meandering, or overdoing it.

There is a perfect pace for each scene.

6. Endings: They can include disaster, a terrible/astonishing discovery, an unexpected chain reaction, unanswered questions or a straightforward solution. However, one player’s logical solution can easily become another’s horrific problem. Often endings take one step forward and two steps back.

This may leave an obscure future–with or without clear repercussions. The anticipated fallout encourages the reader to predict what may happen next. To find out if they are right, they  must turn the page.

All Scenes Should Have:

  • A clear goal (for each player)
  • Obstacles
  • Threat of disaster
  • Outcome that urges the reader forward

Some scenes are weak. I suggest taking a hard look at whether any scene should be deleted, or chopped up and interspersed elsewhere.

It must be revised/removed if it doesn’t:

  • Have conflict
  • Built tension
  • Have direction
  • Move the story forward
  • Contain an emotional impact
  • Show believable motivations
  • Change the overall situation

how to strengthen a Weak scene

Answering these questions may help:

  • What is the overall purpose of the scene?
  • How can the scene impact the narrative (subtle or not)?
  • What players need to be included or excluded to create tension?
  • Can changing setting (for example: marriage proposal moved from restaurant to seaside cliff) increase tension?
  • What twists can the scene produce?

Anything you’d like to add? All comments are welcome.

Gleaned from:

Toolbox 18: Third-Person Omniscient Point Of View

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


While I was soul-searching and reading about writing the mystery genre, I discovered several explanations of third-person omniscient pov.

The pros of third-person omniscient pov:

  • Narrator knows all: which is limited only by the pacing of shared information over time
  • The use of summaries, transitions and bits of telling are acceptable and encourage to maintain reasonable word count
  • Conflict shows each character’s deepest expressible traits during a scene or dramatic moment.
  • Small spurts of backstory—personal or worldwide—can introduce or quickly explain character behavior and social climate within scene.
  • The biggest advantage of the objective point of view is it allows the reader to make up their own mind about the unfolding events within the story.


  • The lack of connection and sympathy for the characters because inner thoughts are used sparingly if at all.
  • Depends completely on descriptions of body language, dialogue, and reactions to concrete details to express each character’s emotional state.

Other Cons and their solutions:

  • Head hopping an be avoided by sticking to the narrator’s pov.
  • Info dumps can be avoided by using using restraint when including transitions, backstories, and summaries. Less is more.
  • Psychic characters. Writers must remember that the narrator knows all—not the players.

Objective vs Subjective

Objective (dramatic) third-person omniscient pov is more of a fly on the wall narration. Think of watching TV or a movie. The narrator’s voice is nonexistent. Character’s emotional state is shown through stage direction, body language, concrete details, foreshadowing, flashbacks, and dialogue. No internal thoughts are shared. Emotionally charged words like felt/assumed or angry/sad are avoided.

Therefore, the reader has to determine what each character is feeling and thinking through observation alone.

Subjective point of view has a strong narrative voice. It is intrusive and can be anyone: a child, pet, ghost, etc. The whole story is filtered through the narrator’s tone, attitude and the judgment of the players.

There is less distance, because it is possible for the reader get close to and/or sympathize with the narrator. Especially when done with a slice of comedy.

Omniscient vs Limited pov

Although both are similar enough to be used (almost) the same way during a dialogue heavy scene, they have quite different advantages.

Third Person Omniscient’s descriptors are slightly different in a tell-y kind of way. They can simply state what kind of person a character is: weak but honest, harsh and cruel. It allows for quick explanations. The showing is focused on body language, dialogue, and reactions to concrete details.

Third Person Limited has more show-y descriptors. They are the observations of the protagonist and reflect as much about the person sharing as it does about the character being described. Inner thoughts are deep and limited to the observer comments.

Why consider using omniscient pov at all?

Plot driven stories aren’t completely dependent on the reader-character connection. Depending on the scope of the story your trying to tell, it may help with an unacceptably large word count. Summaries and transitions allow the reader to traverse time and space quickly and easily. It also allows the reader to engage with the story without getting confused or lost in its enormity.

Is there anything I’ve missed? Please share, I’m glad to learn more.

Gleaned from: