Like father said…

You are my son…

I will love you forever…

I will protect and provide for you…

I believed it…He lived his words.

I loved the fact he was always there…

“I will always guide you every step of the way,” the words father said.


How To Write and Revise a Novel (From a Newbie’s Perspective)

By: @DianaUrban.

The Summary of My Novel Writing Process

  • Step 1: The Outline
  • Step 2: The Vomit Draft
  • Step 3: The 2nd Draft – Editing for Story
  • Step 4: The 3rd Draft – Editing the Copy
  • Step 5: The 4th Draft – Close Beta Feedback
  • Step 6: The 5th Draft – All Beta Feedback

The Details of My Novel Writing Process

Step 1: The Outline

The outline is imperative. Some writers like to free-flow their writing and let the story form as they go. However, a solid outline lets you:

  • Understand how your story ends. How will your character get from page one to the finish line? Your characters should have some major obstacles to overcome starting from chapter one. Your outline is a map to their “survival.”
  • Keep track of your characters. My favorite novels have more than just a couple characters (think Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, etc.), and my novel has quite a few as well. It’s important to keep everyone straight and what their role will be throughout the novel.
  • Keep your characters on course. Your protagonist will need to change in some way, for better or worse. An outline lets you plan their progression.
  • Ensures you don’t forget anyone. Don’t forget about any of your characters that should have a presence throughout the whole book. You don’t want your main supporting character to go missing for six chapters (unless, of course, that’s part of the plot).
  • Keep the facts straight. As you progress through your novel, it will be easier to remember the events of earlier chapters, so you don’t have to sift through thousands of words to remember where/when something happened.

Even though I highly recommend creating an outline, there are a few points I kept in mind to keep myself from going crazy:

  • An outline is more of a guideline than rules.
  • Your novel will adapt as your characters adapt to the situations their in. And that’s ok.
  • Your ending may be completely different from the one in your outline. Again, that’s ok.
  • It’s ok to add scenes to your outline after you get started. Create your outline on your computer, rather than using pen and paper, to make it easier to insert stuff.

I did not write detailed character sheets, scene/location descriptions, etc. That’s a little too much planning for my taste, but that’s just me! I did, however, list out all the characters’ names (first and last) for easy reference, even if I never mentioned a character’s last name in the story.

Step 2: The Vomit Draft

WRITE WRITE WRITE. Get your novel out. Let your characters tell the story through your fingertips as you type away. Many authors find the blank page intimidating. IT IS. But it’s also exhilarating. Your story is yours to craft. You’re in control of this whole world and what happens to your characters.

Some helpful tips for the vomit draft:

  • Set a character target but don’t obsess over it. I set my target at 80K words. I ended up at almost 85K words by the end of the 4th draft, but my vomit draft only ended up at 74K words. In your later drafts you can add detail and color to your world while cutting a lot (we’ll get into that later).
  • You don’t have to write every day. Some authors like to set 1K or 2K word count targets per day. I didn’t. I was on a mission to write the vomit draft within one month, which I did. But I got through it with marathons and days off. Every writer is different, but after a long and stressful day at work, there were some days I couldn’t muster up the strength to keep looking at a computer monitor (and I’m not a morning person). I did most of my writing on the weekend; I wrote something like 30K words in one weekend — it was the last 3rd of the book, including the climax, so it was easy to just keep going.
  • Don’t believe in writer’s block. Staring at a blank screen is the worst. So don’t let the blank screen happen. How? Don’t skip step #1. Your outline is your first line of defense against writer’s block. If you don’t know how to start one scene, skip to the next until you get inspired. Never use writer’s block as an excuse for not writing one day. There are plenty other things in life that will get in the way

Quick note about Steps 3-5: they can happen simultaneously. For example, I did not complete draft #2 of the entire novel before proceeding to draft #3. Sometimes I did #2 and #3 of the same chapter back-to-back. Sometimes I’d do #2 of five chapters, then #3 of those five chapters. Other times I’d do #2, #3, and #4 of the same chapter at once.

Step 3: The Second Draft – Editing for Story

Some writers advise you to put down your novel for six weeks before proceeding to the second draft. I did not do this, and I personally wouldn’t recommend it. I wanted to continue while draft one was fresh in my brain, and I could remember all the changes I knew I wanted to make by the time I reached the end.

This draft is all about fixing the story, eliminating plot holes, adding detail to characters and scenes, and deepening dialogue. It’s not about perfecting sentences or fixing your typos. During draft two, I often rewrote entire chapters, or entire action sequences, or entire conversations. My writing had improved by the last third of my vomit draft, so I rewrote a lot of the first half of the novel.

The second draft is also where you can “show, don’t tell.” If you find a paragraph (or five) explaining something that happened between now and your last chapter, nix those paragraphs and craft a scene or dialogue where you make that thing happen.

Step 4: The Third Draft – Editing the Copy

Now that your story is set, it’s time to add detail, but more importantly, CUT words. This is pretty time-consuming and takes several hours per chapter. I will get into more detail in future posts, but here are the basics:

  • Eliminate needless elements. Cut sentences or paragraphs that don’t further the story, provide extra detail, or make sense.
  • Make your verbs stronger. Did your character walk into the room? Or did they stride into the room? Or amble into the room? Or tripped into the room? Making your verbs stronger will help you eliminate pesky adverbs that slow down your writing.
  • Cut the he said she said. The context of the dialogue should let the reader know who’s speaking. You can also add action between the dialogue.
  • Cut weak words: just, probably, that, definitely, literally, certainly, absolutely, etc. etc.
  • Cut character points of view that slow down the story. Don’t say, “Bob looked in the window and saw that Mary was watering her plants.” Instead, say, “Mary watered her plants.”
  • Cut passive voice. Most of your sentences should have a subject followed by a verb. Don’t say, “The apple was picked up the girl in the yellow frock.” Instead, say, “The girl in the yellow frock picked up an apple.” Or better yet, “The girl picked up an apple, her yellow frock whipping in the wind.”

These are cheesy examples, but you get the point. More details to come in later posts! In this draft, you should also fix any typos and grammar mistakes you find.

Again, my target length was 80K words, my 1st draft was 74K words, and my 3rd draft was 85K words. I cut a LOT from the 1st draft during the 3rd draft, but I added detail and conversations (“show, don’t tell”) in the 2nd draft, which is why my 3rd draft ended up being 11K longer than the first.

Step 5: The Fourth Draft – Close Beta Reader

Find someone you trust to be your first beta reader. This person should:

  • Be willing to invest some serious time in reading your chapters as you finish the third draft within a short timeframe.
  • Be accessible to you. Ideally, live nearby, or be available by phone on a regular basis.
  • Be good at giving critical, honest feedback.
  • Have a solid grasp of the English language and/or English literature.
  • Be a good writer themselves (not required, but helpful)

In my case, my first beta reader was my husband Bryan. Here was our process:

  • I sent him each chapter as I finished the 3rd draft in a Word doc.
  • He used track changes to provide comments, make typo edits, etc.
  • He emailed each chapter back to me and sat with me as I read through his notes, asked questions, etc. We’d talk about plot points and whether things the characters said made sense, how to make the scene stronger, etc. Having someone to bounce ideas off of made my story so much stronger.
  • I manually made all edits in Scrivener (so I never used the track changes “Accept Change” feature).

Step 6: The Fifth Draft – All Beta Readers

Yesterday, I sent the novel to eight beta readers (including my parents, in-laws, a couple friends, and a fellow writer). They will help me find typos and give me any other feedback they come up with so I can make my novel as strong as possible before sending it off to the agents.

Next up will be agent research and writing the queries, and then I’ll complete the fifth and final draft based on my beta readers’ feedback. I’m all about efficiency. I hope this helped someone out there! Please feel free to leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.


Early Reading and Writing Development

By Froma P. Roth, Ph.D, CCC-SLP and Diane R. Paul, Ph.D, CCC-SLP

Children start to learn language from the day they are born. As they grow and develop, their speech and language skills become increasingly more complex. They learn to understand and use language to express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings, and to communicate with others. During early speech and language development, children learn skills that are important to the development of literacy (reading and writing). This stage, known as emergent literacy, begins at birth and continues through the preschool years.

Children see and interact with print (e.g., books, magazines, grocery lists) in everyday situations (e.g., home, in preschool, and at daycare) well before they start elementary school. Parents can see their child’s growing appreciation and enjoyment of print as he or she begins to recognize words that rhyme, scribble with crayons, point out logos and street signs, and name some letters of the alphabet. Gradually, children combine what they know about speaking and listening with what they know about print and become ready to learn to read and write.

Are Spoken Language and Literacy Connected?

Yes. The experiences with talking and listening gained during the preschool period prepare children to learn to read and ite during the early elementary school years. This means that children who enter school with weaker verbal abilities are much more likely to experience difficulties learning literacy skills than those who do not.

One spoken language skill that is strongly connected to early reading and writing is phonological awareness — the recognition that words are made up of separate speech sounds, for example, that the word dog is composed of three sounds: /d/, /o/, /g/. There are a variety of oral language activities that show children’s natural development of phonological awareness, including rhyming (e.g., “cat-hat”) and alliteration (e.g., “big bears bounce on beds”), and isolating sounds (“Mom, /f/ is the first sound in the word fish”).

As children playfully engage in sound play, they eventually learn to segment words into their separate sounds, and “map” sounds onto printed letters, which allows them to begin to learn to read and write. Children who perform well on sound awareness tasks become successful readers and writers, while children who struggle with such tasks often do not.

Who is at Risk?

There are some early signs that may place a child at risk for the acquisition of literacy skills. Preschool children with speech and language disorders often experience problems learning to read and write when they enter school. Other factors include physical or medical conditions (e.g., preterm birth requiring placement in a neonatal intensive care unit, chronic ear infections, fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy), developmental disorders (e.g., mental retardation, autism spectrum), poverty, home literacy environment, and family history of language or literacy disabilities.

Early Warning Signs

Signs that may indicate later reading and writing and learning problems include persistent baby talk, absence of interest in or appreciation for nursery rhymes or shared book reading, difficulty understanding simple directions, difficulty learning (or remembering) names of letters, failure to recognize or identify letters in the child’s own name.

Role of the Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have a key role in promoting the emergent literacy skills of all children, and especially those with known or suspected literacy-related learning difficulties. The SLP may help to prevent such problems, identify children at risk for reading and writing difficulties, and provide intervention to remediate literacy-related difficulties. Prevention efforts involve working in collaboration with families, other caregivers, and teachers to ensure that young children have high quality and ample opportunities to participate in emergent literacy activities both at home and in daycare and preschool environments. SLPs also help older children or those with developmental delays who have missed such opportunities. Children who have difficulty grasping emergent literacy games and activities may be referred for further assessment so that intervention can begin as early as possible to foster growth in needed areas and increase the likelihood of successful learning and academic achievement.

Early Intervention Is Critical

Emergent literacy instruction is most beneficial when it begins early in the preschool period because these difficulties are persistent and often affect children’s further language and literacy learning throughout the school years. Promoting literacy development, however, is not confined to young children. Older children, particularly those with speech and language impairments, may be functioning in the emergent literacy stage and require intervention aimed at establishing and strengthening these skills that are essential to learning to read and write.

What Parents Can Do

You can help your child develop literacy skills during regular activities without adding extra time to your day. There also are things you can do during planned play and reading times. Show your children that reading and writing are a part of everyday life and can be fun and enjoyable. Activities for preschool children include the following:

  • Talk to your child and name objects, people, and events in the everyday environment.
  • Repeat your child’s strings of sounds (e.g., “dadadada, bababa”) and add to them.
  • Talk to your child during daily routine activities such as bath or mealtime and respond to his or her questions.
  • Draw your child’s attention to print in everyday settings such as traffic signs, store logos, and food containers.
  • Introduce new vocabulary words during holidays and special activities such as outings to the zoo, the park, and so on.
  • Engage your child in singing, rhyming games, and nursery rhymes.
  • Read picture and story books that focus on sounds, rhymes, and alliteration (words that start with the same sound, as found in Dr. Seuss books).
  • Reread your child’s favorite book(s).
  • Focus your child’s attention on books by pointing to words and pictures as you read.
  • Provide a variety of materials to encourage drawing and scribbling (e.g., crayons, paper, markers, finger paints).
  • Encourage your child to describe or tell a story about his/her drawing and write down the words.

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What Is Dyslexia? | Child Psychology

Dyslexia is a very common term that I often hear parents use. Dyslexia actually means a reading disorder or a reading disability. Problems include difficulties with reading comprehension and understanding the main idea of what they’re reading. Dyslexia is never a vision problem. It’s just a difficulty with processing and understanding aspects of sound and language. There are many different strategies to help a child improve their problems with reading, such as specialized interventions in reading remediation, speech and language therapies, and a combination of both oftentimes. Children can definitely improve their reading skills and abilities with reading tutors, reading coaches. There are very specialized speech and language therapists that can also help strengthen a child’s reading skills. First their Dyslexia has to be diagnosed, which can be done through the collaboration of teachers, school psychologists, and a clinical professional. So these are some of the key concepts in understanding a reading disorder or Dyslexia.

3 Top Tips: Develop A Money-Making Writing Process

By Angela Booth


One of the most popular questions I receive concerns the writing process. It may be phrased as: “how do I write every day?”, or similarly. I always respond with another question: “what’s your goal?” Writing every day won’t help if you haven’t set any goals. So set some goals for your writing first.

Now let’s look at several tips for creating a writing process which helps you to make money, no matter what your writing goals happen to be.

What’s your current writing process?

To be able to change something, you need to know what it is that you want to change. Perhaps you procrastinate so that you write very little, or you feel that you don’t have enough time to write anything, or you’re frightened of writing because when you do write something you think that it’s rubbish… It doesn’t matter.

Grab a sheet of paper, or a sticky note (write on paper, so that you can paste the paper onto your car dashboard, or onto your bathroom mirror), and write down your current writing process in a sentence or two. Be honest. If you’re writing for ten minutes on a Sunday, or 20 minutes during your lunch hour at work, write that.

Try these tips…

1. WRITE ANYWAY. Because… Guess what? You’re probably never going to feel like writing every day

I love Mel Robbins’s book, Stop Saying You’re Fine: Discover a More Powerful You. She suggests that in any area of your life that you want to change, you must do the things that you don’t want to do.

Simple… But far from easy.

Whenever you don’t want to write for whatever reason — write anyway.

Over the past few months, I’ve moved myself and my business across the country, and I’ve found it very hard to write. I’m always suggesting DDT (do, don’t think) to my students, and it was time to put that into action myself.

Writing’s such a habit for me that I always write. However, without my comfy office, and a proper Internet connection, it was all too easy to convince myself that I had other things to do which were more important than writing. When I did get around to writing, instead of working on client projects, I amused myself by writing what I wanted to write (novels), rather than what I had to write.

Basically, I didn’t feel like writing, so I wrote for fewer hours than I normally do, and much less than I normally do. I had to remind my self to DDT, and to convince myself to write what I didn’t particularly want to write.

2. CREATE A WRITING SPACE, and close the door

If you don’t have a space that’s just for writing, choose one. Put some thought into it. This will be your “writing” space. You’ll train yourself that this space means writing to you, and nothing else.

Ensure that your chosen space has a lock on the door, good lighting, a comfortable chair, and a desk. You may not have these essentials (yet). Make do with what you have. Always go to your “writing” space when you want/ need to write.

If you’re easily distracted, turn off your Internet connection, so that you’re not tempted with Facebook, or online games, or whatever your favorite online activity happens to be.

Set up your space exactly the way you want it. Then, when it’s time to write, go to your space.

Perhaps you can only write during your lunch hour at work. In this situation, you’ll need to create a mental oasis. Imagine yourself in your perfect space: a large library, with lots of shelves, a huge desk…

3. MODEL A WRITER YOU ADMIRE: see yourself writing successfully

Which writers do you admire? Find a writing hero — someone who’s doing what you’d love to do, and then model that person. (To model someone is basically to do what they do.)

The Internet is amazing. Writers share their stories, and their processes, so you should be able to find any number of models who successfully write what you want to write.

Obviously, you can’t model your model’s successes. Your successes will be different from your hero’s successes. You’re modeling what your hero does.

Back to your sticky note…

Did you write your current writing process on your sticky note? If not, do that now.

Next, find your writing model. You may find that your model spends four hours every morning writing his books, and the afternoon hours reading and researching.

Don’t quit your day job to model this writer.

Instead, pay attention to the overall process: writing, reading, researching. If you follow that process, sooner or later you’ll get results.

Write “writing, reading, research” on your sticky note. All three (or however many elements there are with your model) are important. Include all the elements in your writing process.

When you don’t feel like writing, write anyway

It’s easy to become distracted — I’ve discovered that. If you find that you’re distracted, and you don’t feel like writing, sit down in your writing space, and write anyway. Within ten minutes, your mood will pass. On some days, it won’t pass. You’ll be very distracted — the same applies. Write anyway.

Over time, your writing space will have a Pavlovian effect on you. You’ll start writing as soon as you sit down and open your computer.

Your next step

Grab your sticky note, and choose a model. Then… write..


Writing a Novel in 15 Steps: From Initial Idea to Querying

It occurred to me that while I’ve written several posts about the various steps that go into writing a novel from brainstorming to surviving the query trenches, I never really discussed the order, or the step-by-step process of writing a book from initial idea to searching for representation.
While every writer works a little differently, I’ve decided to share my general process from start to finish to give you an idea as to what usually goes into polishing a novel to completion—at least, how I handle it. 

    1. The spark. This is the initial idea—the bubble of excitement combined with the whisper of a line, shadow of a scene, glimpse of a world, or wink of a character. This is the moment when you dare to think maybe this could be a novel and everything changes.


    1. Brainstorming/Outlining. How you outline or brainstorm will depend on whether you’re a pantser or a plotter. I’ve done both sides of the spectrum, and I’ve found that I work really well by outlining with flashcards on Scrivener’s cork board, so after I’ve brainstormed some general plot ideas and I’m happy with what I have, I open up a new Scrivener project and start working. This is usually the step where I’ll decide whether or not the idea is novel-worthy.


    1. First draft. Ahh, the first draft. The exciting, terrifying, wonderful, exhausting first draft. I’m a fast drafter, so this usually takes me anywhere from three and a half to six weeks, depending on the length of the WIP and whether or not I outlined. To me, this is in many ways the hardest part, because you are, in essence, making the clay that you will later refine into a polished story. Pre-first draft, all you have are a bunch of ideas, but post-first draft you have a novel.


    1. Cooling off period. Sometimes, when I’m especially eager to get to editing, this step actually feels harder than the first drafting—even though it involves literally doing nothing. But the cooling off period is so important for reasons I’ve already talked about. I don’t recommend skipping this step, but everyone works differently.


    1. First read-through. I’ve found that the first read-through can either be crazy exciting, or horrifically disappointing. Either way, if you intend to release this novel to the world, the first read-through is unavoidable, and very important. I take notes when working through my first read-through and usually read it in a medium that doesn’t allow me to edit, like printed off or exported as an e-book.


    1. Second draft. Whatever notes I made in the first read-through—now it’s time to implement them. This is where I try to address major issues like plot problems, continuity errors or novel-wide enhancements that are needed to make the book semi-presentable.


    1. Read-aloud. I read aloud to my oh so lucky (and extraordinarily generous) first reader. Technically, you don’t need to read to anyone to get the benefits from reading aloud, but my first reader gives me a little extra feedback to help gauge what still needs fixing. The main point of the read-aloud, however, is to feel the flow of the writing, catch errors and gauge what’s working and what isn’t. I try to pay attention to where the pacing is off, where the dialogue sounds strange and where it’s easy to put the book down.


    1. CP swap/cooling off period. I’ve talked about how important beta readers and critique partners are, and this is where they first come into play. Once I’ve gone through the aforementioned steps and I’m relatively satisfied (meaning I’m aware it’s nowhere near perfection, but I’m not embarrassed to share it), I’ll let my CPs know what stage the book is in and start swapping chapters or whole manuscripts. This also acts as a cooling off period, because I’m spending some time focusing on something else (ergo: the CP’s MS).


    1. Third draft. Now that I have feedback from a couple CPs, I’ll start incorporating the changes into draft three. Depending on how the swapping goes, I may do this simultaneously with the CP swap (in which case I sort of skip the second cooling off period), but this varies case by case.


    1. CP swap/cooling off period (again). For some final feedback to see how well the revisions did (or didn’t) work.


    1. Final edit/polish. Using the final feedback and my own discretion, it’s now time for the final polish. This is where I tend to get nit-picky about word choice, placement of analogies, awkward wording and paragraph length. Sometimes, this can be the most intensive editing step, because it involves analyzing every single sentence. 


  1. Synopsis/query/pitch drafting. The polish is done! Yay! Now for my favorite step—synopsis and query drafting. This tweet basically sums up my feelings for this step.