How to Develop Your Characters on a Deeper Level

Many authors turn their main characters into reflections of themselves.

Now, before I go any further, let me clarify that, yes, each and every character you write about will in some way reflect yourself. You can’t help it. You can’t stop it. Every experience you have had up till this point will imprint your characters, from how you view colors to religion. It is somewhat foolish to think you can completely detach your mindset from your characters.

Okay. So we know that wholly detaching ourselves from our character is impossible. What can we do?

Characters are limbs.

Think of characters as an extension of yourself. Your hands are nothing like your eyes. If you showed a hypothetical alien who had never seen a human a picture of hands and eyes, the alien may think they are two different organisms. That’s what you want to do with characters. They will have bits and pieces of you in there (even if your character’s views contradict your own, it is still a contradiction of you), so your goal is to make the characters developed enough to stand as their own being separate. You are the mind of these characters, and your blood will pump through them but they can look different and act different.

So how can we do this?

We certainly don’t want flat and uncomplicated characters whose stereotypical personalities become predictable, cliché, and boring.

We don’t want spaz-monkeys whose emotional development and decisions don’t make any sense.

Most (and I say most here because some authors have found success doing this, though I don’t recommend it) don’t want characters who are “empty shells” the reader gets to identify with and pour his or her own personality into.

There’s a plethora of suggestions on how to lift characters off the page. Why? Because readers want “real” characters who and come to life before their eyes and seem so real they’re like a friend (or enemy). In most cases, if you have a great character the plot doesn’t matter as much. Character driven stories tend to be more successful and stick with a reader longer. In the writing world, many will agree that characters are “king” (or queen).

As an author, you have to create another person. And, generally, multiple people because books tend to have more than one character. This person should think differently and view the world differently than you (at least some of them should). So, after you plan out your characters however you plan out your characters (mock scenarios, those charts people fill out (If NAME was a color, what color would s/he be?)), take a personality test for the character.

What? A personality test?

Yep. According to psychologist’s (really, one of the founders of the study of psychology) Carl Jung, everyone can be broken down into 16 different personality types. Each type reacts to situations and views the world differently.

So . . . take the test for yourself. See which of the 16 personalities you are. Then, take the test for your characters. First, make sure your characters have a variety of the 16 types (note: if they all got your type, you may want to revise your character). Then, read the breakdown of each type your characters got. This will give you a better understanding of how they think and will help fine-tune them from “flat” to “real”.

Taking these tests for your characters also challenges you and forces you to really get inside a character’s mind. Give it a try. You can find dozens of these tests online if you type “myers briggs personality test” or something of the like into Google (or the search engine of your choice). I do, however, recommend you take the same test for each character. All the tests will asks different questions and you’re more likely to get clearer results (speaking in terms of better understanding and differentiating your characters) if you use the same test.

Let me know how it works out!


Smooth as Glass

Smooth as glass. Ha. What a hilarious comparison. Glass sure doesn’t feel smooth when it breaks your skin open. Now blood, that stuff is sticky. And when blood covers a jagged piece of glass, it’s just a mess. Funny that’s what I think about as my brother dies in my arms. Does that make me a horrible person? Probably.


            Half the people in the cathedral flinch. The others don’t care anymore. Dull-eyed, they just wait. The Visine will break in soon. With the windows blown out and the door giving way, our time has run out. That’s okay with me. I’m sick of running, fleeing from continent to continent, traveling across oceans, and even flying on dragons to get away. If the Visine want to kill us so badly, just let them. I’m done.

And so is my brother. The glass shattered over his head went the windows broke. Little pieces still pierce his flesh; like a prevented star they catch the sunlight and reflect it into this dark room. But one shard punctured his inner thigh, right on the vein. He ripped it out before I could tell him not too. He’s bleeding out and all I can do is watch. Won’t be long now.

“Kierk?” he whispers. I lean closer to him.


“I can see them. Ma and Da. Juali too.”

I frown. His brain’s going with his blood. No one can see the dead. I lost the rest of my family a while ago. I’d never see them again. Nothing happens after death. You just vanish like a fire, here then gone. Some believe otherwise. I had, before the Visine decided all Fleours must die. And all because we look different and believe in a different god—one I don’t even believe in anymore.

My brother pales and pales, a faint smile on his lips. “Ma,” he says. “Da. Juali.” He looks up, fingers stretching towards something. He’s too weak to move his arms. Then, I watch it happen. His eyes flutter once, twice, and close.

They won’t open again. I know that.
I pull his body close, hugging him. I’ll probably die before it turns cold.

I close my eyes. What’s the point in keeping them open?

I keep them tight and see only darkness. I hear breathing around me, heavy, quick. Some people whisper. One child cries. Otherwise it’s silent. In that silence, I can hear my memories, see them. I run across the lawn with my little siblings. I am the dragon who swoops down and pretends to eat them. Hah. Not such a funny memory now. But they laugh and laugh while a pretend dragon pretends to eat them. Who knew it could be so much fun. I can almost hear their laughter now. Geez those two irritated me, clinging to my legs all the time, asking about this or that. Boy, hindsight is great. What I wouldn’t do for them to ask me something now; I’d even cry with joy if they threw a tantrum over something stupid. Being persecuted really makes you re-think life.

How differently I would have lived if I knew then what I do now.

Now all I’ve got left is however long it takes for the Visine army to break down the door and slaughter one more group of Fleourien survivors.

I run into the darkness around me towards the memories floating just around my thoughts. I embrace them and slip into a dream. I won’t wake up. And, like my brother, I’ll join my family now and share a last few moments with them before I die and become nothing. False moments, sure, old moments, but still.

So that was a little depressing; I apologies for that. I didn’t mean to write something so dismal, it just happened. I got caught between deciding if I should write a novel, novella, or short story out of this scene. But, it ended up just being a flash fiction. I’m not a “gardener” in my writing style, so this will probably remain a depressing piece of flash fiction. But, how knows. These characters may come back and haunt me until I write about them. I just have two major problems with that. One: I can’t leave the bad guys as Visine–which I named after the eye drops one my bed . . . yeah. Two: I don’t know where this story goes. Kierk (the narrator) could go anywhere. I thought about having someone from the future come back and ask him if he wants to try again. I thought about having the Visine outside the door attacked and Kierk and the Fleouriens surviving, forcing him to learn how to live without his family. I thought about letting him go back in to the memories and leading the reader to this point (I sure want to know about how he got away from the Visine). Alas, I, nor anyone but Kierk and his family, will probably ever know. All those possibilities seemed too cliché and predictable for me.

Anyways, if you have any questions about it, let me know. And I’d love to know how others felt about it. I don’t typical write about atheist characters so I wanted to challenge myself.

How Much Attention Should You Give Your Worlds? Advice for crazy people aka Fantasy Novelists

“How developed should my world be?” is a question many fantasy writers have posed, and with good reason. In some fantasy novels, multiple countries, continents, or even dimensions exist. As an author, you want the world to feel real, to be real in your and the reader’s minds, but you don’t have thousands of years to build a culture (this blog post doesn’t necessarily have to be just for fantasy writers, but that is what I write and understand best, so I will always just refer (default?) to fantasy. This advice can be applied to any genre, really).

So . . . how crazy should you go? You could invent language (or several) like Tolkien and proceed to put entire songs in that lovely language in the book or every article of clothing to have ever existed in the world like Jordan seems to do (for the record, I am a massive Tolkien fan and fan of Wheel of Time as well. Who doesn’t love reading poems in elvish or what Rand and everyone in the room is wearing?). You could develop certain aspects–religion, education, history, gender roles, architecture, literature, science, government, food, fashion—the list could go on and on and on—in great detail and leave others more vague. You’re trying to build a world, and entire culture when you probably don’t even know everything about your own, let alone others, let alone inventing one, or several.

That’s the key: you don’t know everything. Your readers don’t need to know everything about your countries or cultures either. They need to feel submersed in a world, but trust me (as an fantasy fan) when I saw they do not want every . . .itty-bitty . . . detail of your cultures and world. Weaving culture in, making it seem natural to the characters while still teaching the readers about it and enough of it to make it seem real, that’s the key. Easy, right? Well, no, but it is fun.

As far as how much world you should “build”, that’s up to you. How much do you want? Do you want to do. You can go crazy and create every itty-bitty detail; you can focus on the aspects important to the story, character, or what interests to you (for example, I enjoy detail the religion, art, and gender roles of my worlds); you can focus on the things that might seem radically different from our culture and let the readers fill in the familar–you can do whatever you want. You’re the author, after all. However, a good rule of thumb I learned from watching Brandon Sanderson lectures (DO THIS. If you want to write fantasy, just type in “Brandon Sanderson lectures in a Youtube search. The man can break down books and teach you how to do a better your writing (the entire process) without telling the “right” or “wrong” way to do it) is that you should build about 20% of the world (the tip of the ice burg) and leave the other 80% for the reader to imagine on their own, just dropping hints here and there. Let them create a bit of this world themselves, let their imaginations run wild and truly make your story their own.

For all my dear gardeners, I am obviously an architect. I plot like crazy before I write. If you just let the words take you places, then let the world take you places too. Just make sure you edit once you’re done so the world stays consistent.

One quick tip (not so quick, but still important) before I’m done. If you decide to add something radical to your world, make sure you outthink the reader as to how this “thing” would change every day life. Take magic for example. If you have magic people who control the elements (Avatar The Last Airbender (which is highly recommended form me) is a great example of this) , make sure the characters’ everyday life is affected by this. If everyone can control water, are there firemen? Do they have showers or baths? Do people drown? Do people use water to drown others? Have boats been invented? Wells? Does this extend to controlling blood? Can you stop a wound with it? Make someone your puppet? You have to decide how the world changes around the differences you’ve added into it. Obviously you can’t catch everything or consider every possibility, but your goal is to make sure you think of more than your reader. It’s okay for them to think of a few things, but try to catch the obvious implications and a few of the more detailed one. You can always guide your reader into a certain implication. If you had your “thing” change the world in this radical way, the reader may think of another but still find how you thought this “thing” changed the world was interesting.

As always, feel free to ask questions! I think I might start asking you questions at the ends of future posts. For example; how do you build your worlds (how exciting was that!!)?

Lastly, I can’t be the only person who thinks of Cowboy Bebop when the “beep beep beep” text it shows when you’re getting ready to post.

See you space Cowboy . . .

Iron & Glass, the author’s journey (part 13)

My book is out! You can buy it here and then review it on Goodreads here. It will be available on Amazon soon too. Anyone who buys the books gets a digital cookie. Anyone who reviews it gets a digital hug.


Anyways. Is it bad I officially begged for people to buy it on the 13 post of this series . . .?

Remember when I said Iron & Glass had over 800 songs on its “soundtrack”? Well, I thought I’d post some of the songs I believe truly epitomize the book—which is now out (go buy it!)

I’m also sick . . . so I think any writing “advice” I’d give out today would end up sounding something between a drunk money or high elephant.

Without furthur ado . . .( in no particular order)

“Near Death Experience Experience” – Andrew Bird

“Uprooted”- The Antlers

“Safe & Sound” – Electric President

“Like Lavender” – Horse Feathers

“Promise” – Ben Howard

“Wonder Woman, Wonder Me” – Kishi Bashi

“The Violet Hour” – Civil Wars

“Ring of Magic” – Gary Stadler

“I Remember” – Whitley

“Watch for Out Lights” – Young Magic

“What if the Storm Ends” – Snow Patrol

“Fin (full version)” – Anberlin

Iron & Glass, the author’s journey (part 12)

Finish it!

That’s right!! Since Iron & Glass comes out next week this blog series is almost over (oh no!). I will, of course, have a few more (maybe five? probably less) directly related to the book (in theory) after it is out. Also, I will answer any questions anyone has about the book once it comes out. But I won’t give spoilers away.

Anyways, now is not the time to talk about the finale our fabulous journey together, not yet. And don’t worry too much; I’ll keep posting about other things. If anyone ever has a question about the “writer’s journey” or whatever just let me know

Back to business.

I almost wanted to save this theme for the last blog in the series, but that seemed cliché. So, what are we talking about today? Endings! I’m pretty sure I’ve covered beginnings (maybe I’ll do middles? that kind of falls under moving the plot forward . . . ).

So, how do you end a story? Bowtie? Bittersweet? Totally depressing? Cliffhanger? So many options (more than I just listed here)! But which one do you pick for your story?

Personally, I think it depends on three things:

1: The tone

2: The genre

3: Your personal taste

Tone and genre play into this but you’re the author. If you want a bowtie fantasy (Eragon?) go for it. Now bowtie dystopian may be stretching it. But, technically, you can end it with rampaging elephants farting rainbows that poison the air and kill everyone—not that I recommend it. Remember that you can end it however you want but if you want people to read it you might want to consider tone and genre (do remember you can play with expectation here too).

Your book (should) has a genre and tone that probably fits the genre. A comedy could take a sad turn and end on a bittersweet note; a fantasy usually ends with something/one defeated—at a steep price, obviously— and hope for the future; YA ends on cliffhangers (usually) unless it’s the last book and then who knows with all the subgenres it has.

Anyways, sadder stories should have sadder endings and so on. It wouldn’t make sense for a lighthearted Chick Lit to end with the protagonist’s sister dying while her lover leaves to fight in a war or something. Ending on a 180 turn from the tone will confuse the reader. “Savvy” readers will expect a certain ending within genres (who wants a fantasy to end all happy-dappy with roses and true love and victory without much cost? Not me!)

(remember you can play with expectations!)

Readers will also pick up on your story’s tone and start to expect a certain ending. Imagine The Hunger Games ending with Katniss deciding the future looks awesome and skipping through a field of flowers with Gale on one arm and Peeta on the other (a bit of an exaggeration, but do you get the point?)? Think about Harry Potter ending with Voldemort’s victory?

We can agree the overall tone should have an appropriate ending (please remember that doesn’t mean your story’s tone can’t change or evolve, just don’t’ “evolve” the tone in the last three pages . . .).

Don’t forget the “you” part. If you like a particular ending—and if it isn’t too far-fetched from the rest of the story—go ahead and end it that way. I personally like bittersweet ending; characters have gained something through loss and can look forward (isn’t life like that?). I don’t do long conclusions (usually a short (5 pages or less) chapter). I want my characters to have gained something but never without a price. And I always want to conclude that chapter of their lives and the stories main conflict.

Let me explain.

The ending should resolve the story’s major plot points. If you want to write a sequel, leave it open ended, but the novel should conclude something. I’m not saying you have too, some authors don’t. If nothing gets wrapped up, I personally feel cheated, like I wasted my time. I hate (dislike?) “happily ever afters ” where everything is supposed to be roses from now on. I think possibilities should always be left open. Life doesn’t stop (unless you kill everyone/protagonist). A part of someone’s life can end, but that doesn’t they end.

Does that make sense?

There are plenty of ending types I didn’t discuses. I could do an entire series on endings. This is just some general device.

I’m obviously not going to tell you how I ended Iron & Glass, but, if you read it, I’ll answer any questions you have about it.

Lastly, I’ll be having a party of Twitter on Thursday (the 11th , people) at 8:45 pm EST (with the rest of the Miss Millennia Magazine team (my publishers) so come join us! I’d love to chat with some of you guys. It will be a free-range-ask-me-whatever-the-hell-you-want! Fun, right?

Of course . . . you can always do that on the blog . . . but then this will be live!




(good night)

(yea! my basic Japanese skills!)



Iron & Glass, the author’s journey (part 11)

Setting the Mood (doesn’t that sound sexy?)

(Sorry I’m late. Life is kicking my butt right now. But I finally got part 11 up! I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but if anyone has a topic they want me to cover to just let me know.)

Everything thing has (or should have) a “mood”. People behave differently at the beach, work, the mall, church, and so on. Having an appropriate atmosphere helps people decide the expected behavior in each setting. Sandy beaches help people to relax and wear underwear without shame (okay, that’s a bit of a joke. But, really, swimwear is an acceptable form of mild nudity. Kind of interesting if you think about it, but I’m getting off topic). An white-walled office with a desk, computer, and chair makes people focus and social correct and polite.

Surprise, surprise, writing follows the same concept.

When you’re writing your story, set the “mood” around you to fit the story you’re writing. Some writers have a room they decorate to fit the genre of book they usually write. Some—like George R. R. Martin—have a separate house for writing. Now, most of us want-to-be authors can’t afford that, but there are still ways we can creating a writing space for ourselves and a “mood” for our stories.

First: find a writing place. Try to write in the same place every time and try not to do anything else in that space. That will train your brain that this is where you write, where you creative juices flow.

I like to write in my bedroom, legs crossed, and in the middle of my bed. I can see out the window and into the little woods behind my house. My room is also the most private place I have access to. I can lock the door or tape up a little sign that says: “writing: please don’t disturb”. Or something. Anyways, it creates a calm environment where I easily slip into “writing mode”. Ideally, I would write outside. However, it rains too much, and the weather changes would prevent me from writing 6 months a year . I will, however, often plot and develop characters and worlds outside.

For your own personal writing place, I  suggest a room with decorations that might help inspire your story (my room looks like a combination of a forest, an Elvish palace, with a bit of Native American flare, or like I’m a world traveler (which, sadly, isn’t true), which works well since I usually write fantasy). If you don’t have an appropriate room, a) find a room where you can find peace and quiet to write for long periods of interrupted time or b) find a room with virtually no decorations. Why? Because if it isn’t going to help set the mood, don’t let it become a detriment to it either.

For example, when I lived in Michigan (Go Lions!) my brother had a crazy bedroom. He had one bright red and two bright blue walls accompanied with one checker-patterned wall. As a little boy, he loved it. He also went to public school while I was homeschooled, which meant he gone while I was home. I shared a room with my homeschooled sister, so his room was often empty and mine wasn’t. I could have written in his room, but the decorations would have been a destructive to my story’s mood.

So, find a non-detrimental, quiet place to write. Or, if you have the room (and money), create one with an atmosphere to make your story(its).

Part two (I guess?): setting the stories mood.

Another simple, easy way to set the story’s mood is music. Please, please, please create a playlist for your story. Listen to music the people in your story might like, or what might get played in your story’s soundtrack if it ever became a movie. You’d be surprised how much this helps you.

What if you don’t have the music?

Well, Youtube is your best friend. Create a playlist there. Or use a website like Pandora and tailor it to your stories mood.

What is your stories mood? Well, that’s an entirely different idea. I won’t go into that here.

As always, I’m happy to answer questions.

Once again, you can pre-order Iron & Glass now!

Oh, yeah, Iron & Glass has a playlist. It’s 838 songs! (crazy, right?) I might go ahead and post some of it on here later. Let me know if that would interest anyone.

Iron & Glass, the author’s journey (part 10)

Moving the plot 


I probably could’ve thought of a more creative title, but . . .its my second week back in school. My head hurts.

Anyways. Plot. It seems so easy to craft a plot. Introduce characters. Introduce conflict. Rising action. Climax. Fall action. Right?

Well . . . it is not that simple.

Most books follow that basic pattern, yes, but not all of them, especially not modern books. If they do, they break it up a little. Take Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind—amazing book, really, 5/5 or maybe even 6/5 stars—doesn’t really have much of a resolution or climax. Yes, a bigger problem is solved at the novel’s end, but the story kind just drops off, like, “Hey, let’s stop here.” It also starts at the end of the entire trilogy. You know what? It works. The book is told from the third and first point of view and it is bloody brilliant, (can’t say why: spoilers). For most books such a format would not work. It would read like a clunky disaster no one bothered to get through (like what Joseph’s Heller’s Catch-22 could’ve been).

So. Back to you (or us). The plot should follow a basic pattern, but don’t limit yourself to it. On the other hand, if you decide to go rogue, make sure its damn good. If you want to break the rules, you better break them right.

Generally, I would recommend sticking to the expectations of your audience, (please note: this doesn’t mean you should give them some cookie-cutter story they know the end too before they start reading. Now that I think about it, they might love or hate to have some fundamentals get shaken up. It depends on if you do it right. Sorry, I know that’s not helpful).

Here’s the rule of thumb I follow: make every scene count. There should be no “throw away” scenes. If you can cut it out of the novel and the characters still make sense, the plot still makes sense, and the reader didn’t lose some vital piece of information, then delete it. Don’t clutter your book with scenes that add nothing to the story; it will only slow your story down.

Some people may ask, “Well, what about character development? Or world building?”

Good question. Answer: build characters and world while moving the plot forward. Even in a scene where you’re supposed to learn something about x character or x world, it should move the overall plot forward.

This doesn’t mean every scene needs to become some plot-twisting thriller page. Rather, every scene should build towards something. Here’s where knowing your genre is important. You have a lot more time to build in a fantasy novel than a YA one. On the flip side, fantasy novels run a higher risk of “letting the world get away from the author”.

I try to keep my scenes as tight as possible. If you pointed to any scene in my story and asked, “What does this scene do?” I’d have an answer.

So how do you pace a story?

Again, depends on the genre. If you don’t write or read a lot (then start reading and writing; honestly, you can’t write unless you read), you’ll want to start small. Introduce a character and a conflict right off the bat (in fantasy, introduce the world too). Then, move the character/plot forward; introduce new characters, plot points, and conflicts as they come along. While all that is happening, develop characters, explain plot, and resolve or complicate conflicts.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

This isn’t really something you can be taught. Read a lot. Write a lot. Practice. If you do that, it will come naturally (eventually, maybe).

One thing I will recommend is go through every scene and ask, “What happens here?” If you can’t point to something important, odds are you don’t need the scene.

Reminder: Iron & Glass comes out September 16th! Check it out and critique my plotting abilities. A gold start for anyone who tells me.

Question? Just ask.


Iron &Glass, the author’s journey (part 9)

Find Time to Write

So I’m back in college again this week (sad face). I have my third 16 credit hour semester (sullen face), and most of my free time just ran away from me,  crying laughing hysterically.

Well, most of the time, people are busy, too busy to pursue their hobbies for long periods of time. What does that mean for those whose hobbies take a long time? Say, mountain climbing? Traveling? Or—you guessed it—writing?

Writing takes a long time. Even if you type fast–which I do–it still can take 30+hours to write the book let alone research, plan, and edit it. Ugh. Right?  I have a new internship, a job, and 16 credit hours; I’m swamped, barely keeping my head above water in week one! So how do I/you find time to write?

Not an easy question to answer

First, you have to evaluate your free time. How much of it do you have? How much of that do you want to dedicate to writing? If you’re serious about writing, your answer is: A lot.

I don’t work on weekends, and I don’t have class on weekends. So, just guess what I do on weekends? Yep. I spend most of my time writing. Remember that “writing” doesn’t just mean “writing,” but plotting a story, developing characters, editing, drafting a query letter, researching agents, and so on and so on.


If you want time to write, organization is a must. You might be surprised about how more free time you have if you plan things out. This even goes for people with full-time jobs. Set up some time to write, a hour, maybe two, after work/school and stick to it. Once your sitting in front of you computer, get to it. Don’t stare at a blank page or check out your social media accounts (I turn my internet off unless I’m name searching or doing various other kinds of research). If you find yourself watching a screen and unable to do what you planned, try to do something else writing related. If you can’t write, then edit; if you can’t edit, then plot; if you can’t plot, then write a query letter, or whatever. But don’t waste that time!

Now, you might want to set different times for different things. Like, if you’re actually writing, try to write later at night. A lot of people say when their tired they feel more free to write instead of question every sentence . If you’re editing, try to do it when you get home. If you edit with dropping eyes, you’ll might actually make a mistake instead of fixing one. You get the picture.

Still, dedication to your work and organization of your time will help you write no matter how busy you are.

I managed to write a 180,000 words story during a 17 credit hour semester (+ job, + internship)! Everyone can find time to write, you just have to set time aside and do it.


Sorry, this has nothing related to my upcoming novel, Iron & GlassBut . . . what the heck. I thought it might help.

Iron & Glass, the author’s journey (part 8)

Constructive Criticism 

Every author should have beta readers for their story. No one is perfect. You will make mistakes. Others can point those out for you. Some people may even offer suggestions that are better than your original idea. So, after someone kindly spends their valuable time to read your story, you have to decide what advice to keep and what advice to toss.

You (probably) don’t want to accept everything, but not listening at all is a bad idea. I don’t think there is a black and white way to go about deciding. But, there are some ways I use when looking over a beta readers suggestions.

Remember that not every comment is a critique. Iron & Glass (my self-published novel soon to be released) just had its 4th beta reader (hence this post). The beta reader–let’s call her “Pam” because I don’t know if she wants her name on here or not– asked several questions throughout the story. Thing is, she asked the exact questions I wanted the readers to asking at that point in the story.  Seeing them there felt like a pat on the back. I did a good job.

That being sad, Pam had some questions I didn’t want or anticipate as well. For those, I went back through the story to answer or clarify them.

Rejecting or accepting Pam’s other feedback wasn’t so easy. I had to decide one suggestion at a time.

Some were easy. Pam wanted me to change the name the USA International Ballet Competition (IBC) because it didn’t sound real. Well, it is real. So I’m not going to change the name of a real competition into a fake one to make the it sound more real (sorry, I think that sounds confusing . . . ). There was another case where she wanted me to change the name of a mythological monster because it didn’t sound scary enough. Sadly, that is the creatures name, so I don’t (and didn’t) want to change it.

Not too bad. Rejecting those suggestions was easy.

Other suggestions were easy to accept (sorry my tenses are all over the place. I’m so this is a rough draft blog post). Iron & Glass has a scene that takes place at a restaurant (everyone look shocked and surprised). Pam pointed out how I never tell the reader where these two people are sitting, next to each other, across from each other, on top of each other, or what? Hey, awesome, I can go fix that. I was really happy she pointed it out.

Then we have the “inbetweeners”. Should I delete that sentence? Is this scene necessary to the plot? I want to know more about how this character is feeling. What is the significance to this object? Clarify it. Introduce this character sooner. And on and on it goes.

I, usually, accept about 85% of the changes beta readers suggests. They offer good advice. But, for every suggestion, I have to ask myself: Does changing this better my story or take away from my original intent?

Then it really becomes a judgment call. Just remember to accept the criticism and be willing to make changes, but don’t let your story lose its purpose.

Sorry there not some neat formula, but I’d be happy to answer any questions.

And thank you Pam (you know who are), and my other beta readers! Especially my sister, who read Iron & Glass twice for me.