Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What are some of your individual writing quirks? (With Sara Ella!)

We are hanging out with Sara Ella this week in our Summer Panels. I mentioned that Sara has published the Unblemished Trilogy and that it's great (and the covers are gorgeous!), but I didn't tell you anything about the story. So here is the description for book one, Unblemished:

Eliyana can’t bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her like he does: normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.
But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird. Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

Doesn't that story sound great? Well, it is great. So, if you haven't read these yet, put them on your To Read list and take care of that!

And now, on with the panels. Here is today's question:

What are some of your individual writing quirks--things you catch yourself doing again and again, like repeating a word or phrase, making the same typo over and over, always writing heroes with dark hair and blue eyes, or even a habit like not being able to write without jelly beans nearby?

Sara: Oh, man, what a question! I try so hard to not repeat the same words or phrases or tropes, sometimes I just end up staring blankly at a screen, void of inspiration. My comfort zone lies with introverted female heroines. Maybe because I relate to them most? I also tend to write characters that have lost a parent (like I have) or who are protective of a sibling. I never want to repeat the same story, but I also know that part of who I am as a writer is based on my own experiences. The trick is to find a balance between doing the same thing over and over again, and finding a fresh new way to explore these relationships.

Also, I need cold coffee. That is a must!

Stephanie: Iced coffee is my jam!

It seems like each book has its own pet phrase that I overuse. For Within These Lines, emotions kept flitting over characters faces. And my book was full of Italians and Japanese, so everyone had dark hair and dark eyes.

This is one of the reasons that I try to read a variety of books. There are so many clever ways of saying things, and I always need to refresh my inspiration!

Shan: Sara’s right! This is a tough question! I have a tendency to include alcoholic characters in my stories. I had alcoholic uncles when I was a kid and watching my mom navigate those situations definitely stuck with me. On the technical side of writing, I’ve noticed that when I’m editing, I often have to adjust the order of my sentences. On first go 'round I seem to pen the effect of an action before the cause. I wonder if other people do that?

Jill: As I was starting to plot my book Captives, I realized that all the other stories I'd published so far (Blood of Kings, Replication, and The Mission League) had starred a very similar type of guy. He was troublesome but a hero at heart. He was brave--not afraid to speak his mind and put himself in danger to help others. He was all about the "Save the Cat" moment. And I was like ... oopsy. So it was nice that the Safe Lands series had three point of view guys. It forced me to get into the heads of a different type of character.

Writing-wise, I tend to add way too many metaphors and similes. Another habit is to use lots of triplet sentences like: He walked down the hall, got a drink from the fountain, and went outside. Triplet sentences are something I have to watch for and tweak to create a better rhythm. I also tend to start a lot of sentences with "And."

What about you, writers? 

What are some of your individual writing quirks?


  1. Must have water and something to listen to.

    Adding too many characters! I can keep them straight, but no one else can, so...yeah, I'm working on that ;)

    Another is leaving out a letter (you instead of your) and forgetting the contractions (can instead of can't).

  2. A writing quirk.........I think mine is that once I get into a "writing zone" I start saying (out loud, mind you) what I'm writing. I also have conversations with the character (with a lot of yelling on my part) that I'm writing. Or laughing at something I wrote. Or getting up from my seat to walk in a circle and then sitting back down (I have NO idea why I do that....)


  3. I need potato chips. Don’t ask me why. It’s a new development. But I can’t sit down to write without a bag of potato chips and a tall glass of water. I suppose so hunger can’t distract me.
    I’m with Jill! I use a LOT of triplet sentences, and only realized it recently, so I’ve been trying to work on that.

  4. It's cool seeing how people's experiences affect their writing. I tend to use many introductory clauses, and then forget the punctuate them correctly. XD I also under describe things, I think.
    - Book Dragon

  5. I am interested to join the individual quirks of writing. I had a chance learn writing skills from the,so I don't want to miss this chance.

  6. It’s funny you mention jellybeans. Sometimes I need those for my other work, my non-writing job. But when it comes to writing, coffee is a must. Also dim lighting, preferable before, during, and soon after sunrise.

  7. This is such a cool question!! I've been noticing over the last couple days that I tend to use the "triple and" a lot in my writing. They usually appear in the more emotional paragraphs, where I would use them to describe how the character is feeling and what they think about and why that emotion is affecting them right now.

    I also love to have severely cold ice water while writing, I don't know why but I love it.