Thursday, December 20, 2012

5 Things I learned about Writing this Year

by Stephanie Morrill

You may have noticed that I'm not Rachel Coker.

I know I said yesterday that Rachel was going to be posting today, but we had to do a little bit of schedule shuffling around here ... so you have me instead. She'll be back on in a couple weeks - yay!

I think it's important at the end of the year to not only considering what we want to accomplish in the next year, like we talked about yesterday, but also to remember all the great stuff you learned this year that you'll be taking with you.

Here are a few things I learned about writing this year:

The importance of "the man" in a story: I realized back in January that a common thread in several popular YA series was that the main character was up against a government authority of some kind.

How to incorporate love languages into my stories: Many thanks to Jill for introducing this concept to me!

The importance of and diversity among kick-butt heroines: A Go Teen Writers' reader asked me a question about this, and it was something I hadn't yet spent much time thinking about.

Why I've always struggled so with middles and how to fix it: While I'll probably always think middles are the hardest part of writing a book, I feel much better equipped for facing them.

And that ultimately I'm not in control of the commercial success or failure of my novels. All I can do is my best with my part of the process - write the best story I can, market it to the best of my abilities, and turn loose the rest. My husband has been awesome about repeating this to me when I'm stressing out. Sorry, honey, I'll probably have to learn this one again in 2013...

What about you? I would love to hear what you learned in 2012!


  1. Wow. I really don't think I can list all the things I've learned about writing this year--it's really been pretty monumental.

    A few things I've learned are:
    *Stuff about taglines--avoid using them (use action beats instead), don't be afraid to use said, and don't use too many adverbs!

    *It's really a pretty bad idea to start writing without any idea of the plot...

    *The characters are REALLY important.

    *The story has to have a major, hidden problem (one other than the "surface" problems), and this has to make the character change in some way.

    *That it really is possible for me to leave my first draft alone and KEEP WRITING! Yay 100 for 100 for teaching me that!! :D

    Major thank you to Go Teen Writers for doing the majority of that teaching!!!

  2. I learned the importance of pacing, though I don't think I've quite learned how to write it my self yet.
    I learned how to make and use a scene chart.
    I learned how to blog, and although this isn't strictly writing related, I think it's a great skill to have!
    A huge thank you to Go Teen Writers for all the thought you've put into this year and the posts you've had!
    ~Sarah Faulkner

  3. I learned that writing is fun. I don't remember when exactly I actually became a writer instead of a wannabe, but it was this year. This was the year I started my first WIP, and all of my fanfictions. (The ones that are both longer than five pages and actually good, at least.) That seems so weird, because now it seems like I've been a writer all my life...

  4. I learn a lot of new stuff almost every time I write. I learned that I certainly miss writing (College has been *trying* to take up all my time, but I might have defeated it--I'm signed up for a Fiction English class next semester!)And I learned that I need to write more (which is why I began blogging again!)

    So... yeah! :)

  5. 1. Digging deeper with backstory.
    2. Action beats.
    3. Story structure.
    4. Specific word choice.

  6. I've written more this past year than ever. I've learned the effort that it takes. I am still trying to come to terms with a bad first draft. I was reading my first WIP last night getting my index cards ready to start a rewrite and it feels so pathetic and unhelpable, like why did I ever think I could be a writer? But I also see areas where I've learned more ant story structure since I finished this WIP. I do feel like if I apply myself to writing and learning the way I did in 2012 that 2013 could have a lot of learning and improvements :) at least I'm hoping, it does take a lot of work.

  7. I've learnt:
    1. The Go Teen Writers blog is amazing, as has posts on pretty much everything I need. Thanks for making such a great blog!
    2. You only get out what you put in. I spent 10 months this year finishing a first draft - previously, I'd never written more than 10k on one story.
    I learnt that it takes effort and perseverance. But finishing that first draft (terrible as it may be) taught me a lot about story structure, character development, writing good dialogue and action scenes, and patience.

  8. I feel like I learned a lot this year. I learned that not every piece of advice has to be followed, not having any idea where your story will end is a bad idea, and that the greatest plot in the world will flop with flat characters. I learned that writing is immensely harder than putting words on paper, but it's also immensely more rewarding than anything else I've done, and nothing beats the feeling of finding an acceptance email in your inbox.

    Some of these lessons were learned through hard work and tears, but I'm still looking forward to learning more next year. I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment :)

  9. This entire year has been a learning experience. I finished my very first ever manuscript and learned how rewarding it is to print out 200 pages and measure the stack with a ruler. I learned that the publishing world moves incredibly slowly and emails do not come in hours or days or even weeks, but months. I learned a lot of things about writing that I never knew before from this blog. As this was my first full year of being fully committed to writing, I improved my style and learned new tips every day. This year has been very rewarding and my love for writing has only grown. Who needs boys when you have pens? Anyway, I want to thank you, Stephanie, for having such an amazing and helpful blog. I hope 2013 is as good as 2012!

    1. Hahahahaha. "Who needs boys when you have pens?" I love that :)

  10. I learnt about query letters and synopsises! I learnt to write for myself and NOT desperately need affirmation from other people to keep me on track. And I'd like to learn not to push my writing when it's not working. Just sit back and take it in stride. But I think that's one I'll have to keep learning... Can't wait to learn MORE in 2013!!

  11. One of the things I learned this year was the importance of writing prompts (thank you, GTW!) Something else that really stuck home during 2012 was the fact that my writing doesn't have to be as good as anyone else's writing. it doesn't have to please everyone, either. If I'm happy with it, if it's the best I can do, than that's good enough. (or it should be...I don't always feel that way. :P Working on that.)
    Also, editing is important. PERSEVERE. =.-

    Merry Christmas everybody! Can't wait for 2013 GTW!

  12. 1. Your character's personality is shaped from experiences just like everybody else in the world. So....make a good back story for every character even if it's not explained for the minors.
    2. Poetic devices are just as effective in stories as they are in poems
    3. There's a difference between cliche and archetypes
    4. For ever action that a character performs there is also a reason for that action...what it is is what I need to find out
    5. How to make a unique heroine

  13. Hmmmmm.... I learned:
    *How to do add in backstory
    *How to write a fight scene
    *How to get my book published and all the steps to it
    *How to pace my story
    Thanks so much! I feel like I've learned even more then the above. My writing is so much better! Thank you!!! :-)

  14. I loved this idea so much I did an entire post on it. Read my response here: