Category: editing

Get a Kick-Start on Editing Your Rough Draft

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Sometimes, the editing process can be more intimidating than writing a novel! It’s hard to shoulder the pressure of making your writing better. Today, Young Writers Program participant Ashton Kay shares a few tips for making editing a little bit easier:

You’ve created some quirky characters to keep the story flowing, constructed a world that your characters dwell in, and you’re finally done with torturing the protagonists through a countless number of hardships and conflicts. Guess what? You’ve finished writing the rough draft! 

If you’re internally (or perhaps, externally) screaming, ‘Aaah! Editing!’ it could mean two things; you’re either eager and excited to start editing, or you’re simply dreading to go back to your draft. 

Good for you if you’re getting urges to make the rough draft better! But fear not if you’re the in the latter situation. Even if it seems like your first draft is already perfect and ready for publishing, that’s almost always never the case. There’s some room for improvement at all times. Now, stop procrastinating, and get your hands onto the keyboard. I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that you might happen to find helpful. 

1. Take a break.

I told you to ‘get your hands onto the keyboard’—I guess I lied. Sorry about that. Get your hands off the keyboard. Now’s the time to pat yourself on the back and take a break. Free yourself from the stress of writing, and feel proud that you’ve finished the first draft. The important fact, though, is that taking a break is essential for you to obtain an objective view of your writing. A week or two is a reasonable length of time, but it’s up to you to decide how long you want your break session to last. 

2. Get a big picture of your story.

Once you’re ready to start typing again, read through your story and get a generic, big picture of it. Search for any plot holes that you might have missed, and review your story arc. Think about how the protagonist and antagonist’s motives clash, and make sure that their actions are led by the motives. 

3. Add in some foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing’s actually pretty fun to add in, now that you have a detailed and certain idea of how your characters are going to end up. It’s important for you to have enough foreshadowing so that the ending doesn’t seem too sudden and abrupt. Glue your readers’ eyes on the pages with some hints of what’s going to happen later on in the story! 

4. Adjust your story pacing.

It’s time for you to adjust the pace of the scenes and actions. Make the dramatic scenes slower-paced, and get rid of any events that contribute very little to the story, or that are unimportant. It can be painful to delete a large chunk of writing that you’ve written, but if that’s what makes your writing better as a whole, it’s probably something that’s worth gnashing your teeth through.

5. Get other people’s advice.

Ask your friends, teachers, relatives, or a friendly neighbor to read through your draft and give constructive criticism about it. They don’t necessarily have to be someone who enjoys writing, as long as they’re willing to give some advice to you. Readers are normal people, and it doesn’t take a writing expert to find out if a book’s compelling or not. Don’t get discouraged even if you get negative feedback. You still have a lot of time to go back and edit! 

Editing is part of the writing journey that you’re on, and the journey cannot be complete without the process of editing. If you’ve enjoyed the thrill of writing the first draft, I’m sure you’ll find some fun in editing as well. Get a cup of hot chocolate with a marshmallow, and keep the writing vibes going!


Ashton Kay is an aspiring writer in her teens with a boundless passion for literature. She is usually buried under mountains of math worksheets, yet she magically manages to find some time to write. When she’s writing, she enjoys traveling through time and space, making risky deals with a villain, and fighting away mutant monsters with her characters. She is a possessor of a mind that buzzes with intriguing thoughts and ideas twenty-four-seven. 

Top photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash.

Breaking Your First Draft Apart

Sometimes, the editing process can be more difficult than writing! It’s hard to take the things that you wrote and change or get rid of significant chunks. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Rosario Martinez reminds us that it’s ok to break apart what you’ve written:

You’re finished with your first draft, and you have no idea what you wrote. You just spent a month (several actually, but who’s really counting) writing this story, and now you feel like you can’t articulate what it is that you wrote. 

This happens, and it’s okay. Take a breath, take a few days to relax and not think about what you wrote. Detach, but keep in mind a date you’ll like to return. Always keep in mind a date you will return to your story. What I find helps the most is using the calendar feature on my cell phone because I have it with me most of the time. No excuses, right? (Sort of.) 

Don’t worry, you can do this. You wrote a story, your story. It’s done. Now you have to read and fix that story. But how?

This is the part where I tell you how you can fix your story. But actually, each story is different and will require different approaches to edit, revise, and rewrite. There is so much information about techniques on how to approach your first draft that just looking at ideas on where to start can be overwhelming. Just remember you already have words on the page. Words you can read and make better because these words already exist. This is just my suggestion on how you can begin to approach your novel edits.

1. Break your novel into parts. 

What I’ve found most helpful is breaking your long, messy draft down into parts. It’s easier to manage visually and in terms of workload. You can divide your manuscript into the typical beginning, middle and end sections. Or simply into sets of equal number chapters—whatever helps you. 

2. Determine the state of your draft. 

Basically, assess the damage. Were you able to finish the story? Or did you only complete the word count? These are two different things. Different genres have different word counts, so let this be your first guide. 

3. Read your novel.

Now that you’ve divvied up your story into parts, here comes the fun part: actually sitting down and reading it. This can be a difficult exercise because while we’re writing we have this epic—I repeat—EPIC idea of what our story is, and we often genuinely believe that is the way we wrote it. So, reading it for the first time is a bit of a rude awakening because, well… it’s not epic. Reading your first draft is the hardest, because it makes you realize how much work is still ahead. It’s okay to feel down and cry. (I don’t think we talk about this enough as writers.) 

4. Come up with a plan for your story.

All things take time. Breathe. And come up with a plan to make your story like you imagined it. Whether you dive straight into editing, or you choose a particular thing to focus on first, make those marks on the page with your favorite pen or use your favorite editing software to fix mistakes.  

5. Don’t be afraid to make changes.

Did you read something that was already somewhere else in the draft? Are you repeating a word or a phrase too much? Cross it out. Is your main character meeting a lot of other characters? Make a list and (for the love of your future self rereading your draft a third or fourth time) make notes on where and when these characters first appear. 

Write in the margins, circle, highlight, correct, revise words or sentences that don’t make sense. Write neatly so that it’s legible when you come back for another round. Be as specific as you can when you’re making these notes. Accept that it might take more read-throughs before you feel comfortable having someone else read it. 

6. Find the best editing process for you.

Research your favorite authors that write the same genre as you, and find out how they approach their drafts. You might discover something that will work with your own approach. Your approach to editing is your own, just like your story is your own. Only you will know what it needs and what it will take to get to the end each time. But whatever it is, take it bit by bit and you’ll make progress.


Rosario Martinez is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and their four sweet but demanding cats. She’s currently working on her debut YA fantasy novel. She has too many flannel things and believes a good bowl of nachos is life. To follow her journey to publication, visit her literary lifestyle blog or find her on Twitter @rosariomwrites and Instagram @rosariomwrites.

Top photo by Lujia Zhang on Unsplash.

5 Tips to Smooth the Edges of Your Rough Draft

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Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the pure rush of creating something new. Later on, when you come back for a second glance, the writing doesn’t have that same sparkle. You may not want to hear this, but editing is your friend—and it doesn’t have to be a painful process. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Rebekah reminds us that editing is writing:

Editing the rough draft of a story is a dreaded part of writing.

It takes just as much, if not more time, than actually writing a draft. But never fear! I’ve created my own method of tackling the first draft that I’d like to share with all of you as you work on your stories.

I find tips easier to follow if I’m given steps, so here is a step-by-step of the process I have been following with the rough draft of my very first book.

1. Let the draft sit for at least a month. 

This means don’t touch it at all. Don’t read it, don’t do tiny edits. If it helps, pretend it doesn’t exist. Taking a break from the draft helps me distance myself from what I wrote. It makes the text almost seem like it was written by someone else, which can make it easier to critique and fix.

2. Read the draft after the break period and don’t edit it at all. 

Read it like you would a new book and document all issues you find. This will make it easier to write the next draft. 

3. Find a format for your story that will be the easiest for you to edit. 

For me, it meant printing out the whole story, which then led me to realize something to work on in draft two (more on that in step 4). Writing in red ink all over a hard copy of my first draft has helped me, and more importantly, I’m comfortable with it. If you aren’t comfortable with editing in your story’s current format, then find another format that works. 

4. Find at least one thing to look at throughout your editing process. 

This is by far a harder step, but once you do it, the editing process becomes a whole lot easier. I realized my chapters were too short, so I decided to find ways I could build more plot into my chapters. Other common fixes could involve decreasing adverbs and using more emotions. This gives you a goal while editing, which can be helpful to writers like me who are very goal-oriented. 

5. Make a “chapter wrap-up”.

This is a completely optional step, and may only work for some writers, but it has helped me immensely. I call it a chapter wrap-up, and write it out after I finish editing a chapter. It includes four sections: Characters, Plot Points, Items to Adjust, and Connections/Extra Analysis

Under Characters, I list the characters present in the chapter and the new ways they’ve developed. Under the Plot Point section, I mention all major plot points for reference in future drafts. My Items to Adjust section includes my major flaws in the chapter as wells as smaller issues to adjust. The Connections/Extra Analysis section includes any other information I find important to include after editing a chapter.

This list has worked the best for me, but every writer is different. Improvise on this list, or find your own way! Tackle that first draft and start editing!


Rebekah lives in the United States. When she isn’t writing, you will likely find her reading comics or books, playing on her tenor or alto saxophone, listening to soundtracks, knitting, or taking nature walks. She hopes to publish her current book by the end of high school. You can find her on Instagram.

Top photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

4 Tips to Stay Zen While Editing

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So, you’ve said a tearful so long to your cabin mates. It’s time to go “home” now. Camp NaNoWriMo has been an amazing experience. All your hard work has paid off. But, it isn’t over, yet. Now, comes the truly fun part—Revision and Editing! Today, YWP Participant Joy Wambeke offers some helpful hints on making the revision process less painful and more fruitful: 

I know how tough it is to write your entire first draft. 

You go over it, fix grammar mistakes, go over it again, fix more mistakes, go over it again, replace, delete, add fresh sentences, paragraphs, then fix more mistakes, and still go over it again. Then, when you think it’s in good shape, you have someone else read it only to find there are more mistakes, and some things don’t make sense. Then you have to repeat all of the above, until you finally end up with a polished draft.

That’s what I did for my book, and I still have lots of grammar mistakes and some things still don’t make much sense. But the point I’m trying to make is that I DID IT! Even though you have to go through a whole lot of trouble to make your book what it is, it’s worth it! Winner or not (this time), when all is said and done, YOU DID IT!

So, here is some advice for getting through all the messy revision process:

1. Rest

You can have a break. You don’t need to be on it all the time (although if you take too long, you’ll never finish it).

2. Think

Think about how well you want your book fixed up.

3. Meditate and/or Sleep 

This is pretty close to number one, but targeted on two different kinds of rest. You will need your sleep as much as possible. Go to bed on time and if you can, sleep in or take an afternoon nap. Meditating helped me a lot when I got frustrated with my work. I would search for a video, some poses of yoga or I would just stretch and listen to calming music.

4. Motivation 

I found that if you tape up posters of inspirational quote on how to keep going or how good it feels at the end around where your working so then when you look around, you’ll get motivated to keep going and not give up.

I hope you come out with a great book!


Joy is 12 years old and started writing at 5. Joy has written one book so far (other than little short stories) called “Living in Boredom”.

Top photo by dorota dylka on Unsplash.

Naps, Hooks, and Cookies: How to Tackle the Editing Process

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Whether you wrote a collection of short stories this May to celebrate Short Story Month, or whether you finished a draft of a novel during our last Camp NaNoWriMo session, editing is the next step of the writing process. Today, NaNoWriMo novelist E. L. Johnson offers some advice on how to fall in love with the editing process… or at least, how to learn to live with it:

Hello Writers!

So, you’ve written a novel. You’ve gotten to know your characters, you’ve created story lines and navigated your way around plot holes to come out the other side. Now it’s time to edit.

Here are my tips on how to tackle the editing process:

1. Take a Break.

Take the month off, seriously. You’ve spent time getting close to your story, now you need to step away from it. Do the dishes, reorganize your closet, spend time with your friends, and binge watch a TV show. In short, do anything and everything but spend time looking at your novel.

Once you’ve taken a break and hopefully a well-deserved nap, it’s time for…

2. The Big Picture

Make an outline of your story, scene by scene. If outlines don’t help, try writing out the synopsis (people hate doing it, but it will be helpful in the long run).

Here you should figure out what doesn’t work. Go over the big overarching plot. Refer to your outlines or synopsis and restructure your scenes so they make sense.

3. Characters

Do you have too many characters? Or three characters named Sarah? Are they essential to the plot or can you cut out or merge two? Too many characters can confuse the reader.

Consider your characters’ voices. Do they all talk the same? Are they very polite and sound like they’re from the 19th century when they should be talking about spaceships or the Watergate scandal? Give your characters unique voices.

4. Build the Tension, Keep the Pace

Think about tension and pacing. Does your first chapter end with a cliffhanger? Make sure your chapters flow and connect well to each other. Do you need long descriptions if it’s a car chase? If you’ve got a dramatic scene then shorter, choppier language can build the tension.

5. The Nitty Gritty

By this time your writing is solid. The story flows, the characters aren’t all named Sarah, and you can spend some time on the nitty gritty details.

I’m talking line by line analysis—where you read every single line and check that it works. Fix the language you use. Check for typos and grammar mistakes.

Look for certain words you use again and again. Do a search for passive words like ‘was’, and ‘were’; thinking words like ‘wondered, thought, pondered,’ and empty modifiers like ‘really’, ‘very’, ‘extremely’.

Show, don’t tell. You’ll hear this time and again. Take a close look at your writing. Show me the depth of your main character’s despair, don’t just tell me ‘he was sad’.

6. Reading Time!

Print it out and read the story. Use that red pen!

Fix the story and give it to a friend to read, or your publisher, editor or agent. Take any criticisms of the story on board, but above all, remember that you are the author and this is your work. You don’t have to agree with everyone.

Once you’re ready, take a few days off and read it again, out loud.

Bring it to your local writers’ circle and read a few pages, get others’ input. Share your story with a few trusted folks in return for a coffee or cookies. People will do a lot for cookies, especially homemade ones.

And when you can’t stand to look at it anymore, you’re done. It’s time to put it out there in the world.

Remember, you’re a writer. You’ve got this!


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E.L. Johnson is a novelist with too many history degrees. Fleeing the colonies to study medieval history, she arrived in England and discovered a love of crumpets and cream teas. Now working in London, she writes during her commute and gets paid to tweet, when she’s not singing on stage or running a book club. Johnson’s first historical fantasy novel, Wolf’s Blood, began as a NaNoWriMo project. Published by Azure Spider Publications, it is available now on Amazon. Read her book or follow her on Twitter.

Top photo by andrea di on Unsplash.

6 Tips to Help You Break All the Rules of Writing

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It can be easy to lose steam when you’re working on a long writing project. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Lolita shares some thoughts on how to stay passionate about your novel by breaking all the rules:

I’ve often heard the advice that before you start writing, you should know the end already. You should have bullet points or boxes to tick for everything that happens. That you shouldn’t repeat words like “said” too much. My advice is: forget all the ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’s’.

I wrote my first two drafts by hand before I typed the second draft on the laptop, making changes as needed until it became my third draft. My thoughts flowed better from pen to paper than from hands on the keyboard (and still do). My first draft was written without bullet points or boxes to tick; there was no end in sight.

I just wrote because it felt good and because I enjoyed myself. 

1. Write because you want to, not because you have to. 

If you have a passion for something, then it’s not work, it’s play. And that’s the best job you can have. Enjoy yourself first and foremost. Then see what you have to work with (second draft and after). As for repetitions, I don’t worry about that until my fourth draft at least. I don’t actively look, but if I notice something that bothers me, then I work on that. Thoughts, dialogues, tiny moments of everyday life will tell you more about your characters than any list ever will.

2.  Keep copies of everything.

Keep copies of everything, from your notes on random papers to the ones in your notebook, as well as each draft. Always. If you work on the laptop then make copies of each draft before you make any changes to it. Print draft one, two, three… fifteen.

3. Don’t believe everything you read. 

Take advice (even mine) with a pinch of salt. For example: I read before that a successful writer will need about four drafts before their book feels finished. BUT it may or may not be the case for everyone. 

4. Keep a notebook handy. 

Keep a notebook by your side when you write as well as when you edit. Take notes on descriptions of characters, important things that happened, with whom and where. Make notes of things that don’t make sense or that you should develop. Feel free to wait before you delete a section of your work to be sure that you’re fine with your own decision.

5. Find a different point of view. 

Personally, I don’t find it comfortable to share my work with writing groups. A good alternative is to confide in a close friend who enjoys reading and would understand you without judging. Chat about challenges you have with them, see a different point of view. You don’t have to use those discussions in your book. But opening up those conversations keeps your brain active on ideas you may not have had otherwise. Make notes of discoveries you find, and see where it would fit in your draft.

6. Take your time. 

If you don’t feel like editing today because you had a crappy day, then don’t. Once in a while, you can get away and do something else. If you’re anything like me, you’ll still be able to think about your story even while shampooing your hair. And most importantly, just write, be passionate about what you’re writing about and enjoy yourself.


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Lolita is a French native living in the UK for the past ten years. Mother of two and working in a library, she writes fantasy fiction and paints in her spare time. In a life where we live fast, she wants to read books where heroes (males and females) are not perfect and take time to learn to become better. Lolita is still working on her first novel and hopes to publish it this year or next. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.

Top photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

The Second Time’s the Charm

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During the NaNoWriMo Now What? Months, we’re focused on helping you revise, edit, and publish your story. Today, writer Melanie Marie Martinez shares some editing advice on how to get to your second draft:

You are never the same person twice.

My grandfather told me this once, and I’ve taken it as something of a life motto. Who I am today is smarter, older, and wiser than who I was yesterday. That means that no matter how good or bad the words are today, they will always be better, or at least different, tomorrow. This is why revision is so important.

Here are some tips for writers who, like me, find it hard to revisit that initial draft:

1. Don’t throw out your entire first draft.

When it comes to writing and editing, people often say not to worry about your first draft because it’ll always be terrible. I’ve found that to be unfair. Sure, at 3 AM you might have difficulty stringing a sentence together with your daily word limit just out of your reach, but sometimes that pressure gives you diamonds—revelations you might have not come across if you were too busy overthinking!

There should be a healthy middle ground. Don’t throw it all away, but don’t treat it like it emerged from your brain fully formed and ready for publication. A second draft lets you sift out the diamonds from the coal and gives you chance to polish them.

2. Bite off only as much as you can chew.

Looking back at how much blood, sweat, and tears went into that first draft, you might suffer a bit of post-trauma at the thought of going back into the trenches again. Set up a daily and monthly revision schedule, whether that’s a chapter a day, an hour a day, or a thousand words a day. Go big or small, but be realistic to what you feel comfortable doing.

Give yourself benchmarks for the rest of the year, and cut yourself slack if the standards turn out to be too high. Revisit the schedule, revise, and keep on trucking! As long as you don’t stop, you haven’t lost.

3. If all else fails, phone a friend.

The moment you hand your writing off to someone else, it becomes a thing of its own. Though many writers are private people, a middleman can often help. If you struggle with doing a second draft yourself, hand it off to someone you trust and have them run a “sanity check.” A bare bones assessment from a close friend or longtime writing partner can wipe away some of the fog from your nostalgia goggles and give you a better idea of where to start tightening up draft two.

The truth of the matter is this: it is easier to keep starting over than wade through the brackish waters of that dreaded first draft. But it is also true that, day by day, we are constantly moving towards our best selves. Likewise, with every passing draft, your novel will become the best version of itself.


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Melanie Marie Martinez is a graduate of the Long Island University Creative Writing MFA. Since she was thirteen years old, she’s been writing fiction, poetry, and comic book scripts. When she’s not working on the Great American Novel, she tutors English and Creative Writing, teaches a Blogging for Business seminar, and helps write university-level degree programs. She was born in the swamps of South Florida and currently stalks the jungles of New York City. She can be reached at www.martinezmariemelanie.com.

Top photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash.

How to Write Your Rough Draft 2.0

During the NaNoWriMo Now What? Months, we’re focused on helping you revise, edit, and publish your story. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Osie Cairn shares some editing advice on updating your messy first draft to version 2.0:

Writing that initial rough draft for me is a lot like careening around corners and sitting in the backseat while my sister’s learning how to drive: Absolutely terrifying. Sure, you can let your Inner Editor out while writing, but you’re probably not going to get much done—just like your sister isn’t going to get better if you kick her out of the driver’s seat to drive to the store yourself.

But after that journey is done? When you’ve written “The End” on your rough draft and know every mile of the journey your characters take? That’s when your editor gets to take control. That’s my favorite part of writing.

Editing is where you already know the story, who the characters are, what the plot is, and so don’t have to worry about what’s going to come out when you type. You don’t have to slog through a scene wondering where you’re going or if it’s going to be relevant once you reach the end. Because you already know. It’s all written down.

It’s where you get to take the mess of a rough draft and turn it into a shiny new Rough Draft 2.0.

Sure, it can be super intimidating to know where to start when you look at the mess before you, to wonder how you’re going to fix everything that’s wrong with it, but hey, you’ve already written that rough draft! You’ve already done the hard work. You kicked your editor to the back seat so your creativity could take the wheel and get you to where you needed.

Now, you get to jump into the driver’s seat (and take control of the radio).

On this part of the journey, the biggest thing to keep in mind is this:

Editing is just like writing that initial draft, but this time you know what you’re doing.

I keep notes about what I want to fix or tweak while I’m writing the initial rough draft so I know what to work on when I get around to editing. If you haven’t done that or don’t have a general idea of the big things you want to work on, writing up a list can be a good first step. It’ll get you thinking critically about your story and focus your attention on the areas that need it.

If you already know what needs fixing and you’re at that “Ok, but how do I actually fix it?” stage, then it’s time to turn your initial rough draft into Rough Draft 2.0 with three simple steps.

  1. Open up your rough draft.
  2. Open up a blank page on your favorite word processor, notebook, or typewriter. 
  3. Rewrite everything from word one.

Just like you wrote your rough draft one word, sentence, and paragraph at a time, you’re going to write your Rough Draft 2.0 the same way. But, this time you already know what’s at the end, what scenes are relevant, what details need to be cut or included, what lines are in character or not. You get to write the story and know where you’re going.

All of the changes you make, they’re going to cause changes later down the road. New plot holes might pop up and old ones might disappear. Old scenes you thought needed a complete rewrite might be cut completely, or a detour might bring the perfect opportunity to resolve multiple points at once.

That’s just part of the process.

Fix what you can on this draft, and let the rest wait for a later pass.

Writing the rough draft might be like watching your sister learn to drive, but editing is a road trip where Rough Draft 2.0 is only one stop.


Osie Cairn is a multiply disabled queer author who hates making eye contact. They also beta read and edit others’ work when their own writing doesn’t provide them enough material to satisfy the red pen. In addition to thinking editing is the best part of writing, they have special interests in space, science, stars, and sharks. Oh, and dinosaurs, but those don’t start with an S.

Top photo by Samuele Errico Piccarini on Unsplash.

How to Create the Perfect Story Arc

Every year, we’re lucky to have great sponsors for our nonprofit events. Today, our sponsor Fictionary has put together a step-by-step guide for creating the perfect story arc:

One of the best ways to improve your novel is to look at the way that successful authors have crafted their story arcs. You can use this information to revise your NaNoWriMo novel and tell a story your readers love. 

Spoiler alert! We’re about to delve into Stephenie Meyer’s blockbuster novel Twilight while paying attention to the plot points that keep the story moving.
You may be familiar with the simplest form of a story arc:

1. The Inciting Incident

The inciting incident is the moment the protagonist’s world changes in a dramatic way. Readers expect something to trigger the protagonist to act. If the inciting incident doesn’t occur in the first 15% of your novel, you need a strong reason for delaying it. 

I recommend that you write your inciting incident as a dramatic scene and not as backstory or narrative summary. This enables the reader to experience the event at the same time as the protagonist and increases your chances of getting the reader emotionally involved.

Twilight’s Inciting Incident: Bella has already met Edward. This leads up to the inciting incident where Edward saves Bella from being killed in a parking lot. She gets her first glimpse of his powers and is set on her path of discovering more about him.

Twilight’s Inciting Incident happens 10% into the story. The percentage is based on the word count.

2. Plot Point One

Plot Point One is the point of no return—your character can’t back out of the central conflict. Your character may be obligated to take action, they cannot return to the way the world was before, or their desire for something overrules all else. There must be something at stake, because if the character doesn’t care about the outcome, a reader won’t care either.

Plot Point One should occur between 20% and 30% in your novel. If this plot point comes too late, the story will feel like it’s dragging. If it comes too early, the story will feel rushed or lacking in depth.

Twilight’s Plot Point One: Bella suspects that Edward is a vampire, but she decides to pursue him anyway. Edward has emotional power over Bella.

Twilight’s Plot Point One happens 25% into the story.

3. The Midpoint

Often the Midpoint is where an author struggles to keep the story interesting. To keep your story exciting, you’ll need to find some way to raise the stakes of your story with a life-changing, exceptional, or threatening event.

Ideally, this is where you’ll be taking your readers on a journey where the protagonist moves from a reactionary mode to a proactive mode.The Midpoint should occur between 45% and 55% in your novel. If the Midpoint comes too early or too late, the story won’t feel balanced.

Twilight’s Midpoint: Edward reveals his true powers as a vampire to Bella. He saves her from an attack, and this strengthens how she feels about him.

By now it should be no surprise that Twilight’s midpoint happens at 50% of the story.

4. Plot Point Two

At Plot Point Two, the protagonist must work hard to get what they want or lose everything. Plot Point Two should occur between 70% and 80% of your novel.

Plot Point Two will be a low point for your protagonist. Their actions since the middle have caused disaster, or they become more determined to reach their goal.

Twilight’s Plot Point Two: A bad vampire decides to go after Bella, and Bella must leave her home. Bella wants to survive but not if it means risking those she loves.

Twilight’s Plot Point Two happens 75% into the story.

5. The Climax

The Climax scene is where you get to shine as an author. Every word you’ve written up to this point will pay off. Ideally, the climax scene (or scenes) will have the highest level of conflict, the greatest tension, or the most devastating emotional upheaval.The protagonist must be in your Climax scene, or you risk alienating your reader. The protagonist should face the biggest obstacle in the story and determine their own fate. 

The climax should happen somewhere around 90% into your novel. Too early, and the reader may get impatient with a long resolution and skim to the end. Too late, and the resolution may lack depth or satisfaction.

Twilight’s Climax: Bella is lured into a trap. She faces down the evil vampire and gets injured. 

And you guessed it. Twilight’s Climax happens 90% into the story.

6. The Resolution 

The resolution is everything that happens after the climax. It shouldn’t be longer than 10% of your total story. This is the time to give the reader an emotional resolution as well as tie up any loose ends.

Twilight’s Resolution: Bella and Edward are home, safe, and together, but when Bella tries to persuade Edward to turn her into a vampire, this leaves the reader questioning what happens next.


Fictionary Author Hits #1 on Amazon

Last year, Miriam R. Dumitra won the Fictionary Finish Your Novel contest and received a lifetime subscription to Fictionary.

She put Fictionary to great use and her debut novel Brightshade recently hit #1 on Amazon in the category of Steampunk Science Fiction.

Miriam was also a 2018 NaNoWriMo winner, so there’s another book coming. Congratulations Miriam!

How Fictionary Helps

Editing is hard. Fictionary makes it easier with online software that simplifies and automates story editing. Use Fictionary to improve the structure, characters, plot, and settings of your NaNoWriMo novel. 

A perfect tool to help complete your revision pledge. Within seconds, Fictionary automatically creates your cast of characters, links characters to scenes, calculates word count per scene, draws your story arc, and then guides you through a complete scene-by-scene revision.

Fictionary “Now What?” 50% Discount Offer

Sign Up for Fictionary using coupon code NOWWHAT2019 and get Fictionary for just $10/month.

No credit card required. Try free for 14 days and cancel anytime.  Includes our 13-lesson story editing course delivered to your inbox. Signup required by March 31st, 2019 to lock in the 50% discount for 3 months.


Kristina Stanley is an editor, author, and CEO of Fictionary. She’s the best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series, Look The Other Way, and The Author’s Guide to Selling Books To Non-Bookstores. Her short stories are published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Voices from the Valley anthology. She won the Audrey Jessup Capital Crime Writing award and her work was shortlisted for the Crime Writers of Canada Unhanged Arthur and the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger.

7 Tips for the Reluctant Editor

During the NaNoWriMo Now What? Months, we’re focused on helping you revise, edit, and publish your story. Of course, sometimes it’s difficult to make yourself do the necessary editing work on your novel draft. Today, author and Municipal Liaison Rebecca Frost shares some editing advice for the reluctant editor:

I absolutely love NaNoWriMo. I’ve been participating since 2010 and I’ll NaNoVangelize at the drop of a hat. I love the creativity, the comradery, and the craziness. My least favorite part is the editing that comes after. It’s a vital step, though, and I’ve come to terms with my process, so I’d like to share some tips in case you, too, are a Reluctant Editor.

1. Give yourself some distance. 

My personal rule is that I won’t start editing something until it’s been sitting for a month. If I write “The End” and then flip right back to page one, I’m too close to my book, and I’ve got the story arc still fresh in my mind so I can’t see what doesn’t actually work. I’ll save my novel in a couple different places, just in case, and then come back to it to give myself the best shot at coming to it fresh.

2. Print your novel. 

We read very differently on screens than we do on paper, which generally means we read them more closely. Printing something also helps my brain shift from creation mode into editing mode and forces me to let my inner editor out of wherever I’ve stashed him for November.

3. Color code your comments. 

I usually go in with two colors because I’ll be looking for two specific things. One of them will be for overarching comments about plot or consistency: were his eyes always blue? Did I already use “Allison” for a minor secondary character? The second will be for the mechanics: missing commas, grammar, typos, that sort of thing.

4. Read it out loud. 

My mouth moves when I’m editing. Many people read faster than they can talk, and forcing yourself to say—or mouth—the words slows you down so you can catch what you actually wrote on the page instead of what you think you wrote. If you have amazingly patient friends you can ask them to read it to you and listen for where they stumble, but many word processing programs also have a “Read Aloud” option. They can be a bit robotic, but also infinitely more patient than human subjects, and will let you listen to exactly what you have on the page so you can find those pesky typos.

5. Make very specific notes to yourself. 

There are times when I have a huge gap between my first editing read-through on paper and going back to actually input those changes digitally, and I’m often confronted with a margin note of “Huh?” or a highlighted passage with no further clue as to what Past Me was thinking. It can feel like a waste of time to carefully write out why I’m confused or how this sentence doesn’t quite fit, but Future Me really depends on those notes to make the overall changes.

6. Make yourself accountable. 

Editing is one of my least favorite steps of the process. I’d go so far as to call it a “necessary evil.” I like using the Page Count setting during Camp NaNoWriMo so I can see my graph grow. I also tend to post to social media during my writing process where my friends will check in and bug me if I go too many days without posting. One of the major benefits of NaNoWriMo is that we’re all going through it together during the wild writing process, so I like to lean on my friends for the editing process, too.

7. Set reasonable goals. 

Some days are better for editing than others. It takes a lot of a certain kind of concentration to be that focused, and sometimes my brain just isn’t up for it. I definitely can’t edit for as long as I can write, and I have to be realistic about how much progress I can make in a day.


Rebecca Frost is the author of The Ripper’s Victims in Print: The Rhetoric of Portrayals Since 1929—drafted in November 2016 as a rebel project, edited during Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2017, and published by McFarland in 2018. A Wrimo since 2010, she has been the ML for Michigan :: Upper Peninsula since 2012 and serves as her writing group’s main reference for murder and body disposal.

Top photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash.