Category: Rosario Martinez

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.

We’re in the last week of Camp NaNoWriMo! The clock is ticking. How will you make the most of the final countdown? Today, NaNoWriMo Participant Rosario Martinez reminds us to leave our excuses at the door and put that pen to paper/fingers on the keyboard:

Many will say there is no trick to writing other than to sit and write.

It’s hard to do that sometimes. Life will happen. We all have valid reasons not to write. It’s true. There are things, people, and situations that will make us think twice about writing. They deserve our attention because they are too important to us. But you know what? The real trick to writing is this. If you didn’t already know, let me be the one to tell you. Your story is important. Your story is important because only you can tell it.

No one can tell your story the way you know it — no one but you.

The heart of your story is you. 

At this moment in time, only you know your story, and it is important for that very reason. The way you see it when you close your eyes, feel it as your fingertips press the keyboard, or the tip of your pen glides across the paper, your story exists only because you made it so.

That excitement that made you want to write in the first place, that spark? It’s still there hiding—waiting for you.

The words you write matter because only you can write them. The act of writing can sound daunting sometimes, even more so when there’s a word count involved. Sometimes those are the things that keep us away from writing rather than inviting us in. But your commitment isn’t to a word count. It’s to the story you want to tell. The words that are tugging inside your head, begging you to write them.

Be flexible, write when you can, write what you can, but keep writing. 

Even when you don’t know what comes next: write. Even when it doesn’t make sense: write. It can be anything. You never know where creating a character’s backstory might lead you to their inner conflict in your story. One thing can lead to another. It takes one word to set everything in motion. Setting time aside, it can be just minutes at a time. Bite-size. You’ll surprise yourself. You can make your word count because you can always change it. Don’t think about what hasn’t been done or how much time you have left. When you remove those restrictions from your writing time, you’ll think clearer, and the story will pop up again. What matters is that you tell this story

Think of the way your story comes alive when you think about it. Think of the words and watch them jump off the page as you’re writing them. Think of how much you want to know your characters. Who are they? What are they hiding? And why do they want you to write them? Your story is important to you, and someday it will be important to someone else, too. What is this story, your story? Remember that you are the only one that can write it. Only you.

Let your words lead you down the unexpected, the bright and dark corners that you wish to explore.

This story, your story, can only be told by you.


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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 (https://lemmonavenue.net) or find her on Twitter @rosariomwrites and Instagram @rosariomwrites

Top photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash.

For some writers, September means the start of meticulously planning out what they’re going to write in November. For some pantsers, even thinking about writing is still months away. But no matter what your writing style is, just starting anything can be the hardest part. Today, writer Rosario Martinez shares some words of wisdom about beginnings:

You want to write a story. It’s the story that’s been there in the back of your mind. The one you’ve frequently thought about writing down, the one you thought you’d never get to tell. Until one day, poof! There it is, like a shiny new pencil. Quickly gather your notebook—a new one that you’ve assigned for this occasion. You might already have a couple notebooks that you’ve gathered over the years for this exact moment. All those empty pages hiding away the hundreds of possibilities. All the stories. All of them just waiting for you to sit down and write.

The real beginning—the part before the story ever starts—is where we as writers have to condition ourselves to write. Perhaps not everyday, but at least thinking about writing constantly, is the hardest part. 

Think of all the people who candidly say they have always wanted to write a book but simply don’t have the time. If there is something that I have learned since beginning my novel, it’s that the right time to write will not come, bells ringing, at a particular time of the day. I remember I wanted to write at specific times of the day, every day, uninterrupted, to complete my word count each day. I was disappointed when it didn’t happen and decided to start anew every day after that. 

It was a huge relief when I began to be flexible about my writing time. In the early days I set an event on my phone calendar around the time that I’d most likely be home to remind me that this was a good time to write. Today the event is still there; it’s there the 365 days of the year. While I don’t write every day, it helps to keep writing on my mind, it helps me begin every day.

The writing journey itself has several beginnings, middles and endings—it’s kind of meta if you really think about it. Each day, gradually we carve out the time to write. How? By thinking about our writing in the way one would approach a math problem, step by step. (Math, right? Fractions, or something.) But it makes sense to think about it this way. 

I often thought about writing a book as some unattainable kind of magic, and that was daunting. It’s too overwhelming to think about a whole book all at once. All the parts start to move and often you don’t know where to begin. That was one of the things that kept me from writing. I started out collecting scenes I’d written, names I liked for characters, possible locations, and backstory. I had the skeleton of a story, and while I had an ending in mind, I had absolutely no idea where to begin. 

The truth is, there is no one way to start your story, because only you know your story. I started writing out of order and that got me through for a couple of scenes—not chapters. Then I wrote the ending before I wrote the beginning and circled back to the start. It took a few tries and rewrites until now I think I’m at a good spot.

The beginning is always tough. I’m here to tell you that it will be okay you will get through it. All you have to do is sit and begin.


Rosario Martinez is a writer in Dallas, Texas where she lives with her husband and their 4 sweet but demanding cats. She’s currently working on her debut YA Fantasy novel set in a parallel world where magic isn’t the only rising power. She has too many flannel things and believes a good bowl of nachos is life. To follow her journey to publication, visit her blog or find her on Twitter @lemmonavenue08 and Instagram @rosariowrites.

Top photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

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What does it take to call yourself a writer? Sometimes, using this word is a challenge and an act of courage. Writer Rosario Martinez tells the story of the moment she finally shared this part of her identity with stranger—and what came next in her writing life:

I always knew what I wanted to do when I grew up: write stories. But that was a long time ago, when “writing” wasn’t something I thought of as a job, let alone a career. It felt so out of reach for me, and I began to think only a very lucky few could achieve this dream. Being the people-pleaser that I am, I moved on to something else. It’s not that I didn’t want to be a writer, but I got really good at pretending I could ever be anything else.

For a long time I worked a job I thought I could make my career, checking all the boxes on my long list of tasks that needed to be done before I could move on to the next step. It was inorganic and a heartless approach to a life I thought I wanted. During that time, I’d pull out my notebook at night and just breathe the words that had been saturating my head all day long. I did this for many nights and rare free weekends. It made me so happy to just write for myself. Knowing that no one would ever need to know what I was writing or read my stories made me feel good. It was like my very own little secret.

People who knew me from very young and through my high school years always said to me “you’re the writer,” but I didn’t feel comfortable saying it myself because I hadn’t accepted that part of me as something that was actually attainable. It was something that I did and that people liked. That was it. I had so little faith in myself back then.  

Then there came a point when I couldn’t deny it to myself anymore, and I realized that I didn’t have to be the one standing in the way of my own happiness. I remember the day I first introduced myself as a writer. I was at the car shop waiting for my car when a man next to me began to make some small talk. Somewhere in the conversation he asked me what I did for a living, it was in that moment that without hesitation I said, “I’m a writer.” I had been waiting so long to say those words that even though I had just began writing my manuscript, I felt accomplished. It was so easy and freeing to finally be able to say it out loud. I had been afraid to admit it to myself and to others mainly because it’s not your typical 9 to 5 job. Once I truly accepted what I had known all along, it became easier to make time to write. I took the time to get to know myself and what truly made me happy. 

“It was in that moment that without hesitation I said, ‘I’m a writer.’ I had been waiting so long to say those words.”

In hindsight, I think I was meant to meet that man. When I told him that I wrote for a living he didn’t question me about it or look at me with pity like many had done in the past. Instead his face lit up as he told me he was a pastor and he wrote his sermons every week. He was, in some ways, a writer in disguise—yet a writer nonetheless—and that made me feel secure, and that being a writer was possible.

Since that day, writing has come first. I make time, though it wasn’t easy at first. Accepting my commitment to write has made it more manageable. Writing is like swimming—the less you struggle, the easier it gets. And the more time you spend practicing writing, the better your prose will be.

There were a number of times when I wanted to join NaNoWriMo but didn’t because I didn’t think I was a writer. Don’t be discouraged because you didn’t finish one year, because I didn’t even begin—year after year I made excuses for myself. Until last year I said, “let’s go.”  I didn’t finish, but I did get a good number of words down. It made me so proud of myself. The ball was in motion, I wanted to keep writing and know where my story was taking me. 

Fast forward to last month’s Camp NaNoWriMo: I completed my goal of writing 20,000 words bringing my manuscript to 100,000 words. You can do it, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Believe in your story, but overall believe in yourself. You’re a writer—be a writer and write something. Stop making excuses and write that story that wants to be written. Do not be afraid to be who you were meant to be.


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Rosario Martinez is a writer based in Texas where she lives with her husband and their 3 sweet but demanding cats. She’s currently working on a YA Sci-fi/Fantasy novel that’s been brewing in her head since 2007. She has too many flannel things and believes a good bowl of nachos is life. To follow her journey to publication visit her blog or find her on Twitter @lemmonavenue08 and Instagram @rosariowrites.

Top image modified from Ra Reyes on Flickr.