Critique Process: the Road to Publishing

If I’m being completely honest, I’m the worst kind of writer there is.  I write and write and write.  Then when I finally get to the end of the first draft, I just stop.  My draft sits in a folder on my computer and accumulates a thick layer of cyber dust so to speak.  When I think about getting the critique process started and editing my work, my fingers freeze on the keyboard.  Unable to move and usually leads me to exit out of Scrivener where my writing stays buried for at least another year before I open it again.  So why is it so hard for me to take the next step from the first draft to the second draft?  Recently, I slogged my way through some very pitiful edits and posted my pseudo-second draft to the critique website, Scribophile.  Here’s what I found out in the first foray into the next step in publishing my writing.

I have a better idea of where to start editing!

Firstly, I had no idea where to start the editing process.  I mean, I thought I did.  Reading through my novel in progress helped initially.  I picked out the glaringly large problems in the writing to attend to.  Plot holes and threads that direly needed attending to were easy enough to catch on my initial read through.  However, what I didn’t really know was where I should start.  When you have 100,000 words plus that need to be reworked, it’s overwhelming, to say the least.  The critique process really helped in that regard.  By having a handful of other people look through my writing, it gave me a better handle on what I needed to focus on.  It showed me what readers were tripping on while reading my work.  With the focused critique I received from my readers on Scribophile, I feel like I have a better understanding of where my first edits need to be.

The critique process actually motivates me more!

Photo by Berkay Gumustekin on Unsplash

I think almost any writer enjoys a pat on the back.  That “good boy” and “atta girl” from another person feels fantastic.  If I’m honest with myself, that’s what I love the most about writing fanfiction.  I’m like a dog.  Tell me I’m a good writer and watch me wag my fluffy little tail.  Compliments, unfortunately, don’t help a writer become a better writer.  In fact, the more compliments I get, the less likely I’m going to be to seriously edit my work.  I know that my work isn’t perfect in its word vomit first draft stage.  I’m not that naive or arrogant.  What it really is there doesn’t feel like a real push to improve my writing.  This then leads to my utter embarrassment a few months down the road when I look at my work again.  A critique, though, feels more like an invested reader telling me that while my writing is good, it could be better with some more time and energy.  This is the gentle reminder that I need to keep going past that first draft stage.

Not all critiques are considered equal.

Obviously, I didn’t expect all who read my writing to instantly love it.  That’s not the point of the critique process.  See the above point.  What I did somewhat expect was that the critique I did get would be in depth, somewhat lengthy, and insightful.  However, what I consider in depth, lengthy, and insightful doesn’t always match up with the readers who chose to critique my work.  Now, I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the feedback I received.  That’s very far from the truth.  All the readers who took time to look through my writing were fantastic and brought up some really good points that I definitely intend on improving upon.   Some of the critiques I received, though, were rather short and focused on things that I specifically asked not to be commented on as it wasn’t what I was primarily worried about.  With that being said, I found that it’s important to think about the feedback you do get.

The people who leave it are trying to be helpful and genuinely want to help you improve your work.

Not all feedback needs to implemented in your draft!

With the above point being said, I found it important to remind myself that not every little fix that my critiquers gave me needed to be added to my draft.  Again, most of the critique I received was given in good faith and intended to help me. However, not all of it fits with the vision I have for the story as a whole.  There are lines of dialogue, specific points of views, and other details that I wrote for a specific reason.   I’m very attached to them.  This isn’t to say, though, that the concerns the critiquers brought up were invalid.  It simply made me realize that I needed to tweak some things to solve problems that my beloved bits and pieces caused.  If I implemented every feedback that I received during the critique process, I would probably end up with something I wasn’t entirely happy with.  I think I’d spend a lot of time wishing I’d kept that one line of dialogue or something of the like.

Final Thoughts

I have a better idea of where to start editing my work.  Without the critique I received from my readers on Scribophile, I’d probably still be completely lost and stuck at the starting line.  I have more confidence and a sense of direction.  I’m excited to start editing and see what other critiquers have to say about future drafts.  Who knows.  Maybe I’ll be ready to publish in some capacity by the end of the year!

How about everyone else?  Where are you on your writer’s journey?  I’d love to hear about it!  Drop me a line here in the comments or connect with me on my Tumblr.  You can also find me here on Scribophile.  Be aware though.  You will need to make an account in order to read, critique, or follow writers.

Need a kickstarter to your creativity or your next writing project?   Check out my collection of writing prompts.

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Writing Prompt #78

Writing Prompt #78

Flirty Merman

Her day had been way too long to have to deal with a merman hitting on her.

Your last prompt for the week is a bit of a fun one.  I always see prompts about mermaids but very few about mermen.  I believe somewhere in the wide world of the internet, I’ve read that most of the early depictions of mermen were rather ugly.  However, many modern adaptations that I’ve seen make mermen just as handsome as their female equivalents.  Stories with mermen at the center of them are still in short supply though.  Use this prompt to inspire your next story.  Is your merman the kind of creature that would drag an unsuspecting sailor to their doom?  What are his motives?  How did your heroine even come to be in a position to gain the attention of this flirty merman? Maybe your heroine’s long day began with falling off a ship at sea.  Perhaps she just finished up a terrible date.

Mermen not really your cup of tea?  Check out some of my other writing prompts in the archive for more ideas to give your writing a kickstart.  As always, anything you write belongs solely to you.  You don’t need to credit anyone.  However, if you want to share your writing with me I’d love to read it.  Put a link to it in the comments below or connect with me on Tumblr.

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Writing Prompt #77

Writing Prompt #77

The White Funeral Dress

She was the only one wearing white at the funeral.

Today’s writing prompt feels a bit ominous, bordering on the paranormal.    Usually, when I make my writing prompts, the picture that I use as a background for the prompt and the picture that initially inspires the prompt are completely different.  For this prompt, though, I couldn’t find a picture that worked as well as this one.  The way the people in the background seem to ignore the woman in the foreground and her fuzziness almost make it seem that she’s not really visible to anyone but the person holding the camera.  She smiles knowingly as if she has a secret.  Write that secret.  Tell us how she died.  Show us why she’s smiling at her own funeral.  Or take a completely different spin on this prompt.  Maybe she’s the wife or daughter of the deceased.  But why is she wearing white when everyone else wears black?

Spooky and paranormal not really what you’re looking for today?  Browse through my writing prompt archives for dozens of other prompts.  Remember!  Anything you write belongs solely to you with no need to credit.    However, if you want to share your writing with me I’d love to read it.  Drop me a link to your work in the comments below or send it to me via Tumblr.

Want to support my writing?  Consider donating to me for the price of a cup of coffee.  I’ll customize a prompt just for you.

Writing Prompt #76

Writing Prompt #76

New Apartment

Fluffy really enjoyed the view from their new apartment.  Then again, watching Jupiter rise and starships passing right outside the window was pretty impressive.

After a brief break, I’m back with a new set of writing prompts!  This Monday’s prompt is hard and fast science fiction.  I grew up watching movies such as Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century and Star Wars.  Two very different kinds of sci-fi movies but pretty hard and fast examples.  For a large part of my childhood, life on a space station or ship fascinated me.  The mysteries of space are vast and exciting.  With the wide majority of space unexplored, it’s a writer’s paradise and a galaxy of possibilities exists.

Science fiction not really your cup of tea or don’t feel like writing about space station life?  Check out some of my other writing prompts in the archives.  Remember!  Anything you write belongs solely to you with no credit necessary.  However, if you want to share your writing with me I’d love to see it.  Drop a link to it here in the comments or connect with me on Tumblr.

Interested in supporting me?  Consider donating to me for the price of a cup of coffee.  I’ll customize a prompt just for you.

Writing Resource Websites: Happy Birthday from Me to You

It’s January 13th!  Today I turn 27!  Do I feel any more like an adult?  No… not really.  Do I feel old?  Oh boy!  Do I ever!  That’s a discussion for another day though.  In honor of my birthday, I’d like to share some of my favorite writing resource websites.  Sort of like my happy birthday gift from me to you.

Writing Resource Websites


  • NaNoWriMo: I really enjoy NaNo.  It’s a marathon writing sprint through the month of November and has a fantastic community.  That community is most active during November.  However, a few stalwart people stick around through the entire year.  I like poking around whenever I need some advice and motivation to keep writing.  I did a post in the past about NaNo.  Check it out for more information!
  • Write Tribe: This is a nice facebook group to chat with other writers and make some writer friends.  If you have a question there are over a thousand writers to pick the brain of.  The admin also posts motivational quotes, writing prompts, and discussion starters for the community as a whole.
  • Scribophile: I’ve not had a chance to really try this community out but it’s been on my radar for a few years.  It’s been a NaNoWriMo sponsor for at least two years now and I hold a high amount of trust in NaNo sponsors.  Scribophile offers critiques from the writers in the community and allows writers to post their own works for critique.  There forums, groups, and contests as well.  The site offers a free service and paid service but the free service looks as though it’s not too terribly limited.  I personally can’t wait to check it out further.

Writing Advice

  • I absolutely love, love, love this website.  It hosts articles detailing a whole array of writing topics.  Freelancing, marketing, and publishing are just a handful of things that you’ll find resources on.  They’re all written by experienced writers, authors, and bloggers who’ve been writing for awhile.  If you’ve never been, please be sure to check it out.  It’s at the top of my list to peruse whenever I have a question.
  • I’ve been following this blogger for a few years now.  I’ve always enjoyed her posts everything writer-ly related.  There are topics that range from writing craft to publishing to Scrivener tutorials. Definitely worth the quick check out.  If you really enjoy the writing resources on this website then you might also want to check out the facebook community set up for as well.
  • If you’re a fan of writing masterlists, this is a fantastic resource for you!  In fact, this happens to be one of my favorite writing resource websites.  There are some fantastic posts about writing certain kinds of characters, plot twists, conflicts, and “description thesauruses.”  Ever struggled with how to describe facial expressions or needed a gesture to round out your scene.  I totally have!  I usually pop over into these masterlists whenever I need some suggestions.

Writing Prompts

  • I keep a Pinterest board with nothing but writing prompts on it.  Most of the prompts on that board come from this website.  They range from really silly to very serious.  I also love how versatile they are since I can see them being used in so many different contexts.  Also, these prompts are some of the most creative I’ve ever seen.
  • Promptuarium: This particular website has probably one of the biggest archives of writing prompts I’ve ever seen.  Need a paranormal prompt?  This site has you covered!  What about a fluffy romantic prompt?  Yep!  It’s got them too.  The site also features dialogue prompts and character banks if you need some inspiration in that department.
  • Writeroftheprompts: This is a fairly active Tumblr blog full of prompts, advice, quotes, and character banks.  I have so many prompts saved from this blog it’s not even funny.  Some of my favorite prompts that are featured on this blog are called “Kill the Cliche.”  It takes the usual tropes, stereotypes, and plot devices found in many stories and gives writers a specific challenge to turn them on their heads.  I’d personally love to read some stories written from these prompts!

Tumblr Blogs

  • Writing with Color: I follow a lot of Tumblr blogs about writing.  So, so many… However, when I think about my favorite writing resource websites, Writing with Color jumps to my mind pretty quickly.  Especially when I need help with writing about cultures, ethnicities, and races.  It is run by several mods who have very different backgrounds that offer answers to questions, tips on writing diversity in stories, and how to avoid harmful stereotypes.  I spent a lot of time there when working on character building for one of my stories.  Hands down one of the most useful resources on the internet!
  • Brynwrites: Honestly, I love this blog.  I love its moderator.  They go beyond and above when trying to help.  They post advice on a wide variety of writing topics and invite questions from other writers.  Not only are they super eager to give advice but they are incredibly friendly as well.  There must be hundreds of posts worth of writing advice on their blog.  Hundreds of posts that are incredibly well organized.  I’m still in awe over that.  They are fairly active in the Writeblr community and are widely respected for their knowledge and advice.  This is a blog that warrants a follow.
  • Just a Writing Aid: This definitely not just another writing aid!  The moderator of this blog answers questions for just about anything writing related.  Between Brynwrites and Just a Writing Aid, I think most of the posts I reblog come from these two blogs.  Just a Writing Aid compiles their posts in masterlists for easy navigation and reading.  They answer questions daily and are frequent posters in the writing advice tag and Writeblr community.

Final Words

Here you go!  Twelve writing resource websites!  Again, happy birthday from me to you.  One day I’ll have to make another post specifically about Tumblr blogs I think.  Narrowing them down to only a handful was incredibly difficult for me.  Actually, there are many more resources that I didn’t get to but are phenomenal as well.  I might have to do another similar post sometime in the future but that’s thought for another day.

If you happen to have any writing resource websites that I didn’t mention but think I should check out, please leave a comment below or send it to me via social media!  I’d love to check it out and see what else is out there.

If you enjoy my posts, prompts, and advice, please consider donating!  It only costs the price of a hot beverage and I’ll throw in a cool customized writing prompt just for you.  Every little bit helps me continue creating and writing so I can bring you, even more, writing resource websites!

Writing Prompt #75

Writing Prompt #75


“Why would I be?”
“First time making a solo drop.  Kinda a big deal.”

Your final prompt for the week is a relatively open-ended one.  I think I actually based it on the same picture I based my “Desperately Needed” prompt.  However, this one has a slightly different tone behind it.  I can see the second of the two speakers being more confident.  It could all just be a front though.  What exactly is this unnamed individual dropping off and why is it a big deal?

If this prompt isn’t what you’re looking for today, take a look through my archive of writing prompts for inspiration.  Remember, everything you write belongs to you one hundred percent.  There’s no need to credit me at all.  However, if you use one of my prompts and want to share it with me, I’d love to see it.  You can post a link to your work below in the comments or send it to me via social media.

Want to show some appreciation for my prompts and articles in a monetary sense?  Consider donating to me for the price of a single hot beverage!  I’ll customize a prompt just for you!

Writing Prompt #74

Writing Prompt #74

A Fine Mess

“A fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into brother.”
He glared down at his sister, rattling the chains around his wrists.  “Just get me out of these already.”

Your prompt this Wednesday is inspired by the condescension that only a sibling can offer.  I find that I personally like writing about siblings more than  I like writing about romance.  I wrote this as an adventure prompt because the illustration I based it off of was very much a medieval fantasy picture.  Take some time and tell the story of how and why this sister has to bail her brother out of chains?  What exactly did he do to end up there?  Is this a usual occurrence for the two?

If this writing prompt isn’t what you’re looking for today then check out some of my other writing prompts!  I’ve got loads in my archives to get you into a writing mood.  Remember!  Anything you write belongs to you with no need to credit me.  However, if you want to share your work with me then go ahead and drop a link to it in the comment below!  Or, send it to me via social media.  I’d love to see it.

Want to support me, then please consider donating!  It only costs about the price of a hot beverage.  I’ll create a customized writing prompt just for you out of gratitude!

Writing Prompt #73

Writing Prompt #73

Desperately Needed

The watched the scenery pass underneath the transport as they got closer to the settlement.  The case of supplies weighed heavily in his hand.  The survivors desperately needed them.

Your prompt this morning is a versatile one.  When I wrote it, I originally had a sci-fi setting/genre story in mind.  However, you could probably spin this as a fantasy prompt of some sort or even a horror story.  You could tell the story of a simple medic or delivery man going into a wasteland only to discover that the survivors he’d hoped to bring aide to have vanished.  You could also tell the story of what prompted the need for aid in the first place.  What was the tragedy that befell these people?  How did they find themselves in such dire straits?  Let your imagination run wild and carry you on whatever adventure this prompt takes you on.

Not really what you’re looking for at the moment?  I have tons of writing prompts from the past that might fit your needs better.  Remember, no matter what prompt you use there’s no need to credit me.  Everything you write belongs solely to you.  If you’d like to share your writing me, however, I’d love to see it.  Drop a link to it in the comments below or on one of my social media sites!

Want to show some appreciation for my prompts and articles in a monetary sense?  Consider donating to me for the price of a single hot beverage!  I’ll customize a prompt just for you!

Character Building: Dungeons and Dragons Edition

About five months ago, I took the next logical progression into my nerdiness. I began playing Dungeons and Dragons.  Honestly, with as much as I enjoy all things nerdy it’s really a surprise that it took me nearly 27 years to get to this point in my life.  Thank you, Matthew Mercer and Critical Role.  I digress.  Since picking up the hobby, I’ve done a lot of thinking about storytelling and plotting from the lense of dice rolling and random encounters.  The place that I’ve been the most intrigued with is character building.  Since D&D is a role-playing game you have to know the character you play inside and out much like when you write a novel.  The main difference being that it is on a smaller scale.  In D&D, you only really need to have a firm grasp on the character you play.  So how do you do this and how can it help your writing?

Character Building with the Player’s Handbook

The first dungeon master (DM) that I played with told me I didn’t need the Player’s Handbook (PHB) to get started. I ran out about a day after my first session and bought the basic handbook because I seem to do everything “all in or not at all.”  However, the nice thing about D&D is that it’s been around enough time that there are a ton of resources online.  I’ll include a list of my favorite websites that I’ve used in the past at the end of my post.

If you’re using the PHB, there are four main steps to creating a character.  Choosing your race, choosing your class, determining your ability scores, and picking a background.  The PHB walks a newbie player through the steps and even gives helpful suggestions on how to build a character.  Pretty nice if you’re a writer on a time crunch.

Step 1: Choosing a Race

Since D&D is usually a high fantasy game, many of its races are what you’d expect to see in a high fantasy novel.  Dwarves, humans, elves, and halflings (also known as hobbits for the Tolkien fans out there) are a given.  There are a few others in the PHB and quite a few homebrewed, or player created, races too.  Each race has their own unique traits and abilities that come into play during character building.  For example, dwarves are hearty individuals and have lived underground for centuries.  This gives them buffs to their constitution ability score as well allowed them the ability to see in the dark.  We’ll get to ability scores in a moment, so put those on the back burner for now.

If you already have a good idea of what kind of setting your story will take place in, picking a character’s race might be fairly straightforward.  If you’re writing a historical murder mystery in 1920s New York then you’ll probably only have humans in your story.  The other races are there if you need them though.

Step 2: Choosing a class

This is probably my favorite step.  In D&D, your class determines all the cool things you can do.  Rogues are super sneaky and can deal extra damage if their allies are distracting their opponents.  Druids can turn into animals that essentially give them extra hit points.  Barbarians hit hard and can take down several opponents quickly.  One of my favorite things to do as of late is to take characters I’ve already created and fit them into a class.  It doesn’t always work perfectly but that’s okay.  Your 1920s private investigator might be a rough and tumble fighter who can take punch after punch without even blinking.  Your dazzling leading lady could be a bard known for her ability to make people listen to even the most farfetched ideas simply because of the way she smiles.

Get your hands on some class descriptions and read through the perks.  See what traits work best for your characters.  Each class also comes with a handy “quick build” guide that suggests how to place your ability score stats and what background to choose.  You don’t have to follow it word for word but it can definitely speed things up when working on character building.

Step 3: Ability score modifiers

The basis of all D&D characters are the core six stats.  Strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom, intelligence, and charisma.  Since D&D is a game that has combat and roleplaying elements, each stat has a corresponding modifier that will be added (or in some cases subtracted) to things you can do.  These modifiers also determine how likely you are to be successful in whatever you’re attempting.  A smooth-talking pirate who hopes to get out of jail by persuading the guard that he’s innocent would use his charisma modifier to make that happen.  If that pirate’s charisma modifier is too low, well then they might need to think of another way out of the predicament.

Usually, ability scores and modifiers are determined by rolling a 20 sided die.  Since you’re mostly using the PHB as a character building tool, and not to play,  you might choose to skip on rolling the die.  Instead, you could make it up based preexisting ideas you might have for your character.  However, if you’re starting at square one then rolling a die could be kind of fun.  You always have the ability to tweak it if needed.

Should you chose to roll for ability scores, the PHB also gives some pretty helpful direction on how to use those scores to describe your character.

Take your character’s ability scores and race into account as you flesh out his or her personality.  A very strong character with low intelligence might think and behave very differently than a very smart character with low strength… high strength usually corresponds with a burly or atheletic body while a low strength might be scrawny or plump.

(PHB 14)

Again, pretty nice if you need some guidance on how to describe your characters.

Step 4: Backgrounds

This is the part of character building where things get interesting.  Remember how I said each class gives suggestions on backgrounds to choose?  Some of them make sense.  The fighter class recommends a soldier background since that allows you to optimize your character’s skills towards that class.  What if you have a “chosen one” trope though and your character is a fighter class but has the folk hero background that has a focus on a having a humble origin but meant for greater things?  Kind of sounds like the stereotypical farm boy pulls the magic sword of awesome out of the river set up to me!

Play around with the backgrounds and classes and see what you can come up with.  Each background also has some nifty personality traits, ideals, and flaws to help flesh your characters out.  However, you can, of course, use them as a jumping off point to come up with your own.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of the Outlander background traits but they serve as some cool inspirations.  Depending on your needs you can mix and match parts of some backgrounds to suit your needs.  When I built my first D&D character, I was surprised just how quickly my backstory came together just by using the ideas in the background.

Putting it all together

This is definitely a more time-consuming process than the ones I described in my Quick Character Creation Methods post.  Using the PHB is more of a labor of love that’s going to take some time.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend building all your characters this way.  Maybe just focus on two or three of the most important characters and go from there.

I also want to take a moment and point out that I would NOT mix and match backgrounds or tweak ability scores if you are designing a character that you plan on playing.  You can quickly throw the power balance out of whack by doing that.  Also, always discuss homebrew ideas with your DM before implementing them with a character you plan to use in a game.  It’s just good etiquette.


Sit down with a piece of paper, or even a D&D character sheet, and start making notes.  Take into consideration your setting and plot.  Exactly who do you need these characters to be?  How will certain races, classes, ability scores, and backgrounds allow them to fill those needs?  Free write and adjust when things don’t quite fit together.  Character building is supposed to be fun.  When you’re finished you should have a fairly well fleshed out character that is ready for whatever adventure you put them through.

Dungeons and Dragons Resources for Character Building

If you’re like me and not made of money, there are plenty of free resources available for use.  Here’s a list of my favorite websites!

  • Wizards of the Coast Abridged Players Handbook: The official rules from Wizards of the Coast.  It contains the basic races and classes for players (or writers).  Fairly straightforward and easy to comprehend.
  • Roll20 5th Edition Compendium:  A pretty nice basic overview of classes, races, backgrounds, and spells.  However, I’ve discovered that some of the details are missing such as certain class abilities.
  • D&D Homebrew Wiki: A community-edited and driven wikia with content that’s been created and customized for people who want something a bit different than what’s been developed by Wizards of the Coast.
  • Dungeon Masters Guild: A resource where players and DMs upload adventures, character creation guides, and companion guides for download.  Be sure to click on the “free” and “pay what you want” section to check out some interesting resources.

Need more?

Check out my writing prompt archive for some creative sparks for your next project.  You can also visit me on my Tumblr for more.  If you enjoy my work and want to show your appreciation, please consider donating to me!

Writing Prompt #72

Writing Prompt #72


They live all over the world, from the deserts to the rainforests.  People call them guardians.  Nobody’s sure if they mean the girls themselves or the giant cats that follow them wherever they go.

Thank goodness it’s Friday!  First one of the new year.  Rounding off my latest rounds of prompts is one about guardians.  This happens to be inspired by a collection of pictures I’ve seen on Pinterest.  They all feature women of various ages with giant-sized tigers, lions, and panthers at their side.  With so many of these similar themed images, I speculated on a more connected storyline for them.  Maybe they’re chosen by some goddess to protect the world.  Although, I  could see the possibility of them being druids or rangers who protect magical artifacts.  Give me some more time and I will probably come up with two or three more ideas of my own.  If you’re looking for some worldbuilding ideas, this might be a cool one to develop!

Not what you’re looking for?  Go through my previous writing prompts here!  You’ll find dozens more from last year to spark some creativity.  Remember, anything you write belongs solely to you with absolutely no need to credit me whatsoever!  However, if you would like to share your work with me I’d love to read it.  Drop me a link to it either in the comments below or on social media.  I can always be found on Tumblr!  Hit me up!  I’ll probably do what I can to share it with some people.

Want to help support me while I continue to create content?  Consider donating!  It’s the cost of one small, hot beverage.  I’ll customize a prompt a prompt for you!