Thursday, April 26, 2018

Building Characters and Writing a Compelling Dialogue

Third post in our revisiting our Online Writer's Conference series.

by Laura Palmer

Join author L. Palmer on an adventure deep into the world of building characters.
This session includes quick notes on character roles, questions to ask yourself as an author, and exploring the relationships between characters. It also includes info on dialogue tags and building smooth dialogue.

About Laura Palmer:
In between exploring the worlds within pages, L. Palmer lives among the mountains of Utah and attends graduate school at Brigham Young University. She developed her imagination and adventure skills through growing up in Girl Scouts, working for ten years at resident summer camps, teaching high school English, attending and working at the University of California Santa Barbara, and reading great books of fantasy and magic.

L. Palmer is well-versed in dialogue, murdering darlings, and developing likable characters. She writes musings on writing and pop culture on her blog:, which grew from 80 followers to 2,000 in two years. Her first book, The True Bride and the Shoemaker, was published June 2015 and is just the beginning of many tales to come.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Should a Writer Outline or Not?

Second post in our revisiting our Online Writer's Conference series.

by C. M. Clark

Deciding to write with an outline

Outlines are a wonderful way to plot out a story. However, the question is when do you need an outline and when don't you?

For myself, I find that as I build my story, having an outline helps keeps my plot and characters' point of view straight. The more complex you find your story; the easier it becomes to create the outline as you build.

One of the best things about outlines is that they can be as complex (meaning a series of three or more books) or low key (stand alone) as you wish to make them.

If you want, outlines can simply be a few lines on index cards, with each major scene having their own card. This can be helpful if you have physical cards to move and shuffle. I find that this method is best for smaller stand alone novels. The larger the idea (a series of three or more books) the more cards you're going to have and the more you're going to have to keep track of.

If you're looking for a simpler outline for your story, you can create a basic summary. This works great for a quick stand alone novel. It gets your idea down on paper and gives you a guideline of where you want the story to go.

This also works if you have the sudden flash of an idea, writing down a basic summary of the idea can serve as an outline. Or you can make a list of what needs to happen. Hitting your major conflicts within the story works great for an outline.

If you find that your idea has become far more complex and realize that you're looking at an idea that is going to span more than one book. There are other outline methods that will help keep track of your story's timeline, characters and point of view changes in your story.

One is the Snowflake method. This method helps you build from a single idea and continue to branch out from there forming more complex scenes each time. This can also be used as a tool to build your idea. You can even take it a step farther by adding your POV character, even a date and time when the scene takes place.  

"It's a Phase" by Lazette Gifford uses a version of this method. Though modified and changed to work for the writer, Lazette Gifford.

This is my go-to outline if I'm planning something complex. Over the years it's morphed into what I need to get out of an outline. I tend to add POV characters to each start of a phase. Sometimes dates and location. Maybe even a note of weather.

You know where you're going when you're in the middle of your novel.
You're able to swap scenes quickly inside the outline rather moving full scenes.
When writing you don't need to pause and wonder what is happening next.
If you're a writer that likes to jump around in a novel you can pick an already outlined scene and write it, then swap to another one and so forth.

You do have to plan the whole novel out before writing.
You do need to know your characters, world, plot points and conflicts before starting your outline.
You should also have an idea of what your conflict, plot are for the whole story before you start the outline.

Deciding to write without an outline

A lot writers find that they like not having a guideline to go by. That "Writing Into The Dark," as Dean Wesley Smith calls it, works better for him. Writing without knowing where the story is going and writing without knowing your major arcs. Or even start with a freewrite, where you start with a first sentence and go from there.

With this method you can start at any time. Have your characters created and want to start writing? Go for it. Have your world created and want to start? Go for it. Have nothing but maybe an interesting sentence that came out of nowhere? Start writing.

With this method, it's up to the writer to decide when they're ready to start. Building your world, characters, and more as you write can lead to some very interesting world building.  You just have to keep track of it while you write. Be it in Scrivener, a notebook, another word file, etc.

Writing without your outline is basically starting the moment you have the idea. Or you feel like you have enough of the world, characters, and idea to start.

You can start writing right way. (Some will see this as a pro.)
You don't need write anything down. You can start right writing right away. This is basically "Writing Into The Dark". Or freewriting.
Letting the story unfold as you write. Learning about your characters and world as you write.

You can start writing right away. (Some will see this as a con.)
A lot of writers want to have some idea of where they are going. Even if it's a few 'wants' of where they want the story to go.
You might end up having to edit in new world and character building as you create it later in the story.


The best part of being a writer and writing is that you get to have the choice to outline or not.

You can have a small summary of your idea. Have your characters mapped out and your world created before you start writing. Even then, if you don't create an outline you can always pause to jot down a few notes of where your characters need to go. Outline on the go.

Or if you want to start a fresh idea without knowing where it's going to take you, letting the story evolve as you write.

The best thing about writing is that there is no wrong way to build any novel. If you have an outline or if you don't.

Just the fun of stepping into a new world with new characters and seeing where it'll take you.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

How to Write the Best First Chapter

After our exciting Online Writer's Conference, in which I'm sure you gained a wealth of knowledge from our fabulous presenters, LDS Beta Readers decided to re-share posts from prior writer's conferences.

Be sure to take notes!

Here's the first post in our revisiting our Online Writer's Conference series.

How to Write the Best First Chapter 

by Nikki Trionfo

This class is prerecorded. You may still ask questions in the comments and your peers will do their best to answer. If you don't receive an answer to your question, you may also contact Nikki—she's a wonderful person who would love to answer your question when she has time :)

About this class:
When your reader scopes your first chapter, imagine it like he’s trying to get a date. Does he pick the cute girl studying in the corner, or the gal who announces she’s new in town, has tickets to a hockey game, and is dying to try the local food rave? You know the answer. He goes for the girl who’s ready to live a new story, and yes, he goes for a first chapter that promises the same.

Is it depressing to invent all that coolness and figure out how to show it off in the first 12-20 pages AND set up a story arc, theme, and inner conflict at the same time?

Heck, no! I love first chapters!

First chapters are so full of promise that sometimes readers cheat on their existing books just to ride the first-chapter wave all over again with a new one. (Not me. I break-up first.)

If you like this topic and want more, check out all the free webinars called Fifty First Chapters: Make Yours Stand Out.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

First Chapter Contest Winners - LDSBR Conference 2018!

Grand Prize Winner!

Partial manuscript evaluation by a professional slush pile reader from a major publishing company. Thank you to Jessica Guernsey for this generous prize!

Our Grand Prize Winner is… (drum roll please!)

Sharon Belknap for her story It’s a Freaking Wonderful Jimmy-Choo Life (Sharon is also the winner of the Romance category).

Children and/or Middle Grade Category Winners:

We have a tie for first place!

Brittney Romney for her story Bunk 21
Kevin Johnson for his story It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Historical Category Winners:

We have a tie for first place!

Anneka Walker for her story The Lord in Disguise
Joanna Barker for her story Adeline

Adult (Other than Romance) Category Winners:

We have a tie for first place!

Michelle Kent for her story Storm Rising
Susan Allred for her story Under The Radar

Young Adult (Other than Romance) Category Winner:

Marla Buttars for her story Entwine

Romance Category Winner:

Sharon Belknap for her story It’s a Freaking Wonderful Jimmy-Choo Life

Prizes Include:

Partial manuscript evaluation by a professional slush pile reader from a major publishing company. Thank you to Jessica Guernsey for this generous prize!

Manuscript Critique and/or Cover Design generously donated by Savannah Jezowski.

Blurb Review generously donated by Julie Gilbert.

Partial Manuscript Edit or Critique generously donated by Arielle Bailey

Manuscript Evaluation from a professional editor generously donated by Christina Schrunk.

Manuscript Critique generously donated by Kierstin Marquet.

Other prizes to be announced!

LDS Beta Readers Conference 2018 - Adrenaline 101: Writing with Intensity With Dan Allen

Adrenaline 101: Writing with Intensity

Presenter: Dan Allen

From the writing of blockbuster authors Orson Scott Card, Stephanie Meyer and James Patterson, learn the keys to writing with emotional intensity. From generating story momentum with backstory, foreshadowing, and character wants to creating tension with revelations in dialogue, this presentation teaches how to amplify the emotional response of readers to story action.

About the presenter:

After fifteen years in the lab designing lasers, nanoparticles and smart phone sensors, author Dan Allen roared onto the writing scene in 2017 with the fantasy epic Fall of the Dragon Prince. At home in the Rocky Mountains, Dan is CFO (chief fun officer) of his family and enjoys cosplay, escape rooms, game design, and general science mayhem. You can keep up with Dan’s latest fantasy and scifi on his website and send him random science questions.

YA Fantasy:
Fall of the Dragon Prince, Forgotten Heirs Book 1 (Jolly Fish Press), Feb 2017

Blade of Toran, Forgotten Heirs Book 2, Feb 2018
Arachnomancer, (Dragon Scales Publishing), Sept 2018
Middle Grade Fantasy:
Super Dungeon Explore: Dungeons of Arcadia (Future House Publishing), June 2018
Science in Fiction: Gravity, Nanotechnology and Relativity chapters, edited by Dan Kobolt (Writer's Digest) Fall 2018

For more, visit:

Click here to return the LDS Beta Reader Online Conference 2018 Main Page

LDS Beta Reader Online Conference - Connecting the Dots: Using Social Media to Create a Web of Content for Marketing Books With Julie L. Spencer

Connecting the Dots: Using Social Media to Create a Web of Content for Marketing Books

Presenter: Julie L. Spencer

Learn online tools and social media to find your audience.

About the presenter:

Julie L. Spencer lives in the central Michigan area with her husband and teenage children. She has a very full life managing a conservation district office, writing grant proposals, newsletters, articles, and book reviews. Julie has been writing since she was in junior high, but prior to publishing her first novel, The Cove, her only published work was her master’s thesis. She loves to read and write New Adult Clean Contemporary fiction, is author of the Buxton Peak series, The Cove, The Man in the Yellow Jaguar, and has several more novels and non-fiction projects in the works.

Video Link:

See Julie's awesome books here. 

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LDS Beta Reader Online Conference - Wibbly-wobbly Timey-wimey: 8 Simple Strategies for Making Time to Write With Bree Moore

Wibbly-wobbly Timey-wimey: 8 Simple Strategies for Making Time to Write

Presenter: Bree Moore

Presentation of 8 strategies for finding and making time to write, focusing especially on those who have a job, are parents, etc. Includes: 1) Setting Goals 2) Getting Support (Friends, Family, etc.) 3) Get a Writing Buddy/Accountability 4) When you can't write, think about writing 5) Easy Access / Writing Tools 6) Develop your Skill 7) Finish SOMETHING 8) Embrace where you're at

About the presenter:

Bree Moore has been writing fantasy since the fourth grade. She lives in Ogden, is wife to an amazing husband, and the mother of four children. She writes fantasy novels between doling out cheerios and folding laundry.
"Woven" is Bree's first published novel, the start of what she intends to be an epic writing career.
In real-life, Bree works as a birth doula and midwife's assistant, attending women in pregnancy and labor, which is huge inspiration for her writing.

"Woven" by Bree Moore

Whitney Awards Nominee

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