Repeating Ourselves Too Many Times in a Novel

Healing StonesOne thing I’ve learned while editing to a specific word count is to provide the information only once. Readers are smart; they’ll understand. If I have 300 words to tell a story, every word matters. I don’t need to say the car was blue twice.

Saying something once in a 300-word story is easy to do because I can see the entire story on one page. I can remember what I’ve said and how I’ve said it. It’s a little more difficult in a 130,000-word novel.

But it’s still important not to repeat things multiple times because readers who read fast or have great memories will remember. Even those with weaker superpowers will notice if you continue to tell them Sarah’s hair was naturally blonde but was dyed green. I know because I read book reviews on Amazon, and I’ve seen many readers complain about the number of times something is stated: How many times does she have to say his eyes were blue? I heard it the first ten times.

That’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. More complaints arise when a situation is overstated: I get it; he’s broke and he lost his job at the construction site because he was late two days in a row. Stop telling me that in every chapter!

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Creating Book Covers with Inkscape

I’m always looking for ways to improve the books I write both in content and in appearance. This includes creating better covers with each book written.

Everyone must start somewhere and when I started creating covers more than ten years ago, they looked like an amateur created them. So I pressed on. In February 2012, I wrote about my discovery of using PowerPoint to create covers: Create! Design! Make it so. From this post, it’s obvious my covers still had a long way to go, but I was moving in the right direction: forward.

After eight years of making book covers, banners and promotional material using PowerPoint, I stumbled upon another program that will take my designs to the next level: Inkscape.

Where Did I Discover Inkscape?

I spotted a YouTube video by author David V. Stewart about how he made book covers, so I clicked, watched and fantasized about my own covers. The program he used was Inkscape. His covers looked amazing. He said the program was free on the Internet.

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Brandon Sanderson: Fantasy Writing Lectures

I’ve been watching a series of lectures by fantasy author Brandon Sanderson on the craft of writing with the focus on the fantasy genre. These lectures took place at BYU. Whether you write fantasy or not, much of the writing advice applies to all stories.

I’m working my way through them, but what I’ve learned so far is:

  • I’m a chef, not a cook.
  • Conflict connects characters, setting and plot.
  • Everyone must be good at something.
  • Yes, but; no, and.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow is the perfect character who is incompetent, yet highly proactive, and that’s what makes him (and SpongeBob) interesting and entertaining.

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Fantasy Month Photo Challenge on Instagram

Fantasy author Jenelle Schmidt is celebrating February is Fantasy Month and has posted the Fantasy Photo Challenge taking place on Instagram. If you don’t use Instagram, you can post to Twitter or Facebook, or all of them.

Schmidt has fantastical stuff planned for the month, so check it out.

Free eBook (February 1st, 2nd and 3rd): Destiny Governed their Destiny

February is Fantasy Month

Destiny Governed their Lives short story fantasyTomorrow, February 1st, is the beginning of the 5th Annual February is Fantasy Month. I first heard about this special month three years ago. At that time, I thought of participating, but I think we were two weeks into the month, so I made a post and left it at that.

Last year, I was too busy to take on more work and to be honest, I had forgotten about it until someone announced it. I could have thrown together something, but I chose not to.

This year, I’ve been thinking about fantasy month throughout January, so I think I’m ready to tackle it. I’ll make posts here, but most of my posts and promotions will be on my Diane Lynn McGyver blog and on Twitter. With most of my books enrolled in Kindle Select, I’m able to have free eBook days. This will be the only month of the year (possibly ever) that the full-length novels of the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series will be offered for free.

To start, the first short story that introduced the Land of Ath-o’Lea, Destiny Governed their Lives, will be free to download  from February 1st to the 3rd. It’s available at:

This short story provides the back story for Catriona Wheatcroft, who, unbeknownst to her, will play a pivotal role in the over-all plot of the series.

If you are a fantasy author, are you marking February as Fantasy month? If so, drop me a link in the comments, and I’ll share it.

Magic Rules in Your Fantasy World

I’m not one for strict rules so while watching fantasy author Brandon Sanderson’s YouTube lecture “Magic System”, I kept thinking, The magic in my novels doesn’t have rules.

However, afterwards I considered the ideas he presented and once I broke through the dam, the rules flowed swiftly. The magic within the realm of Ath-o’Lea does have rules. Some are soft, others firm.

Sanderson imparts this sage advice: Flaws are more interesting than powers. Things your characters can’t do are more interesting than what they can do. Flaws and limitations of magic are interesting.

With that in mind, I considered the powers and the limitations used in my novels.

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Supporting Characters Who Stole the Show

When we set out to write a story, we know which characters are the main characters, the ones readers will cheer and invest emotions in. That is until books are turned into movies and actors cast to play supporting characters do such a tremendous job, they steal the show from main characters.

Did you know the main characters in Pirates of the Caribbean were Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner? Jack Sparrow was a supporting character . . . until he stole the show.

Did you know Phil Coulson was only a supporting character in The Avengers. Writers thought it was okay to kill him off . . . until fans rattled their cage to have him resurrected.

The same happened in Thor: The Dark World. They killed Loki, then realised he was too big a character to knock off, and they had to bring him back. He was supporting Thor, but we know how that went down with Loki fans.

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