Monday, August 31, 2015


It's September!

Okay, it's not September, but it's close enough that I'm including today in the new series (you'll see why in a few days).

Lately we've been doing monthly series's in Writing Editing and All Things Rani, and I thought it'd be nice to continue the trend. So including today there are fourteen posts this month, but subtracting one special day (I told you, you'll see why that is in a few days) there'll be thirteen posts. Hmm... *number crunching*... *pokes side of head in hopes of inspiration*... *turns to look at bookshelf*...

I have it!

Thirteen days, thirteen authors who've inspired me -- and the books that have inspired me the most.

#13: The Host

I know, I know, it's Stephenie Meyer... But this book isn't Twilight. In fact, it's very little like Twilight. Well, okay, that's a lie. It's a lot like Twilight. BUT there's a reason why I'm including this one in the top thirteen authors/book that have inspired my writing.

You see, The Host showed me something I hadn't thought about before.

Like Twilight, it's an incredibly easy read, but it's one that's well worth the time (since it should only take you a few days to read it).

Here, four reasons to read The Host:

1. POV

It's not an unheard of point of view, but to me it was a unique one. Usually, when we read a book about an entity living within a human, we read the book from the POV of the human. Not so with The Host. Actually, this novel is written in the POV of the entity. 

2. Annoyance

I liked Wanderer, as the main character is named, for about five chapters. And then I couldn't stand her. So for me, reading The Host was like learning what I didn't want to do with my characters, or how I could use annoyance to create a character like Wanderer. She was supposed to be a strong character. She wanted to be a strong character. But Meyer's personal belief system kept her from getting there.

For me, it was a lesson in figuring out how not to do that, how not to impose my own beliefs upon my characters.

3. Cliched

Oh no! The human woman Wanderer has taken over is strong! She's fighting back!

Wait... Hasn't this happened before?

The answer is yes, it has. But because we're reading it from the point of view of Wanderer instead of Melanie (the human woman), it gets a little more interesting. It's not the struggle of a human trying to get her body back, but of an alien trying to figure out how to maintain her hold upon the body. To me, that was interesting. 

4. Character

This novel was the first I read which truly explored some new elements of character. First and foremost being that the body had it's own personality. There was a desire within the body, a desire that didn't belong to Wanderer and didn't belong to Mel. That made things a little more interesting, and showed me a little better how to separate parts of my characters.

Now, could you read a different book that would give you these same things? Sure. But could you find one that's so easy to read that you'll be done in a few days? I'm not so sure.

If there's one thing Meyer is good at, it's crafting a style so simplistic that a child could read it -- and the thing with simplistic is that it helps us know what we don't want to write.

Yeah, I'm critical of my choice in making this #13, but it had to be done.


{Rani Divine}

Friday, August 28, 2015

Off the Ground

Today is the last day in the series on questions. Don't worry, I'll come back when I have enough fan questions and do another series. :)

"How many times can one person pull themselves up off the ground?" 

Off the Ground

Dear Questioner,

Sometimes I know it feels like we've hit rock bottom so many times that it's impossible to pick ourselves up again. Sometimes our lives have been so difficult and we've been down so many times that we don't even want to get up again.

Some people say this happens more often in the lives of creatives than any others. I'm not sure I'm inclined to disagree.

People knock us down.

Life gets hard.

Things happen.

But if you don't get up, then what are you going to do? Would you rather wallow in self-pity than get up and try again?

Sure, it might be easier, but only for a while. Eventually, things will get hard again. Even when you think you're at the bottom, there's often another fifty feet to fall. And if you don't pick yourself up, you could find yourself further down than before.

Nobody wants that.

I don't want that. I hope you don't want that.

So get up. Get up as many times as it takes to get where you want to be. Do it, because not doing it would be worse. Because it's better to try than to give up and fail. Because you have people around you, rooting for you, even if it doesn't feel like it.

We're creatives. We stand for each other. We stand with each other. We'll help each other stay on our feet, and when one of us falls, we'll help them get back up.

Surround yourselves with people like you, with creatives, and we'll stick together.

That's what it's all about.


{Rani Divine}

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Staring Eyes

Monday I wrote a letter to our questioner, and as this is the last week in our series, it felt right to continue the trend.

Again, I felt a connection with this person. I know how you feel. I've been there. I've seen those looks in people's eyes.

"How many people will look down on me for what I do?" 

Staring Eyes

Dear Questioner,

In some ways, I wish I could recount for you the number of times that I've been looked down upon for my choice in being a full time writer-editor. Like I said on Monday, people tend to think that the arts aren't necessary, that they're being phased out of existence, and that we're foolish for trying to follow in the arts.

But let me ask you something.

How many people, at the end of their day, turn on their television to catch their favorite show?

How many people, when they're going on a long flight, pack a book to read on the plane?

How many people, when they're trying to relieve stress, turn on some music?

That's art. Those are the arts, involved in the lives of everyone. People need art, they need beauty around them, and that's what you're choosing. You're choosing a career, a life, that will help you bring that to others.

Whether you're a horror writer or a classical pianist, you're working to bring beauty into the lives of others. You're working to scare them and bring smiles to their faces, or to get their minds spinning with a thousand notes of pure inspiration.

The next time someone looks down on you, remember that. Remember that you are putting yourself into a position where you'll be able to impact people's lives. Maybe you won't be the next Stephen King or Vincent Van Gogh, but that doesn't mean your work won't touch anyone. It doesn't mean you're working for nothing.

You're working for something.

You're doing something.

And it's beautiful.


{Rani Divine}

Monday, August 24, 2015


Today's question struck a chord in me. It did so because I relate to it, because I understand where the questioner is coming from, and I feel the hurt within it. For that reason, I've chosen to write you a letter in response. 

"How many times will I be mocked for my life choice?" 


Dear Questioner, 

I'm sorry. Truly, I am. I wish that you hadn't been mocked, that people had looked at you and seen the passion in your eyes. That's what we are, isn't it? We're passionate people, passionate about something it seems many limit to the shadows. People say we're making idiotic decisions, that we're not going to be able to make a living doing what we love, so what's the point in doing it at all.

But there is a point. 

If there's one thing that shines a light for you at the end of this dark tunnel, let it be that there is a point. 

The arts impact people more than you think. Art is something people can spend a lifetime studying, and still not know everything there is to know. Art surrounds us almost every day, and most people don't even realize that it's changing them. 

You have the power to do that. You have the power to bring change, to be a bright and shining light. Within your grasp is the power to change the status quo. 

So don't give up. I'm begging you, don't give up. 

People might mock you, it's true. They might say you're stupid for following your passion. 

I say you're brave. 

There aren't a lot of people who can make a living doing what they love to do, but I believe it's because they lack that passion, that drive. If you have it in you, then use it. Let it fuel you and push you to new heights. Shrug off the mockery as best you can, and shine. 

You're braver than you think. 

You're stronger than you think. 

And you're not a fool for following your dream. 


{Rani Divine}

Friday, August 21, 2015


How many books do I need to sell to be successful?

Well, that all depends on your definition of success.


1. Ten books

This here, this is a start. But it's not a failure. This is a beginning, and every story has one of those. This is where you're just starting out, just testing the fences and seeing how far you can get. And if you can sell ten, I'd bet you can sell...

2. Fifty books

Here's where you've had something happen. You've had a mini breakthrough, and you're getting things going. Sure, it's not a huge number, but remember when you'd only sold ten? You're getting somewhere! Everybody has to start somewhere, and there's always a middle ground to pass through. Besides, if you can sell fifty, how much longer can it really take to sell...

3. Five hundred books

Yeah, it might take you a little longer. But it certainly wasn't a failure to get to this point, no matter how long it took. You made it here, and now you have a fan base to cheer you on. There are people out there, waiting for the next book to come out. How awesome is that? And now that you have your following, do you have any idea how simple it'll be to get to...

4. One million books

It'll happen. Maybe not for all of us, and definitely not if you don't think you can do it. But I believe that hidden within every writer is the potential to write a book worthy of one million copies sold, one million readers, one million people following your story.

Nowhere along the line have you failed. Nowhere along the line did you give up and say it wasn't worth it.

Yes, it's a lot of work, I won't deny that, but do you see what can happen when you stick to it?

Don't base your success off your sales. Base it off your attitude.

You only fail if you stop trying.

So don't stop. 


{Rani Divine}

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Me, Myself, and I

How many aspects of me should I put into my story? 

This question... Oy, this question. Who came up with this stuff? No, but really, it's a good question. Of course, as per usual, it depends greatly on the story in question. But we'll get into that.

Me, Myself, and I

1. Poetry

I'm adding this because it's one of the major categories. I know it's not really a story, but it's close enough so I'm counting it.

Many poets are poets because of the things they've experienced in life. It's experiences that they draw from to create their art -- so there's your answer for this one. Put as much of you as you possibly can into your poetry. Put so much in that it hurts. That's the type of poetry that pulls at peoples hearts and makes them feel as you do, and really, that's how I feel poetry should be.

2. Creative Nonfiction

No brainer. Put all of you into your nonfiction. It's nonfiction. That means it's real. So put it all in there. Don't skimp. If you were a jerk to someone, then be a jerk. If you were a pansy, then be a pansy. If you were the sweetest person that ever walked the planet, then be the sweetest person that ever walked the planet.

But be careful not to leave anything out. If you leave things out, it makes it easier for your readers to find the flaws in your storytelling. They want to know that it's real, that you're real, so show them. Let them inside.

Maybe they'll like what they see.

3. Fiction 

I've saved the best for last, and I've also saved it for last because it's my forte. I'm a fiction writer. We all know this. I've dabbled in both of the above categories, and I don't enjoy them like I do fiction.

But do you know why I enjoy fiction so much? It's because I get to explore the universe through other people.

Yes, sometimes it's fun to have a character who's like me in every way, but fiction is fascinating to me because I get to see the world and everything in it, through the eyes of someone who's nothing like me. And honestly, it makes it a lot easier to understand the motives of other actual, living people. I see them like I see my characters, and even if their actions aren't things that I would ever do, I get them a little easier.

So if you're a fiction writer, try to avoid putting you into it. You can pop in a character now and again who's something like you, but try not to let it be your focus. Eventually, I guarantee you'll run out of material.

Have some fun, play around, and explore through characters you wouldn't normally think to create. There's a world out there in which to have adventures -- let's go have some!



Monday, August 17, 2015

Write = Edit

How many hours should I spend on editing? 

heh. Well, it's a good question. It's one to which many writers don't want an answer... But it's still a good question.

Edit Mode

There's no easy way to answer this question. Editing is so similar to writing that it truly depends on the writer and on the piece in question, but I do have a little "formula" that I use for my own work, to make me feel like I'm doing better.

1. By the whole

This is the part we don't really want to look at. If I were to count up the amount of time I spend editing, I might cry.

But if you really want to know how many hours you should spend on editing, you should first ask yourself how many hours you spent writing. In all honesty, they're about equal. It's hard to say, sometimes we don't want to hear it, but it's the truth.

If it took you two years to write the book... It's probably going to take that much time to edit it (on your own, that is -- editors can and do speed the process). 

2. By the chapter

Ahh... Now we'll get into the easier to swallow part: my formula.

Here's how I work:

I write two chapters a week.

Let's say my books are thirty chapters (arbitrary number there, by the way)

That'd be approximately fifteen weeks to write a novel. (not a lot of time, is it?)

Now, if I can write two chapters a week, I should be able to edit three. Why? Because I find that editing takes a lot less energy. I don't mind cutting things, and usually it ends up being a lot more reading than anything else.

So for editing, I'll try to do three chapters per week.

Calculating for the same thirty chapters...

Ten weeks.

But notice that I'm spending more time per week on the project. It's not that I'm working less, it's that I'm actually taking more time out of my week to edit. I find that it works better if I edit quickly, so that I'm more likely to catch any mistakes (because I wait at least six months after finishing a book before I edit, which generally means it's new even to me).

Really, to answer your question, the time is the same. But you'll want to lay it out differently, depending on your editing style. The important thing is that you go through your story with a fine-toothed comb and mend any broken fences along the way.


{Rani Divine}

Friday, August 14, 2015


How many "pitfalls" are acceptable in a novel?

Good question, friend. Good question.

It's the Pits. 

First off, let's define it.

A pitfall, as defined by our questioner, is an error. It's a flaw in the story, sometimes referred to as a plot hole. It's when the writer "screwed up" and forgot to answer a question, or when a fundamental error is made in the story.

And at least 85% of the books I've ever read have these pitfalls hiding in their narrative.

1. A single pitfall... 

Isn't a bad thing. Generally, I like to leave at least one pitfall in my story. Having a pitfall can help you to create a sequel, to keep the story going even longer (and I so enjoy my series'). So don't freak out if you publish your book and you find a pitfall hiding in there. Find a way to use the slip up to your advantage, and to make a positive spin on it.

2. Twice the errors... 

Two pitfalls, unfortunately, usually end up being a big thing. Two pitfalls generally means that there's a gaping hole in the story, something so huge that can't be resolved even in a sequel -- and we want to avoid that happening.

So while one pitfall can be used to your advantage, if you have two of them you'll be treading dangerous water.

3. Triple threat... 

I'm going to say this as nicely as I can, but it's not a very nice thing to say.

If you have three pitfalls in your story, you should either rewrite the story or forget this story ever existed. Or if you can't bear to do either one, send it to a professional editor. Don't send it to your friend, don't send it to your neighbor, send it to an editor. They'll be able to give you the professional advice you need in order to mend your novel and remove the gaps.

I hope this helps, and that you'll now have a better idea of why some holes are okay and others aren't.


{Rani D.}

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


How many hours do I need to spend on my first draft?

Good question. Also a difficult to answer question, because it depends on how long your first draft is. That being the case, I'm going to go at the question from a different angle.


1. Spend an hour a day on your writing

This should be the least amount of time you spend on your writing in a day, if you're really serious about it. If you want to get your story done, if you want to see this book finished and see it reach it's fullest potential, write an hour a day at least.

And don't worry, you are of course allowed to take days off.

But you might not want to, once you get going. ;-)

2. Two hours a day

This is my personal minimum. I try to write two or more hours a day, five days a week. Usually, it means that I write two chapters in a week, which means I finish a draft of a novel in under three months. 

3. Three or more hours

If you have the time, if you can sacrifice enough to put toward your writing, do it. Write three or more hours every day. Get the words on the page. Write the story you want to be writing.

By doing this, you'll not only finish your first draft quickly, but you'll have written it quickly enough that it's less likely for large plot holes to have appeared, and you'll ensure that you know a large amount about your story, without going back and rereading.

I hope this answered your question! Don't forget, if you have questions you'd like me to answer next week, leave them in the comments or send me a message on Facebook.


{Rani Divine}

Monday, August 10, 2015


How many drafts do I have to write? 

That's our question today. And it's a doozy. Since the questioner didn't specify, I'll give you an answer for each of the big three.


1. Poems

If you're a poet, it's a little easier. You really only need one draft, if you know what you're doing. If you're newer, you'll want to do two drafts. One to get your ideas out, and a second to make sure your wording and flow match and are smooth (or choppy, if that's what you're going for, since it's poetry and you can really do whatever you want).

2. Short Stories

Short answer: 2.

Long answer: You need to have at least two, but I recommend four or five. This will ensure that you have all your ideas in the order you want them, and that everything is flowing smoothly. Writing fewer drafts means more chance that you've forgotten something, and more chance that your ideas aren't working as well as you thought. In a short story, everything needs to be tight, everything needs to make sense, and no excess should be allowed. Ever. Essentially, get everything out in one draft, cut 80% out in a second draft, add 20-30% more in a third draft, and cut another 10-15% out in a fourth draft.

It's sounds more confusing than it really is.

3. Novels

Short answer: Again, 2.

Long answer: I suggest treating it like a group of short stories. Treat every chapter like it's a short story, and edit it down in a similar way. Now, with novels I don't believe you need to cut as much -- but you should still cut off a lot of the trimmings.

Generally, I go through 2-3 edits on my novels. I spend two days or so on each chapter, cutting out what I know I don't need and adding in things that I want to make sure are solidified within the story.

It takes time, but if you put in the time, your readers will thank you.



Friday, August 7, 2015


Well howdy there!

...You're right, I can't pull that off. Let's just answer a question, shall we?

How many...

Today's Question: 

How many chapters should I have, or should I have chapters at all? 

1. How many... 

 For my books, I have a standard number of chapters (post Advanced series, that is). Will I tell you what number that is? Nope. But I'll let you read Coetir and find out for yourselves. ;-)

Really, you'll want to figure out chapter numbers based on word count. If you have a lot of words, you can afford to have a lot of chapters. I like to start with around 8,000 words per chapter, but as we've already said, I overwrite eeeeverything. Really, it's just a matter of what you're comfortable with. Your chapters don't have to match in length, they don't have to be an even number, and they don't have to be based on someone else's logic. If you have eighty-three chapters in an eighty-three page book... then you may wish to reevaluate your choices.

2. Should I have them? 

Again, it's up to you. My first books were not written with chapters. You'll note that they have chapters now. That's because I had a friend read the book, and she said it would be MUCH easier to read if it had chapters. It's now what I generally suggest to writers: if you're going to write a book, use chapters.

BUT you don't have to write it with chapters. You CAN write it as one big chunk and add the chapters in later, if you're having concerns about how many chapters you want to have. That way, you can organize it into the exact number of pages you'd like.

You could also go into it with the idea that you're writing a series of short stories that will make up a novel. Every short story would then equal one chapter, and then you'd already have an idea for how many chapters you'll have. 

I hope this answers your question! And please don't be shy about sending others in :)


{Rani Divine}

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Happy hump day, everyone!

Today we have a new question to be answered, to the best of my ability. :)

How many... 

Today's question: 

How many main characters makes too many? 

Well now, that's an interesting question -- one I've been accused of not knowing the answer to. But I've learned since then, and I believe I have an answer for you.

1. Start with how many words you have

If you have a small number of words, you'll need a smaller number of characters. In general, I say that you're allowed two main characters per thirty thousand words. This doesn't count for short stories, which are a special case.

So, if you're writing a full length novel, try for three or four main characters at most.

2. Next, think about how you'd like your story to flow

If you want it to be a story with multiple heavy plots, then you can make more main characters work. If you're intending for a story that has very few main plots, you'll want to limit it to the number of plots. So if it's a story about a boy and a girl, keep it focused on the boy and the girl, and throw in an antagonist to mix things up.

What you'll want to do is keep your story from being muddled. I like to limit my main characters to less than six, now that I've written four novels with over a dozen main characters. In my honest opinion, if it's exhausting for you to write, it's probably exhausting for anyone to read.

Really, with this one, it's entirely up to you and your comfort level. But I'd suggest going back to some of your favorite books to find out how many main characters they have, and copy them.

Very few successful writers mind if you borrow minor ideas from them. It's the big ones they'll throw a tiff about. *wink*


{Rani D.}

Monday, August 3, 2015


Well sheesh. Apparently it's August already -- which means it's time to start a new series!

This month, I'll be answering questions that have been put to me by you, the fans and friends. They're all anonymous, so don't worry about me calling you out for being a little crazy (we're all mad here, as they say).

How many... 

Today's question: 

How many words (or pages) makes a novel? 

It's a fair question, that. A very fair question.

1. First, if you're looking at pages only, you'll want to change your thinking. 

See, publishers aren't going to look at the number of pages you've written, but the number of words. Why? Because a book of dialogue would be short on words but high on pages, and a book of exposition would be high on words but short on pages -- and words is the simpler way to count.

2. Second, you'll want to take stock of how much dialogue and exposition you have

By my measures, fifty-fifty is about appropriate. Publishers will want to see that you have a good grasp of both types of writing, so this will be a good way to show them.

3. Third, you're ready to figure out how long your story needs to be

And honestly, it depends.

If you're going for a novella, anywhere between fifty-thousand to one-hundred-thousand words would be appropriate, in my opinion. It's short, but long enough to be perfect bound and therefore long enough to be considered a book.

If you're trying for a novel, however, you'll want to get closer to 150,000 words. Again, this is just my opinion.

My books are long. Abnormally long. Some of you will likely have noticed that.

Essentially, it boils down to this:

How much story do you have, and how many words can you write?

In the end, that will determine if you have enough to be a book. If you don't, I hope you'll keep writing until you get there!


{Rani Divine}