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Monday, September 25, 2017

On Reworking Major Elements of your Novel (feat. Library of Lies 3.0)

Some of you might know that I'm currently working on draft 3.0 of my dystopian novel, Library of Lies. (I mean it's draft 3 but I'm calling it draft 3.0 because is sounds ridiculously more cool.) It's not a total rewrite, thank goodness, but I am doing a major overhaul of a few different elements.

So I'm offering up some of my tried and tested (hahahaha not really but humor me) editing wisdom. After my AWESOME alpha readers finished going through my novel, I realized I had some work to do. Today we're going to discuss a few of the major elements I'm reworking in Library of Lies, and then we're going to talk about how to tell when something major in your novel needs to be reworked.

(Look at that, a straightforward introduction. You didn't think I could do it, did you?)









Let's just get one thing straight here at the beginning: When I talk about "reworking" something in this post, it's a little different than general editing. Reworking is when you have something fairly major that you need to fix. (or multiple things hahaha) It's not a matter of smooth prose, or grammar, or proper spelling. It's more a matter of BIG, STORY-CHANGING THINGS that your novel needs to make it stronger. 

Reworking deals with those big questions like: Is my plot consistent? Do my characters have realistic motivations? Do my characters relate to each other in believable ways? Is my storyworld developed enough? 

Basically, reworking is the macro edit of your story.

Yup I know you thought my intro was straightforward (actually so did I) but then I slipped this section in on you without mentioning it in the intro. Whoops.





S E T T I N G 

SO THIS IS PROBABLY THE BIGGEST THING. In my last draft of Library of Lies, the setting isn't very strong. Many of my scenes have a sorta detached feel to them because the setting is VERY nonspecific. 

I'm trying to tighten things up here and come up with a few more creative settings for the story. Plus, I'm working on figuring out how each setting will play into my plot and trying to use setting as a tool to develop my characters. 

But, on top of better scene-to-scene settings, I'm further developing my storyworld. Library of Lies is a dystopia novel with robots that's set entirely in the same city. I'm working on the government of the city, the people of the city, the layout of the city, the technology of the city, BASICALLY EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS CITY. DETAILS ARE HAPPENING. 

Also on the note of storyworld: I'm hoping to throw in a few more varieties of robots in this draft because I can and I want to, mwahahaha. 



V O I C E

Library of Lies is written from three POVs, each one in first person present tense. (I know, that's kinda controversial but hush I do what I want.) 

So obviously character voice is SUPER important, probably more so than in a novel written in third person. In my last draft, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to character voice. I just wanted to get the story out. But now, I'm paying special attention to how my characters' thoughts and words sound, and I'm picking out specific ways to make their individual voices differ. 

One of my characters is younger and more energetic. His thoughts are typically shorter, more surface-y, and he doesn't dwell on the same thing for long. His thoughts tend to bounce around. Another is a deeper thinker, with more embellished thoughts and a wide vocabulary range. Her sentences flow into each other, and she tends to think of things others wouldn’t think of, or tends to to think of conventional things in unconventional ways. And the third has a military career, so his thoughts tend to be straight and to the point. He doesn't mince words. He stays focused. 

By giving each character their own distinct voice, HOPEFULLY my characters will be more relatable and more unique. At least that's the goal. xD


T H E M E

While this isn't the biggest thing, it's probably the most important. I've mentioned the theme of this novel a few times on here. I'm not going to rehash all that again. But basically in one word the theme of Library of Lies is "identity." Great theme, right? Except the only problem is this:  

In Library of Lies, my theme is undeniably weak. Probably part of that is because I didn't actually figure out what my theme was until I was at least halfway through the novel. (LOL DON'T DO THAT) 

Clearly I have a lot of cleaning up to do. Now that I know what my theme is in this draft, I can work it in at the beginning instead of just tacking it on at the end. I'm going to be working on stronger character arcs that will unite my theme with my plot. 



T H E   D R E A D E D   M I D D L E 

The middle portion of Library of Lies WAS NOT my favorite thing ever. At all. My characters weren't developing and they weren't faced with new obstacles. The plot dragged a little. Nothing much happened. It wasn't HORRIBLE, but it wasn't as compelling as it could have been. 

In draft 3.0, I'm completely rewriting the middle portion of my novel. I have a whole new idea that will hopefully tie my storyworld to my plot in a very tangible way.  I'M REALLY EXCITED FOR IT ACTUALLY. *FLAILS* I wanted to write a new novel for NaNo, but I'm thinking I'll probably just write this portion since I really need to get it done. (Although it's probably not going to be 50k? Idk I'll think of something to fix that I guess xD) 


So. Now comes the even harder part. How do you tell when something needs to be reworked? How did I know what I needed to rework in Library of Lies



G E T    F E E D B A C K 

Don't feel like you have to make big decisions about your novel on your own! ASK SOMEBODY WHAT THEY THINK. Preferably someone who's read your novel- so it helps a lot if you have alphas or betas to turn to. 

I have a few people who I typically go to when I'm not sure about an idea for Library of Lies. One of them is Jane who's a freelance editor now with a new website you should check out. I'm on the testimonials page- WHICH ESSENTIALLY MAKES ME #FAMOUS. I'll also sometimes ask my twin brother when I want a perspective or opinion from someone who's not a writer. 


 H A S T Y   D E C I S I O N S  =  B A D 

Unless you're on some sort of deadline, don't make big novel-changing decisions without taking the time to really think them through. Make a list of pros and cons! Sleep on it! Eat sour patch so you're in a good mood! THEN you can make the decision.


C O  N C R E T E   E X P L A N A T I O N S 


Explain EXACTLY why you need to make the change. (sorta like I did in this post) I'd definitely recommend writing out your explanation- don't just convince yourself in your head. Write out in CONCRETE terms EXACTLY why you need or don't need the change. Then read over your explanation- does it make sense? Is it logical? DOES IT EVEN WORK? (sometimes it won't) 

And then of course you can always go back to step #1 and ask someone to give you feedback on your explanation. 


S A V E   Y O U R   O R I G I N A L 

Always save a copy of your original manuscript, JUST IN CASE you realize your changes aren't actually good changes and that you like your original much more. Of course that would only happen if you skipped the first three tips here, SO DON'T SKIP THOSE. XD Save yourself some time and brainpower. 



Remember when I said the introduction was straightforward? And then remember when I threw in an extra section at the beginning of this post? 

What you should be getting out of that is 1) don't trust my intros and 2) my intros are never straightforward, even when they claim to be. Because I'm sneaking in another section here at the end, mwahaha. 

Now you guys get to actually READ THE FIRST SCENE OF LOL. (LOL = Library of Lies jsyk) This post is already reaallyyyy long and I'm adding a bunch more reading onto it so don't feel bad if you don't have time to read the excerpt. *nods* 

Basically if you click on the Google Docs link below, you can see the before and after versions of the first scene of Library of Lies. Hopefully it's a fairly good demonstration of what I'm editing IN ACTION. (because I can say "hey I'm editing this" but it makes so much more sense if you just see it) Obviously it won't demonstrate how I'm strengthening the middle, but MAYBE IT WILL DEMONSTRATE THE OTHER THREE THINGS? IDK? 

Either way if you read it I will be thrilled so go do that if you have time. xD Then tell me what you think! Am I editing for the right things? Anything else you think I should keep an eye out for? Comment below, or you can comment directly onto the doc. :D 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/16HWI1OgcN-2QGazm_gSx9yNAJkbvhgejynim56Wjzb4/edit?usp=sharing (<< link) 



OK WOW THAT WAS LONG. Which just goes to show that editing is a long process. Anyone else been editing lately? What specific things are you tweaking? :D 

~ Jonathan 

59 comments:

  1. I think all your tips will definitely come in handy. Ooh, I have an HP, too, but its purple. :D

    Your writing is awesome. I felt like I was actually there. Great job!

    ~Ivie
    iviewrites.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I HOPE THEY DO. XD Ohhh really? My sister has that same one. HPs are my favorite.

      Thanks, glad you liked it!

      Delete
    2. *joins the HP club with my red laptop* *highfives* xD

      ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

      Delete
    3. YES! HPs are the best! *high fives all around*

      Delete
    4. And me with my boring gray! :D xD

      Delete
    5. Wow I had no idea HP was so popular but this pleases me. xD

      Delete
    6. I also have a grey HP *whispers* (you're not alone, Anna!) :)

      Delete
  2. Okay, I read your excerpts and wow! Your style is so interesting!! I think overall I like the edited version better, but there were still a few things I liked more in the original... One example is I like the beginning sentence in the original more than in the edited. I'm definitely not telling you what to do or anything, just sharing my thoughts! :) I so want to beta read for you sometime - LOL sounds so cool!! :D
    I'm editing! Well, more like completely rewriting my first draft. It's going pretty well, but I've been procrastinating it lately because I'm on a fight scene and those don't come easy for me. XD
    ~Jaclynn~

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    1. THANK YOU. :D Actually I'm still sorta torn about whether or not I'm going to keep my current first sentence? The thing is I actually have a prologue thing (idek what it is yet) that comes before the first scene, and the prologue thing ends with the line: "It starts with rain." So having rain in the first sentence of the next scene really ties it together well. We'll see if I tweak it though.
      WHOA GO YOU. Rewriting is haaaard. xD I tried it but I sorta gave up/procrastinated aggressively.

      Delete
  3. This post was GOLD. Pure GOLD. I really needed this. My editors told me "Ocean Mist" had to be reworked like this and I've been struggling to face the monster...but you have inspired me! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS. :D

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    1. Ahhhh thank you! Glad you found this helpful. :D YESSS GO REWORK OCEAN MIST. I BELIEVE IN YOU. *shoos you off the internet*

      Delete
  4. JONATHAN TROUT.

    Okay, story first and post after. That was seriously SUCH A GOOD PIECE of your story that your shared. It kind of had a dystopian Jennifer A. Nielson feel?? I LOVED IT (and I need to beta it because I MUST HAVES THE STORY xD). Also - REALLY weird thing - but Toby is super similar to a side character in the novella I've been working on since June (named Ky - he also is a thief and wears an eyepatch) so I CAN'T DECIDE if that was really weird or just cool xD.

    ANYWAYS.

    This was an epic post! I have the BIGGEST problem with reworking. Editing? Well, I don't like it, but it isn't too hard. Reworking? SOMEONE KILL ME NOW. I just can't. So this post was super helpful xD. (also are you left handed, or were you just holding the pen in your left hand for the picture??)

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

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    1. YES SAVANNAH? xDD

      Good priorities. *nods* AHHH THANK YOU. Toby is sorta Jennifer Nielsen-esque I think? He can be kinda snarky which is basically the Jennifer Nielsen trademark. (*cough* SAGE *cough*) xD OHHHH REALLY? COOOOLL. #twinning The name Ky is AWESOME.

      Thanks! OK SAME. Line by line editing isn't too hard for me either. But when I'm reworking (aka now), it is really helpful for me to have my condensed list of specific things I need to work on. It makes everything soooo much less daunting. XD (haha nope I'm right-handed, but I didn't want the camera to shake so I was holding the camera with my right hand)

      Delete
  5. Great post! I really, really liked seeing the changes that you made to that first scene (Also - I want to read more!! That was so good, I want to know the rest of the story!!), and you described your process really well. Having to rehaul an entire story still sound daunting enough to make my head hurt, but you put it in a great perspective! Now, the process feels only like facing a dragon rather than a hungry, angry, fire-breathing dragon. That is, until I actually start macroediting my WIP.

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    1. Thanks, glad you liked it and that the excerpt caught your interest! :D

      RIGHT? IT IS SUPER DAUNTING. Like I mentioned to Savannah, it does make things easier for me once I put each thing I'm reworking into a list. Because when I first looked at my previous draft I was like "AHHHH SO MUCH" but then I actually stepped back and was able to pull out four main things. AND I CAN HANDLE FOUR THINGS. XD

      Delete
  6. Oh my word, thank you so much for this! Since I'm currently getting my novel ready for alpha readers, this is REALLY helpful. I will definitely be referring back to this! :D

    Okay, so this is kinda weird because I too have three POVs written in first person present, one is a girl and the other two are guys... O.O

    Ahh! I want to read your book soo badly! I read the doc and I can tell what changes you made, and it sounds a lot better after your edits. :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. WAIT YOU'RE GETTING READY FOR ALPHAS THOUGH??? :O :O :O :O :O *EPIC HIGH FIVE* That's such a huge and important step and I'm so excited for you!!!

      REALLY? I don't think I've heard of anyone else who has that so *high five again* xD I'm glad I'm not the only one doing it though because if other people make it work then I CAN ALSO MAKE IT WORK.

      Ahhh thank you! Glad I actually made it better. xP Sometimes when you're in the middle of it all you're just like "Am I suuuuure this is actually better than what I had before???"

      Delete
  7. I'm wondering if I actually got here first, but the other comments probably just haven't been approved yet. Still, hoping. . .
    Great post, Jonathan! This is so true, especially not figuring out the theme of your novel till halfway through - #pantsing. The POV is also so, so important. It's so hard to figure out ways to make your characters different, though. And when making decisions, are Sour Patch Kids a requirement, or just a *suggestion*? (I think I know what you're going to say.) Keep up the good work! Oh, and I love the excerpt. LOL forever!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You were... close...ish? But yeah I hadn't moderated the other ones yet hehehe. xD
      Thanks! IKR I'M 100% PANTSER. *high fives* Yess oh my goodness it is really hard to figure out how to make your characters different. For me what really helped was choosing SPECIFIC things for each character- not just like "Oh one character's friendly and outgoing and the other one's shy and the third one is in between." xD
      Nope, sour patch kids are 100% required in order for my process to work. *sage nod* xP

      Delete
    2. Yep, pantsers are the ultimate. Sure, we have no idea where we're going or what we'll do when we get there, but so what? My writing process consists of: oh, that sounds like a good/cool/awesome idea, let's go for it! And you for sure have a point with the specific things. Thanks for the words of wisdom! Not counting the part about Sour Patch. Although I knew you were going to say that. xD 100% required? I don't know about that . . . XP

      Delete
    3. IT'S SO TRUE. I'm the same way haha. It's weird though because (like I mentioned) when I edit I suddenly become WAAAAY less sporadic and think EVEEERYYTHIIING through.

      Mmm yes definitely 100% required, trust me on this. *nods* Have I ever failed you before? OF COURSE NOT. xP

      Delete
    4. I know. It's a real struggle for pantsers. Editing is AWFUL.
      I'm just not a big fan of Sour Patch. They're too, ahem, *sour* for me? They're better than coffee, though, so I don't know.
      Have you ever failed me before? Hmm, I don't know, what about that short (or long or LONG) time this summer when you didn't post for WEEKS ON END and I went through withdrawal and was emotionally crushed every time I checked and you hadn't posted??!!!! Other than that, no, you've never failed me. :)

      Delete
    5. RIGHT? My first novel was 100% pantsed (like. legit. 100%. no planning. at all.) and it's sooo messy. xD It needs a total rewrite haha.
      NOT A FAN OF SOUR PATCH??? D: D: D: I'd kick you off my blog buuuuut since you also dislike coffee I guess you can stay. xP(since most everyone else loves coffee and those of us who dislike it have to stick together.)
      OH WHAT THAT??? We're just... pretending that never happened? But yeah okay true so that's ONE SINGLE TIME.

      Delete
    6. Yeah, my problem exactly. Except I can't stop myself from editing what I wrote yesterday, so . . .
      And what is it with coffee?? I had it once, it tasted great, and I was asleep and dreaming. (True story!) It is just depressing how many people are completely caffeine dependent.
      And, yes, it may be one single time, but IT STILL HAPPENED AND YOU CAN'T DENY IT. Hey, you asked for it. At least I stuck around. XD

      Delete
    7. Nooo DON'T DO THAT. XD You have to wait until you're done with the entire thing! /Then/ you can turn to editing. *nods*
      ...really? Okay that's super strange. I dislike it because I don't like how it tastes, but it definitely doesn't put me to sleep. xP
      WELL OKAY FINE I WON'T DENY IT. But I will sorta gloss over it and pretend that I wasn't gone for that long so. :P

      Delete
    8. No, I actually can't wait, because I'll go back to reference something I wrote, and suddenly I have to fix the obvious problem. It's kind of an obsessive thing?
      The taste - yes. How could ANYONE like that?? The smell is just amazing, and then you taste, I don't know, bitter water with something grainy in it? It's just disappointing!
      THE GREAT COVER-UP! It's all very fishy . . . pun intended. xD

      Delete
  8. DUDE. This is exactly what I needed! I'm currently re-plotting and outlining my book because it flopped a little, and this post HELPS A LOT. THANK YOU. Your posts are so inspiring and helpful!

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    1. YAY GLAD IT COULD HELP. :D Good luck with your plotting/outlining!

      Delete
    2. Also, I just read your google doc of Library of Lies, and it's really good... XD

      Delete
  9. L.O.L.3.0. nuff said <3 XD

    but seriously, this is a very helpful post. *nods* I shall try(how successful I'll be I have no idea, heh) to wait to do any more major reworking 'til I'm done with draft one though. :P but there will probably be some stalking of this post later. XP

    toby's still my favorite *hugs the scatterbrain bouncy smol* <3

    ReplyDelete
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    1. SAME THOUGH <3 I'M SO EXCITED

      Thanks! Yesss okay good thought: DEFINITELY WAIT UNTIL AFTER YOU'RE DONE OKAY. TRUST ME. *pushes you towards your first draft so you can finish it*

      Saaaame. Plus he's the easiest to write.:D

      Delete
  10. GREAT post Jonathan, this was really, really helpful for future purposes...

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  11. YAHOOT MORE STUFF ABOUT LOL. *flails* And YES YOU'RE VERY FAMOUS, MAN.

    And duuude 3.0 sounds so much cooler than just 3. Waaay cooler. XD

    Anywho. Great post. Do all the writing. I can't wait to see how it goes. *rubs hands together eagerly*

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    1. AHH THANK YOU. XD

      Right??? My exact thought process.

      Thanks! NEITHER CAN I TBH. :D

      Delete
  12. It's really exciting to be able to look back and see how far a novel has come since day 1. I hope that you're able to rework the story to your satisfaction, and then you'll be left with a marvelous, shining unicorn of a book. XD

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    1. YES I AGREE. It makes me super motivated to get this thing edited! xD Hahaha well thanks... not sure if it will end up looking much like a unicorn, but maybe it will (?) I MEAN I GUESS IT COULD? XD

      Delete
  13. LOL 3.0. DUDE THAT IS PERFECT

    I loved reading the little snippet of your book! It was good and I need more. ;) It was really neat seeing the two versions like that.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. THANKS I THOUGHT SO ALSO

      Glad you liked it, and thanks for reading! :D

      Delete
  14. This amazing. Your book sounds fabulous, btw. Do what you want with pov. I love to write in first person. First person is utterly amazing! Present tense is so hard to write! I admire that! Details are always important! I love writing details! Have fun! Dystopian is an amazing genre to write!Good luck! Btw, your blogs are always funny and delightful to read. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks so much! YES SAME FIRST PERSON IS MY FAVORITE. After I'd written two novels in first person I decided I was going to do my third one in third person- except I only got a few paragraphs in before I promptly switched back to first person. xD Oh well.

      Glad you like my blogs! :D Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  15. (claps wildly because I also write first person/present tense and my brother has the same blue HP, and I have the same model in silver)
    Ahem.
    Fun post! I love reading about other people's writing/editing processes, no idea why. And also Library of Lies even the title is intriguing good job.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. OK EVERYONE SEEMS TO HAVE IT?? XD I didn't realize it was such a popular computer haha. *high fives*
      Thanks!
      Okay good that makes me happy because I'm sort of going for that intriguing feel. :D

      Delete
  16. ooohh you have the urban setting one?? I have the emotion thesaurus and it's SO. COOL. I've looked into the urban one but wasn't sure if it was worth it?? what do you think?

    also, I now understand why you have computer issues. :P my older sis has that exact same laptop and it has like 1gb. WUT EVEN. mine has 32 + an extra 64gb of storage added on with a chip (what can I say, I'm a photographer :P XD)

    and I just left a lot of lengthy comments on the doc ha hahaaa XD (which, btw WHEN CAN I HAVE THE WHOLE THING??)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. YES I LOVE THE EMOTION THESAURUS IT'S SO HELPFUL. <3 I reaallyyyy like the urban one, actually, especially for Library of Lies. But AAALLLL of Library of Lies is in the city. So if your story isn't really urban (which your novel didn't really sound like it was...? more of a Medieval fantasy right?) than it probably wouldn't be that useful.

      OK BUT HERE'S THE THING: mine actually has 28 GB? Except the storage is pretty much full (I have less than a GB left) and I literally have almost nothing downloaded on my computer. So it's really weird... idk what's going on but my computer's been working fine? *shrugs*

      YAY THANK YOU. (when I'm done with the macroedit. it.... won't take me that long? *cough* xP)

      Delete
  17. THIS IS SO HELPFUL OH MY GOSH. I really need to work on a rewrite, so this is insanely helpful! I'm totally saving this. :)

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    1. OK GOOD. :D And good luck with your rewrite! Those are INTENSE.

      Delete
  18. Macro edits are tough! But they pay off soooo much. Sounds like you're well on your way to plowing through those with your WIP! :D

    Voice is something I think I still need to tweak in my first novel. (It's gone through so many changes over the course of like, a decade, so *my* own voice has matured.) It has two protags that, I confess, sound a lot like each other at times. >.>

    Sadly, I don't have time at the moment to read your first chapter, but if college gives me a bit more breathing room in the next little while, I hope to return!

    (BTW, your intros are great!)

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    1. AGREED. Hopefully I am well on my way... it's slooooow going but some scenes don't take as long so maybe I can be done in a few months? #ambition xD

      OK BUT YOU'VE BEEN WORKING ON IT FOR A DECADE??? :O :O :O :O GO YOU. I'm not sure I'd be able to stay committed to a project for that long... *is figuring out how old you were when you started it* xD

      No worries! But I expect you to get GOOD GRADES in college. GOOD GRADES. ALL AS. xDDD

      (hahaha thanks :D)

      Delete
    2. Macro edits aren't something to be rushed through (unless you're under contract or something. *admires big authors*). So take your time. Also my phone just tried to correct macro to macaroni. YES. WOW. MACARONI EDITS. XD

      Okay, that might be misleading! I've been working on it OFF AND ON throughout a decade. I was 12 when I started and I'm now almost 22. :P So old.

      Good grades, yes sir! *salutes* XD

      Delete
    3. Truuue. I'll be taking my time whether I like to or not because #senioryear. xD LOL well I would have read your brain and known what you meant. *sage nod*

      STILL THOUGH THAT'S SO LONG. :O So old, such wow.

      I'd say I'll be watching buuuut since I have no idea how Canadian grading works that's not entirely accurate. xD

      Delete
  19. Am I alone in feeling like reworking is the worst? I've been rewriting Faithless since the beginning of the month and since I wrote such a terrible first draft it's been a terrible process. But thank you for the helpful tips, I need them ALLLL.

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    1. Nah probably not. *nods* Personally it's not my /least/ favorite thing ever (we're just going to pretend that's not super convoluted) but I can GUARANTEE THAT OTHERS HATE IT. XD Ohhh good luck with Faithless! DO ALL THE EDITING. :D

      Delete
  20. three first POV are crazy! But I like how you say (I do what I want). Exactly what a writer should say :D Let's just hope it's what the readers want too ;) How good are your brainwashing skills?? lol. Fun post :d

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I KNOW IT TOTALLY IS. XD I like it though and it really works for my story so I work with it haha.

      Brainwashing skills... I've never tried it? I MIGHT BE DECENT BUT IDK? xDDD Thanks!

      Delete
  21. I was reading the first version and wondering what you were going to improve... Then I read the second one, and... Boy, that was impressive. Definitely improvement.

    If you're looking for really in-depth critiques, Bryan Davis at theauthorschair.wordpress.com gives critiques every Friday. He's very in-depth. xD

    Also, on another note, I ate sour patch candy the other day and it made me think of your blog. :-P

    ReplyDelete
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    1. AHH THANKS SO MUCH. :D I'm glad it was improved!

      Ohhh that sounds cool... but he says he doesn't take present tense submissions. [I stalked the guidelines page hehehe] Oh well. xD

      OKAY GOOD LIFE CHOICE. Did you like it though???

      Delete
    2. Ooh, okay. I forgot he didn't like present tense.

      Pff. Of course I liked it. 😛 It's sourpatch candy.

      Delete

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