A monthly roundup of Tiktok videos related to writing and the writer’s life, showcasing writers and writer-adjacent folks, and their advice, prompts, exaltations, and reality checks.
Writers! I come to you from the Pacific Northwest where we are finally, after a very long and precarious winter, experiencing a bit of Spring in the form of early Summer. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the smell of sunscreen is in the air at my local park. This month, if the weather allows and you are able, I highly recommend that you get outside, take a walk, or sit on the porch, and think about your WIP in a new environment. Shake things up a little. And if you already do that all the time, then go, little rock star, as the old TikTok trend said.
Anyway, I wish you nothing but luck and butterflies this season of the writing life. I hope these videos help!
In this first video, author Chelsie Prince shares her night writing routine. After first seeing her video, I took notes and planned a few night writing sessions of my own. I mainly write in the morning, but it doesn’t hurt to shake up the routine, or get some extra words in. Besides, variety is the spice of life. You will also want to watch this video to get a behind the scenes look at her pre-writing journaling routine.
I shared a video by Danielle Valentine in the last roundup, and then the news came out that the upcoming season of American Horror Story will be based on her upcoming novel, Delicate Condition. In this video, she gives us a rundown on using theme in our work. For example, she suggests choosing a question, and then answering that question throughout the work through character interactions and beliefs, setting, and other story elements. I love how she breaks down such a complicated topic as theme into a doable thing for writers to infuse into their work. I used her video on my current WIP and I’m so excited about what she helped me come up with.
Jessica Faust, founder of Bookends Literary Agency, breaks down the amount of time it takes an agent to review your work to even begin to give feedback. While it always hurts when we writers receive a rejection, or don’t receive anything at all in response to our query, it is important for us to understand that it’s not cruelty on the part of the agent. Agents work on commission, and can only take on books they feel strongly that they can sell in the current market. An agent can love your pitch and pages, but if they don’t see themselves selling it, for whatever reason, they likely won’t be able to get back to you. An awful, terrible truth, but alas. Remember – the market is fickle and has nothing to do with the value of your work. Bookends has a resourceful youtube channel for writers who are interested in becoming agented.
Katie Wolf is an editor, writing coach, and writer who instagrams here. She shares an excellent tip for elevator pitches, which is something a lot of us struggle with – how do we distill an entire novel into a 1-2 sentence pitch? But it’s necessary, and it’s a skill we can develop. Katie suggests that we study New York Times blurbs as a format in order to explain our own work. For example, the one sentence blurb for Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is “A scientist and single mother living in California in the 1960s becomes a star on a TV cooking show.” Even though the book is about much more than that, it is a simple way to get the point across and hook a potential reader.
Lauren Kay (instagram), author of the upcoming We Ship It, introduces us to a music ritual we can do to add more emotional tension and inspiration to our writing by using intentional listening. Some viewers commented on her video that they already do this – what songs are inspiring and infusing your current WIP?
Poet and cover designer Mubanga Kauseni has realized the reason why most agents ask for the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript along with your query letter. It’s so they can see if the inciting incident is where it needs to be! My mind is blown at the specificity. The deeper I get into learning about story structure, the more my eyes are opened to the ways we as readers and writers subconsciously respond to the beats. Some of us wonder if story beats will destroy originality. But the more we learn, the more we realize that story structure can be liberating if used in surprising and interesting ways. Follow Mubanga on instagram here.
New York Times bestselling Middle Grade and YA author Rebecca Mix made a humorous but truthful video about the sheer amount of work that goes into a project before it sees the light of day on a bookshelf. It can take three-five years or more for a book to go from idea to manuscript, most of the work being unpaid and unappreciated. The sheer amount of work that goes into writing your novel is astronomical and you shouldn’t waste your time on something you do not love. Rebecca instagrams here. Check out her Patreon as well, where she shares behind-the-scenes looks at publishing as well as notion templates for writers.
In another video, Rebecca talks about the “point of no return,” and how in most commercial fiction, it is at or before the fifty page mark. As Mix points out, this goes along with a rule a lot of readers have, where we give a book around fifty pages before deciding if we want to keep reading or not. Check in on your WIP – if you have about fifty pages written, do you see a point of no return yet? How can you make sure it’s where it needs to be, but also stay true to the emotional heartbeat of the work?
Try using Kauseni, Mix and Valentine’s tips/observations on your WIP if you’re writing a novel!
Sydney J. Shields shares the query letter that landed her a high number of requests, and four offers of representation which led to a publishing deal for her upcoming novel The Honey Witch. I always love when authors feel comfortable sharing their successful query letters, synopsis, or other materials that helped them land their agent or book deal. While not all of us are looking to be traditionally published, these are important tools for our repertoire.