Writing, Editing, Then Editing Some More by Polly J. Brown


About eleven months ago I started working on my current “work in progress.” I finished a first draft and had a team of wonderful women give it a thorough critique. Once they were finished, I reviewed everything they said, devised and plan and after giving the story a few week’s rest, began edits.

Editing took about two months. It was tricky balancing my day job with family commitments and editing on top of it, but I got it finished. I’d done a decent job of fixing some of the plot points, smoothing out the character’s arcs and adding a bit of action. My hope was that after my beta group read it, I’d have a few minor issues to clean up and I’d be ready. So two weeks after my betas finished reading, I again found myself sorting through comments, thoughts, and unresolved questions.

The feedback was awesome and highlighted a few issues which i believed could be easily fixed with a few additions and deletions. Problem solved. At least that’s what I thought.  Continue reading

Title Goes Here By Polly J Brown

Today’s my day to blog, and I didn’t forget. I’ve been working on a post for days about finding the right title for your novel. It’s something that I’m currently struggling with.

I chose the title for my novel before I began to write it. At the time I thought it was perfect, but after writing a draft and going through several revisions, the shine wore off. The focus of the story shifted and I know my characters much better than I did a year and a half ago. Now, the title I picked to crown my story sits crooked.

Readers (and people in general) are quick to make first impressions. Research has shown that a first impression is established in a matter of seconds. Once impressions have been created, it can be difficult to change them. To a potential reader perusing titles in a bookstore (or on-line), the title is an author’s first opportunity to capture their attention. That makes it one of the most important tools in a marketing arsenal.

This blog post was intended to discuss what makes a stand out title, and how titles can be created. However, there’s a wall between my brain and the keyboard. Talking about what makes a strong title seems hypocritical when I can’t seem to find one for my own work. Instead, I’m going to leave this post short.

But not without leaving some entertaining links.

The first is a Title Scorer. Yes, there is such a thing! Type in your novel’s title, plug in a few fields and the tool will tell you the probability of your novel’s success based on the title.


The second is a Title Generator. Fill the fields in with adverbs, verbs and nouns, and the generator will present you with ten different possible titles.


My novel’s title is a process I’m not going to rush. Right now, I’m back to basics brainstorming titles with a pen and paper. Writing down words, flipping them into different combinations, waiting for that spark of inspiration to hit.

One day I’ll come back and finish the post I meant to leave you with today.


Polly J. Brown manages money and people, both at work and home. She resides on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore with her husband, three children, and a geriatric beagle. She belongs to the Happy Author’s Guild Blog. When she isn’t dreaming of writing short stories, she is hard at work editing her first novel length work or distracting herself by writing a second. She can be found on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PollyjBrownAuthor

Twitter: @PollysScribbles



No Alphas Here by Polly J. Brown

Beta readers have been on my mind a lot lately.

Over the past month, I’ve been polishing up my manuscript, reviewing critique comments and suggestions, and fixing plot holes or inconsistencies. My goal is to send it to beta readers in the next few months before I begin the querying process.  I’ve also been a beta reader this month and plan on committing to a few more beta reads over the summer. So when my turn for a blog post came around, choosing a topic was easy.

062216 beta readers

What is a Beta reader?

A beta reader is an individual who reads a finished story (poem, novel) before the work is queried or self-published.  The Beta provides feedback to the author on elements such as the plot, characters, writing style, and sometimes spelling and grammar. Continue reading

Book Addict Problems

This was the week I was going to finish my draft. There were a few chapters to go and I was pumped. Not only because I’m finishing the draft, but I’m excited to dive into the edits. This is the second novel I’ve written and unlike the first, which is still in a fairly rough state, I know this one isn’t bad.

So the plan was write the final two or three chapters (which already exist in rough draft form), hand them over to my critique partners and while I waited for final feedback, make some adjustments to the storyboard. Continue reading

Tweet to Who?

Something exciting happened in my life a few days ago- I officially became a published author. My short story, Ever Be, was included in the Story of a Kiss Anthology along with stories of twelve other writers, many of whom belong to the Happy Author’s Guild.

Ever Be is the story of Evangeline and Greg, two surfers struggling to get over their fear of the water after Evangeline nearly drowns.

book & teaser

Continue reading

Sidelined by Polly J Brown

November is my favourite month of the year. The leaves have finished their vibrant display of colours. The air has turned from the smoky, musk of fall to the crisp smell of flurries. Teams of geese have flown overhead, honking their goodbyes while they search for southern temperatures. All perfect excuses to huddle indoors near the fire with a warm cup of tea, and write. Continue reading

Biography Conundrum

About two weeks ago I made the decision to put in an application to participate in an event called the Blue Pencil Café at the local Word on the Street Festival. It’s an opportunity for unpublished authors to have their work reviewed by a professional and ask questions. I figured it would be a good learning opportunity and a chance to get a feel for the local book scene.

The application guidelines were brief:

  1. A three page, double-spaced excerpt of my writing.

         No problem! I know the perfect thing!

     2.  My contact information

          Ppptf! That’s easy! Go me!

     3.  A short biography outlining your writing experience

          My wha-? A biography? About my writing? Umm…

Continue reading

Pages of Possibility by Polly J Brown

The Happy Author’s Guild is filled with fantastic advice: pantsing versus plotting; how to feed in backstory; where to find inspiration. Today is my turn to impart a little bit of wisdom. I can’t take full credit for this wisdom because it was given to me by a wonderful creative writing instructor (and Anne Lamott also discusses it in her book “Bird by Bird”), but I think it is worth sharing. Continue reading

Counting Words by Polly J. Brown

Near the beginning of the year I joined a small group of writers who committed to writing thirteen romance-related short stories over the course of the year. The idea of writing some short stories excited me. It presented the chance to work with new ideas, fresh characters, and it provided a temporary distraction from my novel-length WIP which I needed to put aside for a time.  But most importantly, writing thirteen short stories meant that I would finally finish something. I would have some pieces to tuck away for future use.  Continue reading

Plotting Along

Hear that wailing sound? That’s the sound of a writer in distress. Well, okay, not just any writer. Me.

As a newbie writer, I set off to write my story, knowing exactly what to do. Storytelling came easy to me at an early age and I excelled at it. As an adult, I figured it would be easy-peasy, because really, how hard is it to write?

Well, like most newbie writers, I learned how wrong I was.

When the time came for others to read the story and comment, I heard a chorus of: “Where are the sub-plots?”

“Sub-plots?  I have sub-plots. There’s a, b, and c.”

“Nope,” the chorus told me. “Not there.”

“What do you mean they’re not there? Of course they are!”

“No,” they said again, “Don’t see them.”

These comments forced me to go back and review the elements of my stories, which made me realize something; they were right.

Although my sub-plots exist, they don’t emerge until the second half of the story leaving the entire first half missing any sub-plot. As I’ve learned, this makes the story one dimensional and ultimately very boring for the reader.

Two things happened next; first, I freaked out. This is a big “oops”, and the bigger the mistake, the bigger the clean-up. I’ve put too much time and effort into this project to give up, and yet, it seems parts need to be completely rewritten, which involves more work and more time. Discouraging doesn’t come close to what I felt. Hopeless may be a more appropriate word.

But then I did my homework. Some amazing people pointed me into the direction of Dan Wells and Seven Point Plot Structure.   I also found Pixar’s story telling rules. Finally, I came across story board charts. So now, I’m going back and re-plotting. Each scene is being marked by character, plot progression and sub-plot. I’m making notes for additions/deletions to each scene. I’ve also made charts of each sub-plot to follow them from beginning to end.

Perhaps a little excessive, but it works for me. My work may need a rewrite, but with some careful planning and the proper tools, I’m hoping not to make a similar mistake the second time around.

That’s the synopsis of my “pit of despair” problem. As writers, everyone  encounters them. They‘re just different for each of us. Though writers tend to be isolated, we’re not alone. There’s usually someone else wallowing in the pit to commiserate with and share the virtual bottle of wine.

But once the pity party is over, get back to it. If the finished work is the ultimate goal, a rough journey to get there will make the end that much sweeter.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself right now.

Happy Writing!