Thursday, October 29, 2015

Writing Advice from NY Times best selling author Beth Revis + Giveaway!

I'm so so  excited to have Beth Revis, author of the NY Times best selling trilogy Across the Universe and The Body Electric, as a guest blogger today. (Yes, I am totally fangirling right now.)

To celebrate the release of her latest work, Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice, she's graciously stopped by to tell us a little more about the three part series and to share her personal writing philosophy. Oh, and there's a giveaway!

But enough from me. Let's hear what Ms. Revis has to say!

DON'T MISS THE GIVEAWAY AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST!  Also, all orders of Paper Hearts made before November 15 from Malaprops will come with a special gift--more details below! 

You can win a journal with this cover!
I wrote Paper Hearts for the writer I used to be. The questions I used to have plagued me when I was starting this career path. How do I get to the end? What's the proper way to structure a novel--is there even a proper way? How do I make my book stand out from all the other ones on sub?

Now, fifteen years, eleven unpublished books, three New York Times bestsellers, one self published book, and countless hours working on craft and working with other professionals, I think I finally have the answers that I needed way back then.

Unfortunately, I can't travel back in time.

But what I can do is try to help others. I've been compiling articles on the things I've learned about writing, publishing, and marketing for years, first informally on blog posts, then more collectively on Wattpad. After hitting 100000 reads, I realized that I should take Paper Hearts more seriously...and that I had not one book, but three.

 Fully revised and expanded, the Paper Hearts series will feature three volumes, one each on writing, publishing, and marketing. Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice will be out on November 1, with the other two following in December and January.

 Preorder it now from: Independent Bookstore ~ Amazon ~ BN ~  Kobo ~ Smashwords

Your enemy is the blank page. When it comes to writing, there's no wrong way to get words on paper. But it's not always easy to make the ink flow. Paper Hearts: Some Writing Advice won't make writing any simpler, but it may help spark your imagination and get your hands back on the keyboard.

Practical Advice Meets Real Experience
With information that takes you from common mistakes in grammar to detailed charts on story structure, Paper Hearts describes:
  • How to Develop Character, Plot, and World
  • What Common Advice You Should Ignore
  • What Advice Actually Helps
  • How to Develop a Novel
  • The Basics of Grammar, Style, and Tone 
  • Four Practical Methods of Charting Story Structure
  • How to Get Critiques and Revise Your Novel
  • How to Deal with Failure
  • And much more!
BONUS! More than 25 "What to do if" scenarios to help writers navigate problems in writing from a New York Times Bestselling author who's written more than 2 million words of fiction.

Remember: if you pre-order the print copy from my local indie bookstore, Malaprops, you'll also get a chapbook of the best writing advice from 12 beloved and bestselling YA authors included in your order for free!


It’s not always helpful to get too meta when it comes to art, but figuring out how you best work can help you figure out what to do when you get stuck. This is by no means a formula for how I write, but it is my typical evolution of a novel.


My most common advice for young people who want to write is simply, “Whenever you have the option to sit in your room and write or go off and try something new, go for the adventure.” Too often we forget that there would be nothing to write about if we didn’t have experiences and discover the stories in the world. A life lived well is the best resource for becoming a writer.

So the first part of writing actually has nothing to do with writing—it’s about living. Seek adventure. Learn new cultures and worlds. Read about topics you’ve never considered before. Meet people who have lived vastly different lives from you. Explore everything.

You have to find your story before you can write it.


That exploration may take years before it comes to fruition in the form of a story. A journey I took to Malta while a college sophomore became the setting of my fourth published novel nearly a decade later. A piece of classical Renaissance literature I studied in high school became a key clue to another story. And don’t get me started on how much I hated science as a student…and then became a science fiction author.

The exploration of the world is important, but don’t forget that you may not be able to use everything you discover right away. Reflect on the experiences and education you gather, and let them develop into a story organically. I keep an “ideas folder” on my computer desktop where I jot down quick ideas and bits of inspiration. They can be images of beautiful locations, weird trivia facts, or a poem that inspired a “what if” question. I go back to the ideas folder often. I don’t use every idea, but so far I’ve written a whole novel, three short stories, and several added details to existing novels based on these little snippets I’ve gathered, magpie-like, into the folder.

 Beyond this, keep in mind that writing is a mental game. You need time to ruminate with the story. You’re not a machine. You can’t just bang out words and make them great. Reflect on what the story you want to write should be. Think. Never disregard thinking time. Staring at a wall and just thinking about your novel can very well be the most important part of the process. So next time your significant other yells at you for napping instead of writing, shove this book in his or her face and remind them that your brain needs thinking time.


I know an idea will become a novel when I start obsessing over it. I think about it constantly. I have conversations—usually in private, sometimes in public—with the characters. I start making charts in my notebooks. I doodle maps. I talk to myself about plot points. Every synapse in my brain that’s not working to keep me alive as a functioning human being is dedicated to the story.

I love this stage. This is where the first draft happens. This is where the book becomes real. I live and breathe the story. It utterly consumes me.


But that obsession stage is immediately followed by a separation stage. The obsession stage is all about love, but love is blind and you need to see the flaws to edit. This is the most difficult stage in writing for me, and I don’t always handle it well. This is the stage where the work—the real work—begins.

I have to consciously separate myself from the book, to look at it as a whole and as the individual words, to create a working mindset of revising and editing. This is where the “kill your darlings” attitude comes in. This is where I slash away tens of thousands of words at a time, where I rewrite whole plot points, where I ruthlessly alter characters.

It helps, of course, to invite readers in at this stage. I never show my work to anyone until I’m at the stage where I can separate myself from it. I need to be able to hear criticism of my work without thinking that people are criticizing me. And I need to be prepared to hear that feedback and take it. It’s not until I can separate myself from the work that I can benefit from critiques and edits—anything before that will fall on my very deaf ears and just be a waste of time.

The separation stage of writing is cold, and I don’t like it. It’s about letting go, though, and in the end, if you want your work published, that’s exactly what you have to do.


About the Author: Beth Revis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe trilogy, as well as The Body Electric, Paper Hearts, and the forthcoming A World Without You. She lives in the Appalachian mountains with her boys: one husband, one son, and two very large dogs. 
You can find out more on Facebook, Twitter, or online. If you never want to miss a thing and also get exclusive insider opportunities, sign up for her newsletter here.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a cool interview! I'm fangirling too—and I'll definitely be picking up a copy of Paper Hearts!