Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Category Archives: Non-writers just don’t understand

How it feels to finally finish (for real this time, not like all those other times where you thought you were done but then…) novel


finishing that novell 2lambeau leap

best day evercelebrate


That about covers it 😛

Holiday Not-Enough-Time Syndrome (for writers)


fisc0I love Christmas; it’s my favorite holiday. But if I’m in the middle of something big in my writing, I inevitably feel this pull to my WIP that grows more nagging with each passing day.

desperationI do my best to ignore, but sometimes I just gotta make time for it.

Writer friends, who feels me?

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy soon-to-be New Year!

Post inspired by @GloWolf143 😛 PS: If you have any thoughts on what non-writers don’t understand, leave me a comment and I’ll try to make a meme in your honor!

Non-writers just don’t understand: Good critique partners are PRICELESS


fg116Lately I’ve been feeling blessed. Blessed because, over the past few months, I’ve hooked up with some amazing and skilled critique partners. I already had a number from the Singapore Writers Group, but my newer crit partner friends are fellow YA/MG writers, which is so helpful. I’ve met my new friends through contests to get mentorship from published or soon-to-be published authors, such as PitchWars and Nightmare on Query Street. I’ve also met some critique partners through Twitter pitching contests such as PitMad and PitchMAS, where you’re throwing out tweet-length pitches about your novel and hoping agents are intrigued by them. Regardless what happens in these contests, I’ve met loads of amazing writers who are very active on Twitter. Found so many people willing to look at first pages and query letters and Twitter pitches. I’ve gotten into a new critique group. I’ve connected with several talented YA writers and we’re exchanging materials. It’s amazing how supportive the writing community is on Twitter (and in general). Seriously, if you’re a writer and you’re not on Twitter, get on there! I can honestly say I would still be stuck trying to sort out my first chapters in one of my WIPs had I not met my new friends.

I’ve also been reflecting on what makes a great CP. It’s exciting/nerve-wracking to let people read our WIPs and, especially if we’re new to writing, it can be hard to find people to even read it period.

Starting with a new critique partner can kind of feel like this:

mean-girls-trust-falls-oBut not all readers are created equal. Critiquing is a skill, and when we find a great one, it’s a bit more like this:

239982__UNOPT__safe_rainbow-dash_pinkie-pie_animated_hug_wonderbolts-academy_spoiler-s03e07.gifAnd if you get an amazing critique group:

group-hug-oIn my very humble opinion, here are a few things that make some of my CPs so great:

  • They get excited about my WIP.
  • They tell me both what’s working and what’s not working.
  • They tell me what they think, even if they are worried that I won’t like it. While also offering constructive suggestions on ways to improve.
  • They look at the big picture, overall plot and characterization, as well as the small picture, how individual passages flow.
  • They call me out on things like cliches, repetitive word use, excessive verbiage, etc. And using colors too much, cuz I apparently throw colors around like woah.
  • They ask questions about where I see things going and offer suggestions on how to get there.
  • As we work together, they pick up on my strengths and struggles as a writer and help me address my weaknesses.

And there’s so many more things, which is why good CPs are worth their weight in gold. If I had to pinpoint what’s pushed me to be the writer I am today, a big part of it was hooking up with (and listening to) crit partners.

What do you think makes a good critique partner?

Post your Twitter handle below and I will follow you!

Non-writers just don’t understand: My (not so) favorite question


are you publishedGranted, it is much easier to get published now with self-publishing, but still a ridiculous quantity of work, even after you finish and repeatedly re-work that novel.

Writer friends, do you have a (not so) favorite follow-up question you get after telling people you’re a writer?

Non-writers just don’t understand: The moment you realize….


queryHas this ever had that happen to you? You slave over your query letter. Tailor every sentence to perfection. I mean, you have, what, 300-400 words to craft a movie trailer of sorts for your book to suck in possible agents, lure them into at least reading the first line of your submission. You’ve had multiple people critique it and provide feedback. Maybe you’ve even hired someone to fine tune it. Must be perfect to send to agents, right?

So with one of my WIPs, I’ve been guilty of one thing: I keep thinking it’s done. So I’ve been working on my query. Then I discover that, nope, not so much done. But now, seriously, I am 99.999% done. I’ve finally done it. NAILED the beginning that’s been the bane of my existence for the past four months.

But my perfect query?

Not so perfect anymore…. It’s going to have to be re-worked.

Dexter-GIFs-14But really though, I’m just so ecstatic that I’ve nailed the beginning of it!

yes_napoleon_dynamiteWriter friends, has this ever happened to you? You had the perfect query, then changed you WIP?