The Sneaky Snake

Before the post, a little news. Some of you may have wondered: I’m restarting my summer workshop this year. For writers from ten through high school age who live not impossibly far from Brewster, New York, it will run on Wednesdays from 1:30 to 3:00 for six weeks starting on July 6th. Interested writers need to commit for the whole time, although if you miss a week the world won’t end. It’s free, my gift to budding writers! If you’re interested, you should call the Brewster library to sign up. You know I’d love to have you.

On December 4, 2015, Nessa wrote, Congratulations to everyone who finished NaNoWriMo! My sister and my best friend’s brother encouraged me to do it this year, and I said I’d try, but it was really only a half-hearted attempt. I ended up with a measly 2,900 words instead of 50,000. :/ I think my biggest problem (besides schoolwork, and all the time-destroying other things I have to get done) is that I’m a perfectionist. I don’t really have an “inner critic,” exactly–I’ve read some less-than-stellar books before, and I figure if people like them, they’ll like mine–but whenever I write something, I always think, “It doesn’t sound quite right,” so I re-phrase it… and re-phrase it… and rephrase it. Getting 350 words in a day is basically a miracle. Anyone have any tips on how I can handle my debilitating writing perfectionism? (Seriously, it took me about an hour just to write this comment…)

Lots of you chimed in.

NPennyworth: I think the only way to do this is remembering that nobody can manage to churn out a 50K word story perfectly on the first try. You may need to take a step back and remind yourself that you can fix it later, but you can’t fix the story if you haven’t written enough of it.

Melissa Mead: I can’t remember where I saw this, who told me, but one writer said that rough drafts are basically putting clay on a wheel. You just pile clay/words on. It’s SUPPOSED to be a big messy lump. Then, when you get to an ending, you shape it into something beautiful.

Kitty: I feel you. I had the exact same problem until I discovered the various word crawls on the NaNo forums. They are super fun and addicting, and I found myself sprinting a couple thousand words a day and enjoying it. My fav is the Harry Potter one: (, but there are plenty of others, from pirate themed to NaNo themed, to Mean Girls themed. The full list of those, and other activities, is here: ( Maybe try one of those next year, or even just whenever you want to write. When you’re focusing on getting words down so that you can progress to the next “level” of the game, you’ll find yourself focusing less on the quality of the words, and instead on the quantity, which is essentially what NaNo is about. Also, the timed word sprints really help get your pulse and mind racing, so that you’re thinking less and writing more. Especially the fifty-headed-hydra. You won’t have time to even think for that one. They are incredibly fun and addicting, and got me out of a rather large word count hole that I dug for myself after the second week.

That being said, just because you didn’t meet the official word count goal and “win” doesn’t mean that you aren’t a winner. You wrote 2,900 words, which is 2,900 words more than you had at the beginning of the month. You developed a consistent habit of writing, and that’s something you should be very, very proud of. This pep talk ( and this blog post ( say so themselves. So celebrate! You’ve still accomplished a remarkable feat, and you should be extremely proud of yourself.

One more tip: If you’re under 16 right now, and if you decide to do this next year, you might want to consider joining the Young Writers Program ( instead of the normal NaNoWriMo. It lets you set your word count goal instead of the default 50,000. That might help you finish and officially “win” a bit easier if you’re super busy.

Ann: I have this exact problem, so I tried handwriting for a bit instead of typing on a computer. It’s so easy to go back and fix things on word processing, I think it magnifies the problem somewhat. It didn’t work out for the long term for me, and I think of it as a temporary fix, but as an exercise in not ending up reworking the same page over and over, it really helped me. (Try it in pen if you’re feeling brave).

These are great and encouraging! I particularly like the word-sprint and switching-to-pen ideas, which focus us away from feeling bad about being perfectionists and toward action. I tend to get too much into revising, too, when I’m in first-draft stage. I may try NPennyworth’s and Ann’s suggestions to bypass my bad proclivities, or I may start typing with my nose or gripping a pen with my toes. Any words I get out that way will be good enough!

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: I once read a description of a book–I don’t remember the source, so I can’t quote it exactly–as a long document that has something wrong with it. There are no perfect novels, probably no perfect essays or perfect poems. My next novel, after The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre, is going to be set in Ella’s world, so recently I reread Ella Enchanted, which was my first published book, and I’ve learned a few things since then. I’d revise quite a bit if I were starting over. For example, I’ve learned about the placement of the word only. Here’s an example that makes me grind my teeth: Ogres weren’t only dangerous because of their size and their cruelty. It should be: Ogres weren’t dangerous only because of their size and their cruelty. The difference is trivial, but the second is more precise than the first.

The only mistake I learned about from HarperCollins’ copy edits on some manuscript or other. I often see it in the work of wonderful writers, who have less gifted copy editors, but I don’t like to see it in moi! Getting deep into the weeds, I don’t think it’s a mistake when it shows up in dialogue, which reflects how people actually speak–generally with misplaced onlys, but in narration, I like to get it right.

Here’s another foolish move I constantly make as I write a first draft: I fix sentences I’m going to wind up cutting. I don’t know that at the time, but I do know that my most frequent action when I revise is to snip. Perfect sentences on the cutting room floor are useless.

Having said that, though, this may be a necessary part of my process, even a comforting one. I start every writing session by rereading a few of my latest pages, and when I reread, inevitably, I revise. Since I love to revise, since it’s my favorite part of writing, by the time I start on fresh work, I’m in the groove.

For those of you who struggle with this along with me and who are high school age at least, a good antidote may be to read a mystery by Elmore Leonard, whose writing is a marvel of simplicity. I don’t know how much he revised to get there, but he goes for a thing plainly said.

In her comment, Nessa says she doesn’t have an inner critic exactly. I beg to differ. When her thought slithers into her brain: It doesn’t sound quite right, who else is whispering but that reptilian inner critic? And once we recognize him, we can talk back or stuff a sock in his mouth. We can say, You may be right, but let me keep writing and after I type or pen The End, I want to know all about the problems. We can even flatter him by pointing out that he’ll be even more helpful once he knows the whole arc of our story.

Also, by the time we get to the end, he may be so pleased with us (since he is us), that he couches his criticism in an encouraging way.

As many of us have said many times, no two writers write alike. Some of us soldier through a first draft uncritically, without ever coming up for air. Some of us are compulsive nitpickers. We may learn to rein ourselves in, but we may never entirely eliminate our three-steps-forward-two-steps-back methodology. And we should respect that. And let me add that Nessa’s question, even though she took an hour to frame it, was clear enough and poignant enough to elicit the help she got. I say, Good work!

Looking for a title for this post, I googled quotations about perfectionism and found this link: I didn’t find my title, but there are lots of gems. I already knew this quote from Oscar Wilde: “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”

Here are three prompts:

∙ I’ll try a sprint prompt. If I understand right, there needs to be a reward for success. My reward would be a game of Free Cell solitaire, so pick some time sucking pastime you usually feel guilty about and indulge guilt free for up to half an hour. Here’s the challenge: Write an argument between two friends. You can come up with your own starter line, or use this phrase: Your first mistake was… Write for fifteen minutes without stopping or fixing anything.

∙ Write a page about your WIP as if you were describing it to an admiring friend in conversation. There is nothing to correct, because you’re just talking on the page.

∙ Write the next page of your WIP with your eyes closed. I can type with my eyes closed, although the temptation to look is very strong. Don’t give in to it! If you can’t type with closed eyes, write longhand on paper. If your eyes are closed, you can’t correct. When you’re finished, don’t go back to fix it. Just keep going, eyes open or closed.

Have fun, and save what you write!

  1. I wish I could come to your workshop! Unfortunately, it’s impossible, as I live in Maine. I came to your book signing at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord NH last April, by the way, greatest experience of my life.
    Thank you for this post. I struggle with this frequently and it helps to know I’m not the only one that has this problem.

  2. I wish I could come to your workshop! If we hadn’t moved, I’d have figured that out, camp counselor or not!

    My problem is more like this, I’d written quite a bit of a story, although the first few chapters are written on a completely different story line than the current chapters. I recently went back and began editing it so that it all made more sense, but I realized I’d changed more than I meant to. Now I’m stuck trying to stitch up the gaps between the original and the current story line. Basically, I was wondering if I should just try to write from where I was or if it would be more worthwhile to try to fix the beginning until I reach my current spot?

    • I would think just try to write from where you were. Once it’s all down it’s easier to see which changes you want to make and keep. Once my rough draft is done I like to write a list of scenes and organize those, then move on to the actual editing.

  3. Great post Mrs. Levine! I have trouble with this. It’s saps my enjoyment. Recently I’ve taken up writing just about everything by hand. It’s not my favorite thing in the world, but it’s growing on me, though it annoys me that I can’t insert something if I’ve forgotten it. Ah well.

    Anyways, I have a question: I am naming classes of mages. I’ve got the usual, Charmers, Healers Enchanters, Warlocks, etc. However, I need to find a name for a mage who works with animals. So far the only thing I can think of is “beastmaster” and for some reason I really hate that word.

    It has to he a real word, or two real words stacked together, because all the other sorts of mages have real words to describe their ability/class.

    For instance: Charmers use very little magic, they are mostly just flashy smoke and slight of hand. Healers use magic found in living plants. Enchanters work with illusion. Warlocks meddle with the souls of human beings for profit. And so on.

    But what do I call a person whose magic revolves around animals? Help!

    • Martina Preston says:

      I really like to use the word “Brownie” or “Sprite” for mythical creatures that are half-human, half animal. Other than that, though, the only thing I can think of is “Naiads” (creatures of the sea) and “Dryads” (creatures of the trees). Hope that helped!

    • Maybe use the word “Creature” in your term? Or whisperer, but that might have have an overused feel or a more modern feel then the others.

    • The two most ‘magical’ sounding synonyms for the word animal that I know of are ‘beast,’ and ‘creature,’ so with that in mind, here are some suggestions for you (you don’t have to hyphenate them if you’d prefer not to, of course): Beast-trainer, Creature-keeper, Beast-keeper, Beast-tamer, Creature-gentler, Beast-gentler, Beast-whisperer, or Creature-whisperer…something like that, maybe?

  4. I’m like Gail–I’d rather edit than draft. I finally used NaNoWriMo to help me stick to the drafting, where you’re not allowed to edit because you’ve got to rush to get to the end. My trouble now is that I’ll come to a chapter that needs a new scene or two, and I have the hardest time getting back into drafting mode to fill in those missing pieces. Any advice?

  5. Chrissa Pedersen says:

    Were I a TIME LORD, I would wind back the clock so I could participate in one of your workshops! And thank you for the Oscar Wilde quote–it was perfect 😉 Since I made a promise to plot instead of pants my next story, I’ve embraced messy writing. I’m fleshing out my world and characters, so there’s no need to craft perfect sentences. It’s been a freeing experience to hush the inner critic. There’s still room for revision, but it’s at the concept level rather than in the weeds which feels completely different. With luck I can remain in messy-mode long enough to finish my chapter outlines.

  6. Hi!
    I have a question! I really love writing fiction and whenever I start writing something I get really excited about what I’m going to do. I’ll write some the first day and then the next day I keep going but by then it’s turned into something I don’t like at all! Most of the time it’s way to similar to a book I have just finished reading that I loved. How do I stop this from happening/has this happened to anyone else?
    Thanks so much!

    • You’re not alone; this has happened to me too many times to count! Whenever it does I look at the story and ask “What don’t I like about this?” Sometimes I want to write a different part of the story, and then I switch to that. Sometimes a character doesn’t make sense and I take a break to do some character building. Sometimes it’s just a slow, but necessary, part of the plot, and I try to just plow through it so I can get to the more exciting parts. I usually find that if I dislike what I’m writing it’s because I’m bored, so I try to shake things up by putting in an action scene or a new character, or switching POV.
      If all of the above fails, then I try to give my brain a break for a while. I can switch to writing another story, or do something else entirely. But I eventually sit down and try again. Being a writer isn’t all light bulbs and inspiration; a fair bit of writing is just forcing yourself to write.
      Good luck, and I hope something here helps!

  7. I’ve got a few snags in my newest novel idea… Any opinions are appreciated.
    First off, I have two villains – I’ll call them James and Jenny. Jenny is the more evil of the two, and James works for her. Let’s say my protagonist is called Mae. Mae never actually meets Jenny until the very end of the novel, but she does meet James, who eventually betrays her because he works for Jenny. I’m in Mae’s POV, so how can I show and develop Jenny throughout the novel? It’s not crucial to show her, I guess, but no one likes the arch-villain that pops up at the very end of the book.
    I’m open to another POV, but it must be in someone’s 1st POV. I was thinking the POV of Jenny or James. However, James’s identity must be concealed, otherwise the reader will know that he works for Jenny, and guess the ending. Is this feasible, writing it from his POV without the reader guessing the ending?
    Thanks in advance!

    • You could leave a few hints–have a minor character mention Jenny or warn them about her. Depending on the setting, you could have Mae hear a news report about crimes Jenny has committed or read a newspaper. You might want to look at Harry Potter 3: Sirius is mentioned again and again, but they don’t actually meet him until the climax.

      • That’s true… I think it would be fine to show her evil points through news Mae hears.
        I’m just thinking about her flaws. For such a major villain, I want her to be 3D. I need to show her character and her weaknesses (such as affection for James), because she’s a big character in the sequel, when her character is important. Do you think it would be okay to write from her POV and simply not describe James much?

        • Would it be possible for Mae to see what Jenny is like without actually meeting her? Like via a TV interview or something, perhaps? Mae could watch the interview, and see Jenny laughing and saying all the right things to the interviewer, but get a bad feeling about what Jenny doesn’t say, and the look in Jenny’s eyes when the interviewer asks her certain questions, and that kind of thing.

    • Keep the story in MC’s POV. I’d personally mislead the reader a bit. I’d make it look like someone else is the traitor. It’s good to make it unpredictable. Also, make rumors spread about Jenny and her reputation. It’ll help a lot. Good luck!

  8. Martina Preston says:

    I love- and most often do- write retellings of fairy tales and mythical stories, but lately I’ve been trying to write a short story based on a riddle. It’s basically about 3 sons who are trying to find the one object that can fill a whole room, yet fit into their pocket. Whichever son does this will receive the dying father’s whole property. I am writing from the 1st person POV of Jakob, the youngest son, who ends up getting the inheritance. I’m not sure how much I should elaborate on his situation. Like most riddles (and fairy tales) it doesn’t tell very much about any of the brothers, so that leaves me room to create, but I don’t want to swamp my readers with details and new situations. Any ideas? Thank you so much!!

    • Martina Preston says:

      “Situation” meaning living accommodations and how Jakob is treated. I have decided that for now, he is just a servant at the father’s property, but when the father is on his deathbed, Jakob learns that he is the father’s son. Yeaaaaah.

      • Gail Carson Levine says:

        I’m wondering if there’s a reason this has to be a particular length. Can you write what you need to in order to flesh out the story and then decide what you have?

  9. I love this post! I have problems writing anything without editing; from comments to school papers to stories. I’m looking forward to trying some of these ideas. Fingers crossed there is a slight chance I can come to your writing workshop, Gail! Also I am so happy we will get to revisit Ella’s world! By the way, after reading Ella Enchanted in English probably more than 20 times, I am reading it in German and improving so much because I already have the book memorized! Also thanks for all the SAT words you use, going through the flashcards there so many I know from reading Ella 🙂

    • Gail Carson Levine says:

      I’d love to have you in my workshop! And I’m so glad ELLA is helping with your German. And I didn’t know I put so many $100 words in the blog. Cool!

      • I like when you use big words. In Fairest, Aza uses the word petulant in one of the first few chapters, and I had to go look it up. It was one of my favorite words all through middle school just because of that.

  10. I have almost finished the book I’m writing and I’m looking at ways to self-publish. My problem is that I don’t know what age I have to be to publish. I’m don’t know if I’ll be able to yet, but I’ve been working on this book for more than a year and I don’t want to have to wait to publish. Please help.

    • You might need to have a parent sign the legal contracts for you–do you have any friends who are lawyers, or friends’ parents? Also, have you thought about cost? You’ll want to review different POD publishers– Amazon’s service is one of the only ones that publishes for free, and they require some specific rights you’ll want to look into. I went through, which is a bit cheaper than most other places but was still around $600.

    • I follow a teen author named Oliver Dahl who self published. Here’s a post he wrote a few years back about the process and his experience:
      I had a friend who published through one of the services he mentions, Lulu, but she can’t make money off it because she doesn’t have a PayPal account. That wasn’t her priority-she just wanted to hold a printed version of her book in her hands and maybe give it out to a few friends. I’d look into lots of different self publishing routes until you find the one that suits you the best.

  11. Depends on what platform you use. For Amazon KDP at least (for Kindle books and also what most indie authors use), the terms and conditions say that you have to be 18 to self publish by yourself, but you can have a parent or guardian do it for you, with your name on the book. But DO NOT try to skirt by the rules. If the find out (they probably wont’t, but you still shouldn’t take the risk) they can terminate your account and withhold your earnings from you. You also might be prosecuted for perjury (lying on the stand or other official documents, since you have to check a box that says “yes, I am at least 18 years old”. But as long as you get a parent to do it for you, you should be fine. Congrats on finishing your book!
    If you need some more information about self publishing, Johanna Penn has a nice blog on the business aspect of it, www (dot) thecreativepenn (dot) com.

  12. No problem! It’s a common misconception, because while it’s technically true that anybody can self-publish, you’re still signing a contract, so you have to be legally able to do that. Glad I could help!

  13. Thanks! By the way, if you want to know the book name, I’ll be glad to let you know what it is. This blog has helped me a lot. I’ll still come on here often. Thanks again! I’ll figure out where to publish my book.

  14. Bookworm: Your question helped me! I’m planning to self-publish my book as well!

    Now I have some questions of my own: I want to start a movie blog. I LOVE movies, and sharing my opinions about them.
    My blog’s not about whether a movie is appropriate for little kids: it’ll be more about the quality of the movie.
    How would I go about that?
    And secondly, what should I call my blog?

    Thank you!

    • The Florid Sword says:

      Just write what you liked about the movie. You can include the rating or inappropriateness if it really stood out to you or you want people to steer clear of that one. If you don’t want to include something, don’t.
      You could call it The Mix. Or Movies Ratings United. Or The Sage of Movies.
      Good luck!

  15. I’m glad the question helped you, Poppie. If anyone needs any help, I’d be glad to offer it. I don’t have any good ideas for your movie blog, though. By the way, my book publishing is going to be delayed, I need to fix up my manuscript some more before I decide about publishing. I have a few questions. Where should my elf princess live? (She is not the kind of elf that works for Santa. She uses mostly nature magic and is the height of a human) Should the elves and merpeople have different leaders? They coexist with each other and I’m not sure if it’d work out to combine the kingdoms. How do you write scenes where your MC has to be like a diplomat and convince the other leaders to help her defeat the villain and his army? I’m having a really hard time with that. Advanced thanks to those who help answer!

    • 1. Where should she live?
      Well, what kind of habitat do you love/are you most familiar with? I think you’d have an easier time picturing and describing a place that you’re comfortable in. With nature magic, I assume that she lives in a less populated area. Have you ever gone camping? Hiking? Stare out the window on long car rides? Use what you’ve seen there.

      2. Leaders…
      I don’t think your elves and merpeople should have the same leader, but you have lots of options for each government type. They could have one central leader, or, if they are more ‘primitive’ cultures, they might live in bands with each band having a separate leader. They might not have one at all. You’ll want to look at each culture carefully and decide which system best fits each being.

      3. Diplomatic scenes…
      I see the difficulty here. You don’t want to overload on dialogue (I have that problem), but there naturally has to be a lot of talking. One thing I do is write most of it in dialogue, which is what comes naturally to me, and then go back and see where I can summarize or leave things out. I might include a one paragraph flashback that explains why the main character reacts a certain way. Another tip is to look at the stakes: what does each character want, why can’t they have it, and what will go wrong if they don’t get it?

      Hope that helps.

    • I don’t really have advice for your questions, but I just wanted to say that I totally know what you’re talking about when you say you need to fix up your manuscript a bit more. That’s the stage I’m in – still. I thought I was finished, but I finally felt it was getting so patched up that I had to just go ahead and print it all out again, so I could shuffle things around better and figure out what was what, and weave things in better.

  16. I have a question. I have been told that I use too much dialogue (and when I reread things I can see it), but I’m coming up on a scene now that I can’t figure out how to present in any other way.

    My characters need to learn a story from the past. They’ve met with an elderly man who was there. In my rough draft I spend several pages with him telling the story, interrupted by the four listeners who clarify different points or ask questions. Would it be better to have him tell the story in a big block with no interruptions? Is there some other way beside dialogue to show parts of the story? I can’t flashback or summarize, since this is all new to my POV character, and the story covers several years so I couldn’t invent a magical object that allows them to see the events unfolding (that doesn’t really fit the world anyway).

    • In THE THIEF several times, the characters tell stories around the campfire. Those stories are set off a little from the rest of the text and told as one uninterrupted unit.

  17. If you’ve read the Heroes of Olympus series, you’re probably familiar with Hazel’s flashbacks, where she actually seems to go back in time, and can take people with her. (She can’t change time though, that would take out lots of the balance.) Could you post what time era or where this story is supposed to be happening? I could think up a better idea if I knew that.

    • Thanks for the ideas. I have read that series–and then I went back just to look at the first line of each chapter, because he did really well at that.
      My story is fantasy, loosely based on the American West in the 1700s. The teller of the story is a Lectran, meaning his abilities need to have to do either with innovation or electricity (but in a very rudimentary form, since it’s long before it was discovered). One of the listeners is a Muse (abilities over communication), so I could possibly use that somehow.
      I think I need to cut down to the details that are important in this story, because a lot of the things I added are important for the series but not necessarily for the book.

  18. I need help. A side MC is supposed to be cursed, but I can’t figure out a curse that would be good! No one knows about the curse until quite a bit into the story, because it’s the side MC’s darkest secret. What would be a good curse that’s able to remain hidden for years on end? She [my side MC] can show signs of it, but it can’t be obvious. Please help!

    • It seems like something social, like Ella’s obedience, would work nicely. What if she’s cursed to always tell the truth when asked? Or the opposite, she can’t answer a direct question, or only repeat words like Echo.

    • There are a lot of curses that could be hidden for years, especially if it’s something like, “she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel, and die on her 21st birthday,” or something similar that won’t happen until a certain time in her life. Or, it could be something that’s reoccurring throughout her life–maybe every time she looks at someone, she knows, in terrible detail, the worst thing that person has ever done. You described it as a dark secret, so does it need to be “dark?” I’m not necessarily very good at coming up with dark secrets, but maybe she’s cursed to murder the man she loves, or be forever tied to and forced to assist a secret organization/evil person, or to betray everyone who’s ever trusted her, or something like that.

    • Or maybe something in her thoughts or dreams. For example, suppose her curse fabricates suspicions and she can never tell if it’s real or not. Depending on her personality, she might always seem suspicious of people or always deliberately trusting, based on how she handles those unwelcome thoughts.

      • Thanks! I came up with a curse. You all helped me a lot! My character is cursed to be like a genie, though she doesn’t live in a lamp. I’ll call her Daphne in this post. For example, let’s say Daphne is hanging out with her friends, and it’s a hot day. One of her friends then says, “I wish we had some cold lemonade.” Daphne then has to grant her wish. So she reaches into her pack and pulls out bottles of lemonade. Then her friends think that she’s just prepared. It’s a good cover. Thanks again to all of you!

  19. This is a bit late–sorry, I’ve been overwhelmed with college stuff lately–but thanks so much for posting about my question, Gail! 🙂 I wish I could come to your workshop, but it would take me over three hours to fly there, let alone drive. :/ Good luck with it, though!

  20. I need a little help. In my Frozen/Rise of the Guardians fan fiction, Jack (the hero of the story) needs to realize that he’s in love with Elsa.
    The problem is, he can’t talk about it with anyone. His other friends have been taken away by the bad guy.
    How should Jack discover his romantic feelings? Should it be like a lightbulb going on in his head?
    If you can help, I’d appreciate it!

    • Is there absolutely nobody he can talk to? No acquaintances, or random strangers, or villains, or anything? If that’s the case, it’ll probably have to be kind of an “ah-ha” moment for him. Maybe he’s worrying about her, or thinking how much cooler (no pun intended 😉 ) she is than all his other friends, or something, and then it finally clicks. Of course, you’ll want to lead up to it, dropping hints here and there beforehand, if you haven’t already–since it’d be a little strange if he and Elsa seemed to have some kind of sibling-like relationship, until the day he suddenly thought, “Hey wait, I’m in love with her!” 😉

    • Is the little tooth fairy bird still with him? Also, what about Frozen characters? By “his other friends” I’m assuming that you mean the rest of the guardians, but are the Frozen characters gone too? What if he had a little conversation with Olaf, just like Anna after Hans locks her into her room? It would be a nice callback/shoutout to the movie.

  21. Thanks for the post, Gail! I have to fight my inner critic all the time.

    I have a question that’s unrelated. What are some emotional reactions to lots of terrible changes happening at once in a preteen’s life that don’t include crying? My character, an independent but insecure 12-year-old girl, has gone through a lot within a three-day timeframe; he dad was framed for a terrible crime, someone broke into her house and tried to kidnap her and her mom, she had to go to live with a friend to be safe, where someone tried to break in and kidnap her again, and now she has been sent to live on the other side of the country with relatives she has never met. When I try to write her reactions to all of these events, I find that she just ends up crying! I suppose technically she isn’t crying the whole time, but whenever she stops to think about what is going on, she always winds up bursting into tears. How can I make her reactions seem real without making her cry all the time?

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

  22. I liked your suggestions, Nessa and Kitty. : )

    Writeforfun: Mrs. Levine should have a post on emotional characters. I recommend reading it. It might help.

  23. Hello dear, Gail Carson Levine, I really like your work, heroes. Thanks to you, I fell in love with reading, thank you very much!
    Your little friend from Russia.

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