Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Up Your Game! 3 Steps to Improve Your Writing by Beth K. Vogt

Beth Vogt
You’ve just finished writing a manuscript, maybe even submitted it to an agent or editor. Whew! Time for a little writer R&R: Reconnecting with family and friends and Rescuing the house from all the tasks you’ve ignored.

But what if new imaginary characters are already talking to you, demanding you listen to them? Before you get too far into that new story, don’t forget to ask yourself one key question:

How are you going to up your game as a writer with this next book(Click to Tweet!)

I first heard the challenge, “Up your game with every book your write,” at a My Book Therapy writing retreat taught by best-selling authors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. Never heard of the My Book Therapy writing community? Check it out! Never heard of Susie and Rachel? Read ‘em. I’m blessed to count them as both mentors and friends.

For several years now, I’ve seen Susie and Rachel live out the “Up Your Game” challenge they gave all the retreat attendees and me. With each book they write, they look for new ways to improve their skills. (Click to Tweet!)

So how do I accept their challenge to up my game with each new book I write?
Upping your game is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Celebrate what you’ve done. Always take time to celebrate the book you’ve written once it’s completed and/or published. I mature as a writer with each book I submit. Yes, two and a half years later, I would write my debut novel better – but that’s because I have grown as a writer. I need to acknowledge that as a positive sign, not angst over it.
  2. Focus in on specific craft techniques. I choose one, maybe two, writing skills to work on for each new project. In Catch a Falling Star, my second novel, I chose developing a stronger Storyworld – weaving in details describing the five senses and the world my characters lived in that would bring my story alive for my readers.
  3. Get some accountability. I tell my mentor(s) and preferred readers – two friends who read my rough drafts – how I want to up my game. In my third novel, Somebody Like You, I told Rachel that I wanted to work on weaving stronger emotion into the story. She had me read a scene from Catch a Falling Star and then helped me see how I could have made it stronger emotionally with a few minor changes. This was my first step to upping my game in my third book: remembering what Rachel taught me while I wrote Somebody Like You.

Becoming a better writer doesn’t happen by accident. We have to be purposeful, celebrate our successes, determine where we need to improve, and ask others to help us learn.

How do you up your game as a writer?

About the Author
Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth is now a novelist with Howard Books. She enjoys writing inspirational contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Connect with Beth on her website or check out her blog on quotes, In Others’ Words.

Somebody Like You
Somebody Like You
by Beth K. Vogt
Can a young widow find love again with her husband's reflection?

Haley's three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he's killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening-and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?

Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relation-ship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together-and whose ghost could drive them apart?

“In Vogt’s quietly beautiful inspirational contemporary, two people learn to let go of the past and discover that God often works in mysterious ways. . . . a heartwarming tearjerker about learning what love is.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)


  1. Beth, I just wanted to thank you for visiting with us here today. I know you have been a constant source of help and encouragement to me in both my personal and writing life. You're always helped me celebrate my accomplishments, pushed me to learn more about the craft of writing and held me accountable to make my writing stronger.

    I can't thank you enough for that and for sharing this post with our readers today. It's obvious from your writing that you've got the same support system going for you, too! Loved "Somebody Like You!"

  2. Angie: Love being here today -- and I value our relationship too. Accountability goes both ways. Support from other writers is so, so needed: advice, encouragement and prayer makes all the difference when we are discouraged or when we are trying to reach the next level as a writer.

  3. Enjoyed this, Beth! I'm incredibly wordy, and I'm working on it to up my game--looking for unnecessary words.

  4. Sandra: I say let the word count flow in the fast draft -- I've heard it phrased as "throwing up on the page" -- and then edit like an "Evil Editor" during the rewrite phase. It's not just the individual unnecessary words. It's also the repetitive scenes and the rabbit trails. Those can trip me up too.

  5. I love this post, Beth.The suggestion that we'd re-write our published books better. Oh, my first one is so awful. Right now I am kind of re-inventing myself by writing shorter works, novellas and short stories, and that's hard...getting all the stuff we need to do in a shorter amount of words. But I find it good to pare and purge. Enjoyed the post! And wow, what a premise for your book! You've got me hooked.

    1. Tanya, There are some things I love about my debut novel -- and I remind myself it was the best book I could write at that time! But the goal is always upping my game, so when a reader says "Wow, this book is better than your last book," I'll take that compliment. And you're right, crafting a novella is so challenging because I want them to be as satisfying a read as a full-length novel.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Beth. I LOVED Somebody Like You! I appreciate your advice about choosing one aspect. I'm usually "forced" into that during the project because I instinctively feel something is missing so I go on a journey to educate myself. ;) Great post!

    1. I am so thankful to hear you loved Somebody Like You -- thank you! And there are times I struggle with "What did I miss?" when I'm writing a novel too. I walk around -- mull, mull, and pray too -- until it comes to me! And then I celebrate - and write!

    2. Yay, for writerly instincts! And prayer. ;)

  7. Sorry I'm late to the party, Beth. Am I the only one in the world who hasn't read your books? lol. I'll have to correct that. Somebody Like You sounds FABULOUS!
    I find reasons to celebrate for the smallest of victories. Last week I rewarded myself with a toffee latte for a record word count week. And I'm so thankful for my hubby who keeps me accountable. I don't consciously work on perfecting one aspect of my writing. But with every book I write, I can look back and see improvement overall. I'll have to give that a try. Thanks for sharing, Beth. :)

    1. Hi, Dora: Thanks for joining the conversation -- I'm notorious (yes, I do believe that's the correct word), for coming the the party late! I like your idea of celebrating the smallest victories. I'm on back-to-back deadlines right now and I am going to take your approach and celebrate along the way!


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