4 Ways That You Can Stay Organized

Last time I talked about the benefits of organization and how it can safe your life. Now I want to discuss some of the ways I’ve been staying organized in a little more depth—and how you can too.

I’m a very visual person. I like to see things, either in writing, or photographs. Even if it’s just a good, clear mental image, it will be helpful. So most of my organization methods are things that help me visualize projects.


I’m going to start with Pinterest, because it’s the most visual of all. Some of you are probably thinking that Pinterest is more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to writing, and sometimes that’s true. That’s why it’s important to have a pinning plan. When I get on Pinterest, I know what I’m looking for. I go in thinking, “Today I’m going to search for Project RENO pins” or, “I’m going to look at wedding stuff.” And then I do my best to stick with that plan. I also try and have a general time limit so that I won’t spend the whole day there. I might browse for novel-related things for fifteen minutes, or sometimes half an hour. Other times, I’ll scroll through my story board and review what I’ve already organized. This helps me to stay on track with my plot and characters, and often reminds me of little details to include in the story.

Organization and How it Can Save Your Life

Hey! So today I’m going to talk about organizing. For a lot of artists, organization is not necessarily one of our strong points. Even those of us who like to be organized sometimes struggle with putting it into practical use. It’s easy to become completely consumed by your projects to the point of hitting burnout.

This is why organizing can save your life. Or at least your sanity. Recently, I’ve been trying to become more organized. As an INFJ, I’m the type of artist who likes the idea of being organized, but sometimes struggles with actually staying inside a system that I’m not constantly redefining. I’m a bit of a perfectionist at times.

How Stuck Is “Too Stuck”?

When I’m talking with other writers, I often hear this phrase uttered in agony: “Help! I’m stuck!” If you’re a writer, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Sometimes this is as good as a death sentence for a work in progress. But how stuck is too stuck?

This is a question I saw asked on a writing forum the other day. How stuck is too stuck to merit continuing? Does it ever get to a point where finishing your novel isn’t worth it?

Fall Flash-Fiction Contest 2014


Dreaming Hobbit is hosting a flash-fiction contest! Second and third place will receive feedback on their entries and have their names mentioned, and first place will receive feedback and have their work featured on the blog in October. To enter, subscribe to the blog and leave a comment on this post!



  1. Use one of the following prompts to build your story.
  2. Points will be given for intrigue, creativity, and emotional connection. Objective: make me care about your protagonist and their unique situation. Bring things to life.
  3. Each entry must be at least 500 words, but may not exceed 1,000.
  4. Entries must be formatted in 12 point, double-spaced Courier New font and mailed to this address: emily.tjaden@project513.org (*in the email and not as an attachment*) with the subject line: “Dreaming Hobbit Fall Flash Fiction Contest Entry” by midnight on October 8th, 2014. Include your name and a short bio if you wish. (No more than 50-100 words.)
  5. Results will be posted on October 29th.


Writing Prompts:

Use one of the following as the opening of your flash-fiction piece:

I didn’t expect that getting a wrong number would cost me my job.

 Up until I got punched in the face, it’d been a pretty nice party.

 “Okay, if we get caught, here’s the story…”

 My phone buzzed. I pulled it out of my pocket and read the text I’d been dreading. “Now,” it said.


Tell the story you see in this picture:


You may also use a combination of the two types of prompts if you would like. Good luck, and happy writing!

When to Have a Romantic Subplot

Most fiction involves romance. It’s just the way things are—especially in the world of YA. Everybody likes a little firework show, right? And because romance is in a lot of fiction, aspiring authors strive to write it. I’ve heard a lot of young writers say, “My story is feeling kind of boring, so do you think I should add some romance?” My answer? Do you think you should add romance?

I’m going to dispel a myth now. You may have heard that adding romance to your novel automatically makes it better and richer. But adding romance to your novel does not automatically make it better and richer. There are several things to consider when debating whether or not romance is right in your novel. It’s not the automatic “fix-it-all” for a boring story.

Seeing Life in Color

There’s something I’ve noticed about life. People are too serious. Either that, or they are not serious enough. Most just float through their days without life; too focused on work; too caught up in stupid games and worthless pleasures. It’s a black and white life.

Our culture has painted life in a manner that strips away the colors. It says, “Do this and do that, and you will be happy. If you don’t do x, y, and z, you can’t expect to find pleasure.” Very straightforward, and yet so complex. The culture has a formula for everything. “If you just by this, you’ll be happy!” “If you just look like this, you’ll be beautiful.” “If you just wear this, you’ll be sexy.”

But life isn’t like that.

Layered Dialogue

Today I want to talk about one of the finest, most intricate arts of writing; that of layered dialogue. I don’t claim to be a master at this by any stretch of the imagination, and so rather than having this post be about “how to write layered dialogue”, I just want to share what I’ve learned about it.


Dialogue is, on the surface, a very simple form of fiction. It’s two characters talking to each other. Easy, right? It might seem that way, but in reality, good dialogue is difficult to write. Layered dialogue is even harder. And in my opinion, all good dialogue is at least a little bit layered.

What is layered dialogue?

I’m going to define it, because a lot of people don’t quite understand it. Layered dialogue is when the words spoken point to something of deeper meaning. The exchange of words between characters is essentially the tip of the iceberg. There are varying degrees of layered dialogue. It can be layered only a little, or it can be deeply, intricately, and complexly woven together.


Lately, I’ve been studying at the college with Sam, and one of his classes had an assignment to take a section of a play (so just dialogue) and change the meaning of the words by tone, action, and expression. I was immediately interested, because layered dialogue. The excerpt was about two men in a subway station. One starts asking the other random questions, which, when you read it, sounds kind of creepy.


With no context given, we discussed possible ways to change the meaning of a seemingly random conversation. The first option was that the characters are war vets, and one of them has amnesia. The “random” questions and answers are an attempt to help him remember things from his past. The other option we came up with was even more layered. The seemingly aimless conversation was actually taking place between a terrorist and someone who has been working as a double agent in planning an attack on the city.  All of the words are now part of a code. By changing the context and the characters’ attitudes, we were able to change the tone of the conversation from one of creepy pointlessness to direct fear. It became menacing by just a few gestures and voice inflections. We never changed a single word.


A script is one thing, though. Prose is another. Layered dialogue in prose can, in some respects, be even more difficult to master. As I said, I am by no means an expert. I’ve learned to watch for layered dialogue in movies, but also in books. As I mentioned, there are varying depths of layered dialogue.



If you really stop to think about it, a lot of dialogue is layered. Conversations in real life are layered. Why? Because human beings are layered. We’re deep. Our emotions are complicated. We don’t always say what we mean or mean what we say. The depth of layered dialogue can range from a coded terrorist attack to a character saying “I’m fine” with a smile and a shrug, but the reality is that she’s deeply depressed and potentially suicidal.


Superficial dialogue rarely benefits a story. This is a challenge to look deeper into your own characters, and those in other works of fiction. Search out the layered dialogue. Study it. There are really only two rules for writing fiction: read and write. Learn and practice. While I definitely haven’t mastered this art of layered dialogue, I know that I’m getting better all the time, and that’s encouraging. One of the things I’d suggest is doing exactly what Sam and I did – find a piece of random dialogue out of context, and, without changing any of the spoken words, shift the meaning. Layer it. Get creative. It’s amazing the things you can come up with and make work.