I recently received an email from a writer who’s just starting out, and they wanted to know if I could give them any advice. It’s the first time anyone has asked me for writing advice, and I was very flattered.
Since my first full-length work isn’t quite finished, I wasn’t sure how much advice I could offer. Then I thought back on what I’ve found the most difficult thing about writing and what’s helped me.
In my experience, writing a novel is hard. It’s hard, not because of the technical aspects of it, but because of all of the self-doubts that crop up along the way. You’ll probably find yourself thinking things like ‘I’m a cruddy writer’, ’this book is stupid’ and ‘I’m never, ever going to finish’, the sorts of things that totally discouraging you from writing. That’s why you need to be persistent, to keep writing despite the self-doubts, and stubborn, for when persistence fails you. Continue reading →
It’s daunting, especially when your manuscript is half-written
No capacity to outline subplots
When I first came across Blake Synder’s Beat Sheet (BS2), I was half-way through the manuscript for Hero and the word count for each beat made me to blanch. The idea of trying to shoehorn my (at that point in time) pantsed story into all of those little boxes (opening image, catalyst, black moment) with their prescribed word counts, was more than my brain could take, but when I went back to the BS2, a new story in mind, they appeared as godsends. Continue reading →
Patricia C. Wrede’s Fantasy World-building questions are great, and the World-building Leviathan is equally awesome, but there are times when they just don’t hit the spot. Like, when you’re halfway (or more) into your novel and you need to sort out what a battle mage can do that an illusionist can’t.
Sure, you can jot down a few notes and whack them into a notebook, but if, like me, you can’t stand the thought of not being organised, something a little more structured is in order.
Normally, I’d turn to Scrivener, but, until the iPad version comes out, it doesn’t work so well on-the-go. Yes, you can sync your files to an external folder and edit them on the iPad (which works great for writing), but whatever file structure you’ve created in Scrivener is lost, and when I’m world-building I need folders, and not just any folders, but nested folders and lots of them.
And so, I set out to make myself a template in which I could make random notes, while still being organised, and that I could use just as easily from my laptop as my iPad. Continue reading →
The Snowflake method is the brainchild of Randy Ingermanson. Freely available online, it’s one of the first methods/writing processes that I started playing around with. It’s great for plotters, although pantsers might like to give it a pass, since it’s heavy on the planning. There’s also no world-building to speak of, but there’s nothing to stop you slotting in something like the 30 Days of World-building Exercises to suit your needs. Continue reading →
A while ago, I found this writer’s notebook for Scrivener. I prefer to keep my story ideas in separate files, so I haven’t used it yet, but it looks pretty bloody awesome. I particularly like the Writing Helps & Tips section at the top, which includes such goodies as Dan Wells 7-point plot system, “11 tips to increase your productivity” and “How to make stories Rock”.
Unfortunately, the website where I originally found the file is no longer available, but don’t fear, I’ve uploaded it here so that you too can share in the awesomeness.
For the past month, between work, karate and finally reading Divergent (excellent book, by the way), I’ve been working on the second draft of Hero. And although I haven’t made as much progress as I would have liked, and I’m busting to get to the second part of the my revision process (editing the prose – why does ‘prose’ always sound so snobbish?), the novel is coming along nicely.
Over at Writer’s Alley, author SA Larsen has started the reBEL Writer’s Creed, as a reminder to be kind to ourselves, to work hard but not stupidly hard and to have faith that, eventually, we’ll get to where we want to be.