Novel Writing

Annoying People Make the Best Characters

I bet you have one, we all do. That person who sets your teeth on edge, who drives you up the wall, who makes you google how to get away with murder (I’m joking about that last one…). That person who makes your life difficult.

Have you ever thought of them as Novel Fodder?

Novel Fodder – Definition by Blissful Scribbles – A person or object that can be directly placed into a work in progress to add tension, drama, and interest. Can sometimes be used passive aggressively, which although best avoided, is incredibly satisfying.

Novel Fodder is a great way of letting out your frustration. Write out that person in minute detail, the exact things they do, put it in a character. The annoying character traits? Give them to an antagonist. 

If a good relationship with said person is preferable or necessary editing will need to include a stringent “identity protection” portion so you can veil your frustration. This is recommended in such instances as your wife’s best friend or you boss.

However, that snarky woman you met in Tescos? Write her up. 

That rude driver with the obscene bumper stickers? Write him up too.

Write them up until the frustration is gone, and you’re left with a novel full of real life people. (Obviously make sure to add a large dollop of characters you DO like, otherwise your novel may miss the mark!)

Novel Writing

My Novel Writing Secret – Shhh Don’t Tell

I have a secret, a big, fat, secret. It’s increased my daily word count by a third. Do you want to know what it is? Then read on…

I stopped writing my novel weeks ago.

What? How can you have an amazing word count and have stopped writing, you ask? Let me tell you how.

I started dictating my novel.

I’m using a handy dictation tool on my Chromebook and speaking out my novel as it comes into my head. It took a fair while to get used to it, but now, after weeks of NaNoWriMo practice, I am a whizz at it.

Here is a small list of how dictation has improved my novel writing –

Get more words down in the same amount of time. Enough said. Who wouldn’t want to increase productivity without spending money or extra stress?

Improve the quality of dialogue. When you dictate speech it is more authentic, as, well, speech is spoken word, so doesn’t it make more sense to dictate dialogue?

Less temptation to edit as you write. Nearly every post about dictation mentions this. Dictate helps you get into the mindset of telling a story and stops you becoming distracted by editing as you go.

Kinder to your back. Back pain and RSI can cripple an author. We simply aren’t designed to sit hunched over a computer all day. With dictation you can pop on a headset and wander around your laptop – no back strain for us!

This is a small list, there are plenty more reasons to look into dictation – if you are interested I recommend checking it out. If you are a seasoned pro I would love to hear from you. 

 

NaNoWriMo · Novel Writing

NaNoWriMo – I Can See the Finish Line

How are you, campers? Exhausted? Delirious? Manic?

Whether broken or motivated by NaNoWriMo, I have good news for you! It’s the final stretch of Camp NaNoWriMo July 2017.

Well done us, we are still going, and whether we are set to win or lose, we are all winners. Imagine what your word count would be without this month?

How far have you come? I bet it’s a long way, and even if it’s not it’s some way, and that’s enough.

Keep on striving for the finish line. You can do this!

NaNoWriMo · Novel Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo – Is it Killing You Too?

Hello, Campers!

I am dying by word counts… Absolutely drowning in words. This NaNoWriMo malarky is excruciating.

I want to watch Netflix. I want to sleep in. I want to sit and do NOTHING. I want to GIVE UP.

But I won’t. I hope you won’t either. Keep on keeping on. Just keep swimming. We can do this.

Feel free to share your misery (or elation) in the comments. We’re in this together

NaNoWriMo · Novel Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo Doesn’t Really Matter – but you can do it anyway

Hello there everyone!

How are you this week? If you, like me, are participating in Camp NaNoWriMo you must be pretty darn tired. Well done. You’ve lasted the first week. That’s a real achievement. If you’ve already given up, don’t worry, you can always try again, or maybe it’s just not for you.

Here is something important to note down. Ready?

Completing NaNoWriMo does not make you an excellent author, and failing it does not make you a terrible one.  

This is simply a test of determination, and of how busy our lives are. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t become disheartened and give up on your dream of writing a book just because NaNoWriMo isn’t for you.

Also, don’t become complacent because NaNoWriMo is easy for you. There is still a heck of a battle to get published.

Let’s get some perspective and enjoy the NaNoWriMo ride. 

Novel Writing

The Editing Style Guide

Here are some great tips for those of you who are editing your novels, I hope it helps.

A. C. Wyatt

Look, editing is hard. I’ve said it many, many times. When you’re starting, it can be incredibly confusing. One person tells you to do this, and another tells you oh God no. Do this. Do that. It’s hard. I can’t tell you what’s right for your story, but as far as I can tell, there are a couple basic things you need to know.

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Novel Writing

How to Outline a Scene like a Pro

Hello, lovely people, I hope you are well? You are? Great! I know I am, it’s Friday after all! The last few days I have been outlining my scenes so that I am ready for Camp NaNoWriMo in July.

I’m reading an amazing book by CS Lakin called The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction which I have found invaluable. Lakin gives a scene checklist which I recommend you get your hands on.

I have used this to ask myself set questions per scene, and they are helping me so much I thought I would share them with you. Let me know what you think!

​What is the action or revelation that is the high impact crux of this scene?

What new information will this scene tell the reader?

What is the purpose of the scene?

What do I want the reader to know by reading this scene?

What is the protagonist reacting to here?

What added extra sparkle does the scene have?

Where does the scene begin?

What action is taking place when the scene starts?

How is it different to the opening of the scene before?

What is the POV?

How will I show this POV in the first few sentences?

How will I show the passing of time from the last scene?

What is my hook that grabs the reader at the start of the scene?

Imagine I’m in the scene, note down the first five things my senses notice.

List all the conflict that will take place in the scene.

How will the high moment stand out?

What juicy revelations that come further along in the book do I hint to?

How will I end in a way that excites the reader?

By the end what has been resolved or left hanging?

What do I want the reader to feel by the end of this scene?

What is the beginning middle and end of this scene?

Do you use a similar list of questions, or are you more of a pantser? As always I’d love your comments and any wisdom you have to share.

Novel Writing

The Importance of Empathy when Writing Fiction

You can’t write a book unless you are empathetic. 

I bet some of you adamantly disagree with that statement. Of course, you can write an instruction manual or perhaps Non-fiction, but can you write fiction without empathy? I don’t think so.

The Oxford English dictionary described empathy as –

The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

What have feelings got to do with writing fiction? Well, if you think about it, quite a lot.

The old saying goes “write what you know”, but as I’m sure you’ll be relieved to find out, most thriller novelists don’t know what it feels like to murdered in an alley. They haven’t been in a high-speed car chase, and they certainly haven’t lived the life of a serial killer. So how are they able to write about these topics?

They have empathy.

Many people think that this is a wishy-washy, bleeding-heart characteristic that isn’t of any real value unless you are a counsellor or a priest. Empathy is actually incredibly useful in many situations, especially in fiction writing. You can imagine and understand how your characters would feel in a situation you have never been in.

So next time you read a novel about violent murders or abuse, don’t panic, you are only reading the result of the writer’s empathy, not psychopathic tendencies. If you are a writer, I would advise one of the best ways to create authentic characters, is to learn to empathise with as many people as you can. It will transform your prose.

 

Novel Writing

On Writing Novels: The things no one warns you about

Shock horror! How DARE she? What kind of writer does that make her? You mean you don’t LOVE every second of every minute that you are writing? She’ll never make it!

That’s what I imagine people will think when I admit there are things about writing that I hate. I mean hate, not just dislike. However, part of me wonders whether there isn’t something that every aspiring (or even, god forbid it, published!) authors can’t stand about writing. So, I’m going to let brutal honesty flow onto the page, and I’m hoping that it will encourage others who feel the same.

Getting up so damn early

When your alarm sounds and you’re shaken from blissful sleep three whole hours before you start work, just so that you can write. You hate the commitment, you hate the sacrifice, but most of all, you just plain hate being out of your warm, cosy bed. You sit, bleary-eyed in front of a computer screen, yawning, and dislike the practice intensely. Any other early morning writers feel the same?

When the words come faster than your fingers

When you are on a roll, and it seems as if the story is playing out in front of you, without any control on your part. Everything is so much better in your head and ideas are springing up left right and centre. Even though you’re a very fast typist, you still can’t keep up, and little gems of descriptions are lost into the big wide world.

Verbs that should exist, but don’t

You know the moment when you can see an action so clearly in your head, but there just isn’t a verb that you know of to describe it? When your mind is crying out for you to use an adverb, but you know that’s the lazy way, that there must be the perfect verb out there, so you try to find it. You sit for an age staring and tapping your fingers, and then you give up and use the adverb anyway, because, you can’t for the life of you find the perfect verb.

Lack of Confidence

That feeling that pounces when you are midway through a sentence, where your stomach drops and your heart beats faster. The little voice in your head which asks “are you really good enough? Why would anyone want to read what you have to say?”. It’s soul destroying, and it takes a person with real grit to shake off the thought and carry on regardless.

There are many reasons why writing a novel is hard, it’s the equivalent of a Marathon if writing were a sport. It takes training, dedication, and sacrifice, but despite all that, we love it. No matter what we achieve, writing a novel is worth the pain. For all the things we hate about writing, there are abundantly more things to love.