Word count. You either love it or hate it. Some of us write too much. Some of us write too little. It all boils down to the quantity versus quality debate. When you’re new to writing long works, it is ok to be at either end of the word count spectrum when composing your first draft. But I won’t lecture any of you to increase or condense your writing. Sometimes it’s best to read what you have out loud. How do your sentences flow? Are they too wordy? Are they too choppy? Sometimes a fresh set of eyes (and/or ears can help).
It is beneficial for writers to have a routine. Sitting down and writing for a block of time can further productivity. This can work to an extent. It’s best not to burn yourself out, so if writing time rolls around and you find yourself staring at your keyboard for an hour, changing it up can do some good. We’ve all been there – glaring at the little word count box at the bottom of the screen, mentally willing it to change. Taking a break from writing can lead to inspiration too. When it comes to word count and first drafts, don’t sweat it. And don’t give up! Just write!~
So you have a vague idea of what your story is about. You may not have a full plot, and your characters may not be dynamic and jumping off the page, but you have a start. Another major component to any great story is a memorable setting. That can be contrived from that dreamscape of your imagination to your own back yard. Your setting can offer a lot of valuable information and is bidirectional/tri-directional in terms of characters and plot. The setting can be stable or flexible. It can be a spaceship or a cranny under an old kitchen sink. Whatever the case, the setting is not an element to be overlooked in the great scheme of things.
The more you know about the world in which your characters reside, the better off you will be. That goes without saying. Some authors leave a lot (perhaps a little too much) to the reader’s imagination. Others paint an elaborate picture, projecting the setting’s history to its activity and status. Regardless, it is important to have an idea of where a good portion of your story will take place (unless it is ever-changing as an adventure theme calls for). This may require doing a little homework on your part. Just because you don’t live in a distant country does not mean that you should not write about it. But accuracy is key. From indigenous plants to climate, background information can take your setting to new heights. Checking a few credible sources during your travels certainly won’t hurt. The timeframe is just as equally important – and historical accuracy is favorable to make educated readers smile at your work. (There is more flexibility in futuristic settings, however. Even in terms of fashion, some styles can come back, but be sure to keep practicality in mind. As much as I would like to believe that in 2024 top hats and lavish ball gowns will adorn modern models at prestigious fashion shows, it does not seem as plausible. At least not compared to bulletproof, lightweight super-fabric made from spider silk.)
If you are creating your own world, the same things apply. A new world can be as “out of the box” as one can imagine, but keep in mind that there is a line between fantasy and science fiction – depending on which you are leaning toward, the latter may call for more explanation as to how things are the way they are. (So, if your world defies the laws of physics not by “magical” means, it may be wise to spell out why.) Note that social context can be entwined into the setting – so throw in some locals, show how developed (or not) your setting is, maybe boast about its thriving or crumbling economy. Don’t be afraid to set out some stable corner stones for your setting. Your story will be stronger because of it. ~
A common fear of writers is making our characters too predictable. Some of us may struggle with making them unique – while others make them extremely eccentric. All of our characters may have a set motive and objective as how they are shaped by our story. Archetypes serve as a nice scaffold, but the outcome and how they interact with other characters (thus influencing change or keeping stagnancy) is ultimately influenced by a multitude of traits, attributes and vices. It goes without saying that if you place several characters side by side with the same motives, but all have different personalities and qualities, the plot will / should impact their change differently. Therefore it is important to hone in on the traits you are assigning to each character that may (inadvertently) be making your character “Mary Sue”-ish,thus resulting in clichéd characters.
On a side note, if your characters are always succeeding against the conflicts proposed by the plot, they may not grow. (At least not to their full potential.) Another common mistake is creating a perfect character, one with few flaws. Or worse, creating a character that emulates yourself in any way. If that happens, the writer may be inclined to create the character with respect to their own views and personalize it to the point where no growth occurs. (Well, I wouldn’t fail at saving the world, so certainly my character wouldn’t!) Be careful of this and growing too emotionally attached to your characters. As writers, we can do terrible things to them – and sometimes we need to do such things to progress the plot. Keep in mind that your characters and your plot are bidirectional in nature – so if there are major flaws in one of the two, compensation may not always be a simple fix!
Now that you have accessed the status of your characters, where do you begin? Let’s keep it simple – don’t overwhelm yourself with everything at once. If it helps, sum up your plot (or, your vague idea if you don’t have a full blown plot yet) in a couple of sentences. Figure out how long you want your work to be if you have not done so already. Understand the objectives of your story. It is your characters’ job to explore those objectives. Weather they fail or not is a different story. (No pun intended folks.) Sketch your characters, giving them as much dimension as possible. Love them. Hate them. Look at their list of qualities and figure out what you would want to change about them by the time the story concludes. (Yes, some of their good traits may be altered – that is ok too!) Making a big list of traits, attributes and vices is a good place to start if you are stuck in the sketching process. Answer a bunch of “interview questions” with your character if it helps. Granted, the information may not all be relevant, but this is a way to certainly increase your characters’ dynamic personalities. The better you know your characters, the better off you will be when in the thick of your intense, progressing plot. So what are you waiting for? Go sketch those characters!~
There are many amazing and inspirational blogs out there that delve into the specifics of writing in general. Some target authors who actually have an idea of how the process works (we all hope). So instead I will point out some tips for all of you at the starting line, itching to write a novel. Perhaps some of you have and want to fine tune your complete manuscript. (Or as I like to say “cut and polish”). Or maybe you would like to rewrite a novel or simply start from scratch. Whatever your drive to make that long work thrive – I am here to help.
Today I will introduce a common myth about the title. An all powerful title can make or break a large work and can be just as important (if not more) than the jacket. Unfortunately people today judge a book by their cover. Well, the title is usually on that cover. Rambling titles may be distracting. You want to represent your work with a powerful word or two. Designate it a name. Some people do this at the beginning of the creative process, but do not let it consume too much time. I have a few novels that have been perfectly fine with a placeholder title. I have had titles that clicked with the conception of the idea while I have mulled over other titles for weeks to months on end.
When taking that first step to writing a novel, I would encourage giving it a name. You can always change it. Saving it as “Document 1” never appealed to me. Naming your work will give you a little emotional attachment to it. (This applies to short stories and poems as well.) A title can even encompass some personal flare. When you find a title, even a temporary one, there is nothing more gratifying than saying, “Today I am working on [your title goes here].”
So there you have it – my little opinion about titles. So go on, take that first step. Open up that document or fold back the cover of that old blank notebook that has been collecting dust in your desk. Give your new work (or revised one) a name it deserves. Then put your pen to the paper or keyboard and type out these words if they aren’t there already: Chapter 1. Congratulations! You’re ready for the next step.~
Hello there fellow writing enthusiasts! Weather you’re writing for the sake of writing or plotting the next big novel, this is the blog for you. I am a writer, a self-published author of six books. My first book Opulent is the first book of The Opalescent Collection. I am a huge science fiction/fantasy junkie, but I’ll do my best to consider all genres out there in the blogs to come. I’ll share some of my writing tips along with any creative tips and points for inspiration. Please do not account my blog as a standard for my writing – I tend to write informally on blogs in general.
A little about myself:
I was born about three months premature. I weighed only one pound. (That’s equivalent to about two sticks of butter for those who need a visual. Or…more than half the weight of a standard five pound bag of sugar.) My odds tipped out of my favor statistically as I took my first breaths; I was not supposed to walk, talk, see, breathe on my own, well, the list goes on. I defied those odds. Medicine has certainly come a long way since I was born, but for any doubtful or uneasy people welcoming a new preemie into the world – there is hope despite all of the things you may be told.
I am a young author. I completed Opulent when I was only twelve years old and completed The Opalescent Collection by my seventeenth birthday. So that averages out to be about a book per year. Now that I’m in college, those statistics have changed, but writing still dominates as a huge part of my life. I hope that with this blog I can provide a little inspiration, if anything. I will try to update this blog at least once a week and add any upcoming promotional deals for my books as well. So for all of you writers out there – old and young alike, I hope you will stay tuned.~