Never feel you have to write on a down day, what you need to do is look after yourself.
Never feel you have to write on a down day, what you need to do is look after yourself.
I extend my heart and it freezes,
It should be easy.
They, of course, are lying.
It is taken and crushed.
It’s enough to stamp out any lust.
I take a breath, hollow and deep.
Separate your own emotions from your manuscript’s quality, people will tear it to shreds and they will be correct to do so.
I last wrote a writing update on the 9th May. And this one will not be a great follow up as it will be short. In my last writing update I said I had completely got rid of my manuscript. And quite frankly I’ve gotten rid of everything else. I became quite a hermit for the last two months.
I have done NOTHING but plan my new novel. I have also written the first 35’000 words. Its…going to be looooong. Currently the estimated final word count is 302’243. It certainly feels like it will be that long.
But I don’t want to talk about that right now. I want to look to the future of everything else. Getting back into blogging, Twitter and Instagram is harder than expected. I’m a creature of routine and as it stands, writing is currently my only routine.
So I’m going to be a bit slow into writing poetry and flash fiction. But I have big plans for writing advice given I’ve essentially reinvented everything I do when I plan, write and record it.
But anyway, this is me putting my toe back in the pool of WordPress and hopefully I’ll be able to write something more substantial next week!
Every book starts somewhere, usually as a bundle of nonsense in a writer’s head, but at some point, those words need to be put down on a page and a plan needs to be formed. Now, I know a lot of people may want to write without a plan, I know I was once one of these people because, of course, I already know everything that’ll happen in my story.
…No…no you don’t.
Story ideas sometimes don’t pan out as you envisioned, you will drop ideas and bring in new ones throughout because you didn’t think it through properly. Writing out a plan will help at least remind you of where you are going.
The planning technique I use is the snowflake method, which is essentially expanding and branching out from one sentence into a whole plan (like a snowflake).
Step 1: One sentence Summary
Write your elevator pitch, preferably less than 15 words which sums up your entire story.
Step 2: Expand into five sentences
Now expand that one sentence into five, covering the following story beats:
Sentence 1: Explain the setting and introduce the lead characters
Sentence 2: Explain the first quarter of the book, up to the first disaster, where the hero commits to the story
Sentence 3: Explain the second quarter of the book, up to the second disaster, where the hero changes his mode of operations
Sentence 4: Explain the third quarter of the book, up to the third disaster, which forces the hero to commit to the ending
Sentence 5: Explain the fourth quarter of the book, where the hero has the final confrontation, and either wins or loses or both
Step 3: Expand once more
For each of those sentences, expand them into a paragraph totaling about a page long, it doesn’t need to be completely detailed just yet.
Step 4: Starting to work on the characters
Now you have a good idea about your plot, we need to start work on your characters. Start putting down the basic for each of your major characters:
• The character’s name
• A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline
• The character’s motivation (Abstract)
• The character’s goal (Concrete)
• The character’s conflict
• The character’s epiphany
If at this point (or any point) you realise you need to revise over your plot outline to fit into your characters’ storylines better, you should do now. Better do it now while planning than later in edits.
Step 5: Expand on your characters
Write up a one-page description of each major characters and half a page on any character you consider relevant to do so for, these should be from the POV of the characters to show what they are going through and how they change.
Step 6: Take a break and come back
Take a week and let the plan rest. Now you have a clearer idea of where your characters are going you should now be able to write a longer plot synopsis hopefully around 4 pages long. Expand each paragraph into just less than a page essentially and it gives you a chance to fix any little things and work out any plot holes.
Step 7: Expand, expand and expand again
Go back to your characters and make character charts, you can easily find these online, but most importantly know how your characters will have changed from the start to the end of your story. Make sure everything is as long as it needs to be, and you’ve explained everything as fully as possible.
Step 8: Write out your scenes
You know where it’s going now, and this is when I like to write out the scenes that are going to take place, but this depends on how you write, a list of scenes maybe a waste of time if you work well enough from a synopsis.
By now you should have a fully-fledged plan, now all you need to do is write a first draft. Good luck Xx
We start the chase.
Running, running, running each other down.
She hides in the night sky,
Or so she thinks.
I flare in brightness,
I will hunt her,
And there will be no solace in night.
Write in the book you’re reading, I like to write down little ideas that pop to mind while reading or highlight quotes that I think are funny. It adds to the reading experience.
The sand drains,
Constant and fast,
Write reviews for books as you go, (this maybe obvious to everyone else but it wasn’t to me), but as ideas and feelings pop into your head write it down so when you come to write your book review you don’t forget anything.
What is a hero without its villain? Well nothing. A story needs a conflict and that conflict usually comes in the form of a moustache-twiddling, cloak wearing, masked man. But an antagonist can be anything, don’t feel it’s necessary to include a personification of your antagonist if it works well enough as something vaguer. But most of the time you will need your villains to even have heroes.
How to make a villain menacing is simple: Make them human.
Okay maybe it’s a bit more complicated than that.
No one is evil for evil’s sake, everyone has their reasons and needs. Your villains should be created with the same quality of care as your main characters.
No one just wants power or money, its what those things give the villain that make them go to such terrifying lengths to get them. And if you want to make an antagonist absolutely scary make sure they are completely fixed upon their convictions and why they need what they’re after, because that then makes it easier for the reader to understand that – oh yeah, they will murder everyone if the hero cannot stop them.
However, a villain can of course waver in their conviction, they can be torn between what they know to be right and what they want. I think this can help make a villain more relatable if you give them time to grow almost mirroring the hero. Show them doing, every day thing like having a family. Let them have a vulnerability or even show the world as the villain sees it, so the reader may be tempted to even side with them.
But this can make your villain less terrifying so its really up to you which route you want to go down: Terrifying with less internal conflict or internal conflict with less external conflict. Making the reader sympathise with the villain versus making them love to hate them.
Do not fall into the trap of only saying what a villain does. A hero or group of good guys who constantly evade any sort of damage from the villain both dramatically reduces the stakes but also the threat level of an antagonist. Show the threat and let someone die. This helps so when the hero still fights against the villain, it shows both your main character’s strength but the also that the fear is still real because if the villain has done it once, they’ll do it again.
Without this, the audience will catch on and won’t fear the villain and like I said, there is no story without conflict so why would a book reader continue to read a book that isn’t a book.
A way of doing this is to escalate the villain’s crimes throughout the book, so start small and ramp it up throughout the book to stop the reader from becoming desensitized to them. The height of this should be just before the climax. This is where the villain wins, where the hero loses the most. Allow the villain to invade or win the competition or kill the hero’s brother, just to hammer home how badly not only the hero needs to win, but how badly the reader wants the hero to win.
Above all don’t be lazy, your villain isn’t a prop for the hero, it’s a character as much as the rest of them and should be created as such. Love how hateable they are! Good Luck Xx