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How To Torture The Hopeful Writer

11 Feb

Okay, guys. I’ve gone and done it. I got myself a website. I’m still working on it, though, and it is a nightmare. I figured I’d use WordPress because, hey, I already have a blog so I know how it works. Well, no. It was a real struggle and I’m still not sure I want it this way a 100%. It’s probably because I want it to feel less like a blog and more like a website, though I do at some point want to transfer this blog over there as well. I tried lots of different templates and none of them give me that AHA feeling. At times like these I wish I had a magic wand. And many, many other times.

It’s important to have your own website, though. I hear this many times, and have never disagreed. It looks professional and I’m sure it will be worth it. But for now, I’m complaining. I’d rather play with my characters than spend an entire day on my laptop doing Other Things. The horror. Especially since I then go back to another template and start all over again. I just want it to be perfect and I have been dreaming of my own (perfect) website for so long. My hope is a fragile waterballoon, about to burst.

If anyone has tips or wants to share their website for inspiration, feel free! My muse apparently only shows up when novels are involved, and occasionally with tweets. Wish me luck and if you don’t hear from me, it means that the Website Demons have gotten to me and even my pet dragons couldn’t save me.

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Writing My Characters

21 Jan

Recently I got a question about how I write my characters. Since I write character-driven stories, characters are important. They have to be real, complex, and relatable. I never put pen to paper if I don’t know who they are. If I haven’t had a shrink session with them in my head, then I can’t write them well. It might be that I have them answer questions, but sometimes I get images, scenes that show me who they are. It’s can be a vibe.

The key to transferring this vibe to the reader is by giving them crumbs instead of the entire cookie. My characters have secrets, or things they’d rather not want others to know for some reason and that’s what I hint at. I don’t necessarily share the secrets, maybe not even any of the secrets, but I sure as hell hint at them. Readers are smart. Spelling things out usually annoys rather than helps.

Currently, I’m writing a main character who is also an antagonist. She is bad. I mean really bad. She has power and wants to keep it, if not get more. She kills without blinking. Now it is extra important that the reader UNDERSTANDS her. Otherwise they won’t accept her behaviour or care about what she experiences. This novel is a puzzle of her and slowly but surely the reader gets to know her. Characters need to grip you, otherwise why would you care? That’s why I can’t read plot-driven novels. I lose interest. I don’t care enough to read on.

Basically I write my characters with great interest and as if they are a puzzle that readers need to put together with clues. Subtle clues. The plot allows room for that, in fact, it helps the character show us who she is. There also has to be a contrast. My character is evil, sure, but she is also fragile and can’t stand violence against women even if that makes her a bit of hypocrite. Conflict is in every novel but there should also be conflict in characters if you want them to be interesting, no matter how small that conflict is.

Make things difficult, and let them show you what they’re made of.

Make a Plan

22 Oct

Nothing can be as motivating as to actually write down what you want and what you’re going to do to achieve it. Writing in itself is an easy goal. You sit down, you write. Getting published is another story. It is a story that contains a lot of conflict and the resolution isn’t in sight for who knows how long.

Make a plan. That way you know you’re doing all you can and you actually get a clearer image of what you CAN do. Whether it’s attending writing courses, joining a writer’s website, collecting beta readers, creating deadlines for novels/revisions, writing down a list of agents you will query and when. All of it can help you stop feeling like you’re a leaf in the wind, no control over the direction in which you’re going. You are the writer, you have some control. In the meantime, enjoy the ride and celebrate every little victory.

eLearning-Script-Writting-Tips

Motivation, Where Are You?

5 Oct

The Writer sits behind her laptop, biting her nails and compulsively checking her email. It has been a few weeks since she queried two agents. When will they get back at her? And there it is, the ping of DREAD. Because the ping could be the doorway that leads to all her dreams, or it can extend the journey even more.

And there it is. A NO. Again. It’s not a harh no, it’s a not a no that informs you that you’re completely rubbish. Yet, that makes it even harder. To be so close and yet so far removed from The Dream.

We all go through it, and yet we go on. How can we not? We are writers. At the same time, though, it’s extremely hard to stay motivated enough to pour your soul out onto the pages and build a bond with new characters. Especially when your dayjob already demands a certain level of perfection from you. So how can you keep firing at every novel with all you’ve got when you’re covered in cuts and bruises and really just want to go to bed?

Google is your friend. Other than actual humans who NEED to give you peptalks, Google will help you next. If you look for brilliant authors whose works were initially rejected, or famous novels that were rejected A LOT, then you actually find plenty examples. Examples that will give you hope and make you realise that when you stick to your guns and you believe in your novels, you can make it. And keep in mind that with each novel that you write and receive feedback on, you grow as an author. So if you don’t get your bookdeal with this novel, then maybe with the next one. Keep writing, keep improving and especially KEEP ENJOYING the process. If you’re going to be in the spotlight some day, you might as well make sure that you have enough experience to SHINE.

Shine-for-progress

 

Feedback

23 Jan

….is food for the writer. It even has the word ‘feed’ in it. As a writer/author feedback is very important for your growth, but also for the growth of your story. Every draft you write takes you closer to the version that it was meant to be in the first place. It’s like creating a sculpture out of lifeless lump of clay. You can see what it’s supposed to be, and it will take a while to get it there.

After almost two years of being swallowed up by my new work, querying has taken a backseat. But now that I feel like I’ve got the hang of that thing we call Real Life, I’m back in the game. As I’m still querying the first novel in my cosy mystery, I’m already working on the second. At first I thought that was pointless, because I haven’t even published my first novel yet. I have the luxury, however, of being able to work on multiple stories, so it’s not like I can’t query more novels as a plan B. Also, I let a very critical friend read it and her boyfriend heard about the story and wanted to read it too. Now they’re both hooked and he kept asking me when I’d write the second novel. If that isn’t motivational, I don’t know what is. I also considered it a good exercise of my writing muscles without the pressure of knowing I want an agent to look at it. So I put finger to keyboard and mind to page and here I am…I have a murder in a hotel, an emotional mystery writer, and a love interest who is getting closer to making his move. Yay, the excitement.

What’s even more exciting is the feedback. I mean, after not playing with my characters for a while, it’s nice to know I still got it. And hearing that it’s well-written and just drags you in is just the thing you need to hear. Not just as an ego boost but also because it’s important to know when you’re on the right track. That’s equally important to knowing you’re not. Also, because my beta readers are impatient, I send them a few chapters each time so when they pick up on an inconsistency, I can immediately change it. I’m still going to let more beta readers ravage it, but only after I’m done. In the meantime I’m so happy to reconnect to my characters and let them grow even more.

More murders, more fun. Wait, that sounded psycho. I really must be a writer, then.

Scheduled Writing

18 Jan

The muse is a fickle mistress. Waiting around for her will only lead to a broken heart. The only way to get ink on paper is by jumping that muse and tying her to your desk. Sure, she will chew on her arm and possibly also yours, but it will be worth it. I mean, the only way to get anything done, is by simply doing it.

Since motivation can be tricky, the key is habit. Writing has to become as easy to do as brushing your teeth. As a child that may have been a chore but we stuck to it and now we don’t even think about it. The wonderful thing about this, is that it doesn’t matter how long the writing lasts. Just like with most things, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Exercising for ten minutes is still exercising.

Finding Forrester was on TV today (one of my faves) and it was cool to watch a seasoned author type away on his typewriter within a second of sitting down. His mentee asking him what he was doing, wondering how he shook some amazing prose out of his sleeve within seconds. Because HOW is that even possible? I guess the same as when someone finishes a marathon. With a lot of practice. Whether you try to publish your work or not, the more you write, the better.

So take a notebook with you, or have your laptop within in reach and make sure you have a few moments to jot down whatever your fingers let escape. Your characters will appreciate it. And so will your (future) readers.

 

Trouble

4 Jan

Knock, knock. Here’s trouble. We all have them, don’t we? Why wouldn’t we, we’re constantly surrounded by the most dangerous species on this planet…HUMANS. The thing is, it would be boring without them. Our troubles teach us so many things. We learn, we evolve, we become better versions of ourselves.

Doesn’t the same apply to our unsuspecting characters? We would never want to read a story about a character who is fully content and has absolutely no problems or cares in the world. He’s just breezing through the story with a smile plastered on his perfect, symmetrical face. BORING. We want characters with hidden scars and secrets. Even better if we only get to find out a few, as long as we know they’re all there. They don’t call it ‘sweet sorrow’ for nothing. Our characters should face their demons and come out victorious because all their troubles have prepared them for it. That’s what makes the ride worth it, at least, for me.

Sure, trouble isn’t always fun, but the main thing to remember is that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Let our characters show us that there is hope and that we are strong, but even stronger than we know.

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