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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Why Writing Really is the Best Job in the World.

I thought I would do a fun post today after all the recent hard work I've done. It feels like I've had my nose to the grindstone practically all year, but hopefully soon I'll be able to say I've finished my third book.

Okay I'll admit it ... This post is really for my benefit. I thought I would type it to remind myself why writing really is the best job in the world ;)

Writing really is the best job in the world because you get to be your own boss. You get to sit around in your pyjamas all day, preferably in bed, writing scenes that you've just made up in your head. I often think that a lot of writers are nutty and they're doing their best trying to hide their madness. So they write what they think down on paper instead of constantly muttering their thoughts to themselves. This is infinitely better than being sectioned in a psychiatric unit, believe me. And I can say this because I have three years' experience working in one! If you're a writer then someday you may get rich. Only then may you have a nervous breakdown worrying where to stash all your money!

Writing really is the best job in the world because you get to miss out on all the 'Office Politics.' This is what one of my dear friends refers to as bitchy back stabbing in the work place. And I couldn't agree with her more. If you work with other people - as most jobs are like that and it's not something you can easily avoid - you have to put up with the 'Office Politics.' No matter where you go and who you work for this is a very common problem within the workplace.

Writing really is the best job in the world because it's totally flexible. As long as you write every day you can pretty much do whatever else you want to as well. If a friend wants to meet me for a coffee I'll go and meet them for a coffee. I'll just spend the time beforehand writing.

Writing really is the best job in the world because you have permission to daydream. And I can spend the majority of the day doing this as well! There's nothing better than to close your eyes and imagine some faraway place with some ravishing hunk to whisk you off on a night of passion.

Writing really is the best job in the world because you get to go on television and radio shows advertising your latest book. You also have an excuse to be on sites like Facebook and say you're 'working.'

And finally writing really is the best job in the world because you get to sell your books on a global scale and receive the occasional piece of fan mail raving about your latest book and asking when your next one is due out.

So, what's your favourite reason why writing is the best job in the world?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Is Your Novel Veering Off Course?

I've nearly completed the first draft of my first fiction novel. Regular followers of my blog know that although this may be my first fictitious work, it is certainly by no means my first book.

Writing is a great hobby, but it takes a lot of time, devotion and good editing to produce a quality manuscript. When I first started writing my third book, I thought writing my previous two had taught me a lot of valuable information. And to an extent this was correct but there's a big difference between writing non fiction and fiction.

To write an outstanding fiction book that everyone wants to buy and read you must have an interesting plotline, great characters and structure with several smaller subplots.

The hardest part of writing that I've personally found is linking plotlines together to make an interesting read, without giving away too much too soon.

Now that I've nearly completed my book, I have thought of a easy trick to make sure my theme stays constant. It's very easy to lose track of what your book is supposed to be about when you've typed 40,000 words, and the word count is all you can think about. I talk to many writers who have started a book with one particular theme or message only to end it on a completely different tone. And I suppose that's the danger when you have 70,000 words or more to write. Keeping your message constant can sometimes be a very hard thing to do.

So before you start a writing session make sure you re-read the previous couple of pages. Try to sum up your book's message in one sentence. And keep on doing that even when you're sure your theme is strong, as you don't want to end up with your novel's message being a complete mystery.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Should there be a Time Limit when it comes to Writing a Book?

Yesterday I saw an interesting question posted in a writing group which I belong to. The person who posted it had a friend who worries that nine months is too long to spend writing a book, and that they're already a failure because it's taken that long to write it.

My initial reaction was to smile. After all, when I first started writing, it took me a whole year to get the book finished and my second book took roughly the same amount of time too. But I smiled because I could almost feel the writer's anxiety and that's exactly how I felt when I first started the writing journey.

Writing a novel seems an insurmountable task. It can take anything from a few weeks, a few months, or even years. In fact, one of my writer friends took a whole decade to write his first book. But now that book is finished and since then he's written several more.

In a world where everything is instant, anxiety can flare up when you want to write a book. No matter which universe you exist in producing a book can never be instant, and this is only a good thing.

But sometimes having some sort of deadline can be positive. It's no good if you think you can write a book in a year if you don't actually decide when that year is going to be.

So, how can you break down this task of writing a book into a more manageable accomplishment?
Well, that's easy. It's just like eating an elephant.

When I start out on a new project, I always like to brainstorm new ideas. This usually happens when I snatch a few minutes in between life's daily tasks. Then I take my ideas and write a brief outline. And I'll keep doing this until I feel I have enough ideas to start a chapter. A chapter usually takes about a week to write. I repeat this process over several months until I have completed the first draft of my manuscript.

But in between all this I always make sure I have enough time to reflect. Because reflection is one of the most important tools writers can have. Even when you're not actually writing your mind will still be processing the storyline. And this is usually the time when new ideas come to you, or you might want to alter the plotline slightly so it fits in with your new ideas. It's amazing how much 'writing' you do in your mind when you're not actually writing!

So think of your writing as being a nice big cake. It takes time to get the ingredients together, to make it and to cook. And none of those processes can be rushed.

Tell me how long it takes you to write a book. Can you write faster as the years go by or does producing a book always take a certain amount of time?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Character Development: How To Make Your Characters Real.

The other week I read a review for a book by an indie author which really got me thinking about this topic. I'm not going to reveal the identity of the writer because the review wasn't complimentary, but what the reader said happens to be a ubiquitous problem throughout the writing world. And this issue is character development ... or lack of it.

This problem is ubiquitous because characters are the life and soul of the party. They are the skeleton that holds the book together. And without them there will be no story to tell in the first place.

Some writers will argue that the essence of a good story is a cracking plotline. That may be true but only to an extent. What makes a cracking plotline are well defined characters with personalities that clash. It's no good if you have characters in your book who are bland with no obvious distinctions that separates them from everyone else. This might happen in real life with friendships - people have to have some common ground for them to get on. But if it happens in a book then it isn't always a good thing.

The review of this particular book complained of just that. They said that every character was the same sort of person. They ate and drank the same things, spoke with the same words and did the same actions. The only thing that separated them from each other was their name and gender.

To receive a review like that will send chills down any writer's spine. When you're writing you want your characters to come to life and be real people. You don't want to create some flat and boring character that everyone will remember for all the wrong reasons.

Now character development is so much more than the issues mentioned above. True development of any character is all about questions. Why do they do this, why do they do that? And this is so much easier to say than to actually do, believe me.

So this is why I am giving you access to a fabulous book by a fabulous editor (and writer!). My very own editor, Scott Morgan.

You can find him and the book at this link: and let him explain Character Development: From the Inside Out.

And if you struggle with your characters this is the perfect place to get guidance.

I hope you visit his website and find his advice helpful.