Write a Novel in 2014

Write a Novel in 2014

by Alison Lyke I’m going to finish my next novel in 2014. That’s not as much a resolution as a necessity. For one, I promised the good folks at Spectacle PMG at least one more book. I also have this need to write fiction, and to do justice to my characters by seeing their stories through to the end. I won’t presume to tell you how a novel is written, except for word by word, but I will give you some of the techniques that have helped me to reach writing goals and complete my books. Daily Diligence Those of you who “wake up extra early to get writing done,” are maniacs. I can’t even begin to understand you. For everyone else, it may be difficult to fit writing in between work, chores, children, and binge watching Ancient Aliens. I overcome this by making a goal to write a certain amount of words every day, no matter what. Out of optimism, I set this goal at two to three times the amount of words that I know I’ll actually have time to write. Sometimes, I have strings of weeks or months where I can write almost everyday. I often fall off the wagon though and have to rely on other techniques. Carrying Stories My stories are written, either in full or in part, in my mind before they reach the page. I carry them around in my head, nurturing character personalities, filling in plot holes, and adding interesting bits from everyday life. That way, when I do have time to sit down and write, I don’t have to stare at the page and wonder what the hell I’m going to come up with. Fits of Inspiration Something breaks—the fountain of stories in my mind overflows. I have a dream that belongs to my novel. However it happens, inspiration takes over and I have to write and write. I can write chapters in hours. If it was always this easy and I always had time enough to see these fits through, I could finish each book in about two weeks. Inspiration attacks are usually followed by exhaustion and crankiness. Late Night Drinking A few glasses of wine with some friends or a night out at a bar may be followed with writing under the influence. This is great for areas of stories that are weird, otherwise awkward to write, or fantastic. Be prepared to heavily edit any work done using this technique. Deadline Panic I used to have company-imposed deadlines, but I have more freedom in the latest incarnation of my writing life. This means that I have to set my own targets. It’s harder to finish a story on my...

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Wretched Fate Authors Interviewed

Wretched Fate Authors Interviewed

This Mother-Daughter writing duo has released their second with Spectacle Publishing, Wretched Fate. Available in print or eBook format, Wretched Fate is the next installment of the hugely popular Sam Osborne series. Wretched Fate features the return of the much loved Sam Osborne, and introduces a cast of new and intriguing characters. Check out their interview on Conversations With Rich here! Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Work-Life (and Writing) Balance

Work-Life (and Writing) Balance

by Yen Ooi Let’s face it. The majority of writers today hold ‘day jobs’ of some sort that brings in money to help them survive. In a recent article in The Guardian (UK)  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/17/writers-earn-less-than-600-a-year?], we read that writers earn less than £600 a year. That’s atrocious. So, how do writers juggle (paid) work, life, and writing? Firstly, it’s important to realize that writing is work, too, even if it doesn’t pay yet. The great thing is that writing is a passion as well, so it probably doesn’t feel tedious, like other work. Where there is flexibility, judge how you can devote time to both your day job and your writing. Consider how much time you feel is healthy for you to spend working. Forty hours a week? Sixty? Eighty? A hundred? Whatever you decide, test it out and then review it every few months—thinking up a number is very different from working it. Writers are human, and we all need entertainment, rest, and physical activities. Once you’ve decided on a feasible schedule, you just need a little bit of organization and discipline to maintain these hours for your work (including your writing). There is a small exception here. Writing has many phases, and writers tend to think a lot about their writing before they sit down and write. I call this the ‘brewing’ time. Brewing time doesn’t need to be allocated in the hours you set aside. This can happen everywhere, at anytime. So, theoretically, if you decide to work 40 hours a week, and you hold a full-time job that takes up 32 hours a week, you still have 8 hours of physical writing time. This adds up to a full-day’s work, which is plenty. If you hold jobs that are more sporadic in hours, then try and plan a week ahead. Fill in your (paid) work hours, then go in and work out a schedule for writing. Try and keep them to comfortable units of time that are achievable—for example, I like two hour slots. And, if you’re juggling a few writing projects at a time, make sure that you allocate specific projects to your schedule, not just ‘writing.’ Though writing is a passion for most writers, and may not pay yet, we need to treat the process and ourselves with respect. A healthy writer writes best, and maintaining physical and emotional health means balance in your career, your social life, and your creative outlets. And, consider this: if you don’t make time for your social life, then where are you going to get your writing ideas from? Yen Ooi is an author and regular contributor to the Spectacle newsletter. Learn more about her and her work...

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Choosing a Great Title for Your Next Novel

Choosing a Great Title for Your Next Novel

by Ashleigh Galvin If you asked what draws me to a book, like most readers I would answer with the following: a nice cover and a snappy title. A good title is supremely important in making an impression on the reader before they even open the book because it lingers in their mind. If they talk to their friends about the novel, it’s also most likely the first thing they say to introduce the book. Choosing a good title is one of the hardest parts of writing a novel. How can a writer summarise the feeling of the entire book in just a few short words? I won’t lie—it’s tricky. This article will look at how to come up with a title that will suit your novel and engage your readers. Asking around, the piece of advice I heard the most was, ‘It will strike you like a bolt of lightning. Suddenly, you will just know!’ I got this advice from readers, not authors. I took this approach when trying to name my first novel, Birth By Fire’s Embrace. It was well after I had finished the novel and started the editing process that I realised it wasn’t that easy to pick a title. It wasn’t going to drop out of the sky in front of me. A good title needs work, patience, and a lot of thought put into it. I wrestled with titles for weeks before I finally settled on Birth by Fire’s Embrace. About a month after finishing Birth by Fire’s Embrace, I started to work on its sequel. I was typing away at home one night when I paused. It had just hit me: the title. After painful weeks wracking my brain for the first novel’s title, the second one was developed in a matter of seconds. I finished that novel with a smile as, for me, the hardest part was already done. To create a good title, you really need to get a comprehensive feel for your novel. The title needs to reflect the vibe of the book. But remember, there are always two sides to the coin. Let’s take a look at some popular examples. Example one: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. The main character’s name is Harry Potter, and the story is about the Chamber of Secrets. Nice and simple. It tells the readers what they want to know, but still retains enough mystery to interest them in reading it. It’s a straightforward title, following the style in which the novel is written. Example two: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Short and extremely mysterious, it suggests nothing, but allows the mind to explore possibilities. Both titles are great...

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Resurrecting Dead Ideas

Resurrecting Dead Ideas

by Yen Ooi Do you have story ideas that you have forgotten, left for dead, given up on, or worse, ignored? Well, why not take this spooky Halloween season to resurrect them? Perhaps they could be revived for a dramatic entrance as a new novel this NaNoWriMo? As a writer, I have notes in many formats, but thankfully, I’ve learnt to keep them all in one of two places; my computer, or my notebook. I don’t think that this is the best method, but it works for me. What methods do you use for note-keeping? Do you keep everything that you think would inspire a story someday? Being a writer is an ongoing learning process for me. I am always doubting what I should write down, and what I should just throw away, but I’m glad that I generally decide to keep most of my ideas. It can be anything from a word to an actual scene, or even a breakdown of a storyline. Sometimes, when I am feeling uninspired or just needing a kick up my creative backside, I pull out my notes and read through them as something would always jump out of the page and scream ‘write me’. Don’t be afraid to be different. Writers have their own quirks, which can be seen in this brilliant compilation of writers’ notebooks. http://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/blog/writers-notebooks/ Every story begins differently; some small, some large, some complete, some making no sense at all. Every story also has a different incubation period. It might take years to mature into an actual story, or it might take minutes from inception. Stories cannot be rushed and need to be worked with at their own pace. Earlier this year, I looked at my old notes and found just a short description of a young man whom I saw working at a Starbucks near where I had lived in Tokyo. I had written the description in 2008, wanting just a memory of that moment that might somehow be inspired into a story. I had looked at the same note various times in the last five years, but nothing came to it, until sometime earlier this year, when the idea for a short story came to me. I knew then, that my Starbucks boy will be written into a story and that was how the story of the same title was born. So, how will you react to your old notes and ideas? Do you think there’s something there that is screaming to be written soon? Don’t throw out old ideas, or ignore them. Keep them in a safe place where you can refer to them periodically. You’ll find that they each have a moment in which to shine in...

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