Why everyone needs a book friend #amreading #books

The books we choose to love are intensely personal items.

For every person who loves a book, there will be another who can’t abide it.

How often do you see a book that you thought was brilliant with a single one star review?

Or something you thought so terrible that you could not bear to read another page, but half the reading community thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

It happens all the time.

So when you meet someone, and discover that they love the same books as you…well, that’s the best kind of bookish friendship.

“There is no faster or firmer friendship than those formed between people who love the same books.”

What every writer wants for Christmas #amwriting #books

Well, it’s that time of year again where we start thinking about writerly gifts 🙂

1. Pencils!

Sit down and get Writing! – These pencils are sure to increase your productivity!

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2. Mugs! 

The best literary mugs – you know you want one!

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3. Cushions!

Bibliophile Cushion Designs – bookish cushions and pillows – perfect to throw at anyone who interrupts your reading time!

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4. Kindle Covers!

Kindle case book covers – If you don’t have a real book – fake it! …and pretend you are reading something far more literary than 50 Shades of Grey!

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5. Soap!

Soap for writers block – all you need is a shower and your writers block days are over!

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IF AREA EDITOR READS A POINTLESS TRAINING SESSION ONE MORE TIME

Great points! I think I may have started reading a few of these…and then stopped. 🙂

Fantasy Author's Handbook

With a nod to the Onion

I’m trying not to fly off the handle, but please indulge me, at least at first, in a bit of tough love.

If your current work in progress contains a scene, or worse, a sequence of scenes, in which the young protagonist spends his or her days at sword training or magic training or frickin’ social studies you must immediately highlight all of that text and delete it now, before it does you any actual harm.

And it will do you harm.

By now I hope you know that I’m not big on hard rules—you have to do this, you can never do that—but the obligatory fight training has, for me at least, gone from cliché to actual annoyance. And it’s in at least half the books I read—maybe two thirds.

As far as I can tell, here’s why those scenes are there…

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How to turn ideas into a story #amwriting #writing

As the saying goes, stories don’t just write themselves, which means that you, the writer, need to put some effort into the process if you want those wonderful ideas to become a book.

How do you turn ideas into a story?

And where do you start?

Firstly, you need to start is by writing. Some people talk about world building, or scene setting. Some people talk about characters. Some people start with a plan.

I say, ditch all of the above and just jump straight into writing.

Why?

Because until you jump in you don’t really know where your idea is going to take you. Whether it is a single scene or an epic ending, it doesn’t matter just write it down.

Some people get very fixated on where to start, as if you cannot begin unless you have a firm container in which to place the story.

Writing doesn’t need a container. It just needs a writer and an idea.

When a writer begins writing, something magic happens. They start thinking about what happens before the seed idea, and what happens after…and what happens much later…and what happens much earlier. And before you know it, a rough timeline of events is established.

None of this happens until you begin to write so don’t feel you need a plan, or a character profile, or a fully fleshed out world before you can begin. You will need all of these things, but not right now. Now is for fun, and for playing and testing your idea.

Some of these new ideas will become backstory that may be discarded later on.

Some of the ideas may not fit in with the overall story as you fill in the gaps, and you may discard them too.

Once you have enough ideas, or scenes, you can plan, and flesh out character profiles, and worlds, or locations if need be…but not until you have enough ideas to at least hint at a story.

Ideas do not always become a full story, so don’t feel bad if you try and then find it goes nowhere.

Keep thinking, keep generating and testing ideas. The more you practice writing and using your ideas, the more ideas will come. Eventually one of them will become a story, a real story, a full story.

And that’s when the real writing begins 🙂

What’s your favourite book genre? (Blog reader survey!) #amwriting #amreading

Looking forward to seeing how everyone votes.

You can pick more than one.

Once you vote you can see the results. 🙂

The ‘how to’s’ of world-building

Great world building advice 🙂

Richie Billing

If you’d like more writing tips you can get my eBook, This Craft We Call Writing: Volume One, for free by completing the form below. Inside you’ll find over 150 pages covering everything from dialogue, characterisation, prose and plotting, to writing fight scenes, viewpoint, and much more!


“I propose to speak about fairy-stories, though I am aware that this is a rash adventure. Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

We read stories to become lost in new and unexplored worlds, ones filled with possibilities, mysteries, and oddities.  The world in which a story is set is important to any tale, particularly so when it comes to science fiction and fantasy.

This post will first explore the how to’s of world-building, and then the how to’s of revealing your crafted world through the story.

How do…

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If you really want to know yourself, start by writing a book #writing #amwriting

How does writing help you to know yourself? And what does it say about you that you love to write?

Perhaps we reveal ourselves in our character choice, our writing style or genre, or even in the quality of our work.

Is there a depth of compassion in the words that we write?

Or do we demonstrate prowess in a particular topic or skill?

I thought I would take a more generic approach, and look at what we learn about ourselves when we write a book that is unconnected to genre, style or writing capability.

We have stamina

It takes a long time.

We write as often as we can, chipping away a word at a time at a goal that we might not see realised for years.

We have determination

We use our determination to sustain us through the journey.

We pick ourselves up from distractions by our unwavering belief that the story within us must come out.

We are eternal students

We learn all we can about writing, we keep learning, and then we learn some more. 

We are resilient

Set-backs, delays, and real-life can hold up our writerly dreams, but we pick ourselves up, and keep moving forward.

We treat feedback as a gift.

We have a vision

We have a vision for our work and for ourselves as a writer.

Imagination

When we begin there is a blank piece of paper.

We use our imagination and words to create worlds, characters and story.

“If you really want to know yourself, start by writing a book.”

~ Shereen E Feki

Binge writing, Fast drafting & NaNoWriMo #amwriting #NaNoWriMo #writer

So it’s that time of year again where writers all over the world enrol for the National Novel Writing Month.

If you haven’t given it a go, it’s simply a month were you challenge yourself to write 50K of words. Whether it is a 50K novel or 50k towards a novel, doesn’t really matter. You sign up, you commit, and all you need to do at the end of the month is paste your 50k into the site to receive your certificate.

If you’re interested in learning more you can check out their site here.

https://nanowrimo.org


If you are looking for a little help preparing, here is a great article I came across a few days ago. Some great tips on getting your draft out whether you are taking part in NaNoWriMo or not.

What I Learned From Binge-Writing Nine Bad Novels


And if you are looking for a few tips on fast drafting…

Six Secrets to Drafting a Novel – Fast!

If you want to get your novel DRAFT out FAST, here are my top six tips to help you on your way.

  1. Planning. I am the original anti-planner. I hate the constrictive, creativity stifling, and passion killing thought of planning…but…a little planning goes a long way. You don’t need to go crazy and have every single scene detailed before you start, but you do need a skeleton.

Deviating from said skeleton is all part of drafting; so don’t let yourself feel in anyway constrained just because you have a plan. There is no doubt about it though; planning works, and the upfront investment will make writers block and endless story syndrome a thing of the past.

2. Don’t Edit. And when I say don’t edit, I mean DON’T EDIT AT ALL. Sorry shouting and all that, and I am really shouting at myself because I am the world’s worst edit-as-I-go-er. It’s the perfectionist in me peeking out again, better get a whip and a chair to that little monster!

It’s soooo hard not to edit, because the moment you read it, it looks like crap, and you immediately think you are a terrible writer, and that chapter will never work. STOP. It will work just fine…when you edit, which is LATER. So, no peeking, not even a little peek, let it go and move on to the next chapter.

3. Don’t think just write. What? Ok, it’s maybe more…don’t think too much.

Even with a plan, and knowing what the chapter is going to be about, and having a house completely free of interruptions, and your favorite music on, and a coffee at your side…you sit there and your head is blank. The endless procrastination kicks in, you check Facebook, Twitter, you read the news, make a cup of coffee…again. You write a few words and then delete them, and then a few more…and delete them. Sound familiar?

That’s because you’re actually thinking too hard. Yep I know, that sounds like reverse logic because how can you think too hard. It’s not a myth; I do it all the time. It’s not writers block either; so don’t panic. It’s more like…temporary amnesia about what that keyboard thing is for. Either you can’t start writing at all or when you do write you have an overwhelming urge to hit delete.

This is where the stop-thinking bit is really important. Just start the scene, even if you know it’s crap, even if you know you are going to delete the whole first paragraph, because something amazing happens once you get past a few sentences without hitting delete…it all starts pouring out and you remember that there is a connection between the brain and the keyboard, its calling fingers, and wow, they work!

4. Killing the people who interrupt you. Yes, I know it’s not practical, and hiding a body is so hard, but hey sometimes it’s got to be done. Just kidding, you can’t really kill the people who interrupt you, but you can think about it in glorious detail!

Interruptions are a fact of life, and they only interrupt you because they love you so much…or they want to be fed, or they can’t find that . I find meditation, and practicing breathing techniques really works…yes I’m just kidding about that too…nothing works, either get a lock for your door and fit soundproofing so you can’t hear them screaming at you, or just build a bridge and move on.

5. You are going to chop out some the work you write. Gasp! No! Yep, it’s going to happen. Remember in point 2 where I said don’t worry if it looks like crap it will all work out fine in the end? I lied. Some sentences, paragraphs, and yes, even whole scenes will meet a fate worse than death, discarded for ever to your clipping folder where you retain them in the misguided hope they will be reused or reinserted later. They won’t be, but it’s Okay to keep them, I do.

Now, you may be wondering how knowing that a scene may later be chopped is going to help you write quickly because now you are feeling pretty depressed and not at all motivated to write quickly, but here’s the catch, would you rather spend ages over-editing a scene, or procrastinating writing it, and then delete it? Nope, I certainly wouldn’t.

I have lost count of the number of beautifully written sentences or scenes that simply had to go. Sometimes you just need to get the whole story done before you can be truly objective enough to see what needs to stay and what needs to go, and the less time you spend getting to this stage, the better.

6. Use word count targets. Love ’em or loath ’em, word count targets work, especially when you are drafting. Goal setting is written about, talked about, and well established as the single most important part of achieving ‘stuff’. If your goal is to write a book, you need to give yourself targets on the way to keep motivated.

Didn’t hit your target today? So what, there are plenty of days where you don’t make as much progress as you wanted too, and some days you make no progress at all. Celebrate the good days, and move on past the bad days, and remember that any words written at all is a step closer to completion! (Unless you end up deleting it as I mentioned in point 4…but we are not going to think about that during the draft)

I have been writing long enough to know roughly what I can write in a day, or an evening if it’s a work day, so I build my daily count around that. I LOVE seeing how I am progressing. Scrivener has this little happy ‘bong’ and a popup telling you well done when you hit your daily target. I LOVE that. I also love hitting book milestones like the quarter point, the half way, the three quarter, the finish, the editing…I break absolutely everything up into little micro targets, and this provides an amazing sense of movement and progress.

Writing a book takes FOREVER, so keeping the motivation up and sense of achievement high will get that draft finished in super fast time.