Often writers feel alone while tapping out the stories that come tumbling out of imaginative worlds with a benevolent muse guiding the next brainwave.
Writing starts out feeling like a lonely affair and the actual writing will always be a lone love affair with your writing tools – however, the number of support communities available to writers is phenomenal. Facebook groups with experienced authors and authorpreneurs abound.
You can choose to actively engage in these forums or lurk a while until you find the courage to ask a question or respond to someone’s question. There are local groups such as Writers Around Australia created by Lisa Braun and Tina Bonett who generously share posts and ideas. The New South Wales Writers’ Centre to keep up to date with advice and events. The Professional Association I find immeasurably beneficial is ALLibased in the UK, established by Orna Ross with a team of talented and experienced authors, with a worldwide membership.
A few months ago, towards the end of October 2017, this post detailed my definition of the essential steps to writing and publishing.
Today’s post includes what works for me in organising, writing and editing my book.
Organisation – Planning, Preparing, and Reminders
Having to juggle many things the tools that work efficiently for me are:
Evernote – I include my timeline of ‘to do things’, from chapter deadlines, my professional development reading, research andreminders for podcast and webinars I should follow. The added benefit is that an email reminder can be set to ensure I am aware of what’s coming up. This is an organisational tool that would benefit anyone with an overloaded weekly or daily schedule.
iPhone notes – My ‘on the go’ note making when the creative muse beckons without warning! This is then emailed for a quick inclusion into my work in progress.
After writing my first two books exclusively on Word, which I still use on a daily basis, I tried my hand at Scrivener. Its an amazing tool for planning and writing your draft in one place. It has all a writer needs from a word count feature at the bottom of the chapter, as you write (this helps keep your eye on your number of words per writing session as you go) , files and folders for everything from research, character profiles and a whole lot more. It’s not the easiest to navigate as a newbie to the tool so I purchased, Scrivener Superpowers: How to Use Cutting Edge Software and am finding my way through new discoveries of the magical properties of Scrivener every day! If you’re a plotter this is your ‘to-go-to’ writing tool and it serves you just as well if you’re a pantser. I write on Scrivener, save it in Word for polishing up and editing before the professional edit and am in the process of moving the edited manuscript back to Scrivener. The Scrivener app is available for your iPhone and iPad too!
Its recommended that you give your draft a thorough check before the professional edit to eliminate ‘unknown’, ‘unseen’ errors.
These are three editing tools I find useful:
Why use all three?
Each has its unique way of alerting the writer to ‘creative mishaps’ from missing words, sticky sentences, overused words or lengthy sentences and good old proper use of punctuation and grammar and more!
While you might not agree with all suggestions, you are made aware of what might obscure meaning for your reader.
The writer needs an objective ‘third eye’ – while technology is a godsend, the human eye is essential if the ‘sense and meaning’ of the writer’s lines are to be interpreted as close to the writer’s intention.
More on the blog in future posts on new discoveries that are working for me.
Happy writing! Happy Reading!
Please share what works well for you and your preferred tools of the writing trade!
Looking back on the not so distant past year, its exit makes it a rapidly fading memory as we are caught in the fountain of eternal fireworks that kick-starts the New Year – if we linger on the threshold of the New Year , we might not move forward fast enough.
With everything in life, we get better at it when we do it over with a new spin, a new attitude and a passion to achieve the best we can.
We are human after all, we can only get better with a little effort and skill.
How do we keep the rear view in focus while running to the front view?
– Make a list of your past successes
– Make a list of some past shortcomings
– Match them against each other
Now decide what is worth pursuing and what should be culled. Work at culling first and shutting down that rear mirror. Pick up the shortcomings that need attention – make them a priority, review, add in, refine and polish. Repeat the cycle a few times. Once this is defined as the way forward, look at the new front view, you want to see, and advance at a speed and pace that is comfortable for you.
You will enjoy the process of creating the story you have always wanted to write.
What’s holding you back?
Fear and Time?
Counteract fear by writing the best story you can. Temper your inner critic, the belief that you’re an imposter in the craft – avoid this or you become your own worst enemy. Trust your desire to write and turn to the supportive person in your life who will allow your light to shine.
Find time in your day to get down as many words as you can. Do it consistently to keep yourself inspired to go on to complete your novel. Fifteen minutes a day is better than not writing at all.
Will you be a pantser or plotter?
Would you meticulously plan scenes, with graphs and maps etc or let your creative energy lead you with just the basics planned out for your novel? There are various schools of thought on being a pantser or plotter. I’m somewhat hybrid on that. Mental planning with a few scribbled thoughts here and there make me more a pantser than a plotter.
Challenges that could occur
Shut the door as you write, as Stephen King advises in, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, ( I gained the courage to finish and publish my books drawing from the advice in this book), until you are ready to tell the world.
Once you begin to tell others, be prepared for either cynicism or support. The cynics are not worth your time – leave them to their cynical worlds and do what you have to do – write the best story you can!
Writing is an emotional process that often dives into a point of long-held pain or passion. When dubious eyes, lopsided smiles, and tongues that doubt, disturb your orbit, it’s time to turn them down or off.
Consistent writing, turning to influencers of the trade and reading books on how to write well or listening to podcasts on writing and signing up for webinars on the craft is the way to pay your way forward in your growth as a writer.
No story is not worth telling if your aim is to enlighten or connect with your reader or you know what you have to say will make a difference- write that story.
And there’s more…
Writing the story is not all you have to consider, you should then research traditional and self-publishing options and find your best fit. Know your genre, research writers in the genre you want to write in and carve your approach, your own style. Once the final product, the actual book, with a professional cover, professional editing, blurb, author biography, ISBN, date, publisher, and place of publication etc are in place, the marketing of your book begins. Whether you opt for traditional or self-publishing, the onus is squarely on your shoulders to market your book.
Don’t put off writing your book. Now is the best time.
It took me several years to finally master the fear to turn to my beta reader to have a look at my work.
We need more stories, stories that speak of angst and optimism and stories that make us laugh out loud, hold us in suspense, evoke disbelief or leave us in meditative contemplation.
We need stories that remind us of our essential humanity.
Write your book today. Publish it in 2018!
Don’t you know yet? It is Your Light that lights the worlds – Rumi
Does this resonate with you? Please share your thoughts in the message box below.
How often have we heard that first impressions are lasting? Does the same apply to the opening lines in novels?
An attention-grabbing opening to a novel, not the head-standing, acrobatic, high energy stuff but a carefully crafted opening is a sure-fire way to spark the curiosity of the reader to continue reading.
Leading the reader in without saying too much by judiciously leaving out some essential details elicits intrigue for the reader to pursue the tale to its conclusion. The reader should discover aspects of a character’s world by being invited to be part of the journey. Those discoveries do not have to be palatable to the reader. A favourite character might reveal a side of their personality that perturbs the reader. The unexpected sustains the intrigue. In the real world, perfection is an illusion, to quote Alexander Pope, to err is human, to forgive divine. I fondly recall the podcast with Sevgi Yildiz, coordinator of the Sydney Bookclub, who said she ‘threw the book’ when her favourite character from her reading of Across Time and Spacewas not as saintly as she had wanted her to be. Emotional connections are indeed what keeps readers wanting more.
A sequel carries a known backstory but it should also be satisfying to read on its own without knowledge of the first book. Without summarising the first book, the opening lines should invite the reader in with glimpses into what went before which puts all the pieces of the larger plot puzzle together.
Opening lines of a book often take several redrafts to ensure that the right balance is achieved that leads to a natural flow from the first book into the sequel.
This is a skill that improves with each book written after several self-edits before the professional edit is solicited.
With NaNoWriMo advancing as it ignites the globe in an explosion of creative energy, so too is Christmas rapidly advancing upon us. As dinner menus are planned and gifts are purchased thoughts of Christmases past emerge.
In the spirit of the fast approaching season, I will share a post on my childhood Christmas memories.
Christmas was and still is celebrated in my home with great respect, joy, and merriment. I remember Christmas in South Africa being one that brought thoughts of snow and Santa Claus riding in on a cold night although thirty-degree heat reigned in the Decembers of my childhood!
The Christmas tree went up with layers of cotton wool to depict snowflakes with more stuck to the floor around the tree and little balls of cotton wool were glued around the windowpanes to emulate Christmas in the northern hemisphere.
My writing career started in a somewhat circuitous way with writing stories for an audience of one for many years until a story emerged that ran through to become my debut novel, Across Time and Space. It was then that the decision to publish emerged with some coercion from those closest to me.
My journey was a cart before the horse situation as all that I am about to outline to you happened after my debut novel was in the process of being published by a publisher.
It is for this reason that I decided to write this post to pass on what needs to be done, in the initial stages, before the process of writing begins.
The world is a melting pot, an ever-increasing paradise of voices that need to be heard if tolerance and understanding are to reign for peaceful coexistence.
Migrant literature, while evident through powerful voices, needs new sounds to add to the colourful history that should be shared if we are to live side by side.
Knowledge is necessary to foster understanding and compassion to move us closer to our innate humanity. Living in international communities in the 21st Century is a goldmine of multiculturalism that offers rich insights on culture and values.
What better way than to extend understanding through the literature we read and write. This could be a work of fiction, a non-fiction book, or a blog that creates connections to our neighbours near and far.
Literature is and should continue to be a vehicle that dispels ‘otherness’ or the ‘outsider’
When I ask ‘Are you particular about dates?’ – I’m not referring to the dating game or romance.
Here’s my reason for asking.
I recently published Vindication Across Timeas the print version late in September to coincide with my father’s birthday.
The digital version on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, BN will be released next week on my mother’s birthday. It’s up for preorder on these sites now.
I can hear you ask, ‘Pray do tell us more!’
Some of the themes reflected in Vindication Across Time– the pursuit of truth and justice is a value I grew up with. The truth no matter how painful had to be acknowledged and implemented.
Lies were severely admonished in my childhood home regardless of any perceived justification for stretching the truth.
Truth and lies are dominant in the novel as in different versions of the truth. The bearers of fake truths are soon discovered and good karma visits those who steadfastly adhere to the truth. My understanding is that there is only ONE truth. If a man has been gunned down, there might be one person directly responsible and others who helped expedite the heinous act.
Justifications offered for why this happened does not remove the truth that a defenseless man was gunned down in cold blood. The next truth to be served is that justice must prevail regardless of individuals’ motives and challenges.
There, in a nutshell, is why the print version of Vindication Across Time was released on my father’s birthday as an acknowledgement of his respect for truth and justice.
What about my mother made me choose to release the Kindle and eBook versions on her birthday next week?
The expression of culture and values through strong female characters in Across Time and Space, led to greater nuances of imperfect lives in Vindication Across Time. This is where my mother’s love, compassion, and strength shaped these ideas.
In my world being a dog with a bone is sometimes needed to get the job done. Persistence does pay.
By the same token, I am aware how utterly annoying the person who is always a dog with a bone can be … gnawing at issues or situations for self-aggrandisement. They gnaw at the issue or situation with dogged intent. Is it with a power-laden agenda to prove a point and claim the hubristic victory?
A dog with a bone syndrome (my definition) might well be motivated by an ego trip hence such characters are quick at the ready to prove a point, make a statement or perhaps just want to be heard. A sad dog with a bone really.
This excessive gnawing suggests self-obsession, the ‘look at me’ need.
You will find this character type in my novel, Vindication Across Time or can you identify characters in literature you’ve read where such attributes are identifiable?
There has been a lot of interest this past week on a previous post, hereon why characters and quotations from literature are often remembered long after the book has been put down.
Thank you for the comments, I’m delighted that you found educational or personal clarity and have selected a few more literary life lines in this post.
Literature that speaks to the human condition echoes through time when emotional connections are formed.
Love, despair, fear, envy, passion, hatred and kindness guide our motivations in the choices or decisions we make in life.
Students of literature are often expected to engage in critical appreciation of texts.
Values, culture and language, events or situations motivate characters’ actions and in turn, motivate readers’ reactions eliciting a new wave of interpreting ideas. And so the chain of literary discourse begins…
Bookshops still hold magical fascination with their multiple shelves laden with the artistry of wordsmiths who have crafted stories and histories that are timeless as the works of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and a multiplicity of contemporary writers spanning many decades through to today.
The reader is transported into a world of heartbreak, love, crime, mystery, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, memoirs, how-to books and histories of generations past and predictions of the future. This is just the tip of the iceberg in the bounteous valuable books that grace our libraries and bookshops.
My own fascination with books started with having a mother who is an avid reader and a maternal uncle who was eager to share his prized books from his stained glass, antique bookshelves that ran along four walls of his room. They were majestic and mysterious, a mini bookshop in a study.
Anna Karenina,A Tale of Two Cities,Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol are fondly remembered as books that had cloth covers, were well-worn and difficult to return to the gracious lender, once read.
Hours spent lost in a bookshop brought cherished delight to my introverted world that was fascinated by faraway places. I mentally marked my next purchase and saved every nickel and dime, counting my ducats each night like Shylock, but eager to have the money saved for the next great read. I loved birthday presents that were a few bobs here and there rather than an aliceband or cardigan which held no value in my world of books other than to keep my hair out of eyes when reading or keeping me warm on that winter afternoon when I remained riveted to the story.
Pennies saved to buy my beloved book is a tale I am bound to tell to the end of my days. Pennies wisely saved and wisely spent.
The treasured purchased book was safely carried home, my name was proudly etched with a fountain pen, in black ink, in the most artistic font (so I thought) I was able to create in the words, This book belongs to…
Some sad tales of those cherished books were those lent out that either never made their way back home to my bookshelf or were unrecognisable in their dilapidated returned condition. I mourned the loss of and injury to my book pals.
Bookshops must never be forgotten nor cast aside, they should be the place where parents and grandparents take their young ones to, for the experience of a life time – the look of a cover, the feel of the pages and the words that bring endless delight whether read alone or read to by a melodious voice – these are memories that never fade.
A bookshop is a peaceful sanctuary of silent voices waiting to be heard.
Teaching children to save a bit of pocket-money to buy their favourite book inculcates a lifetime love of reading. Taking children to a bookshop to choose a book they want to read and then add to the beginnings of their book collection is an opportunity every child should have.
Spread the love – no age restriction applies if the content is appropriate!
Happy Reading! Happy Sharing!
Share your bookshop experiences in the message box below.
Do writers plan to write a sequel? Why are sequels so popular?
Sometimes they are planned and sometimes they grow from the first book for a host of reasons.
We live in an age where we are desirous of connections for the long haul, we want more as we book our Netflix favourite series into our private calendar time-slots; we crave more when we connect or are moved by a story and its people.
We desire more of what we enjoy, what we look forward to. Connections with people and places make us reluctant to leave. The story is anticipated as an after work or relaxing weekend read. It’s locked in and beware the unsolicited ringing of the telephone or doorbell! Solitude is non-negotiable!
For the writer, unfinished matters in the first book lead to the second book which unveils new situations and hidden aspects of characters and situations, sometimes shocking or expected and satisfying.
Picking up reader feedback from the first book while the sequel is being written is significant in ensuring that favourite characters are not destroyed or killed off too early, reader and writer satisfaction is imperative.
In the writing of my debut novel Across Time and Space, the sequel began to emerge by the end of the penultimate chapter, there was more my characters had to say, there was more that had to be revealed. The intrigue of the first tale created expectations that needed further exploration. Relationships needed to grow.
Truth and deception were left skulking in the shadows at the olive grove in Viareggio in Across Time and Space and these ghosts came calling for more.
This made me restless to dive into the sequel, some cautioned ‘not so soon,’ others begged ‘when will it be ready?’ The process became an organic growth –an obsession to take the story to where it was leading me. Hence the birth of the sequel, Vindication Across Time.
Will this become an Across Time series?
The question we are left with is, ‘what are we keeping hidden from view in the hope of leading or appearing to lead a happy and by anyone’s definition, a ‘normal’ life?’
Coming to terms with our ghosts as something of the past rather than defining our present worlds is significant in Vindication Across Time.
Whose ghosts will be exhumed in this tale of love, loss, hope, and patience?
Have you read, Across Time and Space?
What are your thoughts on book sequels and television series, what do you anticipate in Vindication Across Time?
Please leave your comments in the message box below.
Do you remember the things you did during your childhood that defines what you do as an adult?
I remember being passionate about drama, performance and the pleasure it elicited. When I say being passionate about plays, I mean reading them with great zeal.
Growing up in apartheid South Africa on the ‘wrong’ side of the colour line meant that going to the theatre was not an option. Additionally, television had not been introduced into the country. I make reference to this in an earlier post, To Kill a Mockingbird Moment Realised, here.
I remember going to the library, standing in a long queue to add my name on the waiting list for a particular playscript I was eager to read.
One such play that is vividly remembered is Toad of Toad Hall written by A.A Milne as the dramatisation of Kenneth Graham’s, The Wind in the Willows.
Growing up under the horrendous apartheid regime in South Africa makes the adult me smile at this choice. As much as the child enjoyed Rat’s, Badger’s, Mole’s and Toad’s car and caravan adventures, the deeper issues were lost in the euphoria of ‘putting this on stage’ in the apartment building of my childhood.
Actors were sourced from eager children who were hungry for entertainment during the school break. Parents were at work and no laws protected downtown children from being left at home alone with an occasional check in from an elderly neighbour- this was all an aspiring eight-year-old producer needed!
Parts were allocated and lines rehearsed over two days. Pitch, tone, movement and a haphazard choreography were based on the whim of the eight-year-old producer who ensured she donned a hat and a scarf for a theatrical edge that was akin to those seen in magazines and the Sunday newspaper.
What a time was had by all! An intermission was in place and red Kool-Aid duly served as the drink of choice in plastic wine glasses to an innocent audience ranging in years from five to ten. Mothers’ costume jewellery, ‘plastic pearls’ and hats with feathers were placed askew on little heads for attendance at this momentous production in the dining-room of my parent’s apartment.
Innocent children made their debut into the world of theatre, revelling in being transported to a magical world away from the tedium and boredom that sets in after playing all the games children could come up with during a six-week long school break.
Fast-forward decades later, in another country of choice, the itch takes hold, not as a theatrical producer, but one who has started to pen fictional tales of life and its challenges, thus Across Time and Space is born.
Such, such were the joys of childhood.
What do you remember of your childhood that lingers fondly as a defining moment? Share your thoughts below.
It’s with gratitude that I write this post today in respect for the invitation to speak on reading and writing at a local school whose English Faculty and Librarian are tirelessly working to foster a love for reading to encourage students to expand their horizons and improve their speaking and writing skills.
Leading up to my talk, students were asked to send me their response to, ‘I enjoy reading because…’ – a simple question that elicited some thoughtful responses from teenagers.
Here are a few lines that suggest that young readers seek refuge between the pages of a book:
I enjoy reading because it is a spectacular and intriguing ticket to a distinctive and captivating dimension which either creates a gulp of despair or a shiver down my spine.
I enjoy reading because it allows me to be in two places at once.
I enjoy reading because it allows me to escape reality without leaving the comfort of my home
I enjoy reading because it allows me to broaden my horizons without having to get on a ship and sail halfway across the world…
I love reading because my heart is satisfied- my heart learns more than my brain can ever know- I learn priceless lessons. It’s the portal to my heart.
Librarians are Writers’ Greatest Allies in their Ability to Influence the Joy of Reading
It gives me great pleasure, today, to introduce you to Fiona Sharman who has kindly shared her passion for her favourite books. One of Fiona’s favourite quotes is from ‘Pride and Prejudice’, when Mr. Bennet says, ‘for what do we live but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in turn?’Continue reading “Need A Good Book?”
Book Talk today is with my guest, Sevgi Yildiz, Coordinator of the Sydney Book Club, on her reading of Across Time and Space and the writing process.
I hope you enjoy listening in. Please leave a message in the comment box below or subscribe to receive future posts, newsletters on writing and updates on the upcoming sequel to, Across Time and Space.