The best part about being a writer is that the more we write, the better we will get at it. Each novel will teach us more, let us practice, and give us a chance to hone our craft. I started writing because I love stories. I didn't even start with novels. Like a number of authors, I wrote personal short stories, and soon moved to fan-fiction.
I still have those stories online. I've debated deleting them. Frankly, as far as writing goes, they're pretty terrible. I can say that now, and easily compare them to the books I'm writing and have written. I only left them online because people actually seem to enjoy them.
I can even say my first book, Runaway Magic, is a debut novel, with all the normal things that go along with being a first actual novel. I'm proud of the story and characters, even as I can look back and know what I would do differently this time. I won't rewrite it, though, because it represents a moment in my writing career. My second novel, an erotica/romance under another pen name, shows more polish than my first novel. My second Forest Guardians book was even more polished than the first two books.
What will my third book look like? I'm still early in my writing career, so I can't fully say for sure, but I get better at using words and describing, and placing readers in the story. I can introduce more complex situations, always remembering my target is the Young Adult readers. I firmly think they are intelligent and capable individuals and I should never dumb down a book, but I'll be more aware of my sentence structure with a book for a younger reader than for a romance/erotica book.
What will my books look like 20 books from now, or 20 years from now? I hope I'll be a great writer by then. I'll still look back fondly on my earliest books. I have a whiteboard above my writing desk with notes and more on it, but in the middle I have the quote "write the book you want to read." After all, that's why I started writing. I want to go on adventures. I want to visit worlds of magic and mayhem, facing desperate odds and saving the world. I want magic swords and ponies and forests and wide open spaces, and more.
There are many authors I enjoy reading who have been writing a while. Some of them, I love their later books, when they got more skilled. Others, I prefer their earlier works. One thing I really enjoy now is finding other independent authors like myself and delving into their works. So far I have enjoyed a few books that were debut novels. I've only begun reading heavily again. Were their novels perfect? No, and neither was my book. But they are great, with fresh ideas and adventures for me to explore.
Always keep practicing writing. I still write short scenes and stories, just for fun and practice. I even include these stories in my newsletter for fans of my Forest Guardian series, and they're available online for my fan-fiction audience as well. I also write personal stories where I can explore topics and emotions I don't want to share with anyone. Everything I write is practice for my future books.
I'll always be grateful for the experience of writing Runaway Magic, my first full length novel ever. I learned to plot. I started learning how to bring people into stories with my words. I created a world and people to live in it. Sure, I love Facing the Fire, possibly more. Having written a novel once, I could relax a little and focus on the fun. I'm enjoying the third Forest Guardians book even more, now that I have a better feel for writing novels. All those pesky things like dialogue tags and descriptors come more easily with each book. They get less clunky and easier to do well.
Still, even as I look back at Runaway Magic, and my early fan-fictions really, those early stories showed me how to write and gave me practice. I can love them for what they are, part of my own writing adventure, and the start of it all. If Aili hadn't left home and run away, I wouldn't be on book three already, approaching the start of its final draft.
Love your early books. Honour them. They help make you the author you will become. Readers, those early books were how your favourite books developed into stories you adore. We should all celebrate the beginnings of any big adventure.
I've always been a dreamer with my nose in a book. I've been a reader since I learned to read, devouring books as I discovered them. In fact, it was only in the last decade I stopped reading as much. It feels good to get back to reading again, like I found a piece of myself that was lost.
Given that I spent so much time dreaming and living in worlds inside books, I have an amazingly active imagination. For me, starting a new book with a clean document is exciting. What will I create?
It all starts with who the main character is, for me. I'm a character driven author, so my stories are all heavily influenced by the characters. Sure, all kinds of things happen, but the stories belong to the main character as much as me. Once I know who they are and what they want, the story becomes all about them. Each story I began, I knew who the characters were before I began. At least, I knew the main characters. In the Forest Guardians books, more characters keep coming along as she explores more of her world.
Okay, so I have a blank page and a character to play with. Now what? Well, once I know what that character's issues are and what they need or want, I can decide how best to challenge them. What would make them grow? Life is full of ups and downs, so I get to play with both and see how the character reacts.
Still, what's my big conflict? I start with the inner conflict. What's going on inside the character? Now, how can I represent that in an outer conflict? With Aili in the first book, for instance, she was a lonely kid with no place to belong. She needed something that would make her depend on others, while learning more about her own strengths. What does she care about? Her forest, of course. Okay, forest in peril, here we come.
From there, I can fill in the details. This is where the Save the Cat method helps so much. Following the storytelling "code," I simply write the book I want to read, now. Stuck somewhere? What would I want to read about there? What would be fun for Aili, or push her, or help her somehow (whether she likes it or not)? That's what I write.
I may not even have the story fully plotted when I start. I outline using the Save the Cat method, and fill in details as they come. By my first 20 000 words or so, I always have a full outline and the beginnings of a story I enjoy. Will everyone enjoy my story? Of course not. That's not why I write. I write to let characters live, and to go on adventures. Some people will love them, others, not so much.
How many Forest Guardians books will I write? As many as Aili wants. Does she still have an adventure in her? At least one more, as there's a forest she hasn't been to yet. Sometimes the setting gives me a plot, like in book 3. Maybe I'll keep going, if she has a new adventure after that. Maybe it'll be a quartet. Aili will tell me. I have other stories on the go, too, and a whole file of ideas to play with when those are done.
Every writer has their own method, so find what works for you and go for it. Do you love characters like me? Do you want a gripping mystery? Prefer fantastic settings? Great, write with more focus on what you love. Just write!
Before I became an author, I had never heard of NaNoWriMo. The gist of it is that you sit down and write 50 000 words throughout the month of November, working on a novel. A few well known novels got their start this way. The non-profit has a webpage - www.nanowrimo.org
I have a regular writing routine, so I chose not to participate this year, but I did decide to keep track of my productivity more closely, keeping track of how many words I wrote each day on book 3 of the Forest Guardians series. I did not include any writing on my other novels or personal stories.
As of this weekend, had I been participating, I would have achieved my 50 000 words this month. I keep in touch with other authors, and one thing we like to talk about is productivity. Successful authors who write a lot of books tend to average over 2000 words a day. Sometimes authors who have a main career outside of writing manage as few as 300-400 a day, on breaks and while commuting, and so on. Those are dedicated authors, to be sure!
I tend to average over 2000 words a day. Some days more than 6000 flow from me easily, like if I'm writing a major scene that the whole story hinges on. If I'm tired, it may be as little as 1000 words. That's just me, though. Still, it made NaNoWriMo possible for me, had I chosen to participate.
I chose not to, solely so I could see how my own writing was doing, and because I do have a routine that works. My books tend to be around 80 000 words long, which is pretty standard for a Young Adult Fantasy book. By having a word count, I can make sure my plotting works and that scenes happen where they need to. While it's more of a guideline, knowing where to build and where to ease off, where a major point is, and when to move along, all that helps make a gripping novel.
I did visit the NaNoWriMo page today, out of curiosity. They do appear to have some good resources for young writers. I think anything that helps people get creative and write is a good thing. If you want to be a writer, learn and read and study the craft. It'll improve your writing so much. Each novel you write will make you a better writer. What are you waiting for? Get writing!
Wow, have I really written three books since May, when I started? Sure, one is under another pen name, but still. Not to mention the three more on the go...
I think that's the most interesting thing about being an author, is how time passes and we don't always notice. I'm over halfway through the first draft of the third Forest Guardians book already. I only started it at the very end of October. I've been so immersed in it that I forgot to blog! My bad.
There is a bit of fatigue when one book is finished and gets published. I know I've talked about it before. I've been on that incredible journey with my characters and now the journey is over. However, there's a similar point in the middle of the books where I feel tired, too. It's somewhere between 40 000 and 60 000 words of the first draft. It's happened with every book so far.
It's at this point that I've got the main scenes and ideas written already, and now I'm adding in the additional fun scenes, or the scenes that help the story along in some way. It's the Fun and Games, as we can call it, that add depth to the story.
I'm there now with Book 3. My books seldom get titled until near the end of the final draft. The big stuff has happened, so now I get to write whatever scenes I want. It can be a lot of fun. What does Aili want to do next? What magic will she discover? Will she get into trouble? Sometimes I wonder just what the heck I'm going to write. That's easy, I write whatever scenes I want to read.
Since I write almost every single day, the days blend into each other. I know it's time for a day to rest and recharge when I feel that tired feeling creeping up. Over the last week I've had some incredibly productive writing days, and now I feel that fatigue. Tomorrow is my day off anyways, and I'm looking forward to it. I did get some inspiration for writing today's scene. Once that's done, I'm resting. Rest is as important as action. That's why I include rest for Aili and her friends in my books.
So, how do you fit your writing schedule into your life? Are you a daily writer, or grabbing moments between work shifts or child care? What works for you?
Writing is a skill we can improve with experience. Not even a year ago, back in April, I decided to be an author. I’ve been writing stories for years, but I had no idea how to write a novel. How the heck was I supposed to plot something like that out? What am I supposed to do with characters?
I started by taking courses. The first couple were simply on writing fiction, whether it’s short stories or novels. I learned about writing descriptions and working with emotions. Still not knowing enough to write a novel, I took courses on plotting. I learned how to build a story and what significant points were needed. My favourite place to take writing courses without spending a lot of money is www.Udemy.com, as they always have sales each month.
The biggest compliment people can give me as a writer is that they didn’t want to put my book down, they had to keep reading. So far, multiple people have said that about my first novel, Runaway Magic. People are starting to read my second novel, and feedback has been similar there. It’s all thanks to the information I learned from writing courses.
Also, aspiring writers, learn tips and tricks on language use and powerful ways to string sentences together. Some words are less powerful, and sometimes simple sentences are better than long and drawn out sentences. The number one thing that stops me from reading books is how easy the sentences are to read. Sometimes I’m lost by the fourth comma in one sentence. Sometimes simple really is better.
I’m still taking courses and now watching webinars on different aspects of writing. I’m always seeking to grow my skills for both writing and publishing. There are all kinds of webinars out there by established authors to help writers hone their craft. Take advantage of them, but always think critically. Anyone can post anything online, so learn all you can, but be careful. You can even try things, but be ready to change and adapt as you gain your own experience.
The last couple of months I’ve been doing a lot of webinars and reading books on different aspects of writing. I’m proud of my first book, even with how I see I could now write it better. Already with my second book, I was a better writer. My third book is going even better for me. Again, my skills have improved. Who knows how well I’ll write in a few years? I look forward to finding out!
I'm always seeking to improve my writing skills. An essential part of learning to self-publish is writing book blurbs and synopsis. It's actually quite different from writing a novel. Most authors dislike writing blurbs, and it's easy to understand why.
Writing blurbs is actually a style of writing called copywriting. It's all about making the book sound appealing, and is a special skillset. There are techniques to learn and general guidelines to follow, just like in novel writing. However, when writing novels, you're interested in crafting a compelling story with a certain structure, which is different from the structure of a blurb.
Still, I'm always up for learning more and new skills. The more I do it, the more practiced I get.
What else has kept me so busy? I've been working on new covers for both books. Another skill I've been learning is cover design. Again, the more I do it, the better I will get. It's fun to play around and experiment, even if I don't use the designs I create. However, I've got new designs for the series and I prefer them to the originals.
Also, while I have not been doing NaNoWriMo, I have been keeping track of my progress on book 3, just to see how I'm doing. NaNoWriMo is national novel writing month. The goal for those participating is to write a 50 000 word novel in the month of November. I started book 3 of the Forest Guardians series on the 27th, of October, maybe, and I'm already over 30 000 words. I have the writing pace of an established and experienced professional author.
Most of all, I'm loving writing the story. Aili gets to go to a new forest, meet more Scouts, practice her healing with the best healers in the country, and deal with a soggy and grumpy Leya. They aren't called rainforests for nothing! You can look forward to the third novel in the series being released within a few months for sure.
Well, it's happened again. That bratty Aili decided it wasn't enough to hijack the ending of my last book, Facing the Fire. Now she made me rewrite the first part of the third book. It's going to all work out, and nothing I've written is wasted, but my story starts earlier than I thought.
I love that my characters are developing and becoming more their own people. Each book gives more background on someone and lets us learn more about them. We learn a lot more about Kyson in book two, and Aili gets a surprise in the ending that carries her into book three. Even Andvari shows more of his background in the second book.
Now when I'm writing a story my characters are often telling me how they'd respond to what I'm putting them through. I'm no longer having to form them so much. They're showing enough individuality that I just know how they'd respond.
Book three, yet to be titled, also lets me introduce more characters, and even build on some previous characters you meet in book two. Even my secondary characters have a history and their own preferences. Some are more serious, some more playful, and some are enthusiastic about their hobbies.
Aili learns a lot more about herself as she interacts with people, and she's going to visit a busy camp with a lot of people to interact with. It's when we spend time with others that we really learn who we are. She's still growing and learning her place in the world, and for someone who grew up almost alone, she's going to be stretched like never before.
We all have to ask "who am I?" Aili will spend some time looking back and looking ahead. With her band changing with each accomplishment, she is growing up quickly in status in her world. Can she keep up? How about you? How did you feel, navigating the challenges of becoming an adult and learning who you were?
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.