How to write every day

craft, Get on with it, Words, words, words

Twixtmas, that ethereal time between Christmas and New Year, when you’re often not sure of the day of the week. For extra atmosphere, our town is bunkered under a layer of fog and the streets are still awaiting their residents’ return from holiday trips. It’s delightful.

For me it’s when I start thinking about the encroaching calendar flip, and Making Plans. New pencil case type plans. World Domination type plans. Do Something Big This Year plans.

Many writers (in every medium from blogs to novels) advocate writing every day. Apart from the fact that 300 words a day turns into a decent first draft of a novel over the course of 365 days, those writing muscles need a regular workout.

“Simplifying” is also writ large across my 2017 to-do list. With both goals in mind, this bit of wisdom from Zen Habits really struck a chord this week.

Do you write daily? How about giving it a try in 2017?

Do you have a designing principle?

craft

I’m currently battling with writing an outline, bored of spending my (meagre) writing time chasing plot bunnies through ever-deepening warrens. Going back to outlining is kind of a spiral in itself. But I know that if I don’t crack the premise and outline then I’m going to go round in circles for ever.

I’m reading up though, and enjoying KM Weiland‘s Outlining Your Novel, Libbie Hawker’s Take Your Pants Off, and from there jumping to a text she recommends called The Anatomy of Story, by John Truby. I’ll probably look at Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k again at some point too.

The latter two go into the idea of a Designing Principle. I have just about got my head around it, but now struggling a little to apply it to my own writing. But it’s helping me to realise that some things I really wanted to feature are more part of the designing principle than the plot. There’s a good breakdown of the idea here.

Now to avoid spending too much time getting bogged down in yet another element of structure. But that’s the learning process, I guess?

 

The agony of antagonists

craft

So one of the issues I’ve been battling with in my middle grade is my antagonist, for various reasons. I think that’s pretty common but all the great books, the ones that stick with you, are the ones which pit a worthy adversary against your bold hero.

Sandra Nickel is posting wonderful, reasoned arguments for how to hone your baddie (and a host of other characters) to round out your story and make it compelling, I highly recommend her series of posts

 

In the companion post, Enter: The Antagonist, no scratch that, Enter: The Antagonists, Plural, I talk about the 13 Antagonist Archetypes. Starting with Pure Evil and continuing to the Enemy Within, I explain who the different antagonists are and what they can do. Here, we are going to look at how we can romance these antagonists. This […]

via Romancing the Antagonists — whatwason…

Steps forward and back

craft

So since I last blogged here, what’s been going on?

  • I’ve written about 80k of my MG novel, possibly even more, spiralling around in myriad directions
  • I rejoined and actually became more active in SCBWI, including going to the conference in Winchester last November
  • Through SCBWI, I’ve found a brilliant critique group
  • This month I’m doing ReFoReMo and shortly will be starting Kristen Fulton’s Non-Fiction Archaeology course.

In short, there’s still writing happening (life got in the way a little bit too, with some health stuff and a house move) and paradoxically some confidence issues after some people were nice about my work. More on that later.

But I realised that much as I was having fun just writing, I was getting demoralised by the fact that there was no discernable end in sight. Even if what I’m writing isn’t ever published, it’s important to me that it’s finished, and then that it’s polished. I need to believe in the story, and love it, to keep faith with it through that undeniably lengthy process.

From reading more critically, and various useful techniques that I gained from the Urban Writers’s Six Month Novel course, and from SCBWI conference sessions, I realised that despite having all kinds of ‘story’ experience (editorial background, degree in media and screenwriting) it was time to go back to basics and improve my craft dramatically. Hence all the courses and “learnin'” that’s going on around here at the moment.

Sometimes going backwards is just as much fun as going forwards.