How NOT to start a novel!

Please don’t worry about these when you are writing your first drafts. Your first draft will be messy and ugly and full of cringe-worthy writing.

When writing your first draft just get the words out but when polishing it up look out for these cliches and cut them out. I hope this list is useful for you.

1. Waking up

Nobody wants to hear about your characters morning routine. We don’t want to know what they do in the bathroom, how they make & eat their breakfast, or what they pick out to wear and how they get dressed.

If you start with your character waking up, something epic needs to happen and not their usual boring morning routine.

If they wake up to an alien invasion, I’m pretty they won’t be worrying about what to wear but the reader will be right there with then running down the street screaming in their pyjamas.

2. False starts

So, you throw your reader into a beautiful dream or terrifying nightmare. The reader has no idea this isn’t real. Then, they wake up and the reader feels cheated.

You may have drawn them in but only to disappoint them. This is only acceptable if it has a purpose, like if Freddy Kruger is the antagonist.

Don’t trick your reader into spending time reading your story only to reveal they wasted their time. They won’t thank you for it and might even quit reading more.

3. Characters

At the start of the book you want readers to connect with the MC quickly. If they’re confused who the MC is, that isn’t going to happen.

Make sure it’s clear who the main character is. This is the person that will take the reader through the story. Don’t hide the MC as a surprise later.

While on the topic of characters, please don’t give them multiple names – it’s confusing. Don’t have you character Elizabeth also called Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Eliza, Babe, Buttercup, etc. I did read a story on Wattpad where someone did this and I lost count of the MC’s various names by the end of chapter 1.

Don’t waste the readers time aquainting them in depth with a character that doesn’t contribute to the overall story. If they are not important, don’t include it.

You can introduce characters during the story but don’t dump them all in chapter one. Don’t overwhelm your reader with a massive cast so there head is spinning with all the names.

4. Point of view

Be consistent. Readers will get comfortable reading in a certain POV and when it changes it takes them out. This is why writing dual or multiple character viewpoints is tricky as you don’t want to lose the reader but also need to keep their voice authentic.

Keeping your characters voice authentic is important and true to what they know or understand. Think about unreliable narrators. You may find another character is better suited as your MC or the story is told better via another POV.

5. World building

Creating realistic and vivid worlds will suck your reader in but don’t drown them in the details. Bogging them down with lengthy descriptions or explanations about the dynamics is going to kill it.

You need to show them the world, let them see, feel, taste and smell it. Put the reader in the world so they live it. Weave it into what’s happening.

If you want to write beautiful prose about nature, stick to poetry.

6. Over-explaining

Give your reader some credit, they’re not stupid. Trust them to fill in the gaps. Show the character living in the story and your reader will figure how things are based on the interactions.

Don’t use dialogue as an info dump. It really doesn’t work. Conversation aren’t showing, if you’re using it as a vice for telling the reader.

7. Fancy language

Okay, so we just covered how smart your readers are, however, they aren’t going to stick around if reading your novel is a vocabulary workout.

Too many complex words will kill the flow of your story. If the reader has to keep stopping, to figure out what they’ve read, you’ll lose them. You don’t want your readers to groan at the thought of reading your story.

In addition, be cautious about using made up words. You may have created new creatures, profession and even a new language, but if your reader needs a translator to make sense of your story, it’s too much hard work.

8. Too comfortable

Any scene that is too cosy isn’t going to compell the reader to keep going. Something needs to happen, something has to grab their interest.

Preferably a terrible conflict that makes your reader get behind your MC and follow them to the end of the story. You need to start with action.

9. Start in the present

The problem with prologues is they take place before your story starts. Many people skip reading them.

Also, using backstory or flash forwards are not great starts because your reader hasn’t developed a relationship with your character so they don’t care about their past or future.

These can have the same impact as a false start if they’re not necessary.

10. Rules are made to be broken

All the above have been associated with losing the reader but there are occasions when it does work.

If you feel strongly that your story needs multiple view points or it’s crucial the MC wakes from a dream, then do it. After all, it is your story.

I made a fun infographic:

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Goals: Progress Since September 2019

Here is an update on how I have progressed towards the goals I set in September 2019 (towards achieving my annual goals set in January).

2019 Goals - Dec Review

Social Media

Blog (Word Press):  To continue to post at least twice a week keeping to my content schedule as much as possible. 

I am so proud of myself for keeping up with this goal.  Even during NaNoWriMo I managed to post twice a week.  

Instagram:  To maintain the new connections I have made and continue to engage with them and share content about my writing.

My posts have slowed down but I am still posting regularly.  Recently my post have been every two days.    

Twitter:  Continue to share links to my content on Twitter and connect with writers on the platform.

I took part in #RevPit and was one of the winners.  I keep meaning to write a blog post about it.  Basically, winners get to email their first 5 pages and query letter to an editor.  The editor then tweets about the ten submissions they have with advice on how to improve – this advice is useful to all writers so worth following the hashtag.  The next day, winners get an email to let them know which tweets were about their work.  

I did Boost My Bio for Pitch Wars then forgot to enter the main competition for a mentor – OMG I was so cross with myself (serious understatement).  It had been a busy weekend with two book festivals!

Facebook page:  To brainstorm how I can use this to connect with more writers.

I haven’t done anything new to my page but it is getting more traffic.  I have also been active on World Indie Warriros Facebook page.  I did my first Live via their page.  Then during NaNoWriMo, I did three live write-ins and I’ve hosted a midweek chat in December.

YouTube: To be brave and get in front of the camera and start sharing video content.  

I’m not sure I understand the change in terms for YouTube videos so I’ve not pushed myself to do this but I am super proud of myself for getting in front of the camera (see Facebook above).  

Tumblr: Share Instagram and Word Press content to this platform.

This happens all the time as my other sites are set up to automatically share there.

Newsletter

I sent out my second newsletter at the end of October.  This also included a full guide on using Hashtags on Instagram.  My next newsletter is due out at the end of December.  Click here to sign up.  

Writing

Jewel of the sea (formerly Drift)

Enter into the Wattys.  Put novel out to Beta Readers.  Take part in September’s #PitMad.  Work on my query letter.  

I entered Wattys but wasn’t a winner.  I also entered Wattpairs Mentorship Challenge on Wattpad but wasn’t chosen to be a mentee.  My Beta Readers went quiet…  I didn’t let these things halt my progress towards my dream. 

At the end of December it will be 10 years that I have been chasing traditional publishing.  I have decided it is time to be brave and self publish.  With my birthday money I have booked an editor and taken that first step towards making it happen.

Diamond in the sky (formerly Glide)

Re-plot novel, edit existing version and write ending.

I edited the first few chapters and updated Diamond in the Sky on Wattpad. I then used Save the Cat to plot and develop the remaining chapters.  Then during November, I worked on this novel for NaNoWriMo.  I managed to write a further 45k words, bringing the book up to 60k words.  There is still more to be written but I am so pleased with my progress and I know how it end now.  

Red Dresses

#NewYearNewNovel start a new novel for 2019

This is the new novel I started in April this year.  I plotted out the first few chapters and wrote the first 15k words to see how I got on.  I really enjoyed this novel.  I envision it being a steamy new adult romance.  I definitely plan to return to this project at a later date.  

Tinsel Tiger (picture book)

Research publishers and Literary Agents and pitch events to consider querying.  Consider whether to commission an artist to do the images and then self publish.  

I haven’t had any time to make any further progress on this project so it has taken a back seat.   

Other

In October, I volunteered to write the World Indie Warriors brochure, ready for December. 

I planned to have the brochure completed by the end of October so it would not distract me during NaNoWriMo.  It turned out to be really hard to get all the details required from all the creatives involved.  

During November, there was still missing information I was chasing.  I set aside Sundays to make time to get it finished and I managed to get everything by 1 December 2019.  

It was my first time creating a brochure and it was a steep learning curve but I really enjoyed doing it.  I wish I could do something like this everyday for a living.  You can view the World Indie Warriors brochure here.  

Writing Course/Writing Festivals

Attend writing festivals

I got to attend The Ingram Sparks Print Facility Tour which was part of the Milton Keyne’s literary festival #MKLitFest.

I also attended WoW Con which is an online Literary Festival run by Write Mentor.  I also paid for a one-to-one via Skype with a Literary Agent.  I intended to write a blog post about it but just haven’t had the time.  

Personal

Personal

Crafts

Make time at least once a week: Planner:  continue to use Carpe Diem planner; Pocket letter:  write another pocket letter; Scrapbook:  Do at least one page; Crochet:  Finish Aria’s blanket for her birthday.

I haven’t found anytime for crafts. I haven’t been using my planner, written any letters or created any cards.  I haven’t added to my scrapbook or finished Aria’s blanket.  

I did attend the Festive Planner Meet in Felixstowe.  I can’t even begin to express how amazing it was to spend time with these girls doing crafts for a few hours.  It had made me feel motivated to do more crafty things in 2020.  

For Christmas, I have brought brown paper and festive stamps to decorate it with.  That counts as a craft, right?

Read at least four and a half books by the end of September (annual goal 6 books)

I’ve exceed this goal and read a total of 11 books.  I will be sharing a post in early 2020 with a collection of all the book reviews posted in 2019.  

I have also read The Practice Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin (review  scheduled for January 2020) and Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S Weaver (review scheduled for February 2020) and Trust Me by Maddie James (review scheduled for March 2020).  

I have also signed up to Net Galley to be able to review new releases.  I will write a review on how I get on with the site and I’ll post about any books that I manage to read (time is always my biggest challenge).

Development

Development

Writer courses:  Continue to take advantage of any free courses that come my way if I have the time to do these. 

I desperately want to enrol on Page Malcolm’s courses, especially her author academy, but it is beyond what I can afford.  I keep missing her live videos as they are when I am asleep but I always try to catch the replay as the content is valuable.  

I am also incredibly lucky that Willow Editing has given me access to her self-publishing course to beta test it.  I started it at the end of October but then had to stop due to NaNoWriMo.  I intend to make good use of this during December.  She is so friendly in the videos she actually gets me excited about editing which is you knew how much I hate editing then you’d understand how awesome she is.  

Resource book:  Buy another writing help book.  I am considering the Emotion Thesaurus.

I haven’t ordered any resource book but my wish list has got longer.  lol!

What’s next

I am really pleased with what I have achieved this year and I’m feeling positive that 2020 is going to be even better.  I am actively pursuing self-publishing and I love being part of World Indie Warriors.  

How did your goals go this year?  Are you feeling positive about 2020?

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My Books

#BoostMyBio for Pitch Wars 2019

How was NaNoWriMo 2019

I got to tour Ingram Spark’s print facility

Why I Love World Indie Warriors


To discover more ways to connect, click my link tree.

@Redfae

 

 

Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media

Goals: Progress Since June 2019

Here is an update on how I have progressed towards the goals I set in March 2019 (towards achieving my annual goals set in January).

Social Media

Blog (Word Press):  To continue to post at least twice a week keeping to my content schedule as much as possible. 

This has been happening even though it has been challenging to find time since returning to work.  With my hashtag series, I’ve got quite a few posts already scheduled so I should be able to post twice a week for a little while still.

Instagram:  To maintain the new connections I have made and continue to engage with them and share content about my writing.

This has definitely happened and I there are some writers that stand out to me as we have been chatting off Instagram (I even met three of them in person).

On Instagram, I took part in the #WIWJulyChallenge by @worldindiewarriors.  I have continued to post for the #StorySnippetsSaturday challenge and I took part in their week long #WritingJourneyChallenge in August by the same hosts.  For September, I have been doing the #aestheticWIPup photo challenge (I’ll share my highlights soon).  

I got to create the October Instagram photo challenge #WIWOctober for @worldindiewarriors , so I need to post daily for that – eek. 

Twitter:  Continue to share links to my content on Twitter and connect with writers on the platform.

Twitter is a platform I’ve neglected as Instagram has taken precedent and I tend to only use it for events.  On Twitter, I took part in #SFFpit September,  #PitMad September.  I am also taking part in #PitchWars.  

Facebook page:  To brainstorm how I can use this to connect with more writers.

I haven’t really done this.

YouTube: To be brave and get in front of the camera and start sharing video content.  

I just don’t have the opportunity to create videos. With an ambitious, mischievous, one year old that rarely naps, I think I will have to put this goal on hold until she moves out.  

Tumblr: Share Instagram and Word Press content to this platform.

This happens all the time. 

Other?

I managed to send out my first ever newsletter (sign up here).

Writing

Jewel of the sea (formerly Drift)

  • Edit: Enter into the Wattys.  Put novel out to Beta Readers.  Take part in September’s #PitMad.  Work on my query letter. 

I’ve attended a few pitch events and got some requests. As a result, I had to work on my query letter (which I am rubbish at) and send to the interested parties.

I didn’t put my novel on Beta Readers but I did email it to some writer friends to read for me. I’m saving up for an editor and I think once I finish the next edit, I’ll try out the Beta Readers site.

I entered Wattys 2019 and as I write this post I don’t yet know the results. They are released today! Wish me luck.

Diamond in the sky (formerly Glide)

  • Finish & edit:  Diamond in the Sky has been on hold but work on this is possible to start in July or August but I plan to give myself a little break.

I went back to the drawing board. I’ve got a new notebook and I’m exploring all the characters – even the side ones – to make them more real. I’ve also been use Save the Cat to work out the plot and beats as I’m struggling with how to put the pieces together towards Act 3 and 4. I know what I want to happen and can see certain scenes in my head but I need to put it together. The aestheticWIPup challenge this month has really helped me discover where the gaps are.

Tinsel Tiger (picture book)

  • EXTRA: I needed a picture book to enter a competition.  I decided to edit a poem I had written into a picture book format and submitted it. I also pitched it during #PitMad.

I have pitched my picture book a few times but not had any interest. Is it the pitch or the story? I don’t know.

I have thought about researching agents and querying them. I love the story but I’ve not written a picture book before so perhaps I’m doing it wrong.

I’ve also thought about another poem I wrote that I think could be edited into a fun picture book.

Writing Course/Writing Festivals

  • Third Quarter: Attend writing festivals

I’ve attended a few Literary Festivals over the summer and they’ve been a wealth of information.  Granted these weren’t free to attend but I made the most of what I got for my money:

  • Felixstowe Book Festival – Felixstowe
  • YALC Book Festival – London
  • MKLit Festival (blog post coming soon) – Milton Keynes
  • Wow-Con (blog post coming soon) – online

Personal

Working Together Course:  Finish this course.

I’ve got a certificate and everything. *happy dance*

Crafts: Make time at least once a week:

  • Planner:  continue to use Carpe Diem planner
  • Pocket letter:  write another pocket letter
  • Scrapbook:  Do at least one page
  • Crochet:  Finish Aria’s blanket for her birthday

Over the summer crafts has taken a nose dive. I did take Noah to a local craft cafe to do some activities but the challenge is Aria.

This week she removed a painting from the wall, took the leg off a table and climbed up a chest of drawer to throw pens at us. If you restrain her (car seat, cot or a high chair), she just screams. Until Aria is more easy going, she needs someone to play with her so I can help Noah do crafts or even his homework.

In the evenings, I’ve been focused on reading/writing and it’s left no time for anything else. The local craft cafe also do evening activities for grown ups so once Aria is better at night, I’m going to a scrapbook evening.

Read at least four and a half books by the end of September (annual goal 6 books):

I’ve smashed this. I’ve finished my annual reading goal. This summer I have read Envy, The Deepest Blue (book reviews of the last two are coming).

I bought lots of books at YALC. I’ve also been sent some books by authors for me to review and I’ve borrowed books from the library. I’ve got ebooks on my Kindle. I’ve even got sample books and guide books from Ingram Spark. I’ve got more books than time!

I’ve almost finished You Stole My Heart, Do I have To Take Your Name and I’m reading The Lost Prince on loan from the library and got The Cruel Prince waiting on my Kindle.

That’s enough about my goals, did you achieve yours? Let me know in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, you will like:

 

 


Development

  • Writer courses:  Continue to take advantage of any free courses that come my way if I have the time to do these. 

These have mainly been the workshops at the book festivals, etc.  However, a friend on Instagram recently sent me access to her self editing course for me to review which I am eager to take a look at as editing is one of my major struggles.

  • Resource book:  Buy another writing help book.  I am considering the Emotion Thesaurus.

I downloaded a sample on my Kindle but haven’t looked at it yet.  The other day someone posted on Instagram a picture of a book they are using for plotting and it looked awesome and now I want that one too.  And, I’ve been toying with buying the Writers and Artists Yearbook but can’t decide if I need the children’s one or adults…

What’s next

I’m going to evaluate how I am doing and set some new goals for the next quarter.  

Let me know how you are progressing towards your goals and whether you check in on yourself too?

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Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media

Goals: Progress Since March 2019

Here is an infographic of the goals set for this year showing whether I have achieved them yet or not:

goals-2019-june-progress

Social Media

  • Consistently Post: Post twice a week to my blog, post three photos/videos a week to IG, share content to Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. Brainstorm how to use my FB page more.

I am really pleased with how I have done here.  I have managed to keep up with my blog schedule.  I have also posted daily to IG.  In addition, I have been networking a lot on Twitter this past month and my connections have boomed.  

  • YouTube: Start making YouTube videos.

This hasn’t happened. I am no longer scared, I just want to do it but it is actually really hard for me to get the right conditions to create a video.  I often have kids around or it is late and I am tired.

  • Online Events: Take part in Twitter and Instagram events 

Woah!  I only just finished editing Jewel of the Sea in time for the June #PitMad Twitter Event.  This deadline gave me the kick I needed to cross the finish line.  

This month I am doing the #authorschallenge2019 on Instagram.  Last month I did the one week #StorySnippetsChallenge which was so popular it had now become a Saturday event called #StorySnippetsSaturday.  

In April, I took part in the Camp Nano. More about that later.

I am planning to take part in PB Pitch on 20 June 2019.  

Writing

Jewel of the sea (formerly Drift)

  • Edit: Finish work on Act 2 and start Act 3

I smashed this goal.  I have not only finished Act 2 and 3 but also Act 4. That’s right, Jewel of the Sea is finished.  You can read it on Wattpad for a limited time.

Diamond in the sky (formerly Glide)

  • Finishe & edit:  Diamond in the Sky has been on hold but work on this is possible to start in July or August but I plan to give myself a little break.

Scarlet House

  • First Quarter: Start novel #NewYearNewNovel

This was my Camp NaNo project.  I used Save the Cat to write an outline for the first few chapters and set myself a goal of 15k. I am please to say I achieved it!

Tinsel Tiger (picture book)

  • EXTRA: I needed a picture book to enter a competition.  I decided to edit a poem I had written into a picture book format and submitted it. I also pitched it during #PitMad.

Article Writing

  • All year: Submit to Little Mum Mag & to Ginger Parrot

I still don’t have time for this at the moment.

Writing Course

  • Second Quarter: Take advantage of free opportunities to learn

An advert came up on Facebook to join a group to work on pitches ready for #PitMad.  It was a week long course, each day we were set a challenge to help us develop our pitch. 

The course was brilliant and I really like my pitches.  Here are my favourite two for each book.

#PITMAD #YA #PR #ContemporaryFantasy

TEEN WOLF but mermaids in the UK.

Love struck, misfit, redhead discovers she’s a mermaid.

Being in the middle of a love triangle awakens Mariah’s dormant weather powers and gives a dangerous new meaning to the status ”It’s complicated!”

#PITMAD #PB

VELVETEEN RABBIT for Christmas decorations.

A tiger made of tinsel comes to life and has all sorts of fun.  A story told in rhyme to inspire the imagination of children.

Personal

  • Second Quarter: Flexible work request

I had to put in a request to change my hours and attend a meeting with HR to persuade them to agree to the change. The meeting was a success. When I return in the autumn I will have the hours I want. I’m very happy with the outcome.

  • All year: Crafts

I am ashamed to admit I have not found time for crochet. I hope to finish Aria’s blanket by her birthday. I still haven’t done even one scrapbook page. think I need to set a night aside for crafts.

On a positive note I tried something new and created my first pocket letter for a friend. I wish to do another and write a blog post about it.

  • All year: Journal/Planner

I bought a Carpe Diem planner and find it very therapeutic to see my monthly and weekly plan. The stickers are aesthetically pleasing. I do find the layouts restrict me from doing what I want. I’ve searched for someone selling dotted paper but nobody does for this planner.

  • Read a book every two months

I’ve finished Red Queen and posted my review. I have completed Save The Cat (review to come) which is a theory book.

I’m currently struggling go get into a book at the moment as I’m so focused on finishing up my novel and have limited time but I am making slow progress.

Development

  • Working together course (be able to effectively support my son’s school)

I had my first volunteer session and it went really well. I still get nervous when I go in to help but each time I go it gets easier.  The children are wonderful and so enthusiastic about technology.

  • PitMad Challenge (Facebook Group)

This was a private group that you had to request to join. It involved a 7 day challenge during the week leading up to PitMad where Kathy Ver Eecke helped authors to develop their pitches with daily lessons.  It was incredibly good.  I cannot fault the woman and I am so thankful for everything I learnt on this course.

What’s next

I’m going to evaluate how I am doing and set some new goals for the next quarter.  

Let me know how you are progressing towards your goals and whether you check in on yourself too?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Goals: Progress since Jan 2019

Book Review: Red Queen

#PitMad June 2019 Summary

The Story Snippets Challenge

  if_twitter-01-01_3066980  if_instagram-01-01_3066990  if_youtube-01-01_3066976  if_g-01-01_3066962

Ally plus text

Goals: Progress since Jan 2019

Here is an infographic of the goals set for this year and whether I’ve achieved them or not:

07

Social Media

  • Blog: Keep up with two posts a week. Start including links to my previous posts within new posts. Rework old posts to give new life & build an advice collection.

Posting twice a week has proven more challenging than I expected but I have discovered the IFTTT app. This app is able to convert Instagram posts into draft blog posts. When I have struggled for time this has been a game changer. I highly recommend it.

I have also revamped old posts and started referring readers with links to previous content they may like.

  • Instagram: Try to post three photos/videos a week

I have been posting two to three times a day! I have over exceeded this goal. I’m so pleased with myself and connected with lots of cool new writer friends as a result.

  • New:  Discord (new) & Facebook Group (new)

This wasn’t in my plans but a lot of IG writing groups have invited me to their Facebook group and discord channel so we can chat more easily as IG limits chat groups to 30 people.  I have also created a Facebook Page of my own which I hope to utilise in the near future.

Online events:

  • Twitter: Take part in Twitter events like #PitMad or #AskAnna

As I’ve ripped Jewel of the Sea apart I have nothing to query. #WriteMentor did a pitch event to earn a place on their rolling course with a mentor. I didn’t win but I gave it a go as I’ve worked hard on improving my pitch.

Mariah has a magic-meddling mum, and about to discover she’s a storm summoning mermaid that needs to gain control of her emotion-connected powers ready for the impending battle with the powerful, unstoppable death crows!”

I’ve also taken part in IG events like monthly photo prompts and joined #FellowCreativeMinds and #HustlingWritersCommunity. If Aria wasn’t unwell I would have also got more involved in #STCExperiment – there is still time.

  • YouTube: Try making a video once each quarter, working towards once a month

I still haven’t braved the camera. But, I took baby steps and made two Instagram story videos which has helped me feel more confident. It is still something I am keen to do and I’ve started following more writers on YouTube. I really enjoy their content and they help inspire me to create my own.

YouTube writers I’m enjoying are:

April Grace Reads

About:  “24. Writer. Reader. Full-time final year Creative Writing graduate. Full Time Ride Operator in a children’s play centre. Books are my passion, especially YA fantasy fiction. Email me at aprilgracereads@gmail.com. I’d love to chat with any of you guys! “

Fellow Creative Minds

About:  “A channel to give help, support and encouragement to creative minds everywhere! I post twice a week. Once on Wednesday, usually a reading your writing, and then I post another video each week at a random time. To join the growing creative minds community, join our Discord and follow lizthewritingwiz on Instagram. Happy Creating! 😊”

Bethany Atazadeh

About:  “I’m an author of science fiction and fantasy novels, as well as a writing coach over on Patreon, and obviously, a youtuber! (AKA authortuber 🙂 This channel also used to be dedicated to music, so if you look back far enough you’ll find some fun songs.”

Author Brittany Wang

About:  “Hello friends! My name is Brittany Wang and I’m an aspiring author currently working on my YA Fantasy Novel. If you’re looking for writerly insights as well as writing community, you’re in the right place and I hope you’ll subscribe so you don’t miss a thing! If you’d like to interact more with me and my writer’s community, join our Plotter Life Writer’s Facebook Group and come hang out with me on Instagram where I’m active daily!”

Happily Ever Author

I feel I should mention Pagan as although she’s not on YouTube she does post videos to Facebook and helped me with advice on how to get started.  Click here to read about my review of her Facebook Group.

Writing

Jewel of the sea (formerly Drift)

  • First Quarter: Another edit

I have been fortunate enough to get some feedback on my novel that has helped me see what I need to do.

I’ve also been following the principles in Save the Cat Writes a Novel. It has really helped with pacing. If you have not read it, you are missing out. Once I’ve finished the book I will write a review.

Diamond in the sky (formerly Glide)

  • First Quarter: Finish novel
  • It started out well but once I realised the extensive edit needed to finish Jewel of the Sea, I decided I needed to focus completely on one project.
  • Diamond in the Sky has been put on hold for now.

Scarlet House

  • First Quarter: Start novel #NewYearNewNovel

This did not even happen even a little bit. I was struggling with time for my other projects so something had to go and this is what got the chop.

My plan is for this to be my Camp NaNo project next month. I shall use Save the Cat Writes a Novel to have an outline ready for April.

Article Writing

  • All year: Submit to Little Mum Mag & to Ginger Parrot

I have been so tied up with my own projects I have not had time to write for others.

Personal

  • First Quarter: Get my bodacious body back (diet & exercise programme to achieve a more healthy me)

This has gone so well. Eating paleo has been a life style choice and I hope to write blog post to share more. I feel more healthy and my figure is looking great.

  • All year: Scrapbooking (my son is now 5y old and I still haven’t started his. I need to do this).

I haven’t had time to do this. At the moment I can’t see when I will have time which is sad as those memories are precocious. I showed my son my baby album and he loved it. Maybe if I print his pictures at the very least I can put them in an album.

  • All year: Crochet – I learnt to crochet in 2018 and if I don’t want to lose the skill I need to keep practising.

Well… I still haven’t finished the blanket. How embarrassing is that! I hope I finish it before Aria turns one.

  • All year: Journal – I’ve always wanted to get into it as I love the creative way of expressing yourself and being organised.

I have tried a few times but over think it. I’m going to a meet up at the end of the month with some local planner girls.  I am hoping these women will share their wisdom with me and help me get started.  I want to use it to help me organise my writing.

  • Read a book every two months

I’ve read Rebel of the Sands (review coming soon) but I am a little behind target. I’ve started Red Queen but doubt I will finish it by the end of April.

 

Development

  • Working together course (be able to effectively support my sons school)

I have now started this course. I feel nervous about volunteering at the school (first volunteer session is on 27 March).  It is so silly but I am scared of the little kids (lol).  I feel supported by my peers and the staff at the school and I am sure that once I have done it, I will feel better about it.

I feel this course and the experience will boost my career.  I would like to work in a school as the hours would be good for my children and there is also the aspect that once I am published, I would love to visit schools in Suffolk and inspire the next generation of writers.

  • New: #WriteMentor

This wasn’t in my plans but when the opportunity to try it out for free came up, I went for it.  For February, I was fortunate enough to be part of the exclusive private Slack group for writer #WriteMentor.   I need to write a blog post for you to truly appreciate how amazing this opportunity is and why when I return to work I plan to subscribe as a paid member.

 

What’s next

I’m going to evaluate how I am doing and set some new goals for the next quarter.  

Let me know how you are progressing towards your goals and whether you check in on yourself too?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Goals for the year ahead – 2019

My best kept writing secret of last year (Happily Ever Author)

I did #FebWritersChallenge

I did #JanWritersChallenge

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My best kept writing secret of last year (Happily Ever Author)

I discovered this group through a connection I made on Instragram. I am so pleased that I decided to check it out and join.

About Pagan Malcolm

She is a YA Fiction writer that has published several books. She is also the founder of Paperback Kingdom and Facebook group Happily Ever Author.

About the Facebook groups

Happily Ever Author is a group run by Pagan on Facebook. She posts prompts to get authors to socialise and share what they are working on and to set goals. She sometimes gives prizes (I got a YouTube guide) and sometimes she promotes her books and other group (Paperback Kingdom).

Paperback Kingdom is a Facebook group linked to services she offers such a course, 1:1 coaching, etc. I can’t tell you much more as I’ve not paid for the additional content.

About #NewYearNewNovel

Pagan set her Happily Ever Author group members a challenge in December to start doing the prep work for a new novel in 2019. This was supported with videos where she shared her tips and techniques for doing this, from how to come up with a story idea, outling, character development, etc. These were really useful and I would like to watch them again.

Although, all I have written is the opening to my story (Scarlet House), I do feel more prepared and clearer about what I will be writing. I can’t wait to finish my current editing project so I can start on a brand new novel for 2019.

Have you discovered any awesome writer groups online?

If you enjoyed this you may like:

What to watch – Shows with writers in

More than 10 Affordable Ultimate Gifts for writers

More than 10 Extravagant Ultimate Gifts for writers

Websites All Writers Should Check Out

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How to prepare for NaNoWriMo? #amwriting

What is NaNoWriMo?

It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The event started with a November challenge to write 50k words in 30 days.

Now, the event runs on other months of the year and you can set different word count goals.

How to get started

Firstly, you will need to create an account on NaNoWriMo. Here you can record your progress and if you complete the challenge you get a certificate. There are also other benefits (keep reading to find out more).

One benefit are the free participant images that you can use to show you are taking part on social media.

Story idea

It’s best to have an idea of what story you will be working on before you start. Coming up with ideas is never a problem for me. Staying focussed on one is where I struggle – I’m confident NaNo will help fix that.

I asked Instagram and Twitter which project they thought I should work on as I was couldn’t decide.

Set it in stone

Update your NaNo account with details about the project you have chosen.

Write a blurb (the text on the back of a book) and, if you have already started the project, include a sample (I.e. first chapter). You can update this at any point during/after the challenge.

I like to use Canva to quickly make a simple book cover image. It’s also great for making social media pictures.

Outline

NaNo can be intense and it can really help if you know where your story is going. An outline is a brief overall plot for your story and helps you stay on track. It can also be useful at the end for writing your synopsis.

I shall be using the snowflake tool in Wavemaker to do this.

Character Development

It can help to know who your main characters are and their names. Especially, if like me, naming your characters takes time.

Click here for my article on naming characters.

World Building

Wherever your story is set there will be an element of world building. You need to consider where they live, the type of homes and people, jobs, education and how it is run.

If you are creating a new world then this will need more thought as you will need to consider everything from species to habitats and vegetation.

My story is set in a post-apocalyptic environment and therefore needs a lot of world building as the nature of our current state has changed drastically.

The setting of your story can be as vivid and diverse as any character. Places have history and can change a lot over time.

Software

By signing up on NaNo you will gain access to some great deals just for writers and some of these are for writing software.

This year, I have chosen to use Dabble Writer again as I love how easy it is to use and it keeps track of my word count so updating NaNo is a breeze.

Click here for my review of this product. I’ll review it again at the end of NaNo as I understand it’s even better now. It is free to trial during November for NaNo!

Writing Buddies/Camp NaNo

Sometimes they run a There are online camps for NaNo participants. It will group you with people that have similar goals or projects. Then you keep each other motivated as the challenge isn’t easy. I loved this during the July challenge but sadly it looks as if camp is running for November.

If you get a group that’s not very active, share how you are doing on social media. Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely business. Connect. Other writers are out there and want to see you succeed. You can do it.

Write

The charm of NaNo is that it gets you in the habit of writing. Try to write every day. Every bit you do is progress.

If you don’t hit your goal, keep writing. If you only achieve 20k, that’s still 20k more than when you started. Don’t quit. Writers don’t quit.

November is notoriously a busy month for me and if it wasn’t for NaNo I’d likely not get any writing done. I never shy away from the challenge and one year I will achieve… maybe, this year.

Good luck

Let me know if you are taking the challenge and wish to be NaNo buddies.

Links to articles regarding my previous attempt are:

  If you want know how I got on read my NaNoWriMo diary entries for Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four or NaNo Done.

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