Do you recall reading the fairy tale, The Frog Prince, when you were younger?
It is a fairy tale by the Brother Grimm. The tale focuses on a princess who kisses a frog and to her amazement it turns into a handsome prince.
Well, hold that thought there for a bit.
Being a writer is not easy. I think I say this on every blog post. One aspect which proves to be a constant challenge is coming up with new ideas for books or stories.
If only Amazon sold ‘New Idea’ tree seeds which we could order, plant and grow. Then we could happily harvest our new ideas for our creative projects and never throw a hissy fit again about ‘getting nothing’ from our weary writer brains.
As new ideas for future novels sadly don’t grow on trees we have to come up with them…ourselves. Ugh.
This is tricky because coming up with new ideas for future best selling books can take weeks, months, years and even decades. In addition not all new ideas ping into our writer brains fully formed. A lot of the time it’s like putting flat packed furniture together and not all new ideas come with assembly instructions. You have to spend hours, days, weeks etc, carefully putting them all together to see if they will work. Even then there is no guarantee the idea will be a success.
Also, a lot of ideas fail for a number of reasons. They are slippery little things. some don’t work, some make you cringe, some annoy you after the first three chapters and some make you lose interest in them after 30,000 words.
To be successful you have to keep coming up with ideas and be able to accept that some won’t work.
So, let’s return to the Frog Prince fairytale. A funny maxim has been constructed on the tale of the princess kissing the frog.
‘Before you meet the handsome prince, you have to kiss a lot of frogs.’
I have done a bit of research and the maxim originated from a needlepoint pattern advertising campaign in the 70s.
In my analogy for this post:
The princess is the writer and she has to kiss a lot of frogs (new ideas) before she meets her handsome prince (the idea which forms the writer’s next book). Ha ha ha!
Coming up with ideas is very similar to kissing wet, slippery frogs 🐸
I do love reading a good meet cute in a romance novel.
A meet cute is when the two main characters encounter each other for the first time and this will eventually lead to a romantic bond forming.
For us romance book lovers it is the moment we all look forward to when starting a book and it is where we will give praise to authors who make that meet cute both memorable and unique.
Writing an engaging meet cute can be tricky. Nothing is ever easy with writing. As I am about to write a meet cute here are some things I am going to consider.
The meet cute can be romantic, funny, awkward, disastrous, sexy, unique, explosive or heartwarming.
The meet cute results in several scenarios: love at first sight, enemies at first sight (one of my personal favourites), one sided attraction or awkward love.
It’s best not to get attached to the word, ‘cute’. The best ‘meet cutes’ I have read in romance books are not cute, they are awkward, embarrassing, funny, chaotic and packed full of miscommunication.
Remember the meet cute sets up the story and relays a lot of information to the reader about the characters. Think about how your characters respond to the meet cute.
Conflict is your best friend when writing a meet cute. The best meet cutes focus on misunderstandings and miscommunication. They are also about two characters with the same goal but for different reasons. Conflict is a must have.
Always add a generous spoonful of banter.
Connect your invisible thread to these two characters. This is important. Once their worlds have collided we (the readers) need to know there is a good chance these two are going to meet again. What is the connection between these two going forward? Do they work together? Mix in the same social circles or have recently joined the same sports team?
The chemistry between these two characters in the meet cute has to be insanely high. Even if they dislike or annoy each other when these two characters meet there must be a reaction. This is what will keep us readers turning the page. We will be eagerly awaiting their next meeting.
The meet cute is the foundation for the plot so it needs to be as impactful as possible.
Remember it is not only a meet cute for the characters but its also a meet cute for your romance readers.
Good luck and please let me know your favourite book meet cutes.. ❤️
Hi there, welcome to my little corner of the World Wide Web.
I LOVE reading about writing journeys. They are normally filled with perseverance, bravery, an endless love of words, a lot of daydreaming, blood, sweat and tears.
Reading an author’s writing journey is my go-to for when I am lacking motivation. If you are thinking of writing a book or are in need of some motivation read on.
Here is my journey.
2013. I turned 40 and decided I wanted to achieve a life long ambition. Since a small child I’d wanted to be an author. However life had got in the way. By the time I was 40 I was reading more books than I was having hot dinners and I wanted to write my own. A few things gave me cause for concern: I didn’t come from a journalism background, I didn’t have a degree or masters in Creative Writing (I had a degree in something unrelated), I didn’t know any writers or authors and I did not have a clue what I wanted to write about. Feeling overwhelmed, I put my ambition to the back of my mind and tried to forget about it.
2014. For Christmas 2013 my husband bought me a 12 week creative writing course at my local university. He was not going to watch me give up on a dream. It was part time and one evening a week. With a belly full of butterflies, a brand new pencil case and a notebook I went along. The course was great and it proved to me I could write something. The thought of writing a book felt like a huge mountain so I decided to master the art of writing regularly. At one of the sessions the tutor had recommended setting up a blog. A week later I would creep upstairs on a wet Sunday afternoon and set up THIS blog.
3. August 2015. I had been blogging for a year and had actually come to enjoy writing what I called my list posts. I tried to make them funny. They were mainly lists based on being a stressed out mother and a newbie writer. To my surprise I was nominated for the ‘Funniest Blog’ Award at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards 2015. It was voted for by the online community. To my absolute SHOCK and AMAZEMENT – I won. Dark pic of me below holding up my winners t-shirt.
4. 2016. Once I’d mastered the art of list posts I decided to write something. My blog series – The Diary of Roxy Collins was born. Each week I would write a fictional extract from her diary. Roxy was like Bridget Jones but older with three failed relationships behind her, three children to raise by herself, a lot of heartbreak and the most adorable landlord ever – Brian. Once I’d stuck Roxy on my blog I decided to upload her onto Wattpad. At that time I knew nothing about Wattpad. I hoped it would reach a few readers. This was how the first few weeks went on Wattpad. I had 10 followers and 4 of them had liked my story. I was so proud of myself.
Six months later and Roxy’s diary had been included as part of a featured Romance Author campaign. She gained me 70k followers on Wattpad, 270k reads and gave me so much validation. I even went and turned her into a podcast. This was recorded in my daughter’s shoe cupboard with a microphone and a gin & tonic on a Friday evening.
5. 2017-2019. I decided to start writing my first book. It was based on an idea which had been bubbling away at the back of my mind for some time. My husband had run the London Marathon to celebrate 10 years being cancer free. As he did his training he started carrying round with him a little red notebook to record his training schedule, leaving us all instructions on the fridge and creating wall planners to get us all organised. This sparked the idea for my novel – Instructions For Falling in Love Again.
6. June 2019. After a LOT of agent rejections (40+) I decided to self publish Instructions. Self publishing was also a lot harder than I thought. My goodness I learnt a lot about launching a book, self promotion, social media, proofreading, reviews and being an author. It was a steep learning curve for me and my lovely non writer friends who gave up a birthday weekend to proofread my book. My two non writer reader friends showed real promise at proofreading 🤣 Big shout out to Sue whose birthday it was. The book launched and I was so proud of myself.
Writing a novel proved harder than I thought. During those 2 years I shoved it in the drawer a LOT and wrote other stories. I also kept begging my non-writer friends who read romance books to read it and give me feedback. I have very honest non-writer friends 🤣 and their feedback was interesting – but it was what I needed. They didn’t hold back and I remember one friend titling her feedback email to me (third revision of book) with – WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??? Sigh! But looking back I think the feedback and gaps in writing it plus the constant revisions really helped it to become a book.
7. 2019 – 2022. These were my book blogging and bookstagram years. I experienced a LOT of rejections on two books (40+ on each book) during this time. They were rejections but I got a good number of full requests for the full novels so I felt like I was improving. That’s the weird thing about rejections for books – there are different levels of rejections.
Book blogging became a distraction. It also was really valuable as it forced me to read a lot of books and review them. This really helped my writing. I started to see what makes a good read, what makes a romance novel successful and how authors structure their books. In hindsight this period in my writing life was very important and despite all the rejections – this was when I started to grow in terms of writing ability.
I also carved out a space for me and my writing in my house. Books become things which would make me smile even when I was being deluged with rejection emails. They kept me going in the bleakest of rejection hours. It would have been so easy to give up during these years, but I carried on. Each time I felt like quitting I would look up at them and say to myself, ‘that author never gave up!’
8. 2021 – 2022. I got to work with two literary agents on two different books. One offered me representation and I was over the moon. It was a dream come true. Sadly my book did not sell on submission but the experience was so valuable. My agent and I parted ways amicably and I was very grateful for her commercial knowledge, wisdom and approach to critiquing a draft novel.
9. 2023. I submitted a manuscript to Bloodhound Books and prayed to my bookshelves. Bloodhound Books had published a few of my favourite romcom authors so I knew they were a great publisher.
10. 2023. The best news ever arrived! My new novel is due out in September 2023 and you are going to LOVE it!
The moral of this story / journey is – never give up!
If you are a romance author and interested posting your own writing journey on my blog let me know. Get in contact with me by leaving a message on my blog, via DM on Twitter or Instagram.
Revising a novel is important. Going through a series of drafts and focusing on things like characterisation, plot, setting and pacing is where I think a novel is really created. Sadly it’s not produced on the first draft.
The thought of going through the revision process once you’ve slaved away at your first draft can be daunting and leave you with an uncomfortable feeling. Trust me, I feel the same at the end of every first draft. The thought of taking it apart and undoing all my hard work is enough to put me off my dinner.
However, after a few weeks when you return to your first draft and read back what you wrote, you realise why revision is so crucial. Seriously time away from your first draft is so valuable. That’s where you read your first draft through the gaps in your fingers whilst groaning.
For this blog post I am going to show you the similarities between revising your novel and dressmaking which will, hopefully, make you see the importance of drafting.
For noting – I have tried to follow the main steps of dressmaking. I know dressmaking is complex, full of many steps and is an artform, but the purpose of this post I have stuck to what I feel are the main steps.
View your first draft as the fabric and your novel plan is the garment design pattern.
When you first start working with a piece of fabric it does not look like a dress. It’s shapeless and there’s nothing dress like about it. Sadly your first draft will not look like a novel either. It too will be shapeless and it might have a few holes in places 😁
In the same way a roll of fabric needs cutting, measuring and sewing, your first draft novel needs cutting, shaping and adjusting.
Measuring the fabric and producing the shape of the pattern is similar to looking at your novel plan and seeing whether your novel follows it. You will need to make plot adjustments to your second draft if your first draft does not resemble your novel plan. You might even need to hack / radically trim your draft novel in places or you might need to add more chapters.
The dressmaker will focus on indivdual parts like sleeves, the body, the neckline etc. This is simiilar for you, the writer. You will need to look at parts such as characters, plot, setting and pacing.
Once the dressmaker is happy with the parts of the garment they will begin to assemble it. This is similar to what you will need to do once you’re happy with all the parts you’ve worked on. I find the fourth or fifth drafts are where I finally see a novel taking shape. For me these are the drafts where I have sewn up all my parts and I am starting to see my book. It’s no longer a shapeless roll of fabric 🙂
The dressmaker will go through a series of fitting checks to see whether the dress fits and their measurements were correct. The dress may need correcting in places as it might be too tight or too loose. This is similar for you, the writer, and that final draft where you will go through it and get a feel for whether all the parts of your novel work. Does everything come together or are there parts which need tightening. Does it follow your plan?
Things don’t always go to plan when making a dress and the same can be said with revising a novel. Sometimes there are issues with the choice of material, the measurements and the pattern which means the dressmaker has to go back several steps. This is similar to when you read through your novel after several drafts and you realise it still needs more work. Character arcs might need refining, scenes might need more work and don’t get me started on the work needed to get those first few chapters right.
They say you should make clothes with love and I think the same can be said with novels – revise them with love. ❤️
Enjoy the process of revision and be proud of your well made novel!
I am on a book reading high at the moment. Some great books have come my way and I thought would do a book related post in celebration.
Here are some things book lovers can relate to:
When someone asks you to pick out your favourite book from your entire book collection and they are still waiting for you to answer an hour later.
At a social gathering someone wants you to tell them about the book you are reading. Little do they know you are LOVING the book you’re reading. An hour later, you’re still talking about this book and they have wandered off to talk to someone else.
The pain of struggling with a book for 300 pages and then being rewarded with a terrible ending.
When someone questions whether you can read a book in a day…
People who borrow your books and return them dog eared and tea stained.
Trying to remember a time in your life when you didn’t have a reading pile / list.
Coming out of a bookshop empty handed and announcing to loved ones you must be sick.
When someone tells you the ending of a book you’ve been wanting to read for ages.
Reading a good part of your book in the bath and your glasses keep steaming up.
When someone you know reads the same book as you and questions how anyone could find the fictional love interest attractive. You haven’t been able to stop thinking about that sexy love interest and have had several sleepless nights re-reading the book’s spicy chapters.
Loved ones who sneak their books onto your bookshelves without conforming to your colour coding or design and think you will never notice.
The stress of not being able to find a book mark.
Starting a book with expectations of it changing your life.
Being haunted by the thought, ‘I didn’t bring my book / kindle with me.’
When someone says – ‘it’s just a book..’
When you see one of your best ever reads on a shelf in a book shop and you give it a knowing smile.
Reading your way through grief.
The good plot twists aren’t the ones that are wild left turns out of nowhere, they’re the ones that make all the other little things that didn’t quite add up before suddenly click.
Wondering how those characters from that fab book you read last year are doing now
When you try to explain..’I have been crying for the last I don’t know how many chapters…’
Hello, thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
If you are getting ready to write a first draft please check out my list of things to expect along the way:
The food inside your fridge will become very appetising the second you start to write. Be prepared to spend a large amount of your writing time with your head stuck in your fridge.
Don’t expect your characters to keep their names you gave them in the planning stage. You will either come to detest them by 20k words or you will forget what they were supposed to be called and refer to them as something totally different by the end.
Plot holes are to be expected. Let them appear. In subsequent drafts you will fix them. There is nothing more satisfying than finding a fix for a gaping plot hole.
The songs you keep listening to whilst writing your first draft will always make you recall that particular story in the future. Depending on how your writing process goes you might not want to listen to all your favourite hits whilst you write your first draft. Let me tell you there are good songs I can no longer listen to now because they remind me of a painful first draft.
You will end up expecting your first draft to be perfectly formed and sound like a best selling novel by the end. Remember your first draft’s only purpose is to give birth to your story. Births are beautiful but also are messy and chaotic.
You will expect your first draft writing process to be similar to the last book you wrote. It won’t be and that’s just how things are with this wonderful craft we call writing. I have had first drafts which have gushed out of me, I have had first drafts which have coughed and spluttered their way onto the page and I have had first drafts which have been like disobedient children and have run away back into my head laughing at me.
There will be unplanned breaks from your first draft along the way. The words will dry up and you will find yourself cleaning the house for a 4th time in a day just to avoid writing.
Your future writing self will thank you for persisting with your first draft. They will be cheering you on and giving you a side eye when they watch you happily scribble ‘huge plot hole for my future self to correct’ in chapter two.
Thirty to fifty thousand words will feel like you are lost in a wilderness with no tent, no food, water or firewood. Here are some lifesavers; a character name change can brighten things up and trick you into thinking you are writing something else. Be generous with the phrase, ‘bla bla bla’ and sometimes let go of the novel plan and see what happens. Creativity hates being fenced in on the first draft.
You might use a lot of naughty language whilst you are writing your first draft. Plan ahead and set up a ‘curse draft swear jar.’ Every time you swear at your first draft make a payment into your curse draft swear jar. Use the money at the end to treat yourself. Writing a first draft and getting to the end is an achievement.
I used to swear I would never become a plotter. I was so loyal to my pantser roots. Over the years I have written loads of blog posts about how I am a proud and committed pantser.
As a pantser, instead of writing down notes before I start writing I use my first draft as my planning process. Everything comes together in what can only be described as a chaotic first draft. For years the excitement and thrill of not knowing what happens next has warmed my insides. New characters popped up like moles from mole hills and my plots took bizarre twists and turns. Usually in line with my fluctuating hormones. My character’s eye colour would also change every third sentence.
I have written by the seat of my pants and I have had a blast.
However, I have started to groan at the thought of chaos in the first draft. I also don’t like the idea of my second draft being the one where all the pain comes. As a pantser the heavy lifting starts.
All the first draft chaos has started to make me feel exhausted. *Whispers, ‘what has happened to me?’*
I am craving order and detail with my writing. I want to know what happens next and I want to know why and how. I am sick of planting seeds in my garden (my story) and watching them grow into a wild and unruly forest eighty thousand words later.
So, I have a new novel idea and I have found myself writing a DETAILED NOVEL PLAN. The worst part is that I have found myself ENJOYING putting the plan together. My former pantser self is currently screaming, ‘nooooooooooo!’ in my head. Omg I never thought I would utter these words. For noting, I have not been influenced by anyone on becoming a plotter, no one is forcing me and I have not read a book about plotting. This feels natural and organic.
Also, I have been working on the plan for a week now and keep going back to add more things. I have also written notes on my characters. *Whispers – who are you?*
No more internal panic for me. Its a nice feeling to know that all first draft chaos has been banished. My second draft of this novel will be amazing and all the heavy lifting will have been done.
I am sorry to all my fellow thrill seeking pantsers out there. I will still try and support you all but I can’t deny these strong feelings for a detailed excel spreadsheet titled, ‘plan’ any longer.
Has anyone else made the leap from pantser to plotter?
You will be glad to know a few weeks ago I swan dived into the querying pool with my latest romcom. At the bottom of this blog post is an image of me in the querying pool, chilling and thinking about querying. For noting I am the cool one with the shades.
In my experience querying a draft novel with agents can be a reflective time for the writer.
It’s a process which will make a writer question everything- their creative purpose, their own writing, their writing dreams, their writing life since primary school and ALL the astrologers who predicted that something BIG and WONDERFUL was on its way for their star sign.
If you ever feel like doing six months of intense soul searching – write a novel and query it!
Here are some things to consider when swimming in the querying pool:
Diving into the querying pool is an achievement in itself. You have finally finished that beloved novel of yours after months / years of wrestling with it whilst the world descended into yet more chaos. You should be PROUD of yourself no matter what happens to your novel.
Rejections are like insect stings. Some will hurt for a couple of hours and some will take longer. If only Amazon sold Rejection Insect Repellent which we could all order and spray ourselves like mad after hitting send on our queries. Sigh!
There ARE magical moments in the querying pool. It only takes one agent to cast their literary net and scoop you up. Never give up hope.
Always clap and cheer when fellow swimmers in the query pool get scooped up. You never know what writers have been through or the struggles they have faced. They will one day clap for you ❤️
Querying is a process which the best authors have all gone through. Some will have experienced first time success and some will have kept going no matter what. There are some great motivational author stories out there.
Brace yourself – I have a new way of looking at rejected novels. Are you ready? Your novel might get rejected by all the agents you approach. After the tears have dried up and you feel like facing the world again, don’t build a bonfire using your rejected novel. Instead think about WHY your novel came into your life. Every story has a life purpose and that purpose MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN to clinch an agent or a book deal – GASP! Let me explain.
I wrote a novel which allowed me to process my dad’s passing. It came into my life to help me process my grief. It didn’t get bought at submission because that was not it’s purpose. That was not the reason that novel came into my life. After I finished writing that novel I could go for a weeks without crying about dad.
The novel I have just submitted came into my life after a painful period of not enjoying my writing and losing my confidence. This novel was so enjoyable to write and it also forced me to break free from some of the things which were not working in my life last year. If this novel doesn’t do well in the querying pool I will know that was not its purpose. It came into my life to cheer me up and show me how much I still loved writing.
I wrote a novel a few years ago which I self published because I was having a wonderful midlife rebellion. I did a ton of things that year which took me out of my comfort zone. I got a new job after 10 years doing the same thing, I went on holiday with some friends, I cut my hair, I bought my own car, I sorted out my mental health and I put my writing out into the world. 2019 was one hell of a year for me. Again that novel was rejected in the querying pool but its purpose wasn’t about me getting taken on by an agent. That novel came into my life to shake everything up.
If your novel gets rejected – think about why that story came into your life. It could be that rejection by agents and publishers makes you self publish that novel. Your belief in the story takes hold of you and propels you into self publishing and you become very successful. That novel came to you for that purpose – to make you take another path.
We always think stories come into our lives because they are going to get us book deals. Sadly, stories come into your life for other reasons. A friend of mine started writing her first novel before her marriage ended. She believes the process of writing helped her to find herself again. Sometimes we are quick to dismiss rejected novels and we let ourselves spiral into negativity. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take a step back and reflect on why that story came into our life. Was it teaching us something or was it allowing something else to happen. Was it a catalyst for other things?
Querying a novel forces you to play the long game. It’s a good skill to learn in this age of instant gratification.
It’s not the end of the world if you stagger out of the querying pool with your rejected novel. Look around as there are many of us all queuing behind you to get out of the pool. It’s part of the process and guess what? It makes you a stronger writer.
You will forget about the pain and the rejection stings.
Change your astrologer 🤣
If you are in the querying pool at the moment – give me a wave or swim with me for a lap? Before you ask – no you can’t have a go on my inflatable ring!
Today I am going to talk about something which I am starting to get my head around.
Note: I’ve not nailed this yet but I am trying. 🤣
So, I am talking about – the ability to coexist with your imperfect draft novel and be at peace with all its flaws. You can go about your daily life and not be plagued or tortured by your draft novel sat there with it’s saggy middle, flat ending and cast of chaotic characters. You can even smile naturally at your imperfect draft novel. There’s no gritting of teeth or sleepless nights. You don’t delete it, quit writing it or quit writing altogether because of it. You accept it needs work and you learn to live with it. For me this is a next level writer mindset.
We get obsessed with trying to make everything about our stories perfect. I am guilty of this. We grit our teeth a lot and make change after change but our draft novel never matches that ‘perfect’ vision in our heads. It’s like someone is dangling a carrot in front of us.
Is there a perfect novel out there? Yes, I have read great books but it’s hard to label them as perfect. Also my idea of perfect might be different to yours.
The trouble with chasing perfection with writing and I am GUILITY of this is that it is super easy to fall into the – ‘this story will never be perfect so I might as well not bother,’ mindset. This results in half finished draft novels and long term writer disappointment. Trust me on this – ha ha! I have been down this road.
I have recently experienced a new kind of writer peace and calmness. It comes from accepting a draft novel has faults and telling myself over time I will work on them. *Gasp* I swear it’s peaceful.
You tell yourself its never going to be perfect but it will be crafted to the best of your abilities. Living with a draft novel which needs work is ok. You have to say this on repeat 🤣
I am learning to say, ‘yes, I am working on a draft novel and it has issues..but I am ok with that. *deep breath and force out a smile*
Here are my top tips for learning to live alongside your imperfect novel:
Bring your flawed novel in from the cold. It wants to be loved and not hated.
Remember stories don’t have to be perfect to be powerful or captivating.
Try sitting next to your draft novel and think light fluffy happy thoughts about it…🤣
Try to get to the end of each revision cycle and then take a break from it.
Keep saying to yourself, ‘there’s no such thing as a perfect novel.’
This is a tough one to accept and it has taken me a long time to get my head around this.
If you are a creative person there will be some people in your life who will never:
Understand why you spend hours creating stuff that is unlikely to go anywhere.
Share your creative enthusiasm for your creative projects.
Understand why you are cartwheeling around the garden after receiving one tiny bit of positive feedback.
Ask to read or listen to your work.
Get your weird and wonderful creative ways.
Be able to relate to the buzz you get inside when your creative work is being shared or liked.
These are the ones who say stuff like “I don’t understand why you do all that writing!” or “have you just spent your whole day writing?’
Just because they don’t get your creative life doesn’t mean they are bad or cruel. They just don’t understand.
No matter how many hours you spend trying to explain your creative tendencies or excitedly telling them about your latest project, they will still cast you that puzzled or horrified look.
It can sting a bit when you realise that not everyone is as goofy happy as you about your creative projects.
The important thing to remember there WILL always be people who struggle to understand your creative ways. If we were all the same life would be pretty dull.
Here are some things to consider when accepting that some people will never understand your creative life:
As a creative person you will always be a mystery to some people. This is actually a good thing and you should always strive to remain a mystery. Keeps people guessing about what you will do next.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. You can’t force others to like what you are doing or have created.
Each one of us has different talents and skills to offer the world. As Walt Whitman said we are all here to ‘contribute a verse’. Being creative (either through writing, blogging, podcasting etc) is your way of contributing a verse. These people are also contributing a verse in their own special way.
If you are a true creative person (i.e. not doing it for the money or future fame) then you will know that your creative side is a huge part of who you are as a person. It’s not something you can change or switch off and anyway why would you?
According to this article Neuroscience confirms that highly creative people think and act differently than the average person. Our brains are hardwired in a unique way! This means that some people are going to think we are from another planet.
We are addicted to the thrill of creating stuff and its a hard addiction to break. To the outsider our creative addiction can look pretty scary.
Being misunderstood comes with the territory of leading a creative life.
There is a place in the world for all of us.
The sooner you accept that not everyone in your life is going to understand your creative life the better!
So, stop wasting time on trying to make them understand why you spent the entire day rewriting your fourth chapter with only a couple of breaks for coffee and biscuits.
Here’s a secret about writing first drafts which I have discovered – you can fill your first draft with plot holes, a saggy storyline, typos, bad grammar and dull chapters and then…HAND it OVER to the future you.
That’s right – you can grab your first draft with all its writing issues and hand it over to the future you. No need to worry about what you have produced.
All you do is you shove your first draft in an electronic folder or a phsyical drawer and walk away. There’s no need to burn it, bury it in the back garden or hide it away under your bed.
The future you will one day come up with a way of fixing that major plot hole. They will know what to do with those troublesome characters and they will come up with a much better ending. The future you will do big things with that first draft you have been struggling with and what’s great is they will thank you for giving them something to work with.
Sometimes we just need to get things down on paper, so that in the future we will have something to mould, sculpt and shape.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to make our stories work right now and if they don’t work today, we quickly shelve them.
We forget that in the future we might be better equipped to tackle our novel writing issues.
As soon as you start delegating crappy first drafts to the future writer version of yourself you will experience a new kind of writer joy. You will feel comforted that the future you will sort out your mess of a story.
This joy you will feel will put a twinkle in your eye and skip in your step. That first draft is not your problem anymore. Let me say that again – it’s not your problem!
Don’t despair if the sight of your first draft novel makes you cry. The future you will be ready and waiting to correct that pile of literary wrongs.
Things can get so bad when you are writing your first draft. Your finger will gravitate towards the ‘delete’ button and everyday you will contemplate starting again with the story. In this situation, I ask you to stop for a moment and consider this:
Your future self will not thank you for giving up like this. They will have nothing to work with.
How do you know your future self won’t do amazing things with this story?
So, here’s what you do.
Finish difficult first draft, add post it note to the front and scribble, ‘Dear Future Me, here’s a little something I made earlier for you, enjoy xxx’
Stick in folder, smile and skip away. The future you will sort that out later. Doesn’t this feel amazing?
Look at the future you as an extra writing resource!
Thinking like this has changed my entire outlook on writing. Sigh.
Writing is not easy and there are days when it feels like everyone else in the writing community has exceeded their daily word count targets, uploaded some amazing social media posts, has managed to put a wash on, sorted out their kids for school / college and has come up with three new book ideas…all before 9.37am.
In contrast you have not even thought about writing, let alone doing some, because you have been arguing with your teenage children about the state of the bathroom, the coffee machine is on the blink, you’re nursing an eight-day cold and you still are mentally chewing over that painful agent rejection you got six months ago.
It’s on days like these when we need to read about other not so perfect writing lives.
For me, reading about other writers not so perfect writing lives helps alleviate those crap feelings which usually start with ‘I must be the only writer who..’ When a book of mine didn’t sell on submission I felt rubbish. I had assumed it would sell and I would have the perfect / dream writing story to tell. What a shock I got! If you think agent rejections are bad, I tell you having a book tank whilst on submission is horrid. Once I had picked myself up off the floor, it was other writers sharing their not so perfect submission experiences that came to my rescue. I began hunting out other writers who had been through something similar. Doing this led me to discover that books not selling on submission does happen, quite a lot actually, so I wasn’t the only writer going through this.
In the past reading about not so perfect writing moments has distracted me from comparing myself to other writers. I forget the ‘I could never write as something as good as her,’ and find myself saying things like ‘I love how her house sounds as chaotic mine on a morning.’
Writing can be so stressful. It feels like a lottery whether I wake up feeling positive about my WIP. When my writing mood is bleak the world around me feels the same. Once I was glum and tired with writing. Everyone on Twitter was announcing hot new book deals and I couldn’t write more than 27 words. My teenage children were doing my head in, my kitchen ceiling was leaking and the cat had brought in a dead rat. After sorting out the dead rat, I browsed some writer blogs and came across a writer who was talking about how rewriting her difficult WIP was making her emotional, she was halfway through a packet of biscuits, her house was a mess and she was behind with her laundry. I commented on her blog and we became friends.
A few years ago I tweeted about sitting behind the shed in the garden, with a glass of wine and a box of tissues as my WIP sounded terrible and I’d received 3 rejections in the space of two hours. I shared this not so perfect writing life moment and my Twitter feed lit up with other writers out there juggling dodgy WIPs and rejections.
The moral of this tale – when you have had more rejection emails than hot dinners and are now toasting marshmallows on a bonfire (made from wood and your half finished draft novel) – share this not so perfect writing life moment! Believe me there are other draft novel bonfires being lit all over the world and YOU ARE NOT ALONE ❤️
Very few writers get the perfect writing life. Everyone struggles and writing brings every writer to their knees with frustration at some point.
Let’s use our not so perfect writing life moments to help others.
Well, I think I have really lost my writer marbles this time. Who would write 2 first drafts at the same time? Surely writing 1 first draft is enough pain and struggle?
That’s what I initially thought when my brain suggested this bizarre approach. The words, ‘no way!’ shot out of my mouth…as I sat on a busy train to London. The poor sleeping stranger next to me woke up with a jolt. I was forced to apologise to them, turn back to the train window and curse my writer brain for sending me ridiculous writing ideas.
After a hectic day in the office, a tasty burger at the station, a wander around the book shop and a sweaty sprint for the train as I’d got my timings wrong, I found myself sitting on a return train home considering my writer brain’s ridiculous and silly idea.
Here are my writer brain’s thoughts on this ridiculous idea:
Writing a first draft is simply a process which you go through to get the story out of your head and onto a Word document or a notebook. You are shovelling sand, a few old rocks and some pebbles into a cardboard box. Nothing else.
I don’t intend to edit and revise them at the same time. That process needs focus and concentration. I will do that one at a time.
The first draft will give me the rough material I need to start shaping and sculpturing the book. Without this material I just have a two page novel plan and a load of futile daydreams of me clutching a future bestseller.
My feelings towards my first drafts blow hot and cold. One day I am gushing with love at the thought of them and the next I am digging a hole in the garden to bury them. With two first drafts I could alternate between the two. When one feels like a pile oif literary wrongs I will just work on the other.
I have started writing my two first drafts. Here’s how things are going?
I prefer one story to the other at 10k words. I am still working on both but I have my ‘favourite’ draft child already. I wonder whether that will change? For noting – draft B is my favourite.
There is less stress with seeing them as cardboard boxes filled with sand and pebbles. They are simply containers. That’s it.
It’s nice to have something to fall back on when the words dry up on one.
Let me know your thoughts and let me know if there are any draft A fans out there because it’s starting to dislike it’s draft B sibling 🤣
As a romance bookworm I LOVE reading this trope. This is where two characters make their external world believe they are a couple.
I love how the fake relationship starts out of convenience; pretending to be together for a social commitment, pretending to be in love for a competition or needing to show the world that a secret love interest does exist, but soon the fake relationship starts to change into somethinge else. I get so excited when the chemistry between the characters gets to work and things get awkward. There’s so much potential for good comedy and hilarity.
This trope can level up beautifully when the two characters don’t like each other at the start.
Writing the fake romance trope can be tricky. Here are the things I consider when writing it:
Both characters need to be unlikely candidates for a relationship at the start. Fake relationships work best if the characters really dislike each other or are very different. I think the best fake romances blossom from a place of dislike, as healthy relationships sometimes do. Under normal circumstances they would never ever consider dating each other. Also remember both parties must benefit from the fake romance.
There has to be a legitimate reason for them to fake a romance. It also has to be their ONLY option.
They both find it easy to get into their new role. Even though they dislike each other they don’t find it too much of a struggle to fake a romance. This is where they become ingrained in each other’s life. It’s an enjoyable stage for the reader because whilst they are busy faking a romance they are also noticing little cute things about the other like their style of wit, their dirty laugh and the way they touch their hair. However there still must be a question in the reader’s mind about whether it will turn into a romance. We all know there’s a risk with fake dating. So make sure they keep reminding each other that it is just an act.
Let them get carried away with faking a relationship. These two are putting on such a good romantic show everyone is convinced they are an item. It is essential during this stage they start to chuck common sense and their ‘fake romance rule book’ out of the window. You can include some great dialogue like ‘everyone’s gone, why are you still kissing me?’ or ‘shall we practice kissing lying down on a sofa? Yeah? Great, let’s get practicing.’
Things must get tough as they both start experiencing new feelings. This is my favourite part of this trope. It is great to read a fake romance where one person’s feelings start to turn real. Suddenly the simple act of touching hands becomes charged with electricity. Bring on the lingering touches, breathless moments and some intense gazing. So much good dialogue can be added here. Things like, ‘I’m starting to think you don’t hate me as you say you do,’ or ‘I never thought I’d see this new side to you.’
The big reveal. When they are at their most vulnerable one of the characters will have to take the biggest risk of revealing the truth. They will have been struggling with their strong feelings, missing the other before they leave, on cloud nine everytime they are next to them and replaying all their conversations in their head. After all this time hiding, they must find the courage to speak from the heart. This is a great time to add something like – ‘be real with me – how much of this was fake?‘ Will the other feel the same way?
This is one of my favourite tropes so do it proud, writers. Enjoy writing those fake romances!
Naming fictional characters is one of those writing activities a non-writer might view as...simple to do. *Sigh* They probably think we pluck a random name out of thin air, sit down to write and bring that newly named fictional person to life. If only naming a fictional character was that simple.
Naming a character can cause the writer all sorts of havoc:
The amount of time you will spend thinking about the names of characters will shock you. Some of us can take weeks, even months!
If you struggled naming children, pets or toys – you will find choosing names for characters to be much the same; guaranteed huffing, puffing and hours of googling the hell out of names.
Accept that no matter how much name research you do – you will end up frantically texting a writing friend late at night with, ‘what do I name them?’
Loved ones may panic or get excited when you are caught browsing baby naming sites.
It is guaranteed that once you name your character their name will start appearing in real life.
Accept that you will come up with some awful and jarring names which sadly will become permanent fixtures of your brain.
Your characters will change throughout the drafting process and it might be that they grow out of their name.
The name you have chosen for your character might start to annoy the hell out of you. This can be tough but I have found your story will start to tank once you start grimacing at typing your character’s name.
Your character’s name stays with you. Once you give them a name you will struggle to use it for anything else; pets or children etc.
Every time you use your character’s name – bingo – they appear in your mind. Also linked to this is your general view of the piece of work they featured in. I have found that the names of characters from my bad / ‘pile of literary wrongs’ stories always haunt me the most.
During the naming process (which can go on for some time) you will find new appreciation for movie credits! They are great for getting your creative name juices flowing.
If your character has children you are also in for a challenging time as naming the offspring of characters will cause more stress.
You might find yourself wide awake a 3am trying to figure out what name to not only your main character but also…their love interest. This will open up a whole new world of name pain.
Here are some things to consider when naming characters:
Have a few reserve names up your writer sleeve. It sounds like extra work but believe me when I say disliking a character’s name during the drafting process can be painful and in my experience it can bring on Writer’s Block. When you have a character with a name you loathe and a story with more crater sized plot holes than the moon it can be tough to turn to write.
Changing a character’s name mid-drafting canreenergise youand your story. I have done this and it does work.
Start with the parents. Think about your character’s parents. Why? They name your character, not you. When I realised this….a little bit of my character naming excitement died. I know this is tough, handing over naming responsibility to other fictional folk, but it’s the most realistic approach. So, after profiling fictional Mum and Dad give some thought to what names were popular at the time when your character was born? Think about their nationality, culture, setting and the time period. Play the role of the parent and think about what would influence their choice.
Nicknames. These are useful as they can reflect how the family and friends of a character perceive them. Useful for characterisation. Plus remember that parents rarely use their children’s proper names; I have so many names for mine.
Theme. Link your character’s name to the theme running through your book.
Breathe life into your character’s name! Keep saying it whilst listening to how it sounds. Shout it, scream it and whisper it. This sort of thing brings your character to life. It also helps you to see whether their name is believable.
Be careful when asking for feedback on character names. It’s a bit like discussing child names – everyone has an opinion and no one will like your preferred name. I would just go on gut instinct.
Think of other characters inyour story. Make sure you don’t get carried away and give two characters a similar name. I have done this and readers do notice it.