Tag Archives: writing courses

Starting a Novel: Tips, Tricks, & A Little Chaos

11 Jul

I recently finished a major revision on a manuscript. Typically that calls for a well-deserved break, to which I shake my fists at, because I am a write-aholic, and I love nothing more than to immediately jump into my next, shiny, new project. That’s right. 

I already started another novel. 

Why did I already start another book? Well, for one, I’ve been working on the aforementioned revision for six months. It’s been a bit, and I’ve been dying to oil my creative gears and discover something new, whether that be a fresh, exciting world or a character that shocks me. I also know that a writer should never put their writing dreams into one book. If my revision doesn’t work out, well, I need something else, don’t I? Might as well get on that. 

So how does someone start a novel?

Quick answer: It’s different for every writer and often every project. Some of my projects are more outlined than others. Some come to me in a blink; others fight me the whole way. But there are ways you can enhance your chances for success. 

Here are those tips: 

  1. Set Yourself Up Before You Begin

On any given day, I’m working on about three novels. One that I’m revising, one that I’m writing, and one that I’m outlining. Because my recent revision was more of a rewrite, it had been taking up both my revising and writing focus—so, when I turned that in, I had space available for one of the novels I’ve been outlining. (I currently have three strong contenders.) These three ideas have been rattling around in my brain for a while. (One I recently came up with only a few weeks ago; another is based on an idea I actually started drafting when I was 14. That’s right, the idea is 15 years old! But now I’m giving away my age. Always keep your notes.)

By having notes ahead of time, you won’t feel burdened by the blank page, because, well, you aren’t starting on a blank page. You’re starting with bursts of character, fun dialogue snippets, exciting scenes, and more.

2. Research, Research, Research

Research comes into the writing process at different stages for everyone. For example, when I write my fantasy novels, research might not come into play until the later drafting stages. I typically write the book, realize the type of research it needs, then do that. My science fiction novels are the complete opposite. I need to know how certain technologies work long before I start writing, or I’m going to have a mess on my hands. Same thing with the historical novel I wrote. Research happened before writing. Significant research. Knowing what sort of project you are writing and how research will affect the project is important. If you aren’t sure, go ahead and jot down a couple topics you know are in your story but you don’t know that much about. Next time you’re having a writer’s block day, guess what? You now have something to do. Better to research earlier on and prevent a blundering plot hole than to write an entire book and realize the premise is flawed. Amiright?

3. Start Writing that FIRST Draft 

Write however you want to. Write messy. Write in order. Just write. Right now, I’ve been writing in one of those three fun ideas I’ve had laying around, and I’m still at the stage where I’m writing snippets all over the place. I wrote Chapter One – Six, and then I went back and added a short prologue, flipped three chapters, and started outlining the rest. I have one document titled ORGANIZEDwhich includes notes I can put in order by scene, and one called UNORGANIZED, which is my chaos document. I have no idea where these snippets will go or even if I’ll use them, but I love them and hope to use them as the book shapes up. 

A sneak peek behind the curtains

Basically, my Scrivener project looks like a mess right now, but I’ve been here a dozen times before. I trust that it will come together as it should. I trust the process. I trust me. If you don’t trust yourself to write or finish, then you’re still at the stage of your writing career where you’re figuring out what your process is and how to go about it, and that’s totally valid. Try different times of the day. Experiment with new writing methods. Are you used to plotting? Go ahead and be a pantser for the afternoon. Play with a new genre you’ve never tried before. Explore, and eventually you’ll find an adventure worth pursuing. If you’re struggling with meeting your goals, try NaNoWriMo, setting goals, or using tools like PaceMaker Planner

At the end of the day, you’re at the start line, not the finish line, so treat it as such. You shouldn’t be comparing your new words to someone’s edited words. Remember: This is your first draft. You can be as messy as you need to be in order to figure out what your book is about—as long as you plan on revising later. And guess what? No matter how perfect you think your first draft is, you will have to revise, so embrace the moment. 

Start writing your novel today.  

~SAT

P.S. For more tips and tricks on starting a novel, I will be teaching a FREE virtual class on Monday, July 27 at 6:30 PM (CST). More information: Starting a Writing Project. It is taught through ZOOM. Go ahead and register, and I will see you there! 

Website Wonders

27 Jun

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of June’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Fiction, Illustrations, and Photography/Film.

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Favorite Article:

Crap someone should have told you writers by now by Rebecca T. Dickson: I loved this list of truths for writers. It’s humbling and encouraging, while also explaining how things really are.

Writing:

57 Tips For Writers, From Writers “The hardest part is believing in yourself at the notebook stage. It is like believing in dreams in the morning.” – Erica Jong

Chekhov’s Gun: How To Use It When Writing Your Novel: An interesting plot device often overlooked (but easily overused)

The Four Undramatic Plot Structures: I really enjoyed this infographic. It cracked me up.

Fiction:

13350382_1054368928003537_6252562232697559884_o20 Amazing J.R.R. Tolkien-Inspired Tattoos 

What’s The Fastest (Fictional) Spaceship In The Universe? 

Illustrations:

Untranslatable Words from Marija Tiurina: Such a beautiful collection of art! 

Artist Turns Everyday Sayings Into Clever Pun Illustrations: Take Control was my favorite.

Photography/Film:

40+ Astonishing Photographs Of The World That Steal Your Heart Immediately. I love photography, and this is a great collection

Japanese Couple Beautifully Captures Their Cats Watching Them Eat! I love cats. This is perfection.

Fantasy of Flight captured in photo shoots: Gorgeous photos of people flying

Where the Sounds From the World’s Favorite Movies Are Born: An awesome video!

See you next month!

~SAT

What are readers already saying about Bad Bloods?

“November Rain was thrilling and exciting and gets readers excited for more. It really focuses on the attributes of family, friends and loyalty, which was really refreshing to see in a dystopian novel. I will definitely be continuing on with this duology.” – Ronnie’s World Blog

Clean Teen Publishing is throwing a Facebook party on July 8 from 6-8 PM (EST), where you can win prizes and chat with authors. Click here to join.

CTP's Sizzling Summer Reads FB Party

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

#WW Website Wonders

25 May

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of May’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Reading, and Exploring.

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Favorite Article: What is Your Magic Number? by Kristin Nelson

Kristin Nelson, as many writers know, is a literary agent (Nelson Literary Agency), and she’s a genius. She writes #PubRants and other helpful articles and tidbits to help writers get out there and stay confident. This article is a perfect example of that. It’s short, sweet, and too the point. Nearly everyone writes numerous manuscripts before getting published, and almost no one is an overnight success. I love her honesty and sincerity. Definitely recommended.

Writing:

37 Free Online Writing Courses From Top Universities: For those looking for an awesome place to learn

The Shape of Stories (infographic) Every story you love can be retold with one of eight sentences

21 Pieces of Handwriting So Perfect They Are Borderline Erotic: I have terrible handwriting, so this almost killed me with envy.

How To Write (infographic)

22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing: Write your heart out.

Love this mug!

Love this mug!

Reading:

7 Books to Make You a Better Critical Thinker

The Top Ten Literary Love Quotes: “Each time you happen to me all over again.” – Edith Wharton

10 Ancient Books That Promise Supernatural Powers: Because why not?

Exploring:

22 Breathtaking Photos of Abandoned Places: I love abandoned places. They are perfect settings for novels (or simply perfect for stirring the imagination).

Mindblowing Photographs of the Last Surviving Tribes on Earth

I’m still posting my usual Saturday post this week, and then, of course, the Ketchup (“catch up”) post on Monday.

After that, see you in June!

~SAT

GoodreadsGiveawaySign up to win a Bad Bloods paperback in this Goodreads GiveawayI mean, who doesn’t want a free paperback? This was also this week’s Teaser Tuesday, but regular ones will continue next week. If you want SIGNED paperbacks, read my news below!

Come see me at the Barnes & Noble for B-Fest in Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, KS on Saturday, June 11 from 1-3 PM for a book signing and author panel. More info on my Events page.

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

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