Writing Corner: Finding Your Process

Questions that I see asked frequently are things like… How do you write a novel? Where do you start? How do you plan your books? The simple answer is that there is no one answer of how to write a novel. There are no rules. The only thing you have to do is sit down and write. But of course we know it’s more complicated that just sitting at a desk and bashing out thousands of words then sitting back, satisfied, having completed a novel.

One of the simple ways that types of writing process are defined is planners vs. pantsers.

Planners – Plan their novels extensively before starting to write their novel.

Pantsers – Don’t plan at all, or with loose outlines, and let the story go where it takes them.

Being a pantser doesn’t mean you don’t plan at all, and neither does being a planner mean your novel can’t change direction as you write.

But how do you know which method you use? And which is right for you? When it comes to the process of writing a novel, you have to find what approach works best for you.

When I started writing, I was a pantser. I’d write down vague notes about my ideas but pretty much dived straight into the writing. The problem was I never finished anything. I’d get part way through and not know where to go next, or go off on a complete tangent and not know how to get the novel back on track. So after years of writing this way and getting fed up of never finishing anything, I decided to start planning more. I planned out a novella chapter by chapter before I started writing. I wrote it in a few months. It was the first project I’d actually finished. So I decided to apply this method to a full length novel. I spent quite a while planning and researching before I started writing. And again, I managed to finish it in a few months. I’d found a process that worked for me and having spent years never finishing anything, I’ve now written five novels.

My process goes something like this. I usually have a random spark of inspiration, usually when I’m doing something everyday like having a shower or brushing my teeth. I get those ideas down on paper. Then I wait for further inspiration to strike. As more and more pieces fall into place, the ideas begin to come together in my mind. I have enough of a concept to start actively working on it. I plan out the plot, characters and world building. Often there will be some research involved before I start. For example, the fantasy novel I’m working on now is inspired by Ancient Greece and Rome, so I did some research around that to give me ideas for my own world. Once I’ve built a picture of my story, I make a chapter plan. Some chapters are planned out more than others, but I have an idea of roughly what will happen in each chapter and where I want the book to start and end. Then I begin writing.

Even though I’m a planner, there is room for spontaneity and sometimes as I write my ideas change. There’s room to flesh out characters and world building as I write, as new situations arise for the characters. But if I have an outline down on paper, it helps keep me on track.

This is the process that works for me. But every writer is different. There is no one process to writing a novel. You have to find what works for you. If your process isn’t working for you, experiment with it. Try different methods and tactics until you find a rhythm.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a planner or a pantser? I’d love to hear how other writers approach their writing, so let me know in the comments!

March 2020 Wrap Up

This has been a weird month hasn’t it? I’m now working from home. I’m lucky that I have that option and still have an income. A lot of people and businesses are struggling right now. I’m still kind of in this state of shock almost. It just doesn’t seem real. Things seemed to get bad really quickly. And it almost hasn’t sunk in that this is actually happening.

But on to more positive subject matter – reading!  

Reading

I finished reading The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas at the beginning of March. It’s a collection of prequel novellas for the Throne of Glass series. I enjoyed it and I’m glad I read it, because it did fill in what happened before Throne of Glass. But I am looking forward to getting back to the main plot, the next book in that series for me to read will be the third book, Heir of Fire.

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller was Fairyloot’s pick for their February box. As I was on holiday during the readalong, I actually had time to stick to the reading schedule and read the chapters on the scheduled days which was quite fun! Next I read A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer which I loved more than I was expecting to!

I decided I wanted a little break from reading YA, so I read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. This is the third Agatha Christie novel I’ve read and I liked it, but didn’t love it. I do want to read more of his books though, as I liked the other two books I’ve read better. Her books are quite short, easy reads, and I do love a good mystery!

Book Haul

So, yeah, I bought a few books this month… I ordered some online from Waterstones as I had filled up my stamp card and wanted to spend it while I still could…

King of Scars finally came out in paperback (the hardback was massive and heavy so I decided to wait for the paperback) and I managed to get a copy signed by Leigh Bardugo! Having only just finished A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I ordered A Heart So Fierce and Broken because I just knew I wanted to continue reading this series.

Since I didn’t have any more Agatha Christie on my shelf, I decided to order And Then There Were None so I have one lined up for the next time I fancy a mystery. I remember watching the adaptation BBC did a few years ago and thinking it was very good.

I also bought a book on Arthurian literature and legend as part of research for a new series I’m planning at the moment. It will be a retelling of the legends, so I also bought The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White as I want to read a few retellings as part of that research (plus, you know, I’ve had my eye on this book since it came out…)

Writing

I finished the second draft of the YA fantasy book I finished writing last year. I’ve sent it to a couple of writer friends to read to get some feedback before I do another draft. I’ve also started planning the aforementioned Arthurian legend retelling which I’m really excited for! All the ideas have just grown in my mind over the last few weeks. I’ve got a rough idea for a trilogy in mind, but want to do some more research around the legends themselves before I start making more detailed plans.  

Fairyloot February 2020 Unboxing

This is my second Fairyloot box and I was super excited to receive it!

Fairyloot is a UK-based YA fantasy subscription box. If you subscribe, you get a box a month which includes a hardback book and 5-6 exclusive goodies around a theme. You can subscribe monthly, or there are 3 month and 6 month pre-paid options. The monthly cost is £26. Or you can get a single purchase and just buy a one-off box.

There will be spoilers for the February box ahead!

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books With Single-Word Titles

There seem to be quite a lot of books with long, elaborate titles (e.g. A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Wrath and the Dawn) rather than short or one-word titles. I’ve decided to pick 10 books where the titles either drew me in and are part of what made me read them, or that I feel work really well with the content of the book.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova – I read this book recently, and although it wasn’t one of my favourites, the title is part of what drew me to it. The word ‘incendiary’ relates to fire and conflict which makes for an exciting-sounding title.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – This word really rolls off the tongue and sounds mysterious and captivating.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – This book is one of the best I’ve ever read. The protagonist struggles with finding her voice and speaking aloud the truth of what happened to her, so ‘speak’ is a very well-chosen title for this book.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – This is quite a metaphorical title, but is also a word used in the book. I can’t remember more, it’s been ages since I read it. But I remember thinking it was very effective.

Gone by Michael Grant – This is an incredibly simple word, but the one-syllable ‘gone’ sounds as harsh and final as what the word means. It’s a very short word but definitely one which caught my attention.

Replica by Lauren Oliver – This is a title that caught my attention, and which was very relevant to the book. Plus I did like the book too.

You by Caroline Kepnes – I read this book a few years ago now, but I remember thinking how appropriate the title is. The book is told in second person, which is really unusual.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – Although I felt the series went downhill, I did love the first book when I read it. Uglies is a very apt name for the book as it encapsulates the concepts explored in the series.

Divergent by Veronica Roth – The idea of being different is one that’s I think quite appealing for a teenage audience of people who are trying to work out who they are.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – The mockingjay is a significant symbol in the Hunger Games trilogy. In order to defeat the Capitol, Katniss has to become the mockingjay, a symbol of the rebellion.

February 2020 Wrap Up

This has been a bit of a tough month for me. There’s been a lot going on at home and so I’ve not been much in the frame of mind for writing blog posts. Hopefully things will work out but things probably won’t be great for a while.

Reading

There has been so much hype around Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin so I caved and read it. Although I wasn’t sure at first, the story and characters grew on me as I read. I didn’t really realise how much I loved this book until I’d finished it and realised how much I wanted to return to the story again. I can see myself rereading this book and am definitely excited for the sequel which is coming out this year.

I read an advanced copy of Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova – review coming soon! I’ve nearly finished reading The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. If you haven’t read a novel in verse before, I’d really recommend it, even if you don’t think poetry is your thing.

Book Haul

So I had planned on having a bit of a book buying ban this month, but then my life turned upside down. And I always end up buying books when I’m upset or down. It also doesn’t help that I can easily get to a book shop in my lunch break, making buying books easy and tempting… I ended up with Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. Having loved Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, it was a bit of a no-brainer to get the sequels Gemina and Obsidio, and I also picked up their new book Aurora Rising.

Writing

Despite everything that’s been going on, I did manage to get some writing done. I’ve started editing my YA fantasy novel. I’ve edited ten chapters so far, so fairly happy with that. I’m planning to get lots more done in March.

Book Review: Defy the Fates by Claudia Gray

Defy the Fates by Claudia Gray

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction           

Publishing Info: April 2019 by Hot Key Books

Pages: 394

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Hunted and desperate.

Abel only has one mission left that matters: save the life of Noemi Vidal. To do that, he not only has to escape the Genesis authorities, he also must face the one person in the galaxy who still has the means to destroy him. Burton Mansfield’s consciousness lives on, desperate for a home, and Abel’s own body is his last bargaining chip.

Alone in the universe.

Brought back from the brink of death, Noemi Vidal finds Abel has not only saved her life, but he’s made her into something else, something more. Not quite mech, yet not quite human any longer, Noemi must find her place in a universe where she is utterly unique, all while trying to create a world where anyone–even a mech–can be free.

The final battle between Earth and the colony planets is here, and there’s no lengths to which Earth won’t go to preserve its domination over all humanity. But together, the universe’s most advanced mech and its first human-mech hybrid might have the power to change the galaxy for good.

Defy the Fates is the final book in the Constellation trilogy and while it’s a good conclusion, it could have been better. The last book in a series is always a tough one, since the author has to wrap everything up. And while Defy the Fates wraps up all the storylines introduced in the first two books, it didn’t have the same spark.  

In the first two books, the action sequences had me on the edge of my seat, but in Defy the Fates the action scenes just weren’t as thrilling. There was too much packed into the book and a lot of it felt rushed. The writing overall also wasn’t as good, which is some of the reason the action scenes weren’t as exciting. The suspense wasn’t built as well through the writing. It felt like the book needed a bit more editing. I have a feeling that perhaps this last book was rushed out by the publisher. If the author had been given more time it could have been better. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but that’s what it felt like when I was reading the book, given how much better the first book was.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite Book Covers of 2019

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is a book cover freebie so I’ve decided to do my top 10 favourite covers from books released in 2019. There are so many stunning covers out there, these are just 10 that stand out to me in particular. I haven’t actually read any of these books yet but I have some of them on my shelf waiting to be read.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – This cover is just stunning. I love that the character isn’t just static; it’s a great action pose that really brings it to life.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – This cover is illustrated by Charlie Bowater, who is getting a name for illustrating really gorgeous YA book covers.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – The colours and fonts used on this cover are really eye-catching. Also that title is so intriguing. I really want to read this one.

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