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!

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.

January 2020 Wrap Up

The start of 2020 could have gone better. I began the new year and the new decade with a cold. The rest of this gloomy month hasn’t been great either, but on the plus side I have managed to do quite a bit of reading.

Reading

I finished reading A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas at the beginning of the month and loved it! Her stories just really manage to draw me in; I’ve totally fallen for her books. I gave my first 5 stars of the year to Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. It’s so creative and visual, and I enjoyed reading something that used such different storytelling techniques. Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao came in Illumicrate’s December box. Although I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it as much as other YA fantasy books I’ve read. Finally I finished reading Claudia Gray’s Defy the Fates, the final book in the Constellation trilogy. It wasn’t as good as the first book, but I still loved returning to the characters and seeing how their story ended. Now I’ve just started reading Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

Book Haul

I got two books this month from Illumicrate. The first is an exclusive edition of The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag with sprayed edges, which is absolutely gorgeous. The other was a bonus book – Infinity Son by Adam Silvera.

Writing

Having finished the first draft of my YA fantasy book at the end of December, I decided to have a few weeks break from writing so that I could come back to edit it with fresh eyes. Over the last week or so I’ve been making notes of things I need to work on or change, and am now ready to start work on the second draft! I’m excited to return to working on it, as I’ve really loved building this world and being immersed in the story.

December 2019 Wrap Up

It’s the start of a new year and a new decade! And I’m seeing it in with a horrendous cold… I’ve spent most of the last few days in bed and not left the house since Thursday, so I’m feeling a tad fed up at the moment.

I can’t believe it’s the end of a decade. So much has happened in the last ten years, good and bad. In 2009 I had major surgery. I’ve had two flare ups in my Crohn’s disease since then but have been well for the last two and a half years thanks to some new medication. So my health has been very up and down. I finished high school, did A Levels, went to uni, got a degree, passed my driving test and got my first full time job. In this decade I’ve also written five novels and one novella which is absolutely amazing. All I need to do now is get editing so I can start querying and pursue my publishing dreams!

I’m still feeling really rough so I’ll just focus on December 2019 in this post, rather than doing a whole year or decade wrap up!

Reading

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman ended up being one of my favourites from this year. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, but the spooky atmosphere and interesting characters really drew me in.

I don’t read short stories very often. I much prefer novels. So I’ve been reading bits of The Bane Chronicles here and there rather than all in one go. I’ve also been reading The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas which is a collection of prequel novellas. I’m about halfway through those.

Currently I’m reading A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas so there’ll be a review of that to come soon!

Book Haul

At the beginning of the month I got a set of 10 stamps on my Waterstones card thanks to buying Christmas presents, so that was a great excuse to buy books for myself! I bought Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I’m not sure why I didn’t pick this book up sooner. It looks really unique and totally up my street. I also bought A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I’ve heard a lot about this book this year so I’m hoping it lives up to the hype.

I got two books for Christmas – the Collector’s Edition of Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas which is absolutely gorgeous, and Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao.

Writing

This month has been a great month for writing! I finished the first draft of the YA fantasy novel I’ve been working on this year! I wasn’t sure I was going to finish it by the end of the year but I just managed to finish it before I got struck down with this horrible cold. The task for 2020 will be to work on editing it. I already have a list of things in mind that I need to go back and develop so I’m actually quite excited to begin working on a second draft.

Thanks to everyone who has read my blog this year. I hope you’ve been enjoying the content I’ve been posting. If there’s anything different you’d like to see, I’m always welcome to suggestions of how I can develop and improve my blog!

Happy New Year!

November 2019 Wrap Up

This month has been fairly quiet so I’ve managed to get a decent amount of reading and writing done, and also wrote several blog posts for this month too. I’ve made a start on Christmas shopping but still have quite a few things left to buy. It’s my choir’s winter concert next weekend so I should probably do some more practicing this weekend!

Reading

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was a little disappointing. I didn’t love it and I just think it wasn’t the right book for me. I finally got round to reading Defy the Worlds, the sequel to Claudia Gray’s Defy the Stars, which I absolutely loved. Although I didn’t like it quite as much, the sequel is still thrilling and a great read! I requested one eARC from Netgalley – A Throne of Swans by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr. The world building is great, but other aspects weren’t so strong, and I ended up being disappointed by this one too.

Book Haul

This month I only bought one book and it’s due to arrive in the post today! When I was looking at Black Friday deals on Amazon I discovered the 10th Anniversary edition of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare at half price so made an impulse purchase. I love Cassandra Clare’s books and City of Bones will always be special as the first of her books that I read.

Writing

I only have a few chapters left to write in my current WIP and I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the year! I’ve been a bit stuck on another novel that I’ve been redrafting for the last couple of years. Something about it just wasn’t gelling, but I randomly had a massive idea last night that would radically change it, but might just make it work. It’s a story I love so I would really like to try and get it published one day once everything clicks into place. It’s nearly there, it just needs something.  

I can’t believe there’s only one month to go in 2019. This year seems to have gone really fast.  

Writing Corner: Is My Book YA?

For today’s Writing Corner, I’m going to talk about categorising your novel by age. I see a lot of people on Twitter and forums who aren’t sure where their novel fits, or how much it matters. If you want to be published, it does matter, because that is how the publishing industry categorises fiction, but don’t get too hung up on it.

Middle grade (MG)

MG is generally written for, and features characters, aged from around 8 to 13 years old. These books are usually shorter than young adult books, and don’t have as much romance or violence. They often (but not always) have fun adventures and although they can touch on more serious subject matter, don’t explore it in as much detail as young adult books.

Young adult (YA)

YA is aimed roughly at those aged 13-18, with characters in that same age range, though characters are most commonly 15-18 years old. YA explores more serious subject matter than MG, including more mature content, with romance playing a much bigger role. YA also has more self-reflection and focuses more on the personal evolution of a central character. These novels are often coming of age, looking at the ups and downs of being a teenager. They can explore relationships, sex, mental illness, death etc. far more than MG. As well as this, they can often present more of a reflection on our society and current issues, and explore the characters finding their place in the world.

Read More »

October 2019 Wrap Up

This month seems to have been really busy. I went on my first trip abroad with friends which was great. We went to Amsterdam, which is a really beautiful and interesting city. I also ordered my first Fairyloot box – the October ‘Love at First Bite’ box. More on that to come in my unboxing post soon.

Reading

This month I read The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh (an eARC received through NetGalley) and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Both are authors I have read and enjoyed before. I loved both books and gave them solid 4 stars, although I’d say Six of Crows is stronger in terms of the writing quality. The Beautiful is an alluring and mysterious historical novel set in 1800s New Orleans with vampires! Meanwhile Six of Crows is a heist novel set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse. I’m super excited to see her characters brought to life on TV (Netflix are adapting her books!). I’ve also started reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell which I’m about halfway through so far.

Book Haul

I bought four books this month, all from Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass series. I read the first two on Kindle but I loved them so much I really wanted to read the rest as physical copies. When I love a book, I like to be able to see it on my shelf!

Writing

I’ve continued working on my current WIP which is a YA fantasy. I’m now about halfway through the book and enjoying immersing myself in this new world. As it’s a first draft I’m trying not to dwell too much on getting in perfect and just get some words down on paper. I can always go back and edit it later.

This month has been pretty busy but I still managed to get some reading and writing done so I can be pretty happy with that.