Tag Archives: writing

How to begin writing a novel

Yesterday, I had a meeting with the local Writers Club again. One of our new members wants to start a book but doesn’t know where to begin. When I  myself decided to write, I just started. The first scene I wrote happened in the middle of the story (which I only discovered later), but this doesn’t work for everyone (and I wouldn’t suggest it either). Fortunately, I recently read about the snowflake method and could recommend it.

The Snowflake Method of Writing

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With this method, you start with one sentence which depicts the core of your story. In the next step, you expand that one sentence into a paragraph, outlining what happens in your story. Setup, major disasters, resolution. Next, you do this for each of your characters. If you don’t have a development for your characters during your story, your readers will find your characters flat and can’t connect with them which you don’t want. It also will give you more to write about as the direction of development for each character won’t always go along the same line, pace, direction. The fourth step is to expand each sentence into a whole paragraph. Next, you will be expanding what you’ve got even further. Once you’ve got the basic storyline, make a chart of the scenes. Each scene will have to depict a development. If there is no development in a scene (good turns bad, ideas change, emotions change), delete it as it is just page filler. You now put in more and more details, until you have a full story. An article in which it is explained in more detail can be found here.

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This is how I sort of began my third book, Killing A Vampire. I know the characters in it, I know what is going to happen, and how it’s going to end (I must admit this took me a while to figure out), but I didn’t know what was going to happen in between the major plot twists. I used Scrivener’s corkboard and note cards to layout the chapters/scenes.

I actually used the word count as a basis. Both my other books are about 72K words, so I wanted my third book to be at least this size. They both have about 60 chapters, so I created 60 note cards. It also meant that each chapter/note card needed to be about 1200 words. Then I started filling in on each card what would happen in that chapter. Sometimes I write more words, sometimes I write less. The good thing about Scrivener is that you can move the cards around as you please. Overal I want to stick to the 1200 words, so readers can read the short chapters while they have a little time to read and not have to cut off their reading while something major is happening.

It’s perhaps not as creative as some ‘on the fly’ writers write, but I’ve been thinking for a long time about this story and, even though I know in advance where the story is going, the how is still created only once I sit down and write. I just don’t have to think about the why and where anymore, which I feel is like a weight off my shoulders.

If you have a different way of starting a novel, let me know. I’m all ears 🙂

PS: Talking about ears, my hearing aids are working fine again after the swimming pool disaster last Monday!

 

Everything You Expect From A Vampire Book!

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I just found out I have another review for Raising A Vampire! This time the reviewer is from closer to home (Aberdeenshire). Boris must have seen my add on a local Facebook page 🙂 . Here’s what he said:

4.0 out of 5 stars Bloodsucking, romance and betrayal

“Set a few years after the first book, Kate and Charlie’s daughter Sue is now 8 years old but looks twice that age. Sue’s true nature is revealed when she defends her mother from an attack. Soon they find themselves held prisoner in a facility especially designed for suckers. There’s bloodsucking, romance and betrayal: in short everything you would expect from a vampire book.”

Glad you enjoyed it, Boris, and thank you so much for the review!

It’s official! Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy is being written!

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This morning I turned my social media off and opened Scrivener to begin writing the last installment of the Suckers Trilogy. Two hours later, chapter one is written.

It is such relief. I have waited so long to do this. The main story line exists in my head, but I can’t wait to flesh it out ‘on paper’ and find out where my characters are taking me this time. I may have the ending plotted, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get there. Kate may take a completely different route. Who knows?

I’ll try and keep you up to date (without any spoilers) of my trials and tribulations on this final epic journey of Kate and her family.

If you haven’t had the chance yet to get acquainted with Kate, now is your chance. Book 1 of the Trilogy is on SALE, but only until the 16th of September. You can get your copy on Amazon or KOBO.

Fantastic Song As Powerful As A Novel

Arsonist’s Lullaby by Hozier

As I’ve just finished Book 2 of the Suckers Trilogy, I’ve already been looking out for songs to play while writing Book 3. As it’s going to be the grand finale of the trilogy, it’s going to be a lot darker than the first two books. Hence, the music is going to be dark as well.

I hadn’t heard of Hozier until his song Take Me To Church, which always reminds me of the Amazon series Preacher. I don’t know how I came upon the song Arsonist’s Lullaby, probably a follow-up on the YouTube list of Brothers Bright. It just sang out to me.

The song starts with two verses, followed by the chorus, and alternating a verse and chorus twice thereafter. If you follow the structure of a novel, this is comparable with the beginning, the middle, and the end. However, the beginning has two verses instead of one. That’s the hook. The story told in those two verses draw you in. What happens next? You want to hear the next verse.

Each verse can be seen as a chapter and has a character arch. Next to this, the verses tell the story of a man as he grows up. ‘When I was a child…’ is the start of the first and second verse. ‘When I was sixteen…’ is the opening line of the second verse, and the final verse starts with ‘When I was a man…’ Chronological story telling, working toward the climax of the present. What is he now, if not a man?

The chorus is the bit that intrigues me the most.

All you have is your fire
And the place you need to reach
Don’t you ever tame your demons
But always keep them on a leash

The first sentence speaks of a very deep loneliness, the second of a need that helps to fill that loneliness. Why is he lonely? What is that place he needs to reach? The third and fourth sentence tell you about the darkness that surrounds this man. Why is he in this dark place? Why doesn’t he want to kill his demons?

The music begins with the acapella humming of a choir, quickly replaced by a powerful beat that stays steady throughout the whole song. It’s the backbone and gives the song its strength. When the chorus starts the first time, only angelic singing is added in the background, giving it an ominous feel. At the start of the third verse, maniacal piano tunes replace the choir and as the singer talks about the birth of an arsonist, it gives the song a destructive edge. Last verse is intensified by the voice of the singer, but ever so slightly, and the addition of cymbals. The drama of the song ends in the simplicity of only the voice of the singer and the beat, back where it began but with a history that is tangible.

You like Hozier’s voice or you don’t. I think it is perfect for this song as there is a lament to it that not everyone has. It adds drama and depth.

All in all awesome!

If only I could write a book as good as this song.

Kudos to VeritasProductions who edited her video (season 2 of Daredevil) to the beat. Her timing is perfect. I’m definitely going to watch the episodes now  🙂 .

 

Keep Calm and Write On

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As I am preparing for my first ever book launch and realizing how little I know and how unprepared I am for this process, articles like the one below give me hope.

By the way, I still post articles to my Flipboard magazines. The article is from my Writer’s Corner, but check out the new articles in Pretty Pictures, Sci-Non-Fi, Heath Herald, and Focus on Filming.

Writing Insights Part One: Becoming A Writer by The Wayfinder

Image: A Divine Humour (Creative Commons)

Header Image: Thought Catalog

Light Up The Night!

I accidentally came across this little video by Peter Dinklage. You must know by now I love Peter Dinklage’s work. I collected some of his movies where he plays a major role, like ‘The Station Agent,’ ‘Death at a Funeral,’ ‘Pete Smalls is Dead,’ and ‘Knights of Badassdom.’ It is a fraction of what he has done, but I love his work in these. Not to mention he plays a major role in my books of course 😀 . The text and video below shows his tenacity for doing what he loves and it is a great example and boost for all who want to achieve their dream.

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 The video is about being an actor, but it could just as well apply to being a writer. It gave me the boost not to wait until everything is perfect and advertise my books. I haven’t done this so far as I didn’t think they were perfect yet. They’re close, but there’s always room for improvement 🙂 . Having a chat with another author yesterday evening and hearing how her book got completely changed by her publisher (yes, she’s got one!), I realized that it doesn’t matter my work isn’t perfect. I can advertise it and let people read my work as is. They’ll love it or hate it, but at least they’ll read it. Try and fail, then try again and fail bigger! Reach for the sky and the world is yours 🙂

Enjoy the video.

Fingers crossed!

I just provisionally signed the rights away for two of my stories, ‘Vampires Anonymous’ and ‘Rumour has it…,’ to #Create50! They will have the rights to publish for two years should they pick my story/stories from the one hundred and eighty-two shortlisted entries as one of the fifty winners for inclusion in their anthology, Twisted50 Vol.2. They have so many stories to chose from, they may even include them in a Vol.3. So fingers crossed!

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Discover Ivy Logan

I met Ivy through the One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Facebook Page. She contacted me and asked me to write a guest blog for her website about writers and technology. As I was just told by crime writer Wendy H. Jones at the creative writing workshop in Elgin ‘say yes to everything,’ I said, “Yes, of course!”

I had asked Ivy to give me a week to write the article. The next morning I was still in bed when inspiration hit me and I wrote three-quarters of the text. I had wanted to finish it two days later, but my back pain stopped me from sitting behind my computer. It actually stopped me from sitting and I spent most of the day lying in bed. Yesterday, I finally got some painkillers that worked and I was able to finish my article. I enjoyed writing it.

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The article is called ‘Do writers need to be tech-savvy?’ and you can read the full article on Ivy’s blog here.  She also has another website (this one) where you can find out more about her books and the characters in it.

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Ivy is a passionate character that likes a good laugh and lives for her storytelling. As my father took his time when tucking us girls in at night to answer our questions like ‘why does the world turn?’ and ‘how can fish breathe under water?,’ Ivy’s father would mesmerize his daughters with stories of fantastical worlds and mystic creatures (bless our fathers). She has taken all that on board and is now telling stories of her own. Have a browse on her website and find out more about this new upcoming author.

Image by Anton Ponomarev from Unsplash, edited by Jacky Dahlhaus

Anton Ponomarev

Text Neck – A Writer’s Pain?

I hadn’t heard about ‘Text Neck’ until yesterday. I have been suffering a pain in my upper back, right between my shoulder blades, for four days now. It is most painful when I look down. Not only annoying in daily life but as a writer particularly so when you want to position your fingers correctly on your keyboard or text on your mobile phone. I’ve seen a chiropractor for the problem yesterday. She mentioned one of my legs is longer than the other, loosened up my wrists, and stuck her finger in my mouth ‘to clear my sinuses.’ I left with the same pain in my back. Still in agony, I managed to see the emergency doctor at my GP clinic. ‘Take some aspirin,’ she said. I did, and my pain is still there.

I was very disappointed in these health professionals. The chiropractor didn’t do anything to relieve my pain, the GP wasn’t interested in what caused it. Holistic healthcare doesn’t seem to exist anymore. So I did some research online to find out what was causing my pain and what I could do about it. That’s when I read about ‘Text Neck.’

What is Text Neck?

Text Neck is a repetitive strain injury of the ligaments and muscles in your neck and upper back that keep your head upright. It is primarily seen in young people who use their mobile phones frequently.  People have looked down to read books in the past, but using mobile phones has added to this looking down and often for a substantially more frequent and longer period at a time.

What causes Text Neck?

As we look at our mobile phones, laptops, or tablets to connect with our social media, we look down. It’s this looking down that puts extra strain on the ligaments and muscles in our neck and upper back. Our head weighs about 5-6 kgs. Some people boast of having more brains than others, but let’s not go there now. When we tip our head forward and down, the feel of our head weight increases for our tendons and muscles. The image below gives you an indication of how heavy your head can feel to them.

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The more you let your head hang down to look at your phone, the heavier it gets. Some people get neck pain, some people (like me) get upper back pain, some people get (chronic) headaches. The pain particularly happens when you put your head in the compromising position. I must admit I use my mobile a lot. I Tweet, WhatsApp, Hangout, and use Facebook on my phone. I’ve recently been looking at Instagram too. You have to ‘spread the word of your existence and your books’ as a writer, don’t you? The worst part for me is that it affects my writing on my PC as looking down on my keyboard is extremely painful.

How can you treat Text Neck?

The first thing that needs to be done is to treat the pain and inflammation. The pain is the most common reason people seek out professional help and this should be the first thing they should treat (not stick fingers in mouths to unblock sinuses). It is best to see your GP for this.

Next, your posture should be assessed and corrected. A physiotherapist seems to be the best health professional for this. They can do the physical assessment and give you muscle strengthening, posture correcting, and stretching exercises to ease the current condition, promote healing, and to prevent it from recurring.

What you can do (as a writer) at home is the following:

  • Keep your PC screen and mobile device at eye level
  • Keep your ears above your shoulders, your shoulders above your hips when you’re sitting
  • Keep both feet on a solid surface
  • Take regular breaks from your sitting position
  • Do regular exercises to stretch and strengthen your core muscles
  • Limit your time on your mobile device
  • Learn touch typing

It is also worth noting here how sitting for long periods of time affect our bodies negatively in the long run. There are multiple articles on this topic that are interesting and they are sending out a warning to all people with sitting jobs.

So, do you still want to be a writer? 😀

 

Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional (at least, not for humans) and all my information was gathered from the internet.

Sources:

https://www.spine-health.com/blog/modern-spine-ailment-text-neck

https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/how-avoid-text-neck-overuse-syndrome

http://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/text-neck

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2014/nov/24/text-neck-how-smartphones-damaging-our-spines

https://www.spine-health.com/blog/modern-spine-ailment-text-neck

 

Banner photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Unplash, edited by Jacky Dahlhaus

Clem Onojeghuo

Born to be a Writer

Or: Having an Exercise Intolerance

I’m sure I heard Irony giggle when I did my back in due to an exercise in the gym. I have tried again and again to get fit, with little luck so far. I’ll give you a list of what happened over the years.

  1. As a toddler, I have never been able to touch my toes (still can’t, never will), much to the annoyance of my ballet teacher.
  2. Inter-(primary)school running race:  A toddler crossed my path and I had to dive over it to avoid it. I still have the scars to show for it.
  3. Fencing at uni: I was diagnosed with, I kid you not, exercise intolerance. I now have a puffer I never use.
  4. I tried a boot camp: tore a ligament in my foot.
  5. I tried swimming: got calcifications in my shoulder tendons, first left then right side.
  6. Tried boot camp again: got shin splints in both legs.
  7. Bought a treadmill, so I could at least walk. But my Achilles tendons have shortened so much that even walking, i.e. lifting my feet beyond a 90-degree angle, is painful. I also have Hallux limitus (my big toe joint can’t bend normally), so can’t wear high heals either. It appears I can’t beat them but also can’t join them.
  8. Tried going to the gym: did my back in, twice (did the same thing last year).

So you see, I don’t have good experiences exercising. The problem is that I need to exercise if I don’t want to get morbidly obese. I just got my weight back to the border of healthy, but now, with this back problem preventing me from exercising, I don’t know how long this is going to stay there.

I could eat less. I suppose I could. I certainly don’t need the amount of calories with my sitting lifestyle. But food is nice. I like food. Especially the high calories stuff. I certainly have a choice to make here.

In the meantime, I’ll have some ibuprofen, some diazepam (why not get happy as well 🙂 ), and stick my cherry pit bag into the microwave for the zillionth time. Can’t live without my cherry pit bag at the moment.

Get your own  Cherry pit bags yellow/white Floral (24×24) Cherry pit pillow.

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Banner photo by Keit Trysh, from Unsplash

Keit Trysh