I’ve already published a few pieces dealing with the mechanics of writing, combinations of things I’ve personally learnt and advice purloined from elsewhere that is just too good not to share.
In line with these existing posts, I’m starting a fortnightly, maybe weekly if inspiration strikes, series of posts related to the craft of writing. These will all be original content posts, (no re-posts or short ‘picture and inspirational quote’ meme posts) and will all be linked by the Under the Hood category that you can peruse by the menus on the right side of this page. Looking under the novel’s hood as it were.
My goal is to help aspiring authors, struggling writers, and frustrated self-publishers. Along the way, I’m hoping to cement my own craft and maybe expand my reach. I only ask that if you find something worthwhile that you share it amongst your own networks.
For the starting writer, there are just so many things you should know. Preparation, proper grammar, research, writing, genre rules, editing, design and eventually publishing are all scary steps towards either authorship or alcoholism. Sadly before you start you can’t actually know which things you need to know. This catch 22 means you really have 4 options…
- Don’t start. That way quitting lies.
- Don’t start until you’ve finished. That way madness lies
- Start anyway and just remember that life = pain
- Make use of the pain, sweat, tears and caffeine poisoning that others have endured before you.
Now before you get started, repeat after me…
ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn
Sights and Sounds
Everyone likes a view, cityscapes, forests and the ocean can all be a source of creativity, but if it’s not an option put up some posters that are going to inspire you to hammer out those words. The same goes for sounds, some people find them inspiring and do their best writing to music, the sounds of nature or the cacophony of the city. For others, sound just gets in the way. Work out what is right for you.
If you write during the day make sure you have lots of natural light. There is nothing better for the creative mind (and mental health) than getting enough natural daylight. If you write at night make sure your light source doesn’t buzz or flicker. Some people get headaches just from the fluorescent lights, others don’t care.
Whether you’re working under natural light or artificial make sure your not being blinded by it. A nice cheat can be to write out things on paper during the day and transfer/edit that to your computer at night. Think of it as a quick and dirty revision process.
If you can’t sit still, are being sat on by pets, or ache, you’re not going to be getting a lot of work done. You don’t necessarily need a desk, a bean-bag and notepad might be right for you, just make sure your body won’t be constantly disturbing your mind.
Avoid them. Lock off facebook and Tumblr (there are apps for that) leave you phone in the other room and uninstall games from your work computer. Make sure you have the option of locking off your space to really get lost in the writing process.
Your reference books and materials should be kept close at hand. You don’t want to have to break your flow by taking the time to search through other rooms for what you need.
There are two schools of thought on this. One is to keep everything nearby. Carrot sticks or other
not so healthy items just an arms length away. Again so you don’t break your flow. The other school of thought is to keep those snacks the hell away from your keyboard/notes. Not only does this avoid the inevitable “hey what happened to the rest of the packet?” moments, but it also means you are regularly getting up to stretch your legs and in doing so get the blood and creative juices flowing. If you’re anything like me you’ll get up and boil the jug three or four times before actually remembering to make the coffee before it gets cold again.
If you can do it, your idea is too simple! Well, that’s one school of thought anyway.
Yet the tagline can be an important selling tool, especially if you do it in that really cool movie voice over. Or maybe Morgan Freeman. Try it…
… utter garbage, and it still sounds cool.
So single sentence tagline in 25 words or less… maybe 30 words or less depending on who you ask. It could be that your tagline is the first thing that comes to mind, a cool sentence from which inspiration seeps like the tears of angels (angels being notoriously emo). It could be the last thing you do. You’ve finished your story, and you’ve summarised it to check for coherence, then you summarise that for an overview, then you summarise that for a logline or back page blurb. Then you can summarise that for a Tag Line and see if any of your intellectual offspring has survived the condensing process.
So for Dead Girl I’ve come up with the short summary, the teaser trailer for novels..
“Rebeca had always known she was meant for greater things, but her killer had other ideas. Now trapped on the border between life and death, her eyes have been opened to a previously hidden world. Murdered, marked as unnatural, surrounded by predators and trapped in a decaying body, can she survive the Unseen World?”
…but the Tagline? That’s still in the wind.
Maybe “Life’s hard, then you die and it gets worse” OR “Even the dead need a holiday”
Some great movie taglines (not always attached to great movies).