The 20 Stages Of Writing

  1. Have a brilliant idea for a story – just as you are about to fall asleep.
  2. Spend the next day trying to remember it.
  3. Spend the next three weeks formulating the plot in your head.  You know exactly how it will pan out.  You have the perfect opening scene in your head. This is it, this will be your breakout book.
  4. Finally sit down to write – churn out 1000 words.
  5. Delete.
  6. Re-write it all again exactly the same – maybe it will seem better this time.
  7. It doesn’t.
  8. Bang your head on the wall whilst repeating the mantra “It’s only the first draft.”
  9. Re-start and plough on regardless, even though your soul is dying with each word you write.
  10. Think of a brilliant plot twist – will mean re-writing most of it.
  11. Spend 2 hours researching some obscure fact on the internet. Somehow go off on a tangent and watch panda videos for 3 hours.
  12. Write more
  13. Think of another brilliant scene – for the WIP that has been largely ignored for the past 6 months.  You must write it NOW so you discard the current opus to work on the other WIP.
  14. Eventually return to your new WIP with renewed energy.
  15. The end is in sight. Your fingers are flying over the keyboard, spelling, punctuation and grammar be damned you just want to get your ideas down. 
  16. Done. Finally.
  17. Ignore it for a few weeks so that you can look at it with fresh eyes. 
  18. What is this crap? What was I on? Oh that bit is quite good actually – shame it needs editing out as it doesn’t fit in with the plot twist.  Oh my god, this is the worst thing I have ever written.
  19. Cry.
  20. Repeat.

Ahh, we love writing really.

 

 

**The opening for my current WIP can be found on the features page**

 

Where is Mr Motivator when you need him?

I have found myself somewhat lacking in motivation of late. A series of bereavements, a new job and generally being unwell can do that to a person. I felt quite ashamed when I logged on to my WordPress this morning and found I’d not updated it since February. February! I’m so sorry for neglecting you blog, there there (pat pat).

So, realising I need a metaphorical kick up the bottom, I have compiled a list of tips to motivate me.

Have a REALISTIC goal – If your goal is to write the next Harry Potter, then forget it. You are more than likely setting yourself up to fail. Your goal is to write a novel/novella/short story. My goal is to have the first draft for Bad Girl written by the start of September. There, I’ve said it. I am also going to update my blog once a week.

Focus – Yeah, this is one I struggle on. I actually have three projects on the go. Bad Girl (which is the sequel to A Good Man), Looking for Mr Wright (which started out as a romantic comedy, but I’ve just killed a character off so…) and Spice (which is a YA story about a group of year 11 boys entering the end of year talent show.) Bad Girl will be my main focus, but I will dabble in the other two when I feel like I need a break from it.

Take a break – There is no point in flogging a dead horse. If you are stuck on a scene, or if inspiration isn’t striking you, do something else. Edit that story you wrote ages ago. Work on that project you started two years ago. Going back to it with fresh eyes will make a world of difference. Note to self – taking a break does NOT mean playing Temple Run for two hours.

Remind yourself as to why you are doing it – I love writing. Plain and simple.

The first draft is just a draft – I know this. I do. Really. That doesn’t stop me from getting stuck on a scene because I’m not happy with it. I then get de-motivated and stop. I need to give myself a shake and remind myself of this sometimes. OK, quite often actually. I need to stop obsessing over each scene. It’s the first draft. It’s allowed to be a pile of poop.

Listen to music – I find music a great motivator. Not so much when I am writing – I find I get distracted and break out in to a song and dance routine – but when I am plotting I find it useful.  Sometimes songs have actually inspired stories, such is the case with Spice (You can probably guess what the boys are going to do in the talent show.)

Read – Reading is my favourite pastime and reading others’ work is a great way to motivate yourself. There are downsides. When I read a really good book  I feel de-moralised when I realise I can’t write as good as that. On the flip side, when I read a rubbish book and I mean I’ve read some howlers, I start to be plagued by self doubt – am I as bad as that? It’s time to use that self-doubt and channel it in to my editing process. Yes, Lizzie, the editing processing. Don’t obsess over the first draft.

Be flexible – I need to realise that I can’t write every day, I don’t have the chance. I need to “book” my writing time in advance and I need to make it count. I know I won’t get much time this week, but next week I can probably get in three hours a day.

Go for a run – yeah, that’s not happening. Ever.

In order to celebrate my new found motivation – and to make sure I stick to it – I have put up the opening to Bad Girl on the Features page so check it out. Bad Girl is the sequel to A Good Man.

A conversation with my 13 year old self

Me – Hello 13 year old me.

Child me – Arh! Who are you?

Me – I am you from the future.

Child me – I still have the same hair syle?

Me – Ahem. Anyway, is that the serial killer story?

Child me – Yeah, do you remember it? 

Me – Sort of.  It’s the first story I wrote. We wrote. I wrote. Whatever.  What’s the body count so far?

Child me –   Eddie’s just been run down. Do I become a best selling author?  Am I the female R.L Stine? 

Me – Not quite… you will stop writing in your late teens.

Child me – But why? I love writing! I’m going to be a best selling author!

Me – I don’t know why, you will just lose interest and then life gets in the way.

Child me – Is it at least an exciting life?

Me – Erm… not really. 

Child me – Have you come back to depress me?

Me – You will start writing again when you are in your thirties.

Child me – But that’s ancient!

Me – And you will self publish your books.

Child me – But won’t it take forever, writing out each copy?

Me – Well no, you will type it.  Computers are much more advanced in the future.  The one I use is probably about the same size as that A4 pad.

Child me – And then I print it out and post it to people?

Me – No, you upload it to a website, and then when people want to buy it they download it to their computer, phone, or tablet.

Child me – I didn’t understand a word of that.

Me – It doesn’t matter. The point is, the writing world is very different in the future and self publishing is very popular.  It allows anyone who wants to be a writer, to be a writer.  I self published my first book a couple of years ago.  It is called Frankie.

Child me – Is he a serial killer?

Me – No!  He is one of Cupid’s trainees and he is supposed to help a girl called Sammy to find love but it doesn’t quite work out.

Child me – Is she a serial killer?

Me – No, no one is serial killer.  No one dies. It’s a romance.

Child me – What happened to you?  Me…You… Whatever.

Me – Honestly? I don’t know. I’m as surprised as you are.  I’ve done three more since then. I’ve done a follow up to Frankie – and no, he hasn’t turned in to a serial killer. Then I did A Good Man.

Child me – Another soppy romance?

Me – No, that’s a crime / thriller.  No one dies though.

Child me – That’s a bit better I suppose. 

Me – And then there is The Boy Next Door. You will probably like that one. It’s about a vampire who is terrorising a small village.

Child me- Phew. I was getting worried that I was going to turn soft in my old age.

Me – I am not old!

Child me – Hang on, did you say that people read on phones and tablets?  Is it like the speaking clock and someone reads the books to you?

Me – Phones and tablets are more like mini computers in the future.

Child me – How are we supposed to swallow the tablet?

Me – Not that kind of tablet. 

Child me – The future sounds kinda weird and complicated. I think I’m going to stick with my pen and paper for now.  Any ideas on how to end my story?

Me – A showdown in an abandoned house?  Have you worked out that Dina is the serial killer yet?

Child Me – Dina?  Oh my god, that’s a good twist.  I will need to re-write some parts though.

Me – Welcome to the world of writing…

 

 

Reasons why I can’t write as much as I’d like.

All writers have things that stop from them from writing, here are my main ones. 

The kids – I love my kids. Really, I do. I just wish they would SHUT UP when I am trying to write. Sometimes it can take me half an hour to write one paragraph because every two words I get “Mum, watch this!” “I’m hungry.” “Can I have a drink?” “Can we go town?” Apparently I get tetchy when I write – I wonder why!!! Even when writing this I’ve had 10 interruptions.  Yes, I kept a tally.

My phone broke and I had to reset it, losing all my apps. The wifi doesn’t work so I can’t re-download anything. You might think I’d be more productive now I can’t play on my phone but that’s not the case. I used to use Google Docs on my phone to write. I could stand in the kitchen making a cuppa and write at the same time. I could do 10 minutes in my lunch break at work. It was easy. Now I have to use my laptop and it’s not so convenient.

Shhh – can you keep a secret? My family don’t know I write, apart from the eldest. The youngest knows I like to make up stories but she doesn’t know I publish them. The husband has no idea whatsoever. I plan on telling him when I make my first £100. So in other words I’ll probably tell him on my death bed. That’s why the phone was so handy. I could write sneakily. Now I have to plan my writing around when he is going to be out.

Work – Work just gets in the way of everything really doesn’t it? It’s a necessary evil.

Social Media – I just spend far too much time faffing around on Facebook and Twitter. I tend to get drawn in to the clickbait articles on Facebook and can easily spend 15 minutes clicking through 30 slides only to realise the article was fairly pointless. I also have my Facebook page Elizabeth’s Book Club to maintain, although that’s fallen by the wayside slightly since I started Twittering. I also have my blog to maintain as well.

Eurovision – What do you mean it’s only one night? For you maybe, for me it takes weeks of preparation as I write a Eurovision guide. I have to watch all the videos and make notes on each act. I have to sit through both of the semi finals, again making notes on the performances. I am then up until late on the Thursday finishing the guide (Once the running order for Saturday’s final has been announced) ready for sending on Friday.

Reading–  I love reading. I could quite easily read all day if I could. The phone issue has lessened this to some extent as I can’t get Kindle on my phone now so I have to use Kindle on the laptop (Which doesn’t feel right). I am a frequent visitor to my local library but I tend to read the books too quickly and have to wait until I get chance to go again. I have been known to raid my kids’ bookshelf to get my reading fix.

That’s not mentioning all the other stuff that gets in the way, like housework, cooking and all the other boring things that people have to do.

It’s a wonder I get anything done at all.

Oh, to be a heroine in a romance novel.

My life would be so… predictable.

I will have just come out of a Bad Relationship. Well, it was two years ago, but it was really bad OK and now obviously all men are dogs. Yes, even the Cute Guy Next Door. One man has now tarred an entire gender. I will have Trust Issues.

I will not have time for a man anyway because I have a busy and important job as an Assistant in either a financial or advertising company. The details don’t really matter.   My immediate boss is either incompetent or dodgy. I am actually starting to feel dissatisfied with my job but because I am stuck in a rut I don’t bother to job hunt. It doesn’t matter anyway because by the end of the book I will have landed my Dream Job.

I will have a Fabulous Best Friend, who is a straight talking, no nonsense type of gal. Her advice on any given situation will either involve violence and alcohol, shopping and alcohol, or just alcohol.

Fabulous Best Friend is probably a border line alcoholic.

Despite the fact I have been single for two years, two potential boyfriends will enter my life. Men are like buses.

They will be:

Cute Guy Next Door – actually I will have known him for a while but because he is man and therefore a dog I have ignored him apart from the odd hello. It is obvious for all the world to see that he fancies me and is a Nice Guy. Obvious to everyone that is, apart from me.

Hot Guy at Work – The new guy, some kind of head honcho. All the women drool over him but not me. He is a man therefore he is a dog.

Despite my cold behaviour and lack of interest both men will  pursue me with varying degrees of success.

Cute Guy Next Door – keeps “accidently” bumping in to me or making up excuses to come round.

Hot Guy at Work – flowers, chocolates, the whole works.

Who should I date?

The nice guy, who seems genuinely sweet or the rich guy who is bit of a player.

Duh, no contest.

Go on a date with Hot Guy at Work. Despite my reservations, I will have a fantastic time. The next day I hear he is flirting with every girl in the office.

Why can’t men commit to one woman?

Two days later I will agree to go on a date with Cute Guy Next Door. Outside the bar, I see him talking to beautiful woman. There is no point in asking him who it is, or giving him the chance to explain himself. He is man therefore he is a dog. Stand him up with no explanation and rebuff him when he tries to speak to me.

Men who flit from one woman to the next really annoy me.

Start to date Hot Guy at Work. It doesn’t take long for us to fall in to bed. Obviously he is amazing.

He also doesn’t snore like a pig starting a clapped out lawnmower (A man who doesn’t snore. Someone who only exists in the realms of a romance novel.)

Start to fall in love after only three dates.

It will turn out he was only using me as a pawn in some nefarious plot involving either a takeover of the company or some big contract. The details don’t matter. As to why he chose me over more influential people in the company doesn’t matter either.

He is sacked and I will spend a week crying in bed.

Fabulous Best Friend makes me get up using a mixture of colourful swear words, threats and alcohol.

I will return to work to find I have somehow been promoted. New job involves lots of money and travel. Result.

Cute Guy Next Door finally gets his chance to explain that the woman was his cousin. He still wants to date me, this is despite me showing myself to be shallow, stubborn and judgemental.

But hey, I’m in a romance novel so it doesn’t matter.

 

 

 

 

Character Building

It’s important that you get to know your characters, after all you spend a lot of time with them. One way to do this is to interview them. Imagine that you have never met them before, what are your first impressions? How are they dressed? What is their body language? How do they interact with you? It is also important to consider when the interview is taking place, for example, if the character is appearing in a series they might give very different answers by the time the second or third book occurs.

Below are a couple of examples

Jem enters the room and sits down.  He is shorter than the average for other boys his age.  He has black and green spiked hair.  He is wearing worn jeans and black  hoodie.  His clothes are fraying at the cuffs and hems.  He crosses his arm and stares at me defiantly.  If I look at him for too long, however, he looks away.  He is also jiggling his knee nervously.

Hello, thank you for coming: Didn’t have a choice did I.

Can you state your name and age: Jem Parker,   15

What is your occupation: I’m an international spy. I’m 15, what do you think I do?

Who is the most important person in your life? Jase. My big brother.  Not because I particularly love him or owt.  I don’t have anyone else, so it’s by default really. 

What are your likes / dislikes? Dislike: Stupid questions. Like: [shrugs] I dunno. Nothing.

Describe yourself: I’m a horrible little sh*t apparently.

If you had one 1 wish what would it be? [Stares at the floor and speaks so quietly it’s almost as if he doesn’t want me to hear his answer] I wish mum and dad were alive. [Then adds in louder voice] A million quid would be nice.

What is your motto? Life is rubbish, so why bother.

Jem appears in the The Good Man novella.  He will also be in the sequel, Bad Girl. Once I get round to actually starting it anyway.


Frankie enters the room. He is smiling and seems excited to be here. The phrase excitable puppy springs to mind. He has brown messy hair. He is wearing dark blue jeans and a black t-shirt. He has two thin translucent wings sticking out of his back. They are grubby and one is slightly crooked. He maintains eye contact throughout and is cheerful.

Hello, thank you for coming: Hello, thank you for having me.

Can you state your name and age: I’m Frankie, and I’m 22 in immortal years. 

What is your occupation?  Oh, I’m a trainee assistant cupid. I bring love to the mortal world. [Throws his arms open and knocks a lamp over]

Who is the most important person in your life? My boss, Cupid, probably.  I am dedicated to my job so I don’t have time for a girlfriend.  Actually I’m not allowed anyway.  It’s against Cupid’s rules. 

What are your likes / dislikes? I like my job and I like the mortal world, everyone is so nice. I don’t like lifts.  They can be dangerous when you have wings. 

Describe yourself: Well, Cupid says I’m incompetent. I don’t think I am.  Not really.  I mean, I make a few mistakes but that’s because I am so enthusiastic I don’t always check what I am doing. 

If you had one wish what would it be? I wish I could finish my training so I can be a full assistant.

What is your motto? Love makes the world go round. And keeps me in a job.

Frankie appears in the romance novella series, Frankie.


I also make notes on the character arc but I’ve not included those as they contain spoilers.

If you could interview your characters, what would ask them?

 


			

Back it up people

I have learnt two very important lessons this week – back it up, and remember you’ve backed it up.

I am in the process of compiling a short story collection, a mixture of new stories and old. I wanted it to be a mixed bag of genres so I really wanted to include a ghost story I’d written years ago.  The trouble was,  the laptop I had been using back then had long since died and the story was saved on there. I had committed the first sin of writing… I HADN’T BACKED IT UP.

No problem, I thought, I am sure I can remember it, I’ll just quickly re-write it.  It’ll be easy and it won’t take long.  Any, 6 hours and 2000 words later I am only a quarter of the way through.

This morning, having admitted defeat I decided to look for another  story I’d written a couple of years ago.  This one, I knew was backed up on Google Docs.  As I was scrolling through the activity log, there right at the bottom was the ghost story! I swear I heard a chorus of angels singing Hallelujah. Obviously, in a rare moment of being organised, I must have backed it up before the laptop was unceremoniously dropped down the stairs.

I also discovered that I was re-writing it completely wrong.  Yeah, the characters and the story are the same, but the way it is written is completely different.  The re-write was mainly written from Jenny’s point of view, but the original is more split.  In fact, Jenny isn’t a major character. If my memory serves me correct (And I think we have established it doesn’t) Jenny had been the main character in the first draft, but as it was edited and re-written, other characters came to the fore.

The story is 3400 words long, so quite how I managed to write 2000 words and not even be half way through I don’t know.

Anyway, that story is called House Mates, and the short story collection is called Random Distractions. 

You can find more information on that on the Features page.

A Bit About Me

Hello and welcome to my WordPress Site.

I am an independent writer, mainly writing romance novellas.  Not really sure how I ended up writing romance considering I grew up reading horror stories. I can only assume I am mellowing in my old age.

I have been writing since I can remember, scrawling pages and pages whilst sitting at the dining table.  Admittedly, most of what I wrote was probably rubbish.  On reflection, my stories had an alarmingly high body count for a 13 year old.

Then life kinda of got in the way, as it has a habit of doing sometimes, and my writing fell by the way side.  I still made up stories, but they remained in my head.  A few years ago, possibly due to an early midlife crisis, I started to write again. In April 2015,  I decided to take the plunge and I published my first novella – Frankie.

And that was it.

I had caught the writing bug again…