Friday, 20 May 2016

Tales from a wandering writer

Hey guys!

I hope the summer is treating you all well! Lots of fun, sun and sand in store for me, so I hope you've got some equally exciting times ahead for you, too!

Today, I wanted to take a little detour off our beaten track and look at some lessons I've learned as a wandering writer through this big, bad field of publishing. Hopefully, something here can help you, too!

Right, let's have at it - the top ten lessons I've learned so far:

1. Developing your writing craft means learning something new every day. There will always be something you don't know. Always. Invest in your book and your career by going and squirreling it out. The best resource? Your fellow writers...and I have to say, Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel is one of my favorites!

2. It's okay to be jealous, envious and downhearted...however, it is not okay to stamp on someone's parade, to wallow in these feelings, or let them make you bitter. We're human. Be kind to yourself and don't feel guilty if someone gets a book deal/agent/etc and you've been working 2 years longer than them and haven't gotten there yet. Feel your feelings, and then cheer the other writer on. We all have our own path (as grueling as it can sometimes be). And that turmoil can be funneled into your book, too!

3. Trust your gut. When you're writing, editing, talking to other writers, dealing with an agent or editor...if something tells you "no" in your gut, trust it. You'll rarely be wrong.

4.  You are not inadequate. Seriously. You're not. Sure, you might have something more you have to learn. But you do not suck. You are amazing. You are writing a book. Do you know, like really, really know, how many people can't do that? Haven't even tried? Be kind to yourself. Recognize your focus, determination and inspiration for what it is.

5.  Adjectives are from the devil...but some are worth a whole honey pot full of gold. Pick them very, very carefully. But you don't have to avoid every last one on the planet.

6.  It's in the details. Think about your book and the real emotion - it's not all shaking hands and beating hearts. It's in the things unsaid, the looks avoided, the stutter of a word, the loss of something sentimental, it's the replaying of an encounter... So when you're writing emotion, don't just think of physical reactions. Think of the details.

7.  Voice is not impossible. Everyone hears it, no one knows how to do it. But it's not true. You have voice. What stops it coming through in your writing? Two things: lack of confidence, and lack of intention. Look at your writing and ask yourself: why am I using that particular word? What does it say about my character? Why am I using this style? Why this sentence construction?

8. Don't be afraid to not write. Writing is often "butt in chair" on the writing ethic. And while I agree with that and do apply it myself, I also allow myself some wiggle room. Even on deadline, I let myself have a little breather and I don't feel guilty about it!!! Yup. You need a break, you need to play on Twitter, you need to watch youtube videos until your eyes it and let it be fun, not a guilty pleasure. And then get back to writing with a positive, relaxed mind frame.

9. Write with intention. Decide why you want to write a chapter, a scene, a character, a particular setting, a theme. Now, you don't have to do this on the first draft if you don't want to. You can do it in your edit if that's your thing (that's my thing!).

10. Be KIND to yourself. I know, I know, you hear it all the time. But if you're not kind, you get anxious, lose your confidence, second guess yourself...and guess what? You end up not loving writing. Writing can be grueling at times if you're aiming to be published, and you being down on yourself is only going to make it worse. I want you all to truly recognize how amazing you are and how much of a massive difference people like you, writers, make to the world.

Now, all that said, if you ever have a question, just drop me a message in any of the comments on any of the posts, and I'll find it.

Remember, this isn't a competition against one another. This is a community and we all want to get great books out there!

Happy writing!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Get an edit, Save a life

Hi guys!

I'll get straight into it. I'm doing a writing critique fundraiser for a beautiful German shepherd called Wolf. This beautiful big boy was rescued just days before being put down from the government kennels, simply since they didn't have anywhere for him to go. 

Here is Wolf's story and the fundraiser:

But...there's been bad news. Wolf has been diagnosed with leishmania and Ehrlichia. For those of you who don't know about the diseases, you can read more about Ehrilichia here and more about leishmania here.

Please note: I'm not part of the rescue center and I'm trying to raise money independently, so I'm kindly asking people to donate through the big link above as this is the rescue center's fundraiser (just so you all know the money is going straight to the center and not via me).

Because Wolf is such a big boy, his treatment is going to be around 700 euros all in. As a small rescue center with only 1 person running it and dozens and dozens of dogs, there simply is very little cash to go around. So, I've agreed to help them, and I'm offering some critique fundraising items to try and get him the treatment he so desperately deserves.

Here is what's on offer:

1. 25 page critique for 10 $/£/€ (whatever your currency happens to be).
2. 50 page critique for 20 $/£/€
3. 100 page critique for 40 $/£/€
4. Entire manuscript critique for 80 $/£/€

Just email me on to let me know if you've donated and I can start your critique right away.

For those of you who don't know me, here's a little about me, and the experience I have to give:

I'm represented by the Blake Friedmann Literary, TV & Film Agency. I am a freelance editor, an editor with Cornerstones Literary, and I have interned with two literary agencies (Holloway Literary, and Inklings). I am a Pitch Wars mentor, and have helped my mentees to get agents and publishers. I am a full time script writer with my first production coming out next year, and I have published in national print and online publications.

Wolf is in Cyprus, but the rescue center can take donations from anywhere in the world. If you don't have 10 $/£/€ and maybe just have a few dollars, pounds or euros, please let me know and I'm sure I can think of something to help you in your writing journey.

I really hope you find it in your heart to help this wonderful boy. Our family is hoping to move house to a place with a garden (we're apartment bound at the moment), so that we can foster him.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Ramping up Emotion

Happy Orthodox Easter for all those who celebrate the holiday!

As it's the first of the month, it's time to think fresh and delve into the writing world with a clear head.

I'd like to look at how we can write with full emotion and depth. I'm not talking about things like filters, how to show "hands shaking" or "gulping a nervous breath". No, I'm not talking about that at all. After all, a good portion of writers already know this. And if you don't, please follow the links and you'll be able to get up to speed pretty fast (the second site, run by Angela and Becca, is pretty amazing, so you might want to add that as a regular resource)!

Okay, so with that worked out, let's look at what I mean about emotion...

As writers, we know our characters and our plot (or at least we should). We know when they have to feel sad, nervous or happy. We know when they are embarrassed or scared. But...are we really feeling that ourselves when we write? Be honest with yourself here. Or are you excited when you write your horror scene because you love the way it's going? Well, great you're excited, but what will that achieve in your scene? Horror or excitement? Now, I'm not saying don't write with excitement. Do! But, when it comes to editing, you need to put yourself in the emotion of the scene.

Let's look at two different emotions:

Horror - that sensation you get when you creep forward in the pitch black, your steps so stilted you don't feel like you're moving, your mind frozen, but you're somehow still moving forward, like you're made of mechanics. Your hands curl around the wall corners and you can't take a breath; your neck and jaw hurt from tensing, you feel like you can't move and your eyes hurt from staring into the dark... There's a deep beating in your mind that's so strong you can't even form thoughts. You're just rigid and your mind is white static.

Well, that's what it's like for me. How is it for you? What is it that really goes through your mind, heart, body?

Love - when you have that inability to stand still, your muscles jittering but you make yourself stand still because you don't want to look weird. A smile that's warm enough to make the back of your jaw water if you try not to smile it. A laugh that builds in your throat but doesn't quite come out and widens that smile even further. That odd, tight breath in your chest. The excitement running through your head that makes you look at the person you love with admiration and you just shake your head, thinking they are...amazing.

Now, this isn't how everyone would describe horror or love, but it is how I would describe it. And then what I do is cater that to my character and how they would feel it. I look at the differences between me and my character. In order to get your emotion in there, you need to squarely put yourself in the feet of the character. Don't just gloss over the surface, as we can be prone to do. Dig right down. Sit in your scene. Actually, get right in there. How you do when you watch an amazing movie, or get so swallowed up by a book and you forget the world around you, and you forget to breath until your chest shudders and reminds you.

So, those are my tips for writing with emotion. I'd love to find out what everyone else thinks works!