Friday, January 31, 2014

Just Do It

In the continuation of Friday's series, "How Do You Write Novels?"...  

# 2.      Make a plan and stick to it. No excuses.

For me, it’s four thousand words a day, or three chapters a week (my recent chapters are around 8,000 words, and I take one day off from the novels every week). I understand that for a lot of people that seems like a huge number, but even five hundred words a day would be better than nothing. Writers write. Every single day, we write. Even if all you write is a blog post, an email to a friend, or a birthday card, write something every day.

This is where a lot of writers get confused. The point isn’t to write in your novels or short stories every day: it’s just to write. This blog post is counting toward my word total for today.

A lot of people don’t want to think this way, because it means that they actually do have time to write every day. The truth is, everyone has some time to spend on writing, each and every day. It’s just a matter of priorities.

The only thing I don’t count is text messages, because I text my best friend so frequently that if I counted those, I’d never get any real writing done.

As soon as you’ve mastered writing five hundred words a day, bump up your goal by fifty words. Doing this every so often will make it much easier for you to keep writing, to write consistently, and to recall what you’ve written in the past so you don’t have to keep going back to check before you get going again. 

In case you didn't want to read all of that, here are three simple points to keep in mind: 

1.      Just write.
2.      Keep track of your work.
3.      Challenge yourself.  

Thanks for reading!

 Keep an eye out for Monday's post, "Why Writers Love Lists", Wednesday's exercise in character development, and next Friday's continuation on how to write novels.

{Rani Amber}

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An Exercise in Setting

If you’re like the vast majority of fiction writers, you often have a hard time getting started when it comes to a new story or novel. I know I do.
This is one of the ways that I frequently get going, especially when it comes to a brand new story (outside a series I’ve previously worked with).

Start by creating a vivid setting. 

Generally, I start with the place I believe most of my characters are going to be, most of the time.

Step 1:

Imagine what your world looks like. Now do a Google search, and find a picture of it (or something similar). If you’re a science fictioner, search images from shows you think might be mildly similar to your piece. 

(note: this can also be done the other way around. Build your setting off an image you've seen, or a place you've been)

We’ll use this one as an example.

(in case you were wondering, this is Germany’s Black Forest at night)

Step 2:

Make a list of all the things you think or feel when looking at this image (adding your imaginations into the image is encouraged), and that might be useable for describing your place. Metaphors are a good thing, here. Come up with at least five of these (they don’t have to be full sentences or even phrases, single words will do fine).

Have your list? Good.

Here’s mine:

Step 3:

The last thing is to put everything together into a paragraph. Write each one into a sentence, one after the other. Between each one of these sentences, write one that’s physically descriptive of the image. If you’re a science fiction or genre fiction writer, feel free to intersperse descriptors that suit only your world.

You should come up with something like this:

If you didn’t, that’s okay. This is only your basic setting sketch. Use this, build off of it, to create your world. This is a very important step when it comes to writing fiction. The world needs to be fully developed—even if your world is the world we live in. Remember: it’s always a work in progress, right up until you've written the last words of your piece. But to begin, you need to know as much about it as you could feasibly need. After all, you never know what your characters are going to run into.

Speaking of characters, I use a different method when it comes to creating them: one which I will explain in detail next Wednesday. 

I hope you all enjoyed this post. Keep an eye out for Friday’s post on writing tips!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Going Geeky

Mondays are for Rani’s Random Thoughts! 

I’d like to get to know some of the people reading my work, following me on Facebook or Twitter, and reading my blog. But I suppose the best way to do that is to start by telling you something about me. That’s what Mondays are all about.

Today, we’re going geeky. 

I’m not feeling 100% as I sit and write this, so I’m watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s one of my favorite shows, even though it gets a little repetitive. Want to know why it’s one of my favorites?

Jean-Luc Picard.

Patrick Stewart is such an amazing actor to be able to go from Jean-Luc to Macbeth and back again. I honestly don’t know how he does it. But I very much enjoy listening to him talk, even while I’m writing. I’ve been known to just lay on my bed, write, and listen to (not watch, mind you) TNG. It’s soothing to me, in a way. I just enjoy it.
It’s like geek heaven, over here. I’m telling you.

Did I mention one of my best friends bought me the 25th anniversary Pez Dispenser set?

Best. Gift. Ever.

Granted, it’s no Doctor Who, but it’s pretty high up there.

Finally, here’s a list of all the geeky things I can see from where I’m sitting: Netflix (showing Marvel’s Avengers, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Sherlock, and Firefly), a TARDIS cookie jar, a vanishing TARDIS mug, Leviathan by Westerfeld, an Adipose plush, a knife with a dragons head on it, the Pez set prior mentioned, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Lynch, a collection of fountain pens, Sphere by Michael Crichton, the entire X-Men film series, a sonic screwdriver, a Circle pendant, Independence Day, Doctor Who exploding TARDIS by Van Gogh poster, and, my personal favorites, the entire collections of Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis.

Ahh… this is the life.

Please note, many of my belongings are currently in storage. :-(

{Rani Amber}

Friday, January 24, 2014

No Distractions

Series: "How do you write novels?"

“I want to write. I have all these stories in my head, but I don’t know how to get them out.”

If you’re in this area, struggling to get going, then keep reading. I have some good starting points for you. If you’re a writer and you want to know what to say when people come to you with things like this, maybe I can help with that, too.

As most of you know, I recently published my first book, “Telekinetic: Book I of the Advanced Saga.” What some of you don’t know is that the Advanced saga will be between five and six books long, and that the first four have already been completed (and that I only started writing in the fall of 2009). What even less of you know is that I’ve also written two other full-length novels, one of which is also being turned into a series of six.
I don’t say this to brag. I say this to show you that I know what I’m doing, that I know how writing works. I’m laying these cards on the table, so you know what kind of writer I am. I’m human, I have limitations, but my favorite thing in the world to do is write.  
And I’m the type to sit down and write, and keep going until my work is done.
But I understand that not all of you are like that.
            I have several friends who are also writers, and I know that our processes are different. Some people write in little bursts, here and there throughout the day. Others, like me, need to sit down and write for two hours just to make brain space for the rest of the day.
            The following series, “How do you write novels?”, has been split into several pieces. I’ve come up with ten main points (thus far) that I believe all writers can agree with. No matter what kind of writer you are, no matter what type of work you’re writing, these are things that we all need to keep in mind.
So let’s begin.

“How do you write novels?”

My answer is also one of my favorite Gaiman quotes: “You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after the other.” That’s all there is to it, really. Of course, it’s also much more difficult than that. If you’ve tried to write, or you are a writer, I’m sure you already know that.
However, here I’ve come up with a few tricks that I’ve learned along the way, to make the process simpler: 

1.      No distractions, no excuses. 

The thing with the internet is that though it has this amazing ability to provide inspiration and factual knowledge that may become useful within our pieces, it does so by distracting us from our ultimate goal. I make a point of turning off my internet for a few hours every day. 
Time needs to be set aside for writing, especially if it’s something you’re serious about. Even if you’re just a casual writer, you need to be aware that writing takes time—time free of internet, television, and other people. Music is the one exception, but with strict guidelines (I’ll cover that point later).

If you keep making excuses why not to write, then you’ll never write at all. The point is to sit down and do it. I don’t care if your grammar is atrocious and you keep forgetting which “your” to use—that can all be edited later. If you can just get the point, the story, the meat of your work, down onto paper, then you’ve done something most people don’t have the courage to do.

For the next several weeks, every Friday I’ll get online and post another point, another thing you need to remember when it comes to writing, and how to get yourself going.

Thanks for reading! Leave comments if you have any questions or want me to go into more detail with something.

{Rani Divine}