advice · editing · writing

Useful tips for writing and editing

I wandered across this list of writing advice and number 17 was about not being distracted. Which was funny because I am currently on the second draft of Jumpstart and switching between internet pages. I mean sweet Jesus, I must have rushed writing this manuscript because from chapter nine onwards it’s 50 to 70% red from track changes. I must have skipped adding some sentences because some times I don’t know what I’m the fuck I’m trying to say.

 

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Second draft example

 

My memory of completing this manuscript was of joy because I had actually finished it. But god damn. I’m only halfway through this edit. I think the only thing of decent quality relating to this story is the cover image I managed to create. Hopefully, after I tear this baby apart it’ll be better on the next edit.

advice · editing · emotions · personal · writing

When should you ditch a story?

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To date, all the stories I wrote for my uni assignments have remained untouched on my USB since graduation. It’s been around five years now and I know that I might never go back to them. And that’s ok. There are a quite a few reasons why I’m probably not going to bother with them and they are:

  • I don’t like them (I wrote them to criteria guidelines and not entertainment).
  • There are other stories I like more or think are worthwhile writing.
  • I know they are bad (Bad, being plot).

Some time ago I opened a short 2,500 word story and tried to see if I could make it worthy of self-publishing. It turned out that my first ever story I wrote for uni was pretty effing terrible. No wonder I barely passed that class. I could make the sentence structure better, but I couldn’t get over the plot holes and it was cliched as hell. Give me an award for reaching the cringe-worthy level of over 9000!

I also have other stories that are not from uni that are currently dormant because I’ve been neglecting them for a variety of reasons;

  • They’ve got a good base, but need more attention and ideas added.
  • More recent stories are taking up my spare time and my growth as a writer has improved their first draft quality to the point of encouragement.
  • Something about it just doesn’t seem right and I can’t quite put my finger on it (Trust your gut guys and move onto something else in the meantime).

What I was interested in a few years ago has changed and it will probably change again. One of the biggest things I can say to other people would be if you think something is not right about your story then you’re on to something. Notice I said not right instead of wrong? That’s because there are more than one way to tell a story or write a novel.

When you come to a place like this, it is best that you take a break of however long you think you might need for you to wrap your head around it. Be it a few hours to a few weeks. I like to think of my stories as I’m working behind the bar at work. It gives me time to plan what I think are the best routes to take. Personality wise, I’m more of a ‘take my time to plan’ instead of rush ahead because I’ve learnt that it is how I make mistakes.

That being said, some stories are just bad through and through. Even as a child I was picking up on things in books that disrupted the entire reading experience. Whether it be a single sentence of being preached to or a single word that is the wrong tense (These were from traditionally published books too). You could have a decent story, but a book’s sense of verisimilitude is just as important. And this could be the thing that doesn’t make it worthwhile and you have to ask yourself, Should I go back and try to fix or just ditch? And the answer is yours and what you think is best for you.

advice · editing · emotions · personal · writing

How do I write my books faster?

Can’t I just look at a screen and have it materialized through my thoughts alone!?

If only.

Personally, I’ve found that there are a few tips that make writing my books faster.

  1. Be passionate about writing. Emotions will fuel my desire more than anything else.
  2. Knowing your destination is half the journey. I usually have a rough idea of where I want a new story to end. That means I have to work out what happens along the way so I can get there.
  3. Actually, like your story idea. If I don’t then I don’t bother with it.
  4. Keep at it. It is not the smartest or most talented that succeed, it is the ones that persist the most. Remember brilliant authors started out terrible.
  5. Have fun and write for yourself. Writing for pleasure takes me further than writing for money or market. If what you’re writing is hard then something is probably wrong with it. ie, number 3, not enough research/limited life understanding, doing it for the wrong reasons.
  6. Edit like a machine. What I like may not be right for the story and characters I have created. So I change them to make them work for the story’s overall theme/idea.
  7. If something seems not right, then it’s not right. My intuition about something out of place is usually correct, something I have honed in over time. But it may not be for the reason I think. That’s why it’s best to leave your work for a week or month. Or get others to read it and have them tell you what they think.
  8. Accept that it will be flawed. To be human is to error and be imperfect. Accepting this view makes me less of a perfectionist and it frees up my mind so that I’m not afraid to write that first draft.
  9. Forgo other things. Ultimately, like any other skill, the more your write the better you become. To be a great or proficient writer you have to sacrifice the time you would have spent on others things and divert them to sitting in front of a computer. Less time socializing, less time at the gym or doing other hobbies. For some people, this is an issue, but if you think yourself as a full-time writer then it is not.
advice · editing · personal · travel · writing

Mid-Years Resolution

Six months already (cue cringe-worthy comments on how fast the year has gone). I sit here writing a new novella when I should be working on another story that was listed in my quarterly goals. But this is just more appealing to me at the moment. I think it might be another completed work by the end of the month 🙂

Anyway, now that half the year is already gone. It is only two months until I have to go back to Australia or maybe three months to change over my visa. I will be intending to return back to Edinburgh, I just don’t know exactly when. I’m planning on taking the time where I won’t have a reliable internet connection to encourage me to write more.

These are the things I want to have done by the year’s end:

  • Have The Things We Do published by December,
  • A completed first draft of Beyond This Small Moon of Ours,
  • The sci-fi mystery I’m working on now practically ready for the new year,
  • Publish Jump Start,
  • An outline for Fine Tune (sequel to Jump Start).

So depending on how things go and how I go about them we’ll see how successful I’ll be.

editing · writing

Getting re-acquainted with an old work

After a day’s break, I’m back to work on another story that I’ve left dormant for maybe months. Beyond This Little Moon of Ours is a young adult, science fiction story about a lost human colonised planet that is currently in the throws of re-discovery. The main character Medina is in a personal crisis after having lost both her mother and older brother in separate incidents. What’s more is that the outside influence of the Azeel Empire, the offworlders that re-discovered them, are imposing their presence and culture as they are fighting against terrorists bent on the destruction of the empire. Medina is stuck in the midst of this. The suspicious circumstances of his disappearance haunt her, while her community is in transition. The Azeel have brought so many benefits to their world, but what do they want outside of a base of operations against an unseen terrorist threat?

The story revolves around the upheaval of gender and society norms and expectations in a technologically devolved community. The main character is a young woman who has to decide whether finding out her brother’s fate and by extension, the activities of the Azeel empire, is more important than her station in life.

Currently, I had 35,000+ words written for the story before I left it for other projects. Now I’m planning on editing what I have and at least create a story plan for the rest of the book by end of June 🙂