A little side note before we begin: It’s hilarious how much the “I’m on my lap top at a coffee shop” thing is going on right now. My schedule got flipped around this morning and found the time to swing by my local Coffee Bean for some tea and decided to do a little writing. I was thinking about the process I’ve taken to improve my writing and the most difficult thing of all for me, complete it!
Anyways, I was so surprised to see that some of these steps were on so many published author websites regarding their writing process and it definitely eased my mind to know I was doing something right. So here’s my list. In no particular order of importance.
This is kind of a, “we’ll duh!” step. I found that obsessing can be a good thing (sometimes). When writing the first draft of “Unspoken” I couldn’t eat or sleep. While watching The Amazing Spider Man, I kept writing ideas in my phone! Bottom line, if the story is making you feel “eh” then it is probably “eh”.
Think of it like a movie! Seriously.
I found myself obsessively listening to a song, over and over while writing certain parts of my book. Pandora was on and “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon came on. Even though I was in the zone, my ears picked up on the lyrics and it hit me! This is Jane’s song to Liam! So, every time I was on a part of the book where they were together, that song blasted. I think my husband was ready to kill me. But anyway, it was almost like a soundtrack to a movie. So, I’d look up songs that I felt would go well during a scene I’m writing.
Do your research.
Even if your book is fiction, its important to have realistic details. Even if it’s a fantasy. Research mythology, history and symbolism in names, flowers, colors. It’s amazing how much our mind already draws into those things but once you add more knowledge it gives you the confidence to weave it onto your story. For example, I don’t know why, but I obsessed over the color purple while writing. I kept seeing purple, purple, purple! Through my research, this is what I found:
Purple is the color of good judgment. It is the color of people seeking spiritual fulfillment. It is said if you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind. Purple is a good color to use in meditation.
Purple has been used to symbolize magic and mystery, as well as royalty. Being the combination of red and blue, the warmest and coolest colors, purple is believed to be the ideal color. Most children love the color purple. Purple is the color most favored by artists.
So with that knowledge, I started to weave the color in the book. With the amethyst necklace he bought her, to his purple tie and the purple wax seal on the silver invitation she received to his party. I focused in on this with the idea that she is seeking spiritual fulfillment in her life, trying to find peace of mind. Liam is like royalty in her eyes, he’s mysterious and magical.
I added so much of myself in my book and I think that once you get personal with it, you’ll fall in love with it. It’ll be so important to you that you won’t be able to help but feel obligated to tell it. Put parts of people you love into it. If there’s a character in it who is supposed to be maternal, caring and warm… maybe give her your grandmother’s name or your mother’s mannerisms. If there’s an antagonist that just gets under your skin- give them the qualities of a person who has mistreated you. You’ll be sure to really hate this character if deep down, they embody someone who has hurt you before.
Take your worries, desires and even secrets and put them down on paper. No one needs to know which is really you or just pure fiction! Have you ever felt the thrill of shop lifting candy when you were little? Maybe your main character feels the same thrill doing something they shouldn’t be doing!
The more personal you get, the easier it will be for readers to relate and visualize your story coming to life!
Get a support system.
An unbiased crowd is always a good thing. Get someone who is your target audience to read your story. (Ask for story based criticism not spelling errors, because that can be fixed later). Their encouragement and critique while you write will help you stay focused and motivated. There’s nothing like hearing, “What happens next? I want to know so bad!” that really gets your creative juices flowing. Also, round up a hand full of eyes that can provide different view points. If it’s a book for women… still have a man read it, they may give you some insight on your male lead!
Have someone with the right credentials to read it as well. A teacher, a fellow writer or even posting some excerpts on public forums (be careful of course) but hearing the professional opinions will also help ease your mind rather than feeling like Susie Q just complimented your book because you guys are BFFs!
The thing I am guilty of the most is self doubt. When I write a hundred pages, I start to worry the whole thing is crap. I get discouraged and want to give up. I visualize my book on Amazon, getting movie deals and the works! I know its silly and most likely the movie thing won’t happen but its good to fantasize! You’re a writer! Day dreaming and using your imagination is what you do best.
Have two word documents up!
I had two pages up. One for the actual draft where I wrote the story and another for notes. Because there were times where I would get an idea for later chapters that haven’t come yet. It’s as simple as clicking over the the extra word page and jotting down your idea. It can be a quote, a scene, a twist in the plot or a new character to introduce. I looked at it as my arsenal of ideas! It’s nice to read over it and get an ‘A-ha!’ moment when you’re hitting a mental dam. And most importantly, do not EVER EVER delete full paragraphs. Cut and paste it on your note document for later use, you never know when it’ll come in handy.
Put faces to your characters.
The internet is a wondrous thing. I have a Pinterest account and I made a “My Novel” board. I searched actresses and actors that could fit the part of the characters, pinned them in my folder. Now I have a photo album of Jane, Liam, Charles and all the other characters. It’s so nice to be able to visualize them moving, talking and smiling. I even watched youtube videos of the actors, studied their mannerisms and quirks and included them into my characters. It creates a realistic human quality into your make believe friends when you draw from real life people.
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Well, that’s all I have so far folks! I hope this helps a little!