Monday, 31 October 2011

NaNo WriMo!

Good luck to everyone doing NaNo this year. I'm not doing it but since I wrote a 34,000 word script in just over a week last year, I want to give some advice out.

  • Remember to take a break as often as you can. I used to write for 30 minutes and then take a 15 minute break. This gave me time to settle and relax and I soon found myself with 10,000 words in one day. It was one hell of a day!
  • Keep water close by. It refreshes you and will stop you getting hungry. In case you do get hungry, keep some finger food close by. 
  • If you're using the computer, turn the light intensity down (it will give you a headache) and every 10-15 minutes, look away at something in the distance. Computer screens are not good for your eyesight. 
  • Give yourself a prize every time you reach a mini-goal. I would set myself a goal every 5000 words and got a little bit of chocolate. Mini-goals will keep you motivated to keep on going.
  • Make sure you have a plan. Seriously, it will help if you have an idea of where you're going to go. 
  • Get some sun on your skin when the sun is out. Along with shorter days and sitting inside all the time, you could get depressed and trust me when I say depression is not fun. 
  • Get exercise. NaNo isn't an excuse to be a slob. Go on a walk and write on your mobile as you walk. 
  • Let everyone in your family know you are working on something very important and will appreciate them not disturbing you. 
  • Last of all, have fun! Keep a smile on your face and be happy. Enjoy NaNo! It's only around for one month every year.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Reflections On My Writing Life - October

Hello! So this is something I'm going to be doing every month, during the last weekend of that month. It will just be a summary of everything that has happened to me as a writer. 

So, this is what happened to my writing life during October:

  • I stopped writing the Gothic novel I was working on. Although I was interested in writing about a teenager descending into madness, I got bored after a while and found that I'm not a good enough writer yet to write about something that's full of a great deal of emotion and execute it well.
  • I started writing a children's book and am currently towards the end of Chapter 2. I'm still planning the rest of the book, am brainstorming and have been thinking about how many books will follow the first since I see it as a series. After years of writing mostly YA paranormal, this has been a welcome change. I'm still a kid at heart and enjoy children's books more than YA books. Also, I've found that it's easier to write about wacky things for kids than it is for teens since my teenage self is concerned about fitting in and being normal and my childish self is concerned about messing around and having fun. 
  • I used to write all my work longhand up until I turned 15. I then wrote mostly on the computer and increased my usage of the pen during the ages of 17 and 18. I'm 19 now just in case you don't know and have now stopped using the computer completely and am back to writing with pens. I want to improve how I write on paper and also feel that my writing is better when I slow down and think very carefully about what I'm writing. 
In my opinion, this have been quite an eventful month for me. I've jumped through a number of genres, I've changed the target audience of my writing and I've changed how I write. I did think about November, especially NaNo, but have decided I won't be taking part because right now, I am busy with college work and have found that NaNo has never worked for me.

So, how was October for you?

    Friday, 28 October 2011

    Movie Review: Johnny English Reborn

    Considering this is a writing blog, I probably should post a book review sometime but I couldn't resist posting a review for this movie starring Rowan Atkinson.

    I loved the first movie which was released in 2003 and I forgot about the movie since it was so long ago. But then I heard about the sequel on the radio and I had to watch it.

    Non-Brits may not be so familiar with who Rowan Atkinson is. He's Mr Bean. Remember? The funny man on TV who doesn't talk but gets into trouble and has a teddybear as a friend? Wiki him if you still don't know. But this man is really funny! He's a genius.

    So the beginning of the movie was brilliant. I won't say what happens but it was LOL. I was convinced this was going to at least be as funny as the first movie.

    We got to see what had happened to Mr English between the first movie and the sequel which played a huge part in explaining what happens in this movie. We saw a cleaning lady who never seemed to disappear. She was an old lady but she was like a arse-kicking ninja. And she was slightly terrifying. There were some really funny scenes, such as the one with the wheelchair and the Grandma/Cleaning Lady/Queen confusion.

    My favourite person in this movie, apart from Mr English, was Tucker. He's a new and young agent and we see some really good moments with him. He's not at funny as Mr English but he was much smarter.

    Overall, this was a good movie with some brilliant laughs packed in. The ending was awesome and I was glad to have watched it.

    I give it 5*s. And I hope there's another sequel. Considering this movie is doing well at the box office, there might actually be one. I don't know if it's been released in non-UK countries though. It has been released in the Netherlands and the Phillipines though.

    Here's the trailer:


    Sunday, 23 October 2011

    Why I Write

    Before I start this blog post, I hope those who have died in the tragic earthquake in Turkey rest in peace and hope that they get the help they need.

    I've always been a quite person. Even when I was a child, I did my best to avoid speaking. Now, I still try to be quite as much as I can. 
    I have always had an overactive imagination though. I like to dream about distant lands where dragons can speak English and people can breath fire. I like to think about what could possibly exist under my bed. My mind can never rest and I am always coming up with these stories. But I'm shy so I couldn't possibly tell these stories to people. I mess up my words and the stories seem to be so much better when they're written down. 

    Writing stories down is the best thing you could do with them. I could just keep them in my mind but eventually, I'll forget and if it's written down, others can read it, even after I've died. 

    If I write these stories down, it feels like they really do exist and I love picking them up again after a long time, to rediscover the worlds I've created. 


    Thursday, 20 October 2011

    Don't Be Afraid To Write The Unwritten

    Everyone wants to write the next big thing and if you do, then you need to write something that hasn't been written before. Now chances are that something similar has been written but you need to come up with something that sets itself apart from the rest of the books like it that have been written already.

    When you read something amazing, you wish that it had been you who had written that book. You could write that book. Well, not the same one but you could also evoke that feeling in other writers but it's not easy.

    You need an idea. And that idea has to have a unique spin on it. You need to be different. You need to stand out.

    And that can be hard because you're worried you will fail. But that fear will stop you from writing that amazing book that you want to write.

    So forget worrying about writing something different. Sometimes, different can be good.

    No one has written about a group of lethal grandmas who roll like gangsters, with pistols sticking out of their heads. It may sound stupid, but people are going to remember it.

    I do recommend working on an idea that works because I doubt you'll see a gangster grandma with a fake hip, limping around the 'hood with knitting needles hidden under her leather jacket.

    When JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, she wrote something that had been written many times before but she made Harry Potter different. She sent him to boarding school. She made the boarding school a castle. She made wands cool. She made glasses cool (I still hate wearing mine though).

    When you sit down to write, make it your own and then one day, if someone else reads it, they'll wish that they wrote that book.


    Wednesday, 19 October 2011

    Really Bad Ideas For Your Novel - Part 1

    Have a main character who has the personality of a rock. There are too many of these in YA books right now and my theory is that authors want readers to feel like they are the character. However, a sign of a good writer is one that can make you feel like a character who does have a personality.

    Write a dystopian that discusses the most important topic in modern day society, true love at first bloody sight. This is annoying. Dystopia is about a lot more than someone you have loved for a few minutes as a hormone raging teenager. It's about your basic freedoms, your rights as a person and about doing something about someone or something that threatens everyone. Please don't reduce it to a sappy love story. PLEASE!!

    Don't use any description. It's simply boring.

    Don't use any dialogue.Description is needed sometimes to help the reader understand where the characters are. If you love dialogue that much, write a script.

    Use the names of people you know. Including last names. Some people may not like it. And don't use the names of people you know for the really horrible character. 

    Make it as long as you can. And you can almost guarantee that no agent will ever want to see it. 

    Put vampires in it and call it a Gothic novel. And send your vampires to school so they can repeat Year 13 a thousand times. If I was a vampire, I wouldn't be in school. I'd be too busy trying to be awesome! And Vampire =/= Gothic.

    Part 2 will be on soon. 

    Monday, 17 October 2011

    10 Random Facts (I'm guessing about me)

    Janet Sumner Johnson (clicky to read her blog) tagged me on her 10 Random Facts post. Now, because I'm blonde (I'm actually a brunette but that's a different story) I never realised she'd tagged me so I'm gonna be a bit late in doing this.

    1. I once swore in Spanish in front of my Spanish teacher. Instead of telling me off, she was happy that I was using the language in every day life.
    2. I used to tell my teachers in my first year of college that I left my homework on the train and needed an extension. If that was true, my homework is currently hiding on almost every train in the South East of England.
    3. I'm always lying, even when it's not necessary. I think I'll make a good lawyer (I am kidding).
    4. I used to distribute my homework around school. For free. I missed a good opportunity people!
    5. I'm scared of the dark. I'm actually not kidding on this. When I switch my lights off, I keep my little glitter suspended in water lamp on until I'm snug in bed and use my mobile as a light until I've got my head hidden under the blankets so the monsters can't get to me. Yes, I know, I'm a wuss.
    6. I get an itchy throat after eating most fruits. My throat hurts, gets phlegm-y and I feel like crap for a few days but I still eat fruits all the time.
    7. When it's dark outside, I can't look out of the window. It just freaks me out.
    8. I got my first Harry Potter book in 1998. I never finished reading The Philosopher's Stone until a year after I got it but still loved it from the very first day I bought it. The first time I read the books properly was in 2000.
    9. I want to do a stand-up gig one day. When I have the confidence.
    10. Before I die, I want to open a trust fund for an orphan in a poor country so that he/she can get a decent education and build a nice life for himself/herself.
    Some of them may not be as 'random' as others but yeah.

    I'm going to tag:

    Jessica Love from Jessica Love Writes 
    Heather H. from Edgy Author and Beside The Norm
    Clare C. Greenstreet from The Life of a Wannabe Writer 

    You don't have to do this if you don't want to.

    Thursday, 13 October 2011

    ABC - Yeah, My Life Is This Awesome!

    "I saw this list on The Epic, The Awesome and The Random and it's a cool list so I thought I'd answer it myself!

    A. Age: 19. I'm nearly out of my teens! I'm gonna miss being a moody and grumpy teen!
    B. Bed size: Single
    C. Chore that you hate: Don't have any. Yeah I have cool parents. I do sometimes help and unload the dishwasher or clean my room or hoover the living room but it's usually out of my own choice 
    D. Dogs: I don't have any but I'd love a Siberian Husky!
    E. Essential start to your day: Some water. My throat gets very dry so I like to drink something the second I wake. Then, I look out of the window in some hope that it snowed overnight and I don't have to go to college 
    F. Favorite Color: I don't really have one
    G. Gold or Silver? Gold. Or Platinum.
    H. Height: 5'5" Yeah I'm average 
    I. Instruments you play: None. My parents didn't care about music. They cared more about science and maths. Science and maths lay the foundations of life though so they are important I guess
    J. Job title: Writer. Amateur Childminder/Babysitter. Sleeper. Student 
    K. Kids: None but I do treat my cousin's kids like they're my own
    L. Live: .England! Woo!
    M. Mother's name: Anna
    N. Nicknames: Don't have one. I know! I'm weird
    O. Overnight hospital stays: For a month after I was born since I was 10 weeks premature and when I had my tonsils taken out
    Q. Quote from a movie: "I hate that fucking country" It was my first swear word. And "Bloody Hell" from HP!
    R. Right or left handed: Right
    S. Siblings: Two brothers
    T. Time you wake up: 6:30 am.
    U. Underwear? Bikini knickers. Wanna see? lol jk.
    V. Vegetable you hate: Most of them apart from broccoli and sweetcorn
    W. What makes you run late? My brothers. Being sick in the morning.
    X. X-rays you've had: My right ankle three times. I've sprained it a total of five times. I did have an ultrasound once to see if I had ovarian cysts though
    Y. Yummy food that you make: Enchiladas!
    Z. Zoo animal: Tigers. They're stunning creatures!
    Don't I have such a glamourous life!

    Wednesday, 12 October 2011

    How to Start a Novel

    I'm always starting a novel. I write a few pages and I give up. Usually, it's because I'm bored of the idea already but it's usually because I wasn't prepared when I jumped into the deep end with a blindfold on. If you get an idea, the best thing to do is to get the basic idea down onto a piece of paper. You don't need to plan every inch of your story but writing it down can help you transform the idea to words before you set out on climbing Everest writing a novel.

    Recently, I've tried writing down an outline of every chapter so when I start writing, I write the first sentence of every chapter and so have something to work on. At least if I then get stuck on one chapter, I can move onto the next and come back to the other chapter later.

    When you sit down and actually write, think about what you're going to write first. Don't just jump in at the deep end before you can swim. Decide your setting, which characters you're going to use, what your characters are like and other such tidbits of information.

    When you finally have this, start writing. And don't write in heavy description. Write simple sentences and then build up on them. I liken this to making a cake. Add the milk slowly. You can always add more milk but taking milk out of cake mixture is impossible, I think.

    The beginning is always the hardest part for me but once I have the first chapter, I'm usually fine. So get your thinking caps on and think. It'll make writing all the more easier.


    Saturday, 8 October 2011

    8 Reasons Why Books Rock and People Don't

    (This is a joke. Just thought I'd let you all know before I get hatemail for hating the human race.)

    Books are better than real people. Here's why:

    1) Once a book has been published it won't change. People change. Books don't. Your book will never ignore you or bitch about you.

    2) Books don't talk back. Got a friend who doesn't stop being snarky at you? Just pick a book up. They're so much nicer than people!

    3) Books don't have busy schedules. You don't have to call a book up and ask when it can go out. Books will sit on your shelf all day, unless someone picks the book up. Your book will never turn your offer for a night out down.

    4) You can ignore your book and it will never try to get back at you for it. It doesn't have feelings.

    5) It doesn't have feelings. Your book won't get angry at you. Or cry. And it won't ever have PMS!

    6) Books don't die. People do. (God, this point is so depressing!)

    7) You can write a book. You can't make people. If you're a woman, you need a guy to help you make someone. If you're a man, the woman only needs your help. You yourself, on your own, can't make a person. Unless you know how to clone. And if you can clone, just leave me a message explaining how. I need a clone badly.

    8) You can exchange books for other books. Good luck exchanging your family or friends with another family or friends.

    So yeah, books rule! But people are cool too! I think. I haven't been around people much for the past few weeks so I wouldn't know. Anyway. Ha!


    Thursday, 6 October 2011

    A Million Ideas per Hour

    First of all, I just want to say that is it a sad thing that Steve Jobs passed away. He was definitely one of the greatest minds of our era. I hope he rests in peace.

    On to the topic of today, Ideas. I've been having so many this week, I'm completely stumped. Usually, I'll write them down but now I'm so overwhelmed, the second I write one down, I have another two.

    I've always wondered why I will go through a period of new ideas every few hours and then go through weeks of no inspiration or ideas whatsoever.

    This is why it's important to write down all your ideas. When you write down your ideas, you'll have something to refer to when the ideas die down. I would seriously recommend a box or folder where you can put everything that inspires you or gives you ideas. This can be anything from photos, notes, diary entries, tickets and even food packaging. Don't matter about how weird your stuff is, if it means something, keep it. Just one object could spark a million ideas in you later on.

    Are there any weird items/things that you keep for inspiration/ideas? Where do you keep this stuff? Do you let anything see it?


    Tuesday, 4 October 2011

    How To Outline A Novel

    It should be important for every writer. You don't have to follow the outline but it's great as a back up if anything goes wrong, such as, you suddenly develop amnesia.

    Mind Maps

    I find them quite annoying. They're messy and they can get very complicated. Mind Maps will only help if you're writing a simple outline. Some of the other methods may work a bit better for complicated outlines.

    Write down the name of your project in the middle of the page and have different branches coming out that represent the different sections of your novel, such as: beginning, middle and end. Out of those branches, draw a little picture to show what happens in the section, like a comic. 

    Revision Cards

    These are quite fun to use and the great thing is that you can move the scenes around if you need to change the order and you can take scene in and out without too many problems. The only downside I see to using revision cards is that if you lose one then you lose the order. And if you drop your outline and forgot to number each scene, you're dead. Or you have to spend hours trying to remember the order. Yep, dead. 

    Simple. One card = One scene. You can change the order. Just write a little bit about each scene on each card. Having a title for the card can help such as "Jimmy crashes car."

    Post It Notes

    Everyone loves post it notes. They're cute. You get them in loads of colours. They're sticky. You get them in loads of shapes. The way I see it: they fall out of books, they fall off walls, they rip easily, they're easy to lose and they cost way too much if you're using them by the bucket load.

    This is just like the Revision Card method. One post it note = one scene. If you stick them up, make sure they don't fall down. Using pins like the ones in the example picture may help!


    They can be both simple and complicated. But you can't change your order easily. And they're no fun. Lists are the most boring way to outline. But for someone who is lazy, they're ideal.

    Do I need to explain this? Take a piece of paper and write down a sentence or two for each scene in chronological order. Keep a few spaces blank for added scenes or extended or edited scenes.

    So here is a table about the outlining methods above.

    Mind Maps
    Revision Cards
    Change order
    Insert/delete scenes
    Losing cards = nightmare
    Dropping cards = nightmare
    Post it notes
    Different colours
    Different shapes
    Not sticky enough
    Some of them are too small
    Easy to use

    Not as fun as others
    Hard to change order

    Now, you don't have to use an outline and for your first novel, I would suggest not using an outline just so you can see if you can write in a straight line. If you find yourself struggling, then stick to always having an outline.

    Why you should have an outline:
    • They will make it easier to write. You will always know what is coming next.
    • You know where you are going. Getting lost gets harder with an outline. 
    • You can use it when you're querying agents. BUT!!! Always rewrite your outline so that it is correct, makes sense and is easy to read. 
    So I hope this helps anyone who is having a hard time outlining!


    Monday, 3 October 2011

    Prologues: Unnecessary, boring and sometimes a bit too long.

    A prologue is an introduction piece to a novel where the writer can lay down the foundations for the setting or give the reader some important background information to the novel.

    First of all, I should probably make it clear that a prologue isn't a preface. So many people seemed to be confused about this and I see a lot of it on Inkpop.

    A preface is like a short essay at the beginning of the novel, written usually by the author of the book. I did read a children's book once which had a preface written by another author though.

    And yes, Stephenie Meyer did write a prologue and call it a preface in Twilight but then again, she hasn't exactly studied writing, was a newbie when she wrote the book and it's a bit hard to pretend that the book was properly edited. 

    However, a preface is not there serve as a prologue. So use the correct term.

    I have nothing against prefaces. I do however, hate prologues. Unless the author has used it for all the right reasons.

    If you're writing an epic fantasy and need to include a scene about what the country is like or about something that happened long before the start of the novel, go ahead and use a prologue. But if you're writing a paranormal romance (YA) then ditch it.

    Most YA paranormal romance novels are simplistic and require little usage of the brain. And most of the time, prologues are just used to make the book look more like an epic saga.

    Because admit it, having a prologue at the beginning of the novel makes you consider yourself much more intelligent than you are. I have used a prologue before though and it was only for me to read. I only wrote it so I could understand the world a lot more.

    Now here are my points on why you just don't need a prologue:

    - They're unnecessary. Not every book needs a prologue. The best way to determine whether or not you need a prologue is to send a copy of your book to two people. Give one person a prologue and the first few chapters. Give the other person the first few chapters and no prologue. Ask them who found it easier to understand.

    - They're boring. Seriously, even I skip the prologues. Most of the time, nothing happens. Print off the prologue and give it to someone to read. But don't include the word prologue at the top and tell them it's the first chapter. If they tell you it's boring or slow, take it out.

    - They're long. A prologue is not a short story or a mini-novella. Keep it to 1000 words maximum.

    If you really love your prologue, then include it. But don't send it to any agents. If an agent does agree to represent you, then ask them if they would like to see the prologue. They don't need to know about your coma-inducing prologue in your query letter, honestly.

    But I do love prefaces. I don't know why but I enjoy reading the introductions some writers have at the beginning of their books where they tell you some seriously cool stuff such as:

    - how they came up with the idea for the book
    - what they learnt while writing the book
    - whether or not there is a sequel coming up
    - the inspiration for certain characters and stuff.

    So my verdict is: prefaces > prologues.

    What do you think? Do you like prologues? What do you think about them? Have you ever written one?

    Please don't be offended at my post. This is just what I personally think. Feel free to ignore it if you wish.