Writer's Blog

Common writing struggles

By on May 4, 2018
Common writing struggles

Common writing struggles

I’ve just sent my manuscript to my editor and I’m revising a wip and working on the first draft. What I’m struggling is with my wip is, I can’t seem to find a way to complete the story. Anyhow, here are my top five common writing struggles that each writer should relate too.

  1. Coming up with an idea and you don’t write down.

  Does this happen to you? I’m guilty of this crime and ideas seem to come up while I’m falling asleep and I’ll be too sleepy to write them down. Or I’ll get this amazing sentence constructed. Go I bother to get up and write? Nope. Funny how the brain works.

Feeling guilty about leaving the house because you should be writing instead.

Please tell I’m not alone. Each time I go out hence meeting friends or with my fiancée I’ll be thinking about writing or that I should on my laptop, writing.

  1. Fear or second-guess yourself while reading your own writing.

God, I suck. Nobody is going to read the pile of shit, even my dog can create better art than this. What if nobody buys my book? What if I never be published, author? What if I never get an agent? I can self-publish but how do I get the book on readers hands?

  1. The shitty first draft. A big Common writing struggle! 

Oh boy, the cringe is real with this one. My first drafts are an utter disaster.

No description. Check

Repeated words. Check

Spelling and grammar. Check

Not sure what I was thinking. Check

How I’m going to fix this? Also, check.

  1. Becoming attached to your characters.

This is my biggest struggle at the moment. I’m not usually attached to my characters. (Yes, I’m ruthless) I write thrillers so I’ll have to kill my darlings at some point. Until I created Steve. He’s eighteen-year-old English man, a university student studying photography. He has long black hair, smoldering eyes, high cheeks, yes, He’s hot. I fell in love with him; I don’t want to kill him (not because he’s a good looking but he’s developing into this great character), and I’m trying to figure out ways to save him. So yeah writers life.

I make another list of common writing struggles next week. If you like, this please share.

Top five books I’ve read so far

Editing the first draft: show vs tell and infodumps

Happy writing and editing xxx  

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Writing the first draft

By on March 30, 2018
Writing the first draft

Writing the first draft

Writing the first draft: it’s called the first draft for many reasons, writing the first draft is jointing down your ideas on paper.

 

Whatever you do, don’t look at what you wrote. I repeat; don’t look at what you wrote. Why? Because that comes later when revising, yes prepare to be mortified.

 

Don’t correct the grammatical errors or spelling that also goes into the revising phrase.

 

Writing the first draftSome writers like to edit the first draft hoping it will be beautifully written. In that turtle mood, you’ll never finish the thing. Your focus is to slap “The End” at the bottom of the page and don’t go crazy on editing. Don’t show it to anybody, not to your loved ones, not even to your dog or cat, not until you adjust it yourself and for God’s sake don’t send it over to an editor. Just don’t. 

 

“The first drafts don’t have to be perfect they have to be written.” 

 

I have been sick with the flu these past few days and had this idea for a story, I am between edits at the moment but I took a break so, I managed to jolt down 24K in a week that is a lot of words. 

I noticed that I need to remove the first chapter and add it in the later chapters, re-write chapter 2, which is going to be chapter 1. I might have to re-write the whole thing but hey this writing no-one said it’s going to be easy. Stop complaining. Re-writes are what makes good writing, so re-write and rewrite and yes, do cry.  It’s okay. You can do it. You are going to be fine. The re-writes are toughest in the whole progress. Actually, writing the first draft is the fun part.

 

Bottom line, butt in the chair, and write. Don’t worry about verbs and repeated words it will be fixed later.

Happy writing.

 

Please share this post if you like its content. 

 

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How to find motivation when you don’t feel like writing.

By on January 19, 2018
How to find motivation when you don’t feel like writing.

How to find motivation when you don’t feel like writing.

 

Sometimes we all feel unmotivated and I had plenty of those late last year. It’s okay to take a break from writing occasionally and catch up with friends, watch a movie or TV show or do something else that you love. Here are my top five steps on how to find motivation when you don’t feel like writing.

Music

 

 Music helps me to relax also to keep me thinking about my book and generate new ideas. I walk to work, so, I always have my headphones on and drift into another world, where I can focus on what I should add or remove from my book.

 

If you’re like me you listen to music while you write, you can add your writing playlist on your phone and let your creative juices flow.

 

 

Carry a notebook.

 

I always carry a notebook with me when I wherever go. If a sentence or an idea comes to mind, I write it down and get back to it later. I’m a sucker for stationery so I always have my notebooks look pretty to keep me happy.

 

There are also mobile apps if that works better for you. I prefer the physical thing 

 

 

Listen to broadcasts.

 

Broadcasts are a great way to stay motivated. I listen to them while at work to give me ideas of what I should or making plans for publishing or just to stay committed to finishing the book.

 

I like to listen to this broadcast.

SPF Podcast

Set a mini-deadline

 

Another step on how to find motivation when you don’t feel like writing. Setting a mini-deadline can be effective as you jump back into your writing. Set a realistic deadline, if you know you won’t be able to cope, then set a small one like writing 1000 words in a week. Or finish a chapter by the end of the week.

 

 

Reading.

It can be a fiction or a non-fiction book about the craft of writing. For us, writers reading is food for our brains. It helps us to stay creative and you can absorb other authors work. Reading can inspire you to jump back into the writing wagon and finish that book.  

 

Happy writing xxx

 

The novella and a novel what’s the difference

Top 5 motivational quotes about writing

How not to start a book

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How Not to start a book

By on December 15, 2017
How Not to start a book

How Not to start a book

Opening with a Dream

How NOT to start a book, Never under any circumstances, open the story with an action than reveal that the character was dreaming. Do not end your story that everything that happened was a dream either. Agents or editors won’t be happy with that.

Waking up  

Same as dreaming, do not open your story with your MC waking up and doing the usual boring stuff. Like brushing his/her teeth, making coffee, eating breakfast etc. The story should start with an action or at least, before the action. However, some say you can start the story with your character waking up with a gun pointing in his/her head because that starts with the immediate action.

 

The Tour

The tour is when your character is sitting in her room i.e living room and starts to talk what’s in it and describing his/her stuff.

How Not to start a book

 

The Mirror

Another tip in How Not to start a book is, do not example write your  MC goes to the bathroom and starts to describe herself/himself by looking in the mirror. Big no.no. It is considered one of the biggest cliches in writing.  

 

Family Showcase.

This is where your MC is visiting her family and starts to describe her mother, father, and siblings. Keep in mind that the reader is starting to get to know your MC so, give your reader the chance to get acquainted with the MC first, then start to introduce your reader to other characters.   

Happy Writing xxx

Best opening Lines books

How to write a book

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Best opening lines in books

By on December 9, 2017
Best opening lines in books. 

Best opening lines in books. 

 

Best opening lines in books. The first chapter or the first paragraphs of a book is the most important as this will set the tone of the story. Also, this is your opportunity to hook the reader. It is important to implement this in your writing. It’s not that simple the first chapter is the trickiest to write and sometimes, writers leave it for last. I’ve read and reviewed many books and one the best techniques to use is use curiosity.

 

Yes, you heard me, curiosity. The reader would think oh I have to find out what is going to happen next or this is good, or what? That’s when they dive on into book.  I came up with a few examples that in my opinion are the best opening lines I’ve read so far. I’m going to list only from the best I’ve read there is mix of classic and modern books.  

 

Best opening Lines in books.

 

Best opening lines in books.

 

 

“He knew he was going to die” Killing me Softly by Nicci French

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

best opening lines in books“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

The catcher in the Rye J.D Salinger 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best opening lines in books.

 

 

 

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen” 1984 George Orwell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best opening lines in books.

 

 

 

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth Lo. Lee. Ta!” Lolita Vladimir Nabokov 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“YOU walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and it’s impossible to know if you’re wearing a bra but I don’t think that you are. You’re so clean that you’re dirty and you murmur your first word to me—hello—when most people would just pass by, but not you, in your loose pink jeans, a pink spun from Charlotte’s Web and where did you come from?” You by Caroline Kepnes 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best opening lines in books

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.”
– J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best opening lines in books

 

 

 

“Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes.”
Animal Farm by Georhe Orwell 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best opening lines in books

 

 

“It was a pleasure to Burn” Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best opening lines in books

 

 

 

“A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” The End of the Affair by Graham Greene,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best opening lines in books

 

“The forest had claws and teeth.” ― Riley SagerFinal Girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was few of the best opening lines in books, hope you can generate ideas with those few opening lines.

 

Happy writing and reading xx

 

Other blog posts 

How to write a book

How to find a setting for your story

Choosing a point of view for your novel

 

 

 

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Writer's Blog

How to write a book

By on December 2, 2017
Five tips how to write a book

Five tips how to write a book

 

     

 

Five tips how to write a book: Anyone can write a book, but it doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Writing a book is time-consuming; it requires a lot of discipline, skill, patience, and practice. I started writing at sixteen and I didn’t know what the show vs tell was, the plotting, how to write a flashback and so on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I finished my third unpublished manuscript, I was excited and nothing beats that feeling. I was doing NaNoWriMo at the time, and one of my fellow writers, suggested I speak to her friend, who’s a published author and editor. I sent the manuscript to her hoping, she’ll tell me how much she’ll love it. Wrong. What I got was harsh but constructive criticism from her. She pointed out I had backstory in the first chapter, a lot telling instead showing, etc. I wanted to die and thought of giving up. She suggested I read books about the craft. Sending my MS to her was learning crave for me.

 

 

So how do you write a book?

 

Here a few books to read if you thinking about writing.

 

 How to write a damn good novel by James Frey

 

Outlining your novel by K.M Wieland

 

Structuring your novel by K.M Wieland

 

Writing active Setting by Mary Buckham

 

Rivet your readers with deep point of view by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

 

How to write dazzling dialogue by James Scott bell

 

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell.

 

On writing by Stephen King

 

 

 

There are more books about the craft of writing a book, but in opinion, if you start with those you’ll have the basics covered. 

 

 

 

 Five tips how to write a book: Join Facebook groups.

 

I haven’t joined any writer’s groups until recently but it proved to be the most helpful. People in those groups are in the same boat as you are. Either planning to write a book or wrote a book, and published authors. They offer feedback or any help you’ll require. I’ve had a lot of encouragement (and criticism) from the writing community. I found my editor through those groups so head over to Facebook; go to search button and type “writers groups” and start making connections.

 

Bonus: If you want to connect with me or have questions, you can do so on my Facebook page here or join my Facebook group over here.

 

 

 Finding your voice.

 

 The what? Yes, writers have a voice. JK Rowling has her voice and Stephen King has his own voice. Your voice is how you are going to tell the story. Finding your voice will take time and practice it will not come overnight.

 

 Find your writer space and time

 

 

Your writer space is where you are going to write. Is it on a desk in your study or in bed? Find a comfortable place that works for you, and set a time to write. It can be half an hour or two hours see how you are going to fit writing into your timetable.

 

 
Start.

 

And the last tip in Five tips on how to write a book I know it sounds scary but writing is fun and rewarding so butt on the chair

and start cracking.

 

Happy writing 

 

https://joannewritesbooks.com/blog/how-to-find-a-setting-story/

https://joannewritesbooks.com/blog/choosing-point-view/

https://joannewritesbooks.com/blog/basic-methods-outlining-novel/

 

 

 

 

 

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How to find a setting for your story.

By on November 25, 2017
How to find a setting for your story.

How to find a setting for your story.

 

 

When you have an idea for your story, you also need to think about a setting. What is setting you ask? Simple, the environment where the story is going to take place. So, how to find a setting for your story? Here are some tips to help you. 

 

Location
Where the story-taking place? Is it in London, New York, Paris, Rome, etc 

 

 

Time Period

 

Victorian times, World War II, Today.

 

 

 

The economic state

 

Let’s say your story takes place in London. But which part? Is it in a posh area like Mayfair or Chelsea? The suburbs like Richmond? Or dodgy areas like Hackney or Tottenham? (No offensive if someone of you reading this post are from there) What is the economic state is there a recession? Or just came out if it?

 

The Specific building 

 

Another to tip to how to find a setting for your story. Does it take place in a room? What does this room look like? A hospital? Or School? An apartment? An office?

 

The weather

 

The weather is important in a story setting because it affects the character mood and atmosphere. is it cold? Hot? The reader will discover if the character likes cold weather and detest summer for example. Make sure you do your research on that country’s weather. For example, if the story is set in Malta in July don’t say it raining because it hardly rains during that season, in fact, it would be boiling hot.

 

 

 

Occupations

 

 

 

Before you draft, you need to have a clear idea who your character is and what he or she does because it will be part of the setting. Is she/he an accountant? A lawyer? A detective even?
If your characters are accountants or lawyers, some scenes will take place in an office. If she or he is, a detective most of the story will take place in a police station or around the city questioning witnesses.

 

 

You don’t have to be too specific though

 

Some writers leave vivid details out for setting, to leave it to the reader’s imagination.

 

It doesn’t have to be a real setting.

 

 

 

Genres such Sci-fi and Fantasy they don’t use a real setting because it can be fictional. Example Harry Potter although set in England, Hogwarts is fictional or Lord of Rings with places like Mordor this requires lots of world building and vivid writing to suck the reader into the story.

 

See my other topics Choosing a point of view for your novel

Basic outline methods

 Nanowrimo five tips to get started

 

Happy writing. 

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Basic methods of outlining a novel

By on November 11, 2017
Basic methods of outlining a novel

Basic methods of outlining a novel

 

 

 

Here are few tips on how to write an outline for your novel these are the basic methods of outlining a novel. 

 

 

 

 

Do I have to write an outline for your novel? No, there are writers who are pansters, I will write a post about that later one. You can sit down and write, however, outline works better for me. I’m not going to post a lot of examples to keep it as simple as possible as it can be overwhelming. Here a 2 basic steps of how you should outline:]]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1. You can write an outline for your novel by scribbling down a summary of the entire novel this is what I do and it’s my favorite method of outlining. Basically, you jot down all of your ideas. You’ll be surprised how inspired you become. Make sure, you know your ending before you write that masterpiece. You can use this method then add dialogue, a description so on.

 

Step 2. You can write an outline for your novel by doing a chapter by chapter summary, you write down a summary of each chapter how the story is going to evolve.

 

There is also the skeleton outline example:

Exposition

-The story will take place in England.

-We are introduced to Franklin he’s goth and musician.

-Madeline is a patient in a mental hospital.

Incident

-Franklin father dies.

-Madeline escapes the hospital.

Rising Action

-Franklin meets Madeline in a bar.

-Franklin escapes with her and starts to see how dangerous this woman is.

Climax

-Franklin tries to escape from Madeline wrath.

-Madeline stabs him.

-Franklin manages to escape and drives to a hospital with a knife on his back, he arrives in the hospital but faints.

Resolution

-Franklin is alive and well.

-Madeline was caught and committed to a maximum security ward in the hospital.

 

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Nano Wrimo five tips to get started

By on October 28, 2017
nano-wrimo-five-tips-get-started

Nanowrimo five tips to get started.

 

 

 

For those who don’t know, Nanowrimo stands for “National Novel Writing Month”. This is a worldwide event where writers challenge themselves to write 50K in a month. I started nanowrimo five years ago and won  5 times. When I first heard about it, I was like 50k in a month that is ridiculous who writes 50k in a month? I’m a fast drafter myself I write about 1,200 every day (a good day) so, I thought this is not going to be so bad. I can beat this.

 

Wirimo can be a challenging and wonderful experience, even if it’s just to achieve a personal goal. Here are my top five tips that I learned through the years:

 

Tip 1 –  Find a suitable time and a comfortable place to write.

 

See when you have time to write. I normally write in the evenings because I work full time and that is when I have time to write. So, for you, it could be in the morning or the afternoons see what works for you. It doesn’t have to be two hours even 15 minutes a day can help. Find a room you feel comfortable in, for me, it’s in bed. I sit in front of a computer with a desk all day. I can’t write sitting in front of a desk again. So find a room that keeps you motivated.

Nanowrimo five tips to get started.

Tip 2 – Plan ahead.

 

To reach your goal of 50K means slightly more than 1,600 words every day. Those are many words, therefore it’s important to schedule, shopping, meals etc ahead,  because we need to eat, right? Prepare meals beforehand but I do not recommend junk food as you need lots of energy and junk doesn’t give you that, rather, it does the opposite. Let friends and family know you are going to be busy. For Americans, you have Thanksgiving so you need to plan.

 

Tip 3 – Whatever you do, do not edit.

 

I repeat do not edit. I know there is a spelling or something that you can easily fix but you don’t have time for that. If you go to fix a particular sentence, you end up getting sucked into editing and before you know it, you are lost in there and you will never finish. I don’t edit. I do this after I finish the first draft so I can laugh at myself when I go to revise. So for all you control freaks keep this in mind don’t touch a single word from there.

 

Tip 4 create a playlistNanowrimo five tips to get started.

 

I write with music as it really puts me in the mood and inspires my writing of the story. Also, I live in a noisy area so I need something to block out the distraction. To create a playlist it can be on I tunes, youtube, or Spotify this will serve as a soundtrack for the story you plan to write.

 

 

Tip 4 – Plot, Plot, Plot

 

  Plan, Plan, Plan your novel ’s outline. I never outlined my nimro and sometimes I end up getting stuck or filling unnecessary scenes just to reach my 50k so an outline can be handy. You don’t need a big fancy outline. Just jot down a summary of your idea so you know what you have to write about before you start. Also, carry a notebook with you. It will be effective if you don’t have your laptop with you where you can jot down words or ideas to be on track.

 

Bonus tip

 

Don’t forget to join the Nanowrimo groups and connect with other writers who are doing the same thing you are to help you be motivated and inspired.

 

 

 

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Top 5 tips to write dialogue.

By on September 16, 2017
Writing dialogue: Top 5 tips to write dialogue.

Writing dialogue: Top 5 tips to write dialogue.

 

Writing dialogue: Top 5 tips to write dialogue. 

 

Writing dialogue is one of the most important fundamental aspects of creative writing. This is where your characters come to life and their personalities shine through. These are the magic ingredients which make the reader fall in love with them or hate them to their core. Dialogue can be tricky as it needs to sound realistic but you can’t add the general day to day conversation. These five tips will you help you to write better dialogue and bring those characters to life.

 

 1. Listen to conversations and write them down.

 

When I was doing a self-editing course, the editor suggested we should listen to conversations. As writers, we are observant and this can be a major pro. Observe a conversation, it can be with your co-workers, at school or wherever. Listen to a conversation in a café, and jolt everything down. Notice how people change the subject in matter minutes, this should reflect in your writing too.

 

2. Keep dialogue tags simple.

 

 

 Don’t use fancy dialogue tags. I know, the word “said” can sound boring. We writers want to be creative. When I started critiquing manuscripts, I noticed how distracting it is to use different dialogue tags. Don’t know what I mean? Here is an example.

  “Hi Sam,” Jean said.

  “Hello, Jean” Sam replied.

  “Haven’t you heard!’ Jean exclaimed.

  “What?’ Sam asked.

  “Bob was hit by a car!” Jean declared.

‘Oh, that’s terrible when?’ Sam cried.

 

Doesn’t that pull you away from the story? Keep it simple and stick with “said” or “asked” as those are the “invisible” tags. That kind of dialogue screams amateur. It is not a crime to add, “Shouted,” “yelled,” or “hissed” to make a point but not a continuous bombardment like the above example. Also, remember, your readers are smart and will be able to distinguish who is talking.  So no need to add “said” after that speaking character all the time.

 

Tip: if you are going to use yelled stick with just yelled don’t write “yelled loudly” we know that yelling is loud don’t add unnecessary words your editor will thank you. 

 

Another tip in writing dialogue: Top 5 tips to write dialogue.

3. Use body language to bring out the emotions and to avoid using too much dialogue tags.

 

Instead of using dialogue tags, you can describe your character’s body language. By doing so, you are showing what your characters are feeling. Like the below example:

 

Richard’s hand clutched around the glass. I feared it would smash on his hands.  He stood and followed me in the kitchen.  ‘Well, ain’t that relief, let’s open a bottle of champagne and celebrate, shall we?’ slamming the glass on the table, ‘how could you do something like this!’

He kept watching me with a hard look on his face.  ‘Well? What do you have to say for yourself?’

              I turned crossing my hands over my chest, ‘… I just…’

                  ‘What?’ He shouted.

I turned my back to him and poured red wine on the glass. Richard stomped towards me ‘what!’

 

By the slamming of glass and the stomping of the foot, we know that Richard is angry at his wife. Hardly any dialogue tags needed.

 

4. Don’t include everything and Keep dialogue realistic.

 

Think of how you would talk to people but as I said, you can’t include everything. If your character went to the supermarket to by milk, you don’t have to include the conversation between him and the cashier. That will bore the reader. But if your character went to the supermarket to buy milk and there is a burglary than yes, include the dialogue as that would spark interest. Dialogue needs to reveal something about your character but don’t do this:

 

 “Hello, Jenny, my dear friend of ten years who has black hair, blue eyes, and high cheekbones!’

Do you get my point? Do you talk to your friend like this?

 

And make sure you read it aloud.  

 

Another tip Writing dialogue: Top 5 tips to write dialogue.

 

5. Watch movies/TV shows to enhance your dialogue.

 

 

 

Movies are all about dialogue. Movies are a fun way to see how it’s done and help you improve. I’ll do a post about movies with great dialogue to help you get creative in the next post so, stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus tip: I recommend reading this book to learn about dialogue.   How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript

 

 

Top five movies to watch to improve your dialogue.

 

 

 

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