Posts Tagged Becca Puglisi

Finished Nanowrimo? 5 ways to use the holidays to keep your new writing habits… without revising too early

You aced Nanowrimo.

You have a satisfying file of fifty-k words, itching for further attention.

Your creative mojo is in motion. You got a writing habit, and you’re loath to let it slide.

And holiday times are coming when you might find the odd hour to sneak off, keep your hand in.

But:

It’s too soon to revise the manuscript. You don’t have enough critical distance. So keep it locked away and do these things instead.

1 Fill your research holes

As you wrote, you probably found gaps that needed more research.

Locations

Locations you need to flesh out with visuals, smells, sounds, practical details. Is that tourist attraction open in February? Did people in Georgian England clean their teeth? Also seek details beyond the literal – to resonate with your themes or the inner lives of your viewpoint characters.

Characters’ lives

First drafts are often rough about details of characters’ lives. You might add surprising richness if you look at their professions or think about their daily routines. (For professions, I heartily recommend Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s Occupation Thesaurus.)

2 MOT your title

Did you have a title? If you didn’t, start brainstorming. If you did have a title, is it still the best title?

3 Find comparison titles

At some point, you’ll need to identify which books are the closest to yours, which will be infinitely useful for introducing the book to the wide world. Literary agents, publishers, reviewers, readers, everyone needs to know what other books your book is like.

This is relatively easy if you’re writing in a genre or well defined tradition, but if you’re not, be tangential. Consider:

  • themes
  • human situations
  • historical or geographical settings
  • the nature of the story’s resolution
  • the writing style
  • the tone.

And … find unexpected comparisons

Just for kicks, take an aspect of your book and find a treatment of it that’s as different as possible from your own. Might it give you fresh and surprising ideas?

4 Write a summary from memory

This will do you good in many fab ways. You’ll need a summary when the book is eventually ready to meet the world. Writing this summary is a major undertaking (see here for how long it took me to write a summary of My Memories of a Future Life – the post is titled ‘I feared I’d never get the blurb finished in time for the launch’). Even if your revisions of the novel change a lot, it’s easier to update an existing summary than to write one from scratch under pressure. So start writing it early, when you have this downtime.

And do it from memory! Why? Two reasons – to stop you opening that text file and fiddling too soon. Also, the summary is in itself a reflective process of revision. When you tell the story to a new blank page, off the cuff, you’ll see anew how everything fits together. Or how it could with a tweak or several. You might see some completely new directions as well.

5 Or … divert your attention completely by starting another project!

But no peeking until January. Or even later.

Psst… My Nail Your Novel workbook has loads more activities for using this writing rest productively.

Meanwhile, here’s what’s been happening at my own writing desk. And maybe also beyond.

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Struggling to write your ending? Some pointers – guest post at Writers Helping Writers

This year I’ve been one of the guest tutors at Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s site Writers Helping Writers. It’s my turn to take the lectern there again, and the subject they asked for is endings.

Are there any must-haves for an ending? Well, the answer isn’t simple, but there are some abiding principles that hold good no matter what you’re writing. You can read about them at Angela and Becca’s site … and if you want even more, there’s a chapter about them in my Nail Your Novel plot book. Have fun!

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Are you a writer? Don’t neglect your reading – guest post at Writers Helping Writers

writershelpingIt’s always a struggle to find time to write. If you’ve got a book in progress, it’s tempting to spend all your free moments on it. But don’t sacrifice time that you would usually spend reading. It’s a false economy.

Similarly, don’t fear that your reading is going to influence your work to a detrimental extent, or that you might end up copying ideas. The chances are you won’t. Your book is much bigger in your mind than anything you read, or watch, or any conversation you overhear. Any influence will be minor by comparison with the huge amount of work you’ve already done.

But if you stop reading while you write your book you might lose touch with the way prose tells stories, and you won’t be using your ideas to their maximum potential. We do many things on instinct, and those instincts are learned unconciously. Reading feeds our muse and our technique.

Today I’m at the wonderful Writers Helping Writers site, run by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Emotion Thesaurus fame. They’ve devised a series of writing lectures this year and have invited various coaches to be regular contributors, and I’m honoured to be on their list (note that nice award they have from Writer’s Digest). And because I wrote the piece as the year was turning, my mind was operating in resolution mode. If I was to identify a change that I’d urge writers to make, what should it be? Many of my author clients would do their work a world of good by reading more, but it’s  job to persuade them. So here’s my persuasion. Do hop over.

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