Writing Process

Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: The Whimsical Fairy

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: a whimsical fairy. 

Your character is a fairy who is, well, away with the fairies in her/his own little world. They have earned their wings but on their final warning.

Your setting is a secret room in a library. In this room, there are boxes filled with…..

Continue the story.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Free Writing

For our writing group today, it’s a bit of free writing.

I have started a story below. Writing for a minimum of five minutes, continue the story. You can either keep the current POV or maybe carry it on using the point of view of the person being followed?

Have fun.

*****

I watch from the other side of the road whilst she waits in line for her coffee. She hasn’t spotted me. Her head is looking down at the phone in her hand; a small smile plays on her lips as her fingers fly across the screen.

I wonder who makes her smile like that. An agonising feeling of jealousy rises but I quickly try and brush it aside. I need to keep my focus. I am so close.

I come out of the shadows and begin to follow her when I see her finally leaving the busy coffee shop, almost loosing her in the crowds of people on the pavement. I keep my distance, careful not to be seen.

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A Moment With… Effrosyni Moschoudi

Effrosyni Moschoudi is the author of The Raven Witch of Corfu series. 

She is joining me today to talk about how Corfu has inspired her writing. 

*****

My love affair with Corfu began when I was only a child. Ever since I was about five years old, my Corfiot grandparents used to have me over for long periods every summer, first in Corfu town, then in the village of Moraitika.

Moraitika is situated on the southeast coast of the island between Benitses and the port of Lefkimmi. Back in the 1980s, Moraitika was a bustling holiday spot. My family ran both a souvenir shop and a small business of room rentals at the time, which meant I had plenty of opportunities to mingle with tourists on a daily basis, Brits mostly.

My sister and I often spent three-month holidays in Moraitika as youngsters, where we helped our grandmother with the cleaning of the rented rooms. Yet, there was always time for plenty of swimming and sunbathing, as well as for having fun in the evenings with a host of cousins and friends. This time of my life remains the most precious I hold in my heart, and this is even more so the case now that my grandparents have passed away.

I have strong family roots in Moraitika. My great-grandfather, the teacher and priest of the village in the turn of the 20thcentury is buried beside the old church. Part of his home that’s still standing in its entirety near the church was originally used as the school of the village. Today, it has been split up into small apartments which stay closed for most of the year and only come to life for 1-2 weeks at a time when descendants of my great-grandfather (my cousins, aunts and uncles) arrive for a short holiday. Having inherited the part of the house that once belonged to my grandparents, it is a precious bond with that special part of my life that literally comes to life for a few days every summer when I stay there.

Beside Moraitika, and across the river of Messonghi, lies a small fishing village of the same name. Unlike Moraitika that kept getting more built up over time, Messonghi has changed very little since I’d first laid eyes on it in the 1970s.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Plotting and Timelines

Plotting and timelines. 

I am fast realising that I am one of these writers that has to know what is happening in my story; the experiences of National Novel Writing Month has taught me this.

I have been finding this method below quite helpful in plotting my story. This is something I have featured before but thought it worth revisiting.

Grab either a pad of Post-It notes (author Julie Cohen swears by Post-It notes) or some bits of paper and write out all of the current plot points for your current work in progress; all the things you have so far (and don’t worry if you don’t have the end yet. Neither do I.)

Also, if you aren’t currently working on anything, as always, you could pick a published story.

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NK Chats To… Beth O’ Leary

Hi Beth, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your book, The Flatshare and what inspired it? 

Thank you so much for having me! The Flatshare is a story about two people who share a one-bed flat but don’t meet: one works nights, the other works regular hours. It was inspired by my own experiences of moving in with my boyfriend when he’d just started work as a junior doctor and was working lots of night shifts. We would go days on end without seeing one another – he’d get home from work just after I’d leave in the morning and vice versa, so we passed like ships in the night. It got me wondering what might happen if two strangers lived that way…

 

What’s your writing process like from idea to final draft? 

For me, the basic concept is often what comes into my head first: in this case, two people sharing a bed but not meeting. The main characters come next, growing out of that: so here, I asked, why might two people be willing to do that? What sorts of people would they be?

 

I generally do a rough plan after that point, which features some key moments I want to happen in the novel, but then I rarely look at that plan again once I get writing. For me, first drafts tend to snowball – I write very quickly, almost with the sense that I’m trying to keep up with the story, and then when I hit the end of the book I go back and do a lot of work from that point onwards. The first draft gets the raw, emotional stuff down, the clay of the story – the second draft is all about shaping that into something.

 

Do you have any writing rituals and somewhere special you like to write? 

Well, I wrote The Flatshare on my commute to and from work, so after a while that became my writing ritual – it took me ages to get used to writing full-time at a desk at home after that! I often listen to music while I write, and tend to create playlists for stories. These playlists are especially useful when I’m editing, because they get me back into the character’s heads even when I’m looking at the book more analytically.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: What’s in the Cupboard?

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: 

You are sitting in a chair when your child comes up and sits next to you. Out of nowhere, your child looks at you and says…

‘Daddy/Mummy, who is that in the cupboard upstairs and why are they sleeping when it’s not bed time?’

Begin with the above sentence.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Speaking Differently

Today, I wanted to focus on the various speaking styles of characters. I

Each character needs to have their own specific voice.

Write two pages of dialogue.

One character only speaks in short sentences whilst your other character is a bit more of a chatterbox. They speak in longer sentences.

Has this achieved two distinctive voices?

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NK Chats To: Roxie Cooper

Hi Roxie, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to Novel Kicks today. Your book is called The Day We Met (released today. Yay.) What’s it about and what inspired it?

Hi, thanks for having me! The Day We Met is novel about meeting the right person at the wrong time and it asks the question; what happens if you meet your soulmate when you’re just about to marry someone else? Stephanie and Jamie are both happy with other people when they meet each other, but they can’t ignore the strong connection and chemistry between them. Unwilling to slip into a typical affair, they decide to meet on the same weekend every year, as friends. The novel spans a ten-year period and we see how the relationship affects them, their marriages, and careers.

I wanted to write a different kind of love story, one which reflected modern times and attitudes. I’ve always been intrigued by people’s varying opinions on physical and emotional infidelity; is one worse than the other? How do emotional affairs start and just how damaging are they? It’s a huge grey area which sparks monumental discussion and, as a former lawyer, they’re something I love exploring. But it was when I heard Paloma Faith’s Only Love Can Hurt Like This one day that the novel became fully alive in my mind. I knew this had to be an epic love story about two people who couldn’t be together but couldn’t be apart either. That was also the moment I decided that the novel would have to be set to music.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write, do you prefer silence and is there something you need to do/have before you begin writing (coffee for example?)

Sorry to be really awkward, but I have different routines for different stages of the writing process! When I’m writing the actual book, I adopt a fairly strict routine but it’s carried out in a nice environment. So, I’ll drop both my kids at school then dash to a coffee shop on my local high street. Both of my previous books were written there. I don’t stop until I’ve written at least 1000 words and I need my iPod on with people walking around. I like being in the middle of the hustle of it all and I stay there until it’s time to pick the kids up again. Once I move onto edits, however, everything changes. I lock myself in the house and have the TV on at a barely audible volume – I need a tiny amount of white noise. I have to drink coffee in the morning, switching to tea in the afternoon. I turn into a complete recluse in this period, I don’t see my friends for months. It’s very extreme but it works for me!

 

Which author or book has most influenced you?

I’ve read so many books by authors I’ve admired, but in terms of ones who have influenced my career, I’d have to say Adele Parks. I read her novel, Playing Away, in my 20s and thought it was such a standout, brave debut. I researched the author and discovered that she, too, was from Teesside – I couldn’t believe it! That was the moment I thought ‘Wow – if someone from Boro can become an author, there’s hope for any of us.’ It was around this time I started to have ideas about a novel of my own but hadn’t started writing it yet (that book turned out to be my debut The Law of Attraction), but each time I read another of Adele’s books, it cemented my ambition.

 

What made you first realise that you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved reading, but I was never one of those kids who wanted to write – or an adult, for that matter. The idea came to me after I became disillusioned with my former career as a criminal barrister. I come from a very working class background and would tell all my friends about the outrageously silly traditions and rituals I had to participate in at the Bar. Coming from Teesside, I’d tell the stories through a very unimpressed ‘Boro lens’ and they’d all say to me “You need to write a book about this!” I also got so fed up with people saying to me “You really don’t look like a barrister!” so in 2009 I started writing my debut novel The Law of Attraction – a book about a blonde, working class, intelligent, sassy girl from Teesside who is propelled into the posh world of barristers. I hadn’t even considered writing a book before I was 31 years old.

 

What’s your route to publication?

I did a lot of research before I submitted my debut novel to agents. My first novel was the only book I’d ever written and took me about 16 months to write. When I felt it was polished enough to allow an agent to read, I sent it off to three I had my eye on (which was terrifying!). Sarah Hornsley from The Bent Agency requested a full manuscript within 24 hours. I was a nervous wreck! Sarah called me and we had the most amazing chat. I knew then that she was the right agent for me. She made suggestions on how I could improve the manuscript (which I did) and six weeks later she offered representation. The next step was submitting the novel to publishers. I had offers from two publishing houses and The Law of Attraction was eventually published in June 2017 with the Harper Collins imprint, HQ Digital.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Different Orders

This week, I wanted to focus on how moving plot events around, you can change/improve the story. 

Write down the following four plot points, each on a separate piece of paper. Put them into a jar or a hat and take them back out one at a time, lining them up.

This is the new order for the story. Write your own version using this order.

Cinderella is told she can’t go to the ball.

Cinderella meets the Prince.

Cinderella loses her shoe. 

Cinderella gets married. 

How does the story change once you’ve moved it around?

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NK Chats To: N. Lombardi Jr

Hello Nicholas. It’s great to welcome you to the blog today. Please tell me a little about your new book, Justice Gone and what inspired it?

Justice Gone was inspired by a true event, the fatal beating of a homeless man in a small Californian town. This was such an extreme case, and one which did not include any racial elements, that it exposed the utter abuse of authority in which an outraged public reaction was inevitable. The town was Fullerton, the man’s name was Kelly Thomas, and the year was 2011. Although the police officers were indicted by a grand jury, they were acquitted in their trial. So I asked myself a question: if someone felt that justice was denied the deceased, would they take it in their own hands? This became the seed for the story.

 

What elements do you feel need to be present in a thriller novel? What are the challenges?

Suspense, that is, the anticipation of what is going to come next, and this is usually accompanied by actions to some degree, although if you have enough skill, words alone can create this tension. Whichever way you accomplish this, the challenge is to persuade the reader to invest their interest in what is going on, and this includes sympathy for the protagonists.

 

This is the first part of a series featuring Dr Tessa Thorpe. What advice do you have for someone trying to develop a series and a strong character that will keep them coming back to read their story?

You need to become friends, or even love the character, knowing their faults as well as their admirable traits. In this way you know what they will say and can predict what they’ll do in any situation.

Actually Tessa first appeared in Journey Towards a Falling Sun, a story I wrote over 30 years ago, but eventually got published in 2014. It was a minor role, but one in which she was born, so to speak.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write and do you prefer silence?

I can write in the early mornings when I’m fresh, or in the evenings when I’m relaxed. usually the time between is non-productive. Silence is mandatory.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

I don’t have a favourite word. I have a favourite colour, blue. Can I then say that “blue” is my favourite word?

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Connecting Memories

Today, I thought we could try and connect three seemingly unrelated memories.

Write about three separate memories. These can be yours or they could belong to someone else.

Each one should be about fifty words.

Once you’ve done that, try and connect these three unrelated memories into one coherent story.

Three memories I have thought of off the top of my head are my Mum and Grandfather teaching me to ride my bike, My Grandmother’s first day of senior school and the day I got married.

Is what you’ve written something that could be used for a bigger project?

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NK Chats To… Steven J. Gill

Hi Steven. Welcome to Novel Kicks. Can you tell me about your novel, The Rock ‘N’ The Roll ‘N’ That and what inspired it?

The novel in very simple terms is about a band.

A middle-aged man stumbles across said band as they prop up the bill in a subterranean haunt in Manchester.

He offers to manage them, and their journeys begin.

The backdrop is essentially to highlight love and friendship and the insecurities/successes/predicaments that middle-age can bring.

In terms of what inspired the novel, I’d previously read a book that used the music industry as a backdrop but felt it could be done better. I then attended the inaugural Festival Number 6. In North Wales and after an enjoyable afternoon at the literary stage, had somewhat of an epiphany and decided I would set to and get my book written.

The coupling of the music industry and this ‘new-breed’ of middle-aged felt like it had a lot mileage. Forty-something is now such a different beast in comparison to previous generations. And that opens a wealth of possibilities and jacking your job in to mange a band is well within the realms of possibility this day and age.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write and do you prefer silence? What keeps you motivated when writing?

It tends to fit in around work and I work in a room with a table, a huge bookcase and a stereo. I like to write for a couple of hours at a time. And I do very little in silence!

A perfect writing day involves no work. Get up and do a couple of hours. Go to the gym. Come back and eat couple more hours writing. Go for a walk for an hour mid afternoon and then a couple more hours writing. Breaking the creative process up allows for thinking time.

Motivation is progress in simple terms – be it writing or editing etc.

 

What’s your route to publication?

I ran a social media crowdfund campaign to gauge interest and to ‘out’ myself as a writer. The response was great, and I used the monies to get the book professionally edited and launched via Clink Street.

 

Do you have a favourite word?

Tough question and it can easily change from day-to-day – much like my favourite Beatles track – but let’s say preternaturally today.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: A Time For Firsts

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Pinch punch first day of the month.

Your character finds themselves overwhelmed when they experience three big firsts in one day.

Their age, gender, job is up to you.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Wishing

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

‘I am always wishing for.’

Starting with that line, write about someone (usually sad, cynical and bitter) who suddenly finds themselves with one wish.

However, the wish comes with a price and a choice that has to be made.

There will be a consequence.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Getting Started

Getting started. 

One of the things I obsess over too much is the first sentence. It is supposed to hook the reader.

Something to be remembered though…this is not something that is important with a first draft. Everything can be changed in editing (repeating this to myself like a mantra.)

Pick one of the following sentences as a starting point and then write for three minutes. 

Once you’ve done this, you could find one that applies to your book idea. 

‘I tried to leave the rabbit stopped me.’ 

‘When Lana opened the book, something took over.’ 

‘When he/she stepped into the attic, it was like stepping into the past.’ 

‘He/she wanted this moment to end. How was another matter.’ 

 

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