Writing Process

Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Movie Scenes

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: Movie scenes. 

Your character claims to have a glamorous life when in reality, they live their life through the films they watch on TV.

One day, they magically find themselves in the scene of their favourite movie.

They need to work to get out and back to real life but with every action, it is changing the outcome of the movie and therefore, your character’s knowledge of it.

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NK Chats To… Patricia Ann Bowen

Hello Patricia, thank you so much for joining me today and for inviting me onto your blog tour. Can you tell me a little about your novel, The Cure and what inspired the story?

I was at a meeting of Sisters in Crime in Atlanta when the leader asked the audience to write a quick book blurb and share it. I’d been doing a lot of volunteer work with senior citizens, and my dad had recently passed away with dementia, so the topic of Alzheimer’s was top of mind. I raised my hand with an idea, the audience applauded, and two long years later I published the book.

It’s women’s fiction, a tale of a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease who is visited by a man from the future with a cure. I call it a hopeful fantasy. He’s a doctor, head of a medical research team, and needs her to conduct a long-term study to prove the safety and efficacy of their drug, and the only way for him to do this quickly is to get patients in the past to take the drug and get the results to him. The plot thickens as their relationship gets complicated, as the study must be done under the legal and ethical radar, and as the doctor ignores his directive to change nothing during his trip to the past.

 

What’s your writing day like and what do you need around you, for example, silence, coffee?

I either write or revise almost every day. If I’m writing, I shoot for at least one thousand words. If I’m revising, at least a couple of hours. I’m a morning person, up at around four most days, and my mental state is best early in the day. So, I’m that weird neighbour you see out walking in the dark of the morning in the light of the moon for exercise, then come home for coffee and breakfast, two cats show  up on my desk, pictures of my muses surround me (Flannery O’Connor, Elena Ferrante, Pascal Garnier, Patricia Highsmith), my laptop has ready research available from google and Wikipedia, and I begin to write.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

Great question. After much thought, I’d have to say “care”. I want to care about the important things, things that will help me and others, inspire me to give back to all who’ve helped me and cared for me. It’s easy to say we like something, but do we care about it?

Do we care enough about something to do something about it…put some time in for it? We have so many challenges today, life is not simple anymore, and I think that caring becomes a differentiator, whether it’s a small thing like making a good cup of coffee or a big one like what can I personally do to make someone else’s life better today.

Like write a better story, take someone away from their troubles for a page at a time. Listen, we writers aren’t in this for the money, and I love hearing that a reader cared about my story, that it made them think, or laugh, or grin, or even that it put them to sleep after a long day.

 

How do you approach the editing process?

With sheer dread. I can’t say that writing is easy, but I find it a breeze compared to editing and revising. It’s difficult to tear your own work apart, to read it like a reader and not the author of all those words. As for my process, I make five passes: first to review the draft and mark it up for obvious changes; second to enhance the plot, subplot(s) and scenes… too much detail, not enough, right details; third, enhance the characters and their dialog; fourth, check spelling, grammar, for weak and passive words, check names and dates and places; fifth, polish it, show off, spice it up, add some clues, ramp up the pace. Then I send it out to four to six beta readers and attend to their advice, making changes, rereading, reediting. There are no short-cuts.

 

Do you think character or plot is more important?

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A Moment With… D.B. Carter

A big lovely welcome today to D.B. Carter. His book, The Wild Roses was released by Mirador at the end of 2019.

Three friendships torn apart by one chance meeting. By autumn 1984 Sharon and Pip are in their final years of school and on the verge of adulthood. Best friends for as long as they can remember, the two young women befriend their badly bullied schoolmate, Gavin.

Their futures are bright until a chance meeting leads to a path of corruption, anger and malicious betrayal. Sometimes, when we can’t rely on those we love, our only hope is in the kindness of strangers. All three teens are driven from their homes to follow very different paths. They face dark times of heartbreak and new temptations.

But there may be ways out and better futures, if they are willing to take risks. What will they choose, and will they ever see each other again?

The Wild Roses is a coming-of-age drama for all ages that speaks honestly of love, loss, jealousy, coercion and self-discovery.

 

D.B. Carter has joined me today to chat about writing contemporary drama and romance and the challenges he faces. Over to you.

 

With two published novels, The Cherries and The Wild Roses, I’m starting to accept I may use “author” to refer to myself. I’ve worked in many sectors, including art, computer sciences, and business, but I felt I had come home to the place where I was meant to be when I started writing. My parents were artists and a creative drive runs deep in my psyche, but it took nearly half a century for fulfil my lifelong desire to write the kind of drama-romances that I’ve enjoyed for so long.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to people’s true-life stories. They give so many fascinating details and perspectives on society that the history books will never tell. When I was a lad, I would go with my mum to visit my grandmother, whereupon I’d be presented with a comic (generally the Beano or Dandy) and sent to read in the corner of the room while they chatted about life or reminisced about the past; even then, I realised how many anecdotes they had to relate and how many of life’s pleasures are to be discovered in small details. Since then, I’ve stored away decades of chats and reminiscences and they help me remember the rich assortment of people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.

I hope I’ve carried these observations into my work as a writer. I’d never replicate anyone’s true story, but I draw inspiration from them. It seems to me we tell most about a character from how they react in a situation – the remarks they make or the tears they shed are testaments to their very souls. To me, the people who inhabit my books are real, and I often miss them when I finish writing.

I get so many kind messages from readers of my books, some of which touch me deeply. It’s a wonderful thing when someone says your writing has helped them in some way. I often cover difficult subjects, but I hope I do so in a compassionate and respectful manner, and I believe creating believable and relatable characters helps foster empathy.

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NK Chats To… Patrick Canning

Hi Patrick. Thank you so much for joining me on Novel Kicks today. Can you tell me a little about your novel, The Colonel and The Bee and what inspired the idea.

The Colonel and the Bee is a Victorian Age adventure novel about a young acrobat who meets a larger-than-life explorer and the journey they go on together. The idea for the book was as simple as people flying around in a hot air balloon, getting into adventures, and the characters and themes followed.

 

What’s your writing day like, where do you like to write and do you have any writing rituals?

I try to write every day (though admittedly little on Sundays). I write in coffee shops because there are too many distractions at home. I wouldn’t say I have any real rituals other than a cold brew or iced tea, and I’ll either listen to the ambience of the space or something instrumental in my headphones to really focus in.

 

Can you tell me a little about your writing process from idea to final edit?

I always have a long phase of gathering material for a particular idea, and once that becomes enough for an outline, make a fairly general outline. Whenever the schedule allows, the outline goes into a first draft (which usually takes a few weeks). Then it’s many rounds of rewriting, outside feedback, and whatever else is necessary to get the book out.

 

What music would feature on a playlist for this novel?

Any kind of whimsical classical music. The soundtrack for the movie The Brothers Bloom might work.

 

What is more important when writing a novel, character or plot?

I think it depends on the particular novel. Stories that are more firmly rooted in genre will probably have a more plot-dependent execution because there are certain reader expectations, but if something is a little more literary or unconventional, character might take the lead. The boring but true answer is that both are simultaneously the most important, and in some ways inseparable if done correctly.

 

How do you approach creating a character?

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NK Chats To… S.L Briden

Hello. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about From the Ashes, the first novel in your Shadows of a Phoenix series and how the idea originated?

Since a young age, I’ve always been fascinated with the Arthurian legend and, later on in life, the dark ages of the UK. My late husband shared this fascination with me and together we spent many years researching myths and legends across the UK.

From our research, we discovered that the roman era of the UK displayed strong possibilities that their gladiators who used two swords in their arena’s, could have extended this battle technique over to the UK. Thus, we drafted the series, ‘Shadows of a Phoenix.’

I’ve always loved reading and writing stories but over the years I’ve found that some fantasy stories, including historic ones, tell of the battles and feats of the heroes and heroines conquers but didn’t give a realistic feeling of how anyone would cope mentally to be a part of it, even if the characters are made up and can perform sorcery.

To believe you would be brave and just carry on with life as normal was completely absurd to me, the same as if the weight of a prophecy was placed on your shoulders which states that you are the one to bring peace, so that is where the idea came to me that there needed to be a story out there that showed the true effects these things could have upon someone and the mistakes they make along the way.

That a prophecy is nothing to be rejoiced about when you are the one prophesied.

 

What is your typical writing day like? Are you the kind of writer that needs endless amounts of coffee? Do you prefer silence? When and where do you like to write?

I mainly write in the evening at home but most of the time it’s not in silence. I write with my headphones on and listen to music to connect to me with different scenes that I’m writing.

I begin with a playlist that I add different scores to, to fit each scene, character or specific occurrence, be it just a single track or numerous ones for the same scene I am writing.

If whilst writing my draft I believe the track is suited to another scene, or it no longer inspires me, I simply move the track up, down or delete it.

I am always adding more tracks to each scene and deleting others whilst writing the novel which by the end of it gives me a musical outline of the story

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?

Daenerys Targaryen. Putting aside that she’s turned into a mad queen toward the end of the Game of Thrones, she started as a scared young girl and turned into an amazing leader who sought to abolish slavery. Ok, and she can command dragons! lol

 

What’s your favourite word?

Muppet — I can be one myself at times lol

 

What are the challenges of writing a series of books?

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Cat’s Eyes

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: Cat’s eyes.

Where does your cat go when out on an adventure? I have always wanted to know and been fascinated about what the answer could be.

Your character finds that they have an insider view into the day of their cat. They get to follow them around and see where they go. Write about the day you have.

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NK Chats To… L.M Brown

Hello, L.M Brown, thank you so much for joining me today. What’s your typical writing day like?

It depends on what stage I am at. Before I start a project, whether it’s a novel or a short story, I plan it out. I think of the characters and their main story as well as the backstory.

This could take weeks or months with a novel, especially because I never start a novel now without reading at least 5 or 6 novels that I think might be similar.

With a story it could take an hour or so, and then I start writing. I like to get up before 6 when the house is quiet, and I work all the time I can. The re-write is my favorite part and its much easier to get up at 5 when I am there, because I have something to work with.

 

What’s the challenges of writing a collection of short stories? 

For a collection, there needs to be a common thread linking all the stories together, so not every story might fit the collection.

For Were We Awake, the publisher didn’t think one story fit. It was a story about alcoholism and family dynamics, but Marc believed it was too normal and boring for a collection with ghosts, clowns, exotic birds and murders. So, I wrote a different story, and he was right. The collection was better for it.

 

What’s your favorite word and why?

I laughed when I read this, such a hard question. I like the word ‘pernicious’, though I can’t say I have a favorite word.

 

How do you approach the planning process when writing a book made up of short stories? What advice do you have for someone who would like to put together a short story collection? 

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Unexpected Journey

I am excited to be back with the first Novel Kicks Writing Room of 2020. 

Today, it is writing about an unexpected journey.

Your character’s day begins like any other.

They wake up, have coffee, see the kids off to school, take the same bus and arrive for the same job they’ve held for a few years.

The plan is to work, go back home, eat with the family, have the same conversations, watch TV and then go to sleep for it all to start again the next day.

Yet, that evening, they are on a train and are far from home.

Write about what happens between work and this point and/or what happens after.

 

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Come Get Father Christmas

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: Where is he?

Father Christmas has been kidnapped. It’s all over the news around the world.

However, your character is made aware of this when a red, hand-delivered envelope is posted through their door. The number one has been printed on the front. The note inside reads…

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A Moment With…. Lynne Shelby

We have entered the last week of National Novel Writing Month. As you get to the end and are contemplating the edits, author Lynne Shelby has some advice about that all important first sentence.

There are no hard and fast rules for writing that all-important first sentence of a novel, but I like to think of it as an invitation to a reader that will make them want to read on, a hint of what is too come without revealing too much.

An effective first sentence establishes an important aspect of the book. You could begin with a short statement of a fact that plunges the reader headlong into the story, or a line of dialogue that establishes the character of story’s narrator.

I think it’s best to avoid long, waffling description as this tends to put readers off, but a short, effective first sentence can set the style and mood of a novel, if it is comical, serious or even shocking!

What a writer is doing with a first sentence is showing the reader that something interesting is going on, encouraging them to take their first step into the world of the book.

Good luck to everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo.

 

About Lynne: 

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NK Chats To… RE McLean

Say a big hello to RE McLean and the blog tour for her novel, Murder in the Multiverse. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your book, Murder in the Multiverse and what inspired the story.

Thanks for having me here! Murder in the Multiverse is a geeky mystery, the kind of thing you’d enjoy if you like Jodi Taylor or Douglas Adams. It’s about Alex Strand, a physics postdoc who finds herself recruited to the top-secret Multiverse Investigations Unit. The MIU is based in the parking lot of San Francisco PD (in a Tardis-like VW campervan) and investigates crimes by visiting parallel worlds where the crime hasn’t happened – yet.

 

What’s the challenges of writing something like Murder in the Multiverse? Do you have an idea of where you want the series to go?

The main challenge is writing a book where the solution to the mystery always has some kind of link to quantum physics, while not being a quantum physicist myself. I’ve dealt with that by making the physics very silly – hard science this is not!

I have a ten-book outline for the series storyline. Each book will be focused on one specific crime, and take place in a new parallel universe. But the twin threads of Alex’s search for her mother across the multiverse and her growing relationship with Sarita, the mysterious materials scientist, will drive the series plot.

 

What’s your writing day like, where do you like to write and do you have any writing rituals?

I like to write in my local library, and I have a Spotify playlist to help me focus. And Schrödinger the quantum cat sits on my desk while I write!

 

If you could go and investigate anywhere, where would it be and why?

Definitely Silicon City, the parallel universe in Murder in the Multiverse. It’s got an augmented reality version of the internet and you can conjure up a plate of cookies just by thinking about it. And all the doors go swish-thunk, like in Star Trek.

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for this book?

Good question! I’ve been putting together a playlist for Alex and her team, which you can find on Spotify. Alex is into retro tech (and music) and can only get to sleep to the sound of the Cheeky Girls. Her partner, Sergeant Mike Long, prefers easy listening. Alex wants to pull her eardum out with a fish hook when he puts that on the radio.

 

Do you think character or plot is more important?

I normally start a book with a concept, then decide who’s going to have to live with the consequences of that concept, then write the plot around that. Normally the characters come first for me, but I think both character and plot are equally important (and interwoven).

 

Which other authors have inspired/influenced you the most?

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NK Chats To… Laura Briggs

Hello Laura and welcome to Novel Kicks. Can you tell me a bit about your book, Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses?

Hi Laura, and thanks so much for inviting me to share with your readers! Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses is a cosy Christmas read and the third book in my romance series known as ‘A Little Hotel in Cornwall’. It continues the adventures of Maisie Clark, an aspiring author who follows her writing dreams across the Pond to a quaint Cornish hotel by the sea. Readers can expect a festive, feel-good read, as Maisie and the rest of the staff at the Penmarrow prepare to host an ice sculpting competition at the historic hotel.

 

Are you able to tell me a little about what you’re currently working on?

Currently, I’m working on the edits for Book Four in the series, The Cornish Secret of Summer’s Promise. It features a daring heist, an unexpected secret, and a romantic crossroads that Maisie never expected!

 

When you begin a novel, what do you focus on first?

Hmmmm. I think it varies from project to project, but I tend to focus first on the central plotline or event that kicks off the story. Then the characters tend to develop alongside the twists and turns in the plot that help to bring the whole story together.

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses?

Christmas songs! I have everything from classic to modern on my holiday music playlists, so it could feature anything from Bing Crosby to Mariah Carey songs.

 

What is your idea of a perfect Christmas? 

Oooh, that’s a tough one! I think something peaceful but festive and cozy that involves sharing the joy of the season with others would be a good place to start!

 

How do you approach the editing process and what is the biggest mistake that new writers make do you think?

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Witchy AGM

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: Witch AGM. 

Your character is on their way to the annual witch meeting. The Witch AGM.

On the agenda, ‘Witches are not hags. Helping debunk the bad myths and stereotypes.’

What we can do to help our image. A practical workshop.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Structure

I am currently preparing for National Novel Writing Month. October is known as Preptober.

This got me thinking about structure and I have come across many variants of a three-act structure.

Take an idea you have and plan the plot using the following as a guide.

 

Act One:

1. Introduce your character and their world.
2. An event that sets the story in motion.
3. Determine what happens next.

 

Act Two:

4. Determine the goal that isn’t going to come easily.
5. The game changer.
6. The decision.

 

Act Three:

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Go Back and Read The Instructions

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: Go back and read the instructions.

Your character has invented a time machine. Now it is time to write the instruction manual, including a content page.

For example:

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