Writing Process

Novel Kicks Writing Room: Using Photos For Inspiration

Novel Kicks Writing RoomThis week, we are going to look again at characters you could potentially include in a novel.

Find a photo (an old family one or if it’s easier, one from the internet. There needs to be at least three people in it.)

Look at each individual person, list the following about them;

Ten characteristics.

Five hobbies.

Five likes and dislikes.

Ten things that they would own.

Do any of these people have similarities with any of the characters you are trying to develop?

Add anything to your notes that might be relevant.

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A Moment With… Audrey Davis

FBprofilepicI’m saying a big hello today to Audrey Davis. Her debut novel, A Clean Sweep has just recently been released via eBook.

Love comes around when you least expect it. Fifty-something widow Emily isn’t expecting romance. Nor is she expecting a hunky twenty-something chimney sweep on her doorstep.
Daughter Tabitha knows something isn’t quite right with her relationship, while her boss – Abba-loving Meryl – thinks she’s found the real deal. Are they both right, or pursuing Mr Wrong?
Emily’s sister, Celeste, has the perfect marriage … or does she? Can a fitness tracker lead her down the path to happiness or heartbreak?
Susan is single, overweight and resigned to a life of loneliness. There was the one who got away but you don’t get another try, do you?

Sharing her route to publication, it’s over to you, Audrey.

It’s been five weeks since my first novel – A Clean Sweep – was published on Amazon but I am still giddy with excitement. I am an author! An actual, people-are-buying-my book author (or otter, as my lovely Dutch friend pronounces it). OK, I’m a very long way from topping the best seller list but that’s probably because I’m clueless about the marketing side. More of that in a little while …

My writing journey began several decades ago – yes, I am old – when I trained as a journalist and worked for many years in provincial newspapers and various magazines. My relationship with my now-husband Bill took me to Singapore, Australia and the south of England before we moved to Switzerland in 2002. Along the way we raised two boys, now all grown up and living in the UK, but we remained in the land of cheese and chocolate. Any dreams of writing were put aside as I focused on never-ending house renovations which still challenge my French-speaking abilities but at least I provide entertainment for the local workers.

It was in February 2016 that I signed up for a Start Writing Fiction course run by Future Learn, an offshoot of Open University. Within a few weeks I was totally hooked, exchanging ideas and reviews with fellow students from all over the world. It was one short exercise that gave me the idea for a longer story which then grew … and grew. With no firm plot in mind I found characters popping into my head, along with vague notions of what might happen to them. Five thousand words became twenty thousand and on it went. I ran sample chapters by friends who were effusive in their praise (probably because they are very nice and polite people.)

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Secondary Character Development

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-300x199-1.jpgIn today’s Writing Room, the focus is on character.

Pick a secondary character from your work in progress

Write down five things that have happened in their lives that have been significant. Be as specific as you can. Once you’re done, expand on the event that you are most drawn to. You can use a character in your favourite book if you’d prefer. When expanding on this event, also note down how this has impacted on your plot.

For example, in my work in progress, there is a character named Maggie. She’s the mother of my main character, Carrie.

Significant event – husband left her with two children.

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Writing Room: Write Every Day For a Week.

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-300x199.jpgThis week in the Writing Room, I wanted to focus on getting into the habit of writing every day.

It can be hard to get into the routine of writing and usually if there is a lot going on, for me, the writing time is the first thing to get pushed to one side (which is not good.)

So, this is the best excuse to buy a new notebook and pen (if you’ve not already got one.)

Using the five prompts below, write for ten minutes every day. Don’t stop, don’t edit, just write. At the end of the week, do you have anything that could be developed further? Are there two days or more days that could be combined to make a better idea?

Tuesday: You are led into a room where a person sits behind a desk with their back to you.

Wednesday – You are on a game show where the stakes are more than just winning money.

Thursday – You run into your first love on the day you are getting married.

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NK Chats to… Penny Parkes

Penny Parkes has joined me today to talk about her new book, Practice Makes Perfect (released by Simon & Schuster on 29th June 2017.) Thank you for joining me today and congratulations for your new book. Can you tell me a little about Practice Makes Perfect?51b9ZXV0PiL

Well, Practice Makes Perfect takes us to the fictional Cotswold market town of Larkford, where we sneak behind the scenes of the medical centre there – The Larkford Practice. There’s a whole new management structure in place. In fact, the four senior doctors are not only entwined professionally, but also personally: 4 partners, 2 couples. So, I’m sure you can imagine how the boundaries between personal and professional become ever more blurry.

On the surface it might seem like the perfect situation and the powers-that-be certainly think so, because they’ve nominated Larkford as a Model Practice. But, as is often the case, if you shine a spotlight on things, it does rather tend to emphasise the flaws…

And, as always in Larkford, we get to see the doctors as a crucial part of their community – in good times and in bad. For Dr Holly Graham, in particular, that relationship works in both directions, as resident celebrity Elsie Townsend makes it her mission to help Holly find balance and fulfilment.

I’m hoping it will be like visiting old friends for those returning to the series after Out Of Practice and also stand alone as a wonderfully rural escapade for those new to the Larkford Valley.

 

What’s your writing day and routine like? Any rituals? 

I have to be fairly flexible, to be honest, to fit around family life, but that doesn’t stop me having an ‘ideal day’ that I try to work towards.  I normally see the kids off to school and then have my breakfast – an excellent excuse to muck about on social media while I top up my caffeine levels. Then, The Ginger Ninja and I like to have a little stroll, and this mainly serves not only to wear her out, but also to give me time to think about what I want to write that day. I have found (to my cost) that I am much more efficient if I sit down to type with an idea of where I want the story to go… Even if my characters don’t always behave themselves accordingly once I get started!

 

What type of writer are you in terms of planning and editing? 

I’d have to say that I’m a little of both – I like to sketch out a loose framework and then just let the plotlines develop on their own with a first draft. Only then will I start looking at the balance of points of view and more specific character arcs etc. and of course that’s where my incredibly insightful and lovely Editor, Jo, comes in with some much needed objectivity!

 

Do you have any advice for anyone experiencing writer’s block? 

I think the only thing to be aware of is that, creatively, you can’t drink from an empty cup – if you’re exhausted or ill or hammering out the words simply to up the word count, I think it shows in the quality of those words. Half the time, the days when I’ve pushed through writing with the flu, for example, all those pages have ended up on the cutting room floor anyway! Sometimes better to step away – rest, recover, see a friend – and then suddenly a chance comment in the queue at the supermarket will set my enquiring mind off on a roll… Inspiration is everywhere really, except possibly staring at a blank screen!

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: The Secret Mission

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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 is about that secret mission.

You are carrying on your day as you normally do. You get up, have breakfast at the usual time and leave at 8.30am exactly.

However, as you pull out of your driveway, your car gets stopped by a black sports car. The passenger window opens.

‘Get in,’ says the stranger.

From there, you get pulled into a secret mission by accident and are forced to make up a new identity on the spot. Go!

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Interview Questions and Answers

Novel Kicks Writing RoomFor today’s writing group exercise, you’ll be interviewing your character.

Create a bunch of interview questions for one of your characters – general CV stuff but also personal questions like likes, dislikes, fears etc.

Do this for a character you’re currently working on or if you’ve not got a character who is suitable, create one named Bob James.

Now interview your character, asking them these questions. It’s interesting to see how your character will answer.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Descriptive Alphabet

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-1-1-300x199.jpgToday, we are going to write a descriptive alphabet.

On a piece of A4 paper, write the alphabet down the left side of the page. Leave enough room between letters to write a little glossary.

Now, look around the room you are in and fill in each letter with an object you can see.

Once you’ve done that, give each object a description. Give as much detail as you can in the small space you have.

You could also do another alphabet but this time, you could make up the objects and then descriptions for them.

 

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Novel Kicks Chats To: Emma Henderson, Author of The Valentine House

Emma Henderson author picHello Emma, thank you for joining me today. Firstly, What’s your writing day like?

It varies, depending on a lot of things – other commitments, my mood, the weather (yes, really). However, if possible, I do the bulk of my actual writing first thing in the morning. I’m an early riser, so this means no later than 6am in the winter and, often, as early as 4am in the summer. I love that time of day for its peace and quiet. No interruptions. And my brain seems to function best then. Later, if I can, I will go back to my writing and redraft or I’ll research things. There’s usually an energy dip in the afternoon, so that’s when I try to make myself do mundane but important tasks like tidying my desk (I’m a very messy writer), sorting, labelling.

 

Your new book is called The Valentine House. Can you tell me a bit about it?

The Valentine House is about an English family who go, every year, to their summer home, high up in the French alps and about someone from the village nearby called Mathilde. At the start of the story, Mathilde is employed to work as a servant for the family. She becomes involved with them in all sorts of ways, discovering a secret that affects them all. The novel explores the relationship between the two cultures and also the relationship between identity and place.

 

If you could have a chalet anywhere in the world, where would you have it and why?

I would have it in the French Alps. I can’t say where, precisely – there are so many beautiful spots to choose from. But somewhere that is accessible, yet feels remote, and, above all, somewhere with a view – of the mountains, a valley, a village, a river, a blue, blue sky. Why? Because I’ve seen chalets in places like that. They exist. It’s not a fantasy. People live in them. I’d like to be one of those people.

 

What’s your writing process like – edit as you go? Much planning?

My writing process is a mixture of editing as I go and planning. I’m not very good at planning in advance. I try to do it. I make myself do it. But I tend to write first and just see what happens. Usually, this results in a mess of words, which I then have to sort and turn into a novel. So the planning happens during and after, not before the writing, usually.

 

Do you have any writing rituals? Coffee, silence, tea?

No rituals, although I like silence and solitude. The only quirky thing is my use of 2B pencils. I have a big stock of them. I like to have them within arms’ reach wherever I am in the house. When things are going well, that means 2B pencils all over the place – on the floor, in my bed, next to the bath. They are used mostly for jotting, but sometimes for longer bits of writing, but my handwriting is terrible and, when I write quickly, even I find it difficult to read later. I have to type up my 2B jottings quickly, therefore.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Eavesdrop

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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 gives you permission to eavesdrop.

Writers are good observers. Throughout today, try to catch people’s conversations. Write down any snippets that you find funny, outrageous or inspire something.

Once you have five, use them all in a fiction piece that begins with the following sentence:

‘I couldn’t believe she did it. I mean, the nerve.’

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My Writing Ramblings: Every Word Counts

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225-1.jpgHowdy all.

We are now on that last stretch before the weekend with all the hope that the weather will decide to give us glorious, warm sunshine (I know but it’s good to be optimistic.)

I don’t know about you but April for me has just flown by. Life away from reading books and writing has kept me a little busy (there were also a couple of personal events that happened this month which meant some quiet days with a want to not do a lot.)

I have not done that much writing over the last month. I think I managed to do 2,000 words give or take. Those words still count and it’s still a decent word count to reach. It is easy to play down small words counts as only this and only that. It’s not easy to convince yourself that slow and steady is OK if it works for you to build your novel.

I go through this horrible habitual process when I begin something new. I will write, then I will stop, I will immediately read what I have written and then I will have this urge to begin again. I fight every time to break this habit.

A first draft is not going to be publication ready to begin with so every word you write does matter.

As a new writer, I tend to play down the whole thing; my brain won’t let me call myself a writer. Sitting in a room full of writers, I will feel like the impostor.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Use That Song

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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 is all about using song titles.

Use the song titles below in your piece of writing that begins with the line, ‘What do you know about it?’

The song titles are:

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

Respect.

Thriller.

Can’t Stop The Feeling.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Sliding Doors

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x1641-300x16411-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x1641-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x164-1-1-1-1-1-300x164-1-1-300x164-1-1-1-1-1-1-1.pngFiction 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 is going to ask what if?

Put your character in a situation where they have to make a split decision. Do they or do they not get on a specific train or bus? Do they decide to go out or stay in? Do or don’t they post an important letter or send an urgent e-mail. The situation can be anything you like.

Write two pieces. The first is if they did something and the second is from the point of view of if they didn’t do something – for example, the consequences for getting on and not getting on a train. How do the situations differ?

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Editing

Novel Kicks Writing RoomFor today’s exercise, I thought we could look at editing. 

This is one of the most important parts of the process. This is a chance to tidy and polish your piece of writing before it goes on to an editor or an agent.

How do you like to approach the process? Do you like to wait for a first draft or edit as you go?

Write a piece of fiction no more than seven hundred and fifty words. Start it using this sentence, ‘The front door was black with a copper horseshoe knocker.’

Once you are done, try to put it away for a couple of days.

When you are ready to come back to it, edit it down to five hundred words. Then, once you’re happy with it, pass it on to someone you trust for feedback.

How was it? Did you find it a simple process? An enjoyable one? Quite difficult?

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Alternative Realities

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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.

For today’s prompt, it is a chance to look at an alternative reality.

Pick an important event from history – maybe from an era you’re particularly interested in. Now question what reality would be like if that event didn’t happen the way it did.

What if Mary Queen of Scots became Queen instead of Elizabeth? What if someone else started and won World War I?

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