Writing Process

Novel Kicks Writing Room: More Free Writing

Novel Kicks Writing RoomFree writing can produce many ideas for fictional stories. If you’re familiar with the concept of morning pages then you will know that this is a valuable source of inspiration.

The writing exercise for the writing group this week is to try and free write over the next seven days for a minimum of five minutes a day or three pages of A4.

I’ve included a one word prompt list below if you wish to use them. Let yourself write without judgement or editing.

When you develop something in your free writing that interests you, just make a note of it.

Most important of all…. have fun.

Prompts:

Day one: Treasure

Day two: Orange

Day three: Mighty

Day four: Injury

Day five: Travel

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My Writing Ramblings: The Season of Literary Abandon Approaches

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225-1-300x225.jpgI love summer but I love when Autumn rolls around too and it’s for a few reasons. The colour of the trees, the excuse to cuddle up under a duvet as the weather gets cooler, Halloween and Christmas. I even love listening to the sound of the rain on the roof. Yeah, I am strange.

Another reason why I get so excited for this time of year is that the countdown has begun for National Novel Writing Month.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, it is ‘thirty days of literary abandon.’

Founded by a group of writers in San Francisco in 1999, the idea is that for thirty days between 1st – 30th November, we tell the internal editor to leave us alone and just write. It’s all about getting the fifty thousand words written rather than worry about the quality. There is a whole load of advice on how to approach editing once the challenge is done.

My internal editor has a lot to answer for and I think this is why I love this chance to say goodbye to it for a while. The community surrounding NaNoWriMo is incredible and so supportive. I really feel like I am a part of something.

This will be my seventh year participating but it still hasn’t lost any of its excitement.

Your book can be in any genre and POV you like.

My routine is that I buy a new notebook in October. I know, any excuse right? I always set out to plan what I am going to write. Some years have a more detailed outline than others and more often than not I will start out with a plan and end up a pantster by the end of the month. That’s part of the fun.

The advantage of this challenge is the fact that by the end, you will have words down on paper or computer. Even if you don’t finish, you will still have more words written than you did at the beginning of the month. It’s a fun way to write.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Knowing Your Market

Novel Kicks Writing RoomI am a big reader. When asking published authors for advice, I think the majority of them have said that reading is one of the most important things a writer can do.

Also, knowing your market is always advantageous when deciding what genre to write in – knowing what works and the elements you need to write the best novel that you can.

That is what I thought we could look at today; Learning what is good or bad.

Pick ten books from the genre in which you want to write.

Read the blurbs and make a small two sentence summary about what it’s about.

What is it about these books that appeal to you?

What does not appeal about them?

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: A Forced Reality

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: You are picked at random to take part in a reality TV show that will be shown across the whole of the nation.

If you refuse, you will be put on trial and face a possible death sentence so you don’t have much choice but to take part.

You have to get past so many rounds and be the only one standing to win. Write a scene at a point in this story – the part that has appeals to you.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Visualising Your Novel

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-300x199-1-1-1.jpgVisualising your novel as a movie. 

As I begin to put my first novel together, I am increasingly finding that sitting and visualising a scene in the book like a movie helps in describing the scene.

Pick a bit of your work in progress or a favourite passage from a book and not only tell it from someone else’s point of view within the scene but write it like a script for a film.

Visualise the setting, the weather, which characters are there. What they look like, what they are wearing. What are the characters talking about?

Try to get over as much information and detail as possible in your dialogue.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Haunted Accusations

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: Haunted Accusations.

The scene is a courthouse. The weather outside is brisk and it threatens to rain. A crowd of people have gathered outside all waiting impatiently for the result.

Inside the courtroom, the happy go lucky guy sits as he waits for his trial to begin. He’s there because of a supposedly haunted object which he says carried out the crime he is being accused of.

Write this story.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: A Character Bucket List

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-300x199-1-1-1.jpgIf your character was told they only had a small amount of time left, what would they do with the time? 

The concept of the bucket list is well-known. There will be things you’ve thought about doing whilst you still have time. I have a list.

What would your character have on their bucket list? Travel to the Great Wall of China? Be the star in the circus? Want to travel to the moon?

With no financial or practical restrictions, create a bucket list for the protagonist and antagonist in a work in progress. Are they similar? Do they differ greatly? Write two short stories where each of your character picks something off their list.

 

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A Moment With…Charlie Laidlaw

The things we learn COVER FINALA big welcome to Charlie Laidlaw. His book, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead was released by Accent Press on 30th June 2017. 

About The Things We Learn When We’re Dead… 

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy meets The Lovely Bones in this surrealist, sci-fi comedy.

When Lorna is run over, she wakes in a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions.

It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain.

She seems to be there by accident …Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

 

He joins me today to talk about the inspiration behind his new novel. Over to you, Charlie… 

All books start with a beginning.

For the reader, that beginning is page one.

For the author, the beginning comes much earlier.

For me, that came on a train from Edinburgh to London. For no reason whatsoever, the idea for the book came into my head.

It was an apt place to have that beginning because, being a civilised place, Edinburgh is the only city in the world to have named its main railway station after a book.

Part of the inspiration was a quote from the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius Antoninus who wrote that “our life is what our thoughts make it.”

I’d always thought that life is what happens to you – all things good or bad: the people you meet, the things you do.

But, from a different perspective, everything about life is also about memory. We can’t do our jobs if we can’t remember how to do them; we can’t love people if we’ve forgotten who they are. It is our thoughts that shape us.

It’s the only train journey I’ve ever been on where I hoped for signal failure, or for spontaneous industrial action. I could have sat on that train for another five hours.

When I got home, I wrote the first chapter and the last chapter. The first chapter has changed out of all recognition, but the last chapter is still pretty much the same.

The story I’d come up was the story of Lorna Love, and the book follows her as she grows up. She’s feisty and funny, but also damaged and conflicted. More than anything, she’s someone fairly ordinary who you could meet on any street.

The story is about the small decisions that she makes, and of their unintended consequences. It’s also how, apparently killed in a road accident on her way back from a dinner party, she comes to look back at her life and rearrange her memories in a different pattern.

By the end of the book, when her memorises have come back to her, she can see herself in a new light. Her old memories, rearranged in a new way, make her a different person. (She’s not dead, by the way…and hence the book’s title).

It’s about being given a second chance and that is, perhaps, one of the most universal and recurring theme in literature.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: An Icy Reunion

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x1641-300x16411-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x1641-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x164-1-1-1-1-1-300x164-1-1-300x164-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1.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 about an icy reunion.

Four people arrive at an isolated beach house. They all seem surprised that the others are there as each couple thought they would be alone.

They have all met before. There are two women and two men. However, they have not always seen eye to eye.

They’ve not seen one another in a long time. Write about the day/evening they have. What kept them apart and why for so long?

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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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