Tag Archives: Writers Resources

My Writing Projects – Short Story World Building and Revision

For those of you interested in my fiction writing, I thought I would post an update on what I am currently working on.

At the moment I am focusing a bit on short fiction. As you might have seen from a previous post, I have gone back to a story I started a while ago, but didn’t finish – and I’m trying to work out how to best revise that.

I am also working on the background of another short story – a fantasy piece about an old Wizard who has forgotten his spells. For this story, I decided to really invest in doing more world-building and character development than I might normally do for a short story. I am almost treating that side of as if it was a novel – although it won’t have as many characters as a novel and some aspects of the world don’t need to be as fully fleshed out – for instance I am only focusing on one country and two main cultures. A lot of the work so far has been working out the magic system – as that’s the main crux of the story.

That’s meant I have made much slower progress than I might normally when writing a short story – I’m probably spending about an hour a day on it and its taken me a few weeks so far just to get most of the world-building done! But I have enjoyed it and I am interested to see if the work I have done adds richness to the story – will it all have been worth it?

I also have to get on and edit the 3rd part of Stonehearted. Hopefully that should be out for the autumn. Check out  By the Sword’s Edge and By Fire and Sword for the first two installments. If you like medieval action and adventure, I think you’ll really like them.

That’s it from me – I’m also writing a one player D&D adventure for a friend – might post that online at some point too!

(The Picture above is Witchcraft (Allegory of Hercules)  by Dosso Dossi (1490-1542).

What to do when your writing gets stuck

Writing (Photo credit: pedrosimoes7)

It happens to all writers, I am sure, but for a beginning writer like me it’s probably the main problem I face. I get into a project, start off with enthusiasm, but then at some stage I hit a wall. It tends not to be a “Writer’s Block”, whatever that means, but more a waning of enthusiasm, or a feeling that I would rather be writing about something else. Perhaps I should ditch what I am currently writing and start on another project that might be more interesting?

I think the problem here is just being able to stick at something for the long haul and not give up. Even if you feel like what you are writing is not the best thing ever, it is probably going to help you more as a writer to actually finish the damn thing rather than to stop a third or half of the way through. After all you can always go back and revise your first draft.

So how can you keep motivated and kick start your writing project again. Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Remember Heinlein’s Rules – #2 of which is to Finish What You Start. A professional writer finishes stuff and then makes it better afterwards.
  2. Revise your outline for the rest of the book – if you’re an outliner. Perhaps the reason that you are losing enthusiasm is that what you have to write doesn’t excite you any more. Freshen up the plot and get back your enthusiasm.
  3. If you’re a pantser then consider getting an outline to see you through to the end. This is my problem when writing without an outline – the initial part of the book goes well but then I have no idea where it is going and I despair. A brief outline can provide motivation by giving you a possible ending. You can always change it as you write and come up with better ideas – in true pantsing style!
  4. Read what you have already written. You might find that its not half bad and it will also give you a reminder of why you started writing it in the first place.
  5. Keep putting words down and don’t switch your focus to something else. Your new baby will suddenly take all your attention and you’ll end up where you started from.

I am going to try all of the above right now!


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5 Ways to Make Sure You Write Every Day

every day is a struggle and i want to give in,

I think that writing every day is one of the best ways to stay motivated if you are a writer. But that’s a hard thing to do and the demand to write every day could weigh you down.

Here’s five tips that I find useful for making sure you do write every day:

  1. Have a regular writing time. In the morning is great because then you know you have definitely done some writing during the day. You can always do a bit more writing later if you have time. If you just can’t write in the morning then choose another time when you won’t have too many distractions.
  2. Remember that you write because you enjoy it. Dean Wesley Smith has an excellent post about this – we write because we enjoy don’t we? So try not to forget that and have fun with it. Don’t think of it as a chore – although some days it may feel like it!
  3. Don’t worry about what you actually write. Neil Gaiman says that he thinks of everything he writes as a really rough draft so he just gets on and puts the words down without worrying too much about them. If you’re not stressed about quality the words will

    come easier and you’ll end up being able to start writing and write more.

  4. Don’t take time off for the holidays! Just because its the weekend, you’re travelling etc doesn’t mean you can’t spend twenty minutes or more doing a little writing. Learn to write in a notebook, tablet or even a smartphone. Don’t break the habit. Once you do you may lose track of the story you’re telling or forget how much you enjoy writing.
  5. Don’t despair you miss a day! It happens. You get ill or there’s a crisis. Just try to write again as soon as you can, even if it’s just a few words so that you get back into the habit.

Hope these tips help someone – I’m always trying to remember them myself!

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How to Stay Motivated as a Writer

Keep calm and write it down!

I write fiction. I am not a bestselling author. My work is mostly self-published at the moment and the work I have available sells modest amounts. I write because I love writing, but also because I would like my work to be read by others and I would like to be successful. So I am probably like many other writers starting out on a career in writing. I have had some good feedback and reviews, which is nice, but I also feel that I could reach more people with my work.

How do you stay motivated when success and fulfillment as a writer seems a long way off?

I am not going to offer a secret bullet, a magic cure, but there are some strategies that you can employ to keep yourself going – which I need to keep myself going. Here’s some ideas that are working for me at the moment:

Write Every Day

This really is important, I think. Like anything – exercise, brushing your teeth etc – if you do something on a daily basis it becomes habit forming. If writing becomes something you do every day then you will keep doing no matter how you feel your career is going. You could choose a certain time of day, but it could just be squeezed in during the day in an odd moment in the same way you might check out Twitter for ten minutes!

Keep Going With Projects

What I mean here is don’t give up on stuff just because you’re having a few bad days with writing it and you think its no good. Sometimes you can be writing good stuff and its still a real struggle. You can always take the attitude (used by Neil Gaiman no less) that whatever you write is just a really rough first draft and therefore doesn’t matter – you can always go back and fix it. If there seems to be something fundamentally flawed in what you’re writing then yes maybe stop, but if you can think of a way to rewrite it so that it is what you want to write.

Multitask Writing Projects

This is something that works for me, but may not work for others and I know goes against some other writing advice out there. I know from experience that I get pretty distracted if I’m writing a novel or other long piece of writing. I am also keen to write short stories and develop that part of my career, so instead of trying to fit those in between novel-length projects, I actually write novels and short stories concurrently. I always prioritize the novel-length work, but if I have a second writing session available in a day then I will use that to do some short story writing. I find that it keeps me fresh and also gives me the satisfaction of finishing a piece of fiction every week or two, which I can then send out to editors.

Don’t Worry About Sales and Promotion or Rejection

This is the one that is really difficult to come to terms with as a newbie writer – and after nine years trying to write I still class myself as a newbie! It can feel like you put a lot of effort into writing with very little gain either financially or from praise of readers or editors. The best way to handle that I think is to remember that you are just learning still. I haven’t written a million words of fiction, but I will do one day if I keep writing every day. And I know that I will get better and that the small number of readers who like my work will start to grow and then hopefully my career will begin to grow too.

Cherish the Positive Feedback

When you’re feeling bad go back and read the good reviews or comments you have – don’t use them as an excuse to ignore criticism, but do remind yourself that you have skills and talent as a writer that you can develop and that readers enjoy. Build on that. Spread the love!

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The Joy of Writing

Cover of "The Joy of Writing : A Guide fo...
Cover via Amazon

Sometimes you have to start hitting the keys to remember how fun writing can be. For some reason just getting to that point can be hellish and involves a ton of prevarication, but when you start putting one word after another you suddenly remember that it is not a chore and that creation is inspiring and joyful.

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The Court in English Alliterative Poetry, 1350-1450 – Free on Kindle for Five Days

My University thesis, The Court in English Alliterative Poetry, 1350-1450 is now available as a free download for Kindle for the next five days. I thought I would experiment with the new Kindle Select programme and see what happened!

Here’s a link to the UK version: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003O86P40

And the US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003O86P40

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Adapted Snowflake Method: How I’m writing my novel at the moment

I’m currently in the early stages of actually writing my novel Hell has its Demons at the moment. Because of the complexity of writing within a historical background I have been taking a carefully planned approach to writing and employing the techniques of the snowflake method, where you build up the plot structure of the novel gradually, while alternating between planning aspects such as character background. The last two stages of the snowflake process are to go through the whole plot of the book and write a synopsis of each chapter. I have started doing this and also used this as an opportunity to work out at each stage how much actual background material I need. For instance which part of a castle or Abbey do I actually need to describe and plan, which minor characters will be featured, what’s their role and what do I need to know about them. This method has worked fairly well so far.

But I also thought that while I was doing that I would start on the first couple of chapters of the book as well, just to get myself in the mood for working with my characters. And this is when I had a revelation about how I wrote. I found that I started to find out new things about the characters and the situations I was putting them in as actually put the words, sentences and paragraphs on screen that described their thoughts and actions. Mapping a list of what occurred in a chapter or even detailing the character arc in a chapter just wasn’t the same. Only when I came to writing what the characters did and how they talked and felt did I really start to know them.

So where does that leave the process of writing Hell has its Demons?

I think the principles are still the same. I find it useful to work out beforehand what will happen in each chapter and also do some work on researching and creating the settings and minor characters that my characters will interact with, before I actually write the narrative. But I think what I will do from now on is to plan each chapter just before I write it or perhaps be planning  few chapters ahead, so that I don’t lose touch with the development of my characters.

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Alt Hist Facebook page for lovers of historical fiction

Alt Hist Image
Alt Hist Image

New Alt Hist Facebook Page

As you may have realised if you occasionally read this blog, I am really into historical fiction and historical fantasy fiction, and also Alternate History as well. I always find it surprising that there are few outlets for discussion of historical fiction compared to science fiction and the various aspects of fantasy fiction. In particular short stories seem to be very badly served. I don’t know why this is. Perhaps historical fiction is regarded as part of the mainstream, either at the literary level with Booker Prize winners such as Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, or at the more mass market mainstream level with the likes of Bernard Cornwell. But I always think of historical fiction as genre writing first and foremost. Especially when writers start to bend history and imagine what might have been.

I thought it might be a good idea therefore to experiment with the creation of a community of readers and aspiring writers in historical fiction.  So I have created a Facebook page to facilitate discussion and the spreading of news. My plan is to allow users to post their own news and even post links to their own historical short stories wherever these maybe located. At some point I am thinking of perhaps setting up a regular magazine to publish historical short stories, reviews and features, but that maybe some way down the line yet.

Please let me know what you think of the page and the idea behind it, either here or over at Facebook.

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Hell has its Demons update and a question about flashbacks

I am happy to announce that I am progressing at a reasonably steady pace on Hell has its Demons. I have finished my character dossiers and I am now on the pleasant task of writing chapter summaries. Each of these includes notes on what happens in the chapter, what the main conflicts are, how the character arcs develop, and also notes on any minor characters or settings that I haven’t already detailed. At the moment I am doing about one of these a day, although I suspect this may slow a bit when I get to scenes with more complicated settings, such as the Abbey, and/or those scenes with more minor characters.

I came across an interesting challenge in scene/chapter 4 this week. I posted about it over at sffchronicles. Here’s the problem I was having:

I‘ve got a writing issue that I want to resolve. I want one of my characters to tell another character about his past, but without him just telling the other character – I want to make the back story dramatic if possible, so I guess a flash back might be a way of doing that, but then that doesn’t fit very well with one character telling the other character.

Any ideas? I’m currently a little bit stuck on how to manage this part of my narrative.

I have already had a couple of good suggestions left on the forum, but if any readers of this blog have some good suggestions I would be happy to hear them, and you never know you could get a namecheck in my book if/when it comes out!

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Good News: Wikipedia not in decline

I’m glad to pass this update on regarding Wikipedia – apparently the stats are wrong and they are not losing lots of editors:


A big relief I am sure. I for one really appreciate Wikipedia as an easy way to get quick information and to start research into an area of interest. As Cory Doctorow wrote recently, it’s “facts about facts”

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