Preptober Resources

Hey Guys and Gals,

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am sharing with you a list of resources which I have been using for NaNoWriMo preptober.

I’ve made some of my own little autumn themed images which I will also share, feel free to take from them anything you want:)

Megg Geri – Lost of helpful blog posts and printable resources. Her book How To Write A Novel in 30 Days is fantastic.

Eva Deverell – There are a million and one printable worksheets and bits of advice on Eva’s site.

Natalia Leigh – Natalia has created a fantastic Preptober workbook which is available for a donation of your chosing.

Writer’s Digest – A hubub of advice and printable worksheets and advice sheets.

Goinswriter – A blog with helpful advice

Pinterest – A link to my Pinterest board. Pinterest is a fantastic place to find information

Other Links

Rock Your Writing

Ari Meghlen

The Writer’s Craft

The Novel Factory

ReadWriteThink

Annie Neugebauer

Tricia Goyer

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If you have any helpful resources I’ve not mentioned please feel free to drop them in a comment below.

Emma-Louise x

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My Current WIP Set-Up {A5 Uglydori Traveler’s Notebook}

Hey Everyone,

Today I have a lovely crossover post for you. It involves planners and writing, two of my favourite things.

I recently took part in a planner swap and I got this absolutely gorgeous A5 Uglydori from Uglybug Traveler’s Notebooks. The size meant it was perfect to set up for my current work-in-progress and NaNo prep and the quality of the leather means it will hold well getting a battering in my bag.

I have set-it up around the same theme as my novel genre and added little bits and bobs that inspire me and make me happy.

I have 4 notebooks inside it, each serves a different purpose.

Notebook 1 is my WIP Bible – this contains everything I need to know about my book. Character profiles, world building, plot points, outlines, storyboard. You get the drift.

Notebook 2 is my NaNo BuJo – I have all my preptober goals set up, NaNo goals, word trackers, NaNo self care info and I will add any word crawl pieces I take part in as well as a running to-do list.

Notebook 3 is my WIP notebooks – this is where I write out scenes and pieces of actual writing that I want to include in my book but don’t have my laptop with me. Great for when I am out and about.

Notebook 4 is for Writing Resources – this is where I write more technical notes, print out copies of advice, trips, tricks and worksheets. This is a book I can keep with me regardless of which WIP I work on as the information is relevant to writing in general.

I have various sticky notes and washi tucked in the pockets along with a NaNo personal size insert that I have yet to transfer all information into.

Natalia Leigh Pretober Workbook

Link to my pinterest where all these resources can be found: Alaria Storyboard

Links to images above: The Raven Girl The Room Stack

I would love to see if you have a planner or TN set up for NaNo or your work-in-progress.

Here is a link to my writing resources.

 

Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

Preptober – It’s a NaNorific Month!

Untitled design

Hey Everyone,

Preptober is upon us! Now if you don’t know what Preptober is then I am about to tell you. It refers to the month before National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which falls in November, meaning that October is the month to prepare.

For many writer’s it is an essential month to get everything done that will help us in the quest to hit that 50k word count during November.

I didn’t take part last year as I wasn’t well so I am making the most of Preptober this year so that come NaNo I am able to hit the ground running.

I knocked up a little Preptober calender to keep me on track and i’d like to share it with you. Of course everyone prep’s differently but hopefully it will be of use to someone.

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Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

First Line Friday: Flash Fiction

Today I am posting a little piece I wrote for The Fiction Cafe: Writer’s Group, First Line Friday.

The goal was to write a piece using the first line prompt and to keep it under 750 words.

My piece came to 486 Words.

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To save his own life, he would have to kill his humanity. He had managed to survive 1 year, 3 months, 2 weeks and 3 days in the new world without killing one of them, without killing anything other than game to eat.
Times were changing, now faced with the reality that he would have to kill one of them to get out of his makeshift camp.

The virus came quickly, it seemed to take hold and wipe out populations of towns within a few days. Not many people were left now. He had always watched programmes like The Walking Dead, 24 Hours, Zombieland with a morbid curiosity. Assuming that things like that would never happen but planning his survival routine. When it came down to it, of course, his imaginary plans meant very little, he had no idea how to really survive when fiction became reality.

He survived by sheer luck, catching what he could to eat, looting shops and keeping to himself. He came across the odd person or group but avoided staying with them long-term. Survivability was better when alone. Fewer people, less attraction and less weight of others to carry.

He had found a shed to camp out in a few nights ago, surprisingly in decent shape and well protected. A few minor adaptations and it was a good place to rest for a while. However, overnight a few wandering pools of rotten flesh had come past and were now banging against the only exit. He hadn’t killed one before, naively holding out for a cure he couldn’t bring himself to kill something that was once and could possibly again be human. He knew if he wanted to get out of there he would have to kill them though, he knew they would attract more. He was trying to figure out what had caused them to stay and not go past, perhaps his scent or the ashes of the old fire. Perhaps these things were more capable of intelligent thought than he first thought.

He knew there was no danger of them breaking in so he just laid there with his stuff all ready to go, the sun peered into a small hole in the ceiling and it caught his eye. He got to his feet and carefully climbed onto the old workbench. He pushed the ceiling with both hands and it gave a little, with enough force he could create a hole to climb through. It didn’t take long considering most of the wood had started to rot but there was a hole small enough to get out of.

He pushed through his backpack and bat and heaved himself up. Carefully making his way to the edge if the roof to get down without distracting the half-human creatures. He dangled down and dropped to his feet, carefully he backed away. Once he thought he was safe he ran.

Thanks for reading.

Emma-louise x

Guest Post: Megg Geri {10 Steps to Revising Your First Draft}

I am extremely honoured to be hosting this guest post from Megg. I have been a fan of hers for some time now and follow not just her blog but her advice and book club.

Megg Geri is the author of Write A Novel In 30 Days and also owns Megg & Co Editorial Boutique.

Today Megg is sharing her tips on what to do when you’ve finished the first draft of your novel.

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Wow! You’ve finished your first draft. How amazing? How scary? How much hard work did that take? You’re freaking fantastic, let me tell you that! There are so many people who never even get to this step, who never manage to finish the first draft. Yes, you can give yourself a high-five for this one. As awesome as you are your first draft sucks (I’m allowed to say this because my first drafts all suck too). 

What now? How do you get this first draft not to suck? I’m not talking grammar corrections and typos here, I’m talking about your actual story. How can you get this story to be one that people will actually want to read? You do revisions.  These 10 steps to revising your first draft are the steps that I follow too. They take time, patience, and a tough skin. But you’ve gotten this far, so you owe it to yourself to take it one step further.

10 Steps to revising your first draft

  1. Wait it out!
    The worst thing you can do is jump straight back into your novel. It’s all still too fresh. You need to give yourself time to forget and time to allow yourself to become distanced from all the hard work you have already put into your novel. I always suggest putting your first draft aside for a month. What? A whole freaking month? Yes, one whole month. Take that time to work on a new story outline or start writing another novel. Try a different form of writing like poetry, and short stories. And, give yourself time to read more (reading is always a good idea).
  2. Reread 
    Now, after a month of sweating it out, you pick up that novel and you start your reread. Try not to throw it out the window, burn it, or tear it into shreds. Pretend for a second that this is not your first draft, but rather your best friend’s first draft. Read it with open eyes and optimism for the story. Your first draft is going to suck and it’s allowed to suck! After you’ve done this, reread it again and this time make as many notes as possible. Note down any changes, plot holes, parts of the story that irritate you, pacing problems. inconsistencies, unanswered questions, and major mistakes that you need to look at fixing. Always remember that your first draft is you telling the story to yourself, this is a rough version.
  3. Identify Plot holes
    Now that you have identified your plot holes take the time to fix them. Don’t rush through this step. Some of these fixes will be quick and easy and others will be terribly tedious and feel somewhat like torture to fix.By not skipping this step you’ll find the process rewarding as you will see your story come together to form an even better second draft than you ever imagined
  4. Pacing
    Focus on consistent pacing as well as appropriately varied pacing throughout your novel. Do parts read too slow? Do other parts feel rushed? Allow yourself the time to fix any pacing problems you may have found by this point of your revisions. 
  5. Kill your Darlings
    This is always a tough task to manage. You’ve worked so hard on creating this first draft and you’ve worked so hard on your story elements (that you already love to bits) but if it doesn’t have a purpose in your story, if it doesn’t move the plot forward, or reveal something about your story you need to cut it!Harsh? Yes! You need to be if you want your novel to be the best it can be. Some Darlings, may be able to be reworked into the story, but most must be cut.
  6. Make small changes
    Those irritations you found in your second reread, the character’s name that was hard to pronoun or didn’t flow off the tongue, the shocking yellow car that was super unbelievable, the constant over explaining, now’s the time to make these small changes. Change a character’s name if it doesn’t fit. Make sure all your quotation marks are consistent (single or double, baby).
  7. Sketch out character arcs
    I always have a good idea of my character arcs before I start writing, but they change as I write and I don’t always go back to my notes and relook the arcs. This step can be skipped if you’ve written on a story structure but it’s always a good idea to revisit this step and double check your own work.
  8. Create character sketches
    This is another thing that I try to do before I even start writing my novels. My characters develop so much through my writing process that I always have to rework, add, and take away parts of their character sketches. After writing my first draft I also know my characters so much better and find it so much easier to complete my character sketches.As part of my book, Write A Novel In 30 Days, I offer a free character sketch which I use myself too. I also like to add photo’s of my characters, diary entries, bag contents and things that will personalise my character even more. 
  9. Work on your character’s goals and motivations
    Wow, by now you have made a lot of changes to your novel. Do all of your character’s original goals and motivations still remain true? Have your changes affected them? Give your characters new goals and motivations if needed and give yourself and your character the time to accept these new changes. 
  10. The hook
    Yay! You’re almost there. Now re-read your first few pages. Is your hook clear? Is there too much information or too little information for your readers? Sometimes, as the writer we already know the backstory and so everything makes sense to us but they might not make any sense to the reader who knows none of the backstory. Think about this when you’re looking for that hook. This can be a quick and simple step, or this step can take a lot of time, and this will differ from novel, to novel too. Go pick up your favourite books and read their hooks for some inspiration. See how other authors hook the reader. A hook should be on the first page, preferably in the first chapter, and if you can have the hook in your first sentence then that’s even better. 

I know this is a lot to take in and it’s a lot of work too (you may want to skip some of the steps or rush through them) but you’ve put in all this hard work already that you owe it to yourself to really focus on each step individually until you’re happy with the results. 

The way that I manage to keep my focus on one step at a time is to use different coloured highlighters during step two of the process (during my second reread when I’m making my notes). I choose a different coloured highlighter for each major focus needed (small changes, darlings, characters, pacing, and plot holes), this way I can focus purely on that colour when I need to. I also tick off parts that have been revised as the process can get really confusing and it’s easy to forget where you are in this revision process.

Most of all, be kind to yourself and to your writing. You might absolutely hate your writing and your story when you reread it but through an effective revision process, you can sculpt it into something better. Allow yourself the opportunity to do this. Don’t give up on your story.

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You can find Megg on Instagram and Twitter under the handle @megggeri and on Facebook TheMeggGeri and her blog Megg.Co.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post for us Megg.

Emma-Louise x

First Line Friday

It has been about 2 months since I’ve sat down and written anything. Life has just been so hectic that every moment has been spent catching up on what I missed when I was ill throughout November. Today I am breaking myself back in gently with a First Line Friday prompt from The Fiction Cafe Writer’s Group.

As always the task was to use the first line and create a story around it in no more than 750 words.

Word Count 376 – Unedited.

‘There was a strange wailing coming from the next room. Noises in this place weren’t exactly unusual but this was different. A chill ran down my spine and the hair on my arms stood on end.

The large white clock on my wall ticked loudly with each second that passed. I sat up in my bed, frozen to the spot unable to move. I let out my breath slowly afraid that I would draw attention to whatever it was that woke me from my slumber.

The silence was eerie, unusual for this place. I’d been locked up in de Luca Asylum now for around 7 months. It was hard to tell how long exactly anymore. A combination of pills and treatments had left me more confused than when I entered.  I still wasn’t sure why I was even here, I wasn’t the one who started the fire but they wouldn’t listen, they never did.

They told me that I was hallucinating, that the man I was with wasn’t real and I had imagined everything. He was the one who started the fire, the fire that destroyed my parents home and killed my father. It wasn’t me.

The wailing had stopped now. I pulled the scratchy white sheet off and slide my legs down the side of the bed onto the cold floor. I got up slowly, careful not to make a sound. I walked over towards my door to peer out of the little square window.

I looked out at the sheer white corridor, the bright lights were glaring, reflecting off the walls.  I couldn’t see anything. A few people moved around down the end at the nurses station but that wasn’t unusual. There was no sign of anything amiss.

It was then I heard a shuffling sound, then out of no-where the face of a woman appeared at the window. It looked wild, hair all over and eyes wide. Dirt smudged across her cheek. That noise again, the wailing came from her mouth. Behind her I saw the nurses trying to grab her and she thrashed about.

I saw the glint of the metal as the needle hit the woman’s neck sending her instantly to sleep. Another new patient,  welcome to the madhouse crazy lady’.

Thanks for reading

Emma-Louise x

Guest Post: Natali Simmonds

Hey you lovely lot. Today I have a Guest Post by the amazing N.J Simmonds who discusses the Top 5 YA Book Myths. Natali has not only author with a 5 star rated book but she has experience with writing and marketing in the bucket load.

TOP 5 YA BOOK MYTHS

YA fiction, otherwise known as Young Adult literature, gets a bad rap. If I got a pound for every time someone misunderstood what YA really is I’d be making a lot more money than I am now as a humble writer!

From Twitter comments to conversations in book stores and right through to my own reviewers, I am forever hearing comments such as –

‘I can’t believe I really enjoyed that book when I’m not even a teenager’

‘Oh I don’t want to read YA, it’s for kids’

‘YA writers aren’t proper writers because they don’t write for adults’

‘YA books are all about high school dramas and boring teen issues’

So what does YA actually mean?

‘Young Adult’ is simply a description of books with teen protagonists covering issues that concern young adults. Therefore you won’t find a book about a divorcee struggling with her failing business (unless that person is the main character’s mother) – but you will get a story packed with tension, page-turning intensity and some of the coolest protagonists ever created.

For those of you that are still unsure what YA is – here are my 5 top YA myths!

  1. YA is a genre

Whoa! Did you think it was? Most people do and it’s a topic that is argued a lot in the book world. But if Romance, Thriller, Fantasy and Crime are literary genres then YA can’t be. ‘YA’ in itself is not going to explain to you what kind of book you are going to read because YA lit also has sub-divisions. YA Fantasy, YA Thrillers and YA Contemporary are all very different; the only thing they have in common are character ages and themes. You wouldn’t say that books by Marian Keys are the same as books by Stephen King because the characters in them are in their 30’s and have families, would you? Well it’s the same with YA.

  1. YA is a recommended age limit


Whoa! Another myth busted. I’m not kidding…if you’re avoiding YA literature because you think you’re too old then you are missing out on some of the best books out there right now. Take ‘The Hate U Give’ (Angie Thomas), for instance. Why is the book YA? Because it’s written through the eyes of a 16 year old girl, yet its political themes inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement are far from childish. This book has won all the awards of 2017 and been enjoyed by all ages, genders, race and backgrounds – because a good book is a good book. The fact that the YA book’s main character is a twelve year old wizard, a torn black schoolgirl or a heroic dystopian teen is neither here nor there – and it shouldn’t put you off reading it.

  1. YA books are simply written

No. They are not. Middle Grade books (think Roald Dahl, David Walliams and Enid Blyton) will certainly have more cartoon-like colourful characters and a simpler linear plot because they are written for kids aged 10+ BUT YA is read from 12+ such as the Harry Potter series (J.K.Rowling) or in some cases 15+, such as my own novel ‘The Path Keeper’ (N.J.Simmonds). When you go from Middle Grade books to YA the writing style jumps dramatically to a much more adult level in terms of both vocabulary and theme.

If you compare the writing styles of YA authors you may be in for a shock – each one is just as unique as non-teen based literature. There is no dumbing down for teens in the book world. YA bestsellers such as I’ll Give You The Sun (Jandy Nelson) and ‘We Were Liars’ (E. Lockhart) are both written in a poetic and whimsical fashion compared to the more dramatic language and style used in fantasy books such as the Twilight (Stephenie Meyer) or Divergent (Veronica Roth) series. So when you pick up a YA novel, you may be surprised that the language, pace and structure is just as challenging and unique as any ‘grown-up’ novel out there.

  1. YA books are tame and have no sex or violence in them

Actually, they can do – especially fantasy novels. Fans of Sarah J Maas will be the first to tell you about chapter 54 in A Court of Mist and Fury (put it this way, I struggled not to blush on the bus while reading about Feyre and Rhysand and his impressive wingspan). When writing my own YA Fantasy Romance series The Path Keeper I never intended for it to be enjoyed by teens until my publisher at the time told me it would be marketed as YA. It has three pretty explicit sex scenes, plenty of swear words in two languages and a few gory scenes (and book two Son of Secrets, release date to be confirmed, is even darker). I was shocked that it wasn’t going to be edited – until I remembered what I got up to at 17. YA isn’t written for impressionable young kids, most readers are young adults, so they want to read about people just like them acting like real teenagers do. And the best bit? YA books are full of way more drama, intensity and excitement than the boring reality of adulthood – so they are the perfect escape for everyone.

  1. YA books are not as high-brow as the classics

Have you ever read To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)? How about Lord of the Flies (William Golding), Catcher in the Rye (J.D.Salinger) or The Outsiders (S.E.Hinton)? They are all YA books. So does that mean, because you are no longer a teenager, you should avoid them? Of course not!


YA literature has been around for decades, it’s nothing new. The only difference, in this age of marketing and social media, is that by differentiating books that will appeal to teens publishers and authors have a better chance of reaching their ideal audience.

By writing YA and covering the concerns that young adults encounter during the most tumultuous period of their lives, authors (myself included) hope to not only show their readers that they are not alone…but bring them together through the love of a good story.

So next time you read an article about the best YA books of the year or see the New York YA bestsellers list – don’t dismiss it. No matter how old you are now, we were all young adults once. By exploring YA literature, not only will you revisit the angst and excitement of your youth but you’ll also get to enjoy some of the best books out there right now!

 

N.J.Simmonds is the author of highly-acclaimed The Path Keeper series, a YA fantasy romance set in London. She is currently working on book three in the series as well as a number of contemporary YA novels. Learn more about her work at njsimmonds.com or follow her on Facebook,

Twitter and Instagram.

Photo by Jeremy Standley (jeremystandley.com)

Thank you so much to Natali for taking the time to write this post for us.

Emma-Louise x

Author & Editor Guest Post: S.D Mayes

Today I have another amazing Guest Post for you. Author S.D Mayes not only discusses her writing but offers some fantastic tips to others who want to write.

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S.D. Mayes – Journalist, Author and Editor

I always liken editing to cleaning the skirting boards. I don’t really want to do it, but afterwards I feel so much better. However, after doing many rewrites and edits – and that was around eighteen drafts of Letters to the Pianist, my historical suspense novel, I was ready to throw the blimmin’ laptop out of the window. Yep, this novel was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my life. Timewise, I spent a year writing and nearly two years editing and rewriting, so getting it finally published at the end of September this year was a huge relief.

I’ve worked as a journalist for over twenty years and had already written a best-selling self-help book, Be Your Own Psychic, published by Hodder & Stoughton – one of the big five, so I thought writing a novel would be easy. How wrong I was. I had chosen a complex multi-layered plot with a parallel father and daughter story, simply because the story popped into my mind years back and I loved the premise of it – a Jewish man who loses his memory and marries into a family of Nazi sympathisers. I thought it was going to be hard work, but it just kept popping into my head, and one rainy Sunday afternoon I got started. I had two protagonists: teenage Ruth Goldberg, and her father Joseph Goldberg who was renamed Edward Chopard by his new aristocratic wife Connie.

A protagonist is the character your story revolves around. And I chose to write Ruth in the first person so her story was right up front and in your face. I then chose to write her father, Joseph and all the other characters in third person – both of which was clearly delineated by change of chapter. Many of the reviews I’ve received have said that they like getting the many third person point of views of different characters, but this book was a steep learning curve in many ways – and as I also beta read and edit other authors manuscripts as part of my other work, I’ve seen the many mistakes we can all make as new writers.

Show not Tell

I’m sure you have heard this phrase. It is essential for good writing, and most new writers don’t fully understand what this means. With ‘telling’ many paragraphs can end up being summarised instead of really engaging readers in the powerful elements of a story, so there is a huge lack of description throughout a book where the writer generalises far too much and expects the reader to join the dots as to what’s happening. As writers we need to be painting a story with pictures. A good parallel about the difference between show and tell is that with ‘telling’ the reader becomes an observer of your story. When you ‘show’ however, the reader really experiences your story, often becoming one of the characters in their minds. So that’s a huge difference in the experience of reading.

Here’s some examples with the authors consent on manuscripts I’ve edited.

Telling

‘My father died when I was young and my mother raised me. She was very pious, prayed constantly and took me to church every Sunday. The bitch didn’t allow me to read any book other than the Bible and she didn’t allow me to listen to music either. She was very strict. Every minor infraction would lead to a severe beating with a belt, rod, or cane.’

This paragraph gives a quick summary ‘telling’ us. There needs to be description and detail about how the relationship developed between mother and son. There is barely any description of Jack as a boy and no description of his mother’s character.

Showing

‘One afternoon I walked into our house after school. I was only seven, a small, thin waif of a boy because I didn’t get fed much, only rice and beans if I was lucky. My mother was scrubbing the kitchen floor on her hands and knees, pushing the bristles back and forth. It was a strange sight to behold as she barely did a scrap of housework. As usual, she stank of rum and her shirt was partly undone showing her huge breasts wobbling about.  I stood in the doorway staring.  ‘Mom’, I muttered, feeling ignored yet again. ‘Mom’, I’m starved. Can I have some bread?’  Finally, she looked up at me with bloodshot eyes, peering at me strangely. ‘Hungry, huh, well there’s no food for you, boy. Get upstairs and read that bible,’ she shouted. You have a darkness in you, I can see it oozing it out of every pore – the spirit of Beelzebub is in you, and you need to read that bible over and over to get it out. Do you hear me?’

With ‘showing’ the reader gets an immediate understanding of the dynamics of this boy’s childhood and relationship with his mother.

Another example of ‘telling’ from a sentence is this.

‘The food was retrieved from a counter where a team of cooks worked furiously to get enough food out for the encroaching students.  They ate well, the food was good. Few words passed as the food went down.’

So what’s wrong with this paragraph?

Firstly, the word ‘food’ was used four times in one paragraph. It’s important for a writer to vary their language. Repetition of the same words too close together reveal boring lazy language – and you want to keep your reader on their toes. But it’s also important to be descriptive to state what this food is. The author needs to make sure it sounds delicious. For example, a description of ‘showing’ with food would be this. ‘There before us, was a long table set out in front of the bay window with the most mouth-watering display of food: platters of buttery smoked haddock and crispy potato cakes, bagels oozing with cream cheese, a dish of boiled eggs, a sponge cake trickled with honey, and my favourite, big round sugary doughnuts all set out on lace doilies. I was drooling, picturing the sweet jam exploding into my mouth.

You get my drift? This kind of detail is what brings stories alive so the reader can see and taste the food.

POV

POV relates to the point of view of a character and many writers resort to head hopping which can confuse the reader. And this is very common. When you write from first person it’s obvious you are in your protagonists head, and that can be up front and powerful as the character tells their story. The problem with first person is that it is limited to that one perspective. So events can only unfold from that characters perception as they tell their story.  Many novelists such as Paula Hawkins author of ‘Girl on the Train’, and Gillian Flynn author of ‘Gone Girl’ use this first person POV for all their characters by putting the name at the top of the chapter, so they get another characters perspective. And in my view ‘first person’ is the easiest way to write.

Third person is far more complex when you go from one character to another, and this is something many authors struggle with where they resort to ‘head hopping’. There is a golden rule with POV. The rules in writing are that you cannot head hop from one character to another without first changing scene or chapter. For example, in this para the characters headhop from Jenny’s thoughts to David’s in two consecutive paras.

Get up, you two! Quickly!” Jenny yelled. The emphasis in her voice appeared to be sharp and impatient. Knowing that assisting the slumbering twins could get her in trouble, she quickly removed her head from underneath the ivy-covered entrance.

David was shocked that Jenny still had such pent up energy despite being up all night. Although he overslept, he felt like an extra hour would have helped him feel less groggy.

So this has gone from Jenny’s point of view to David’s in the same scene. Dialogue can of course go back and forth between characters, but you need to choose whose head you are going to be for that scene or chapter and stick to it, or create a new scene if you are changing POV to another character.

Adverbs: I often find new writers over complicate a sentence by using too many adverbs. I know I did initially. Strong, direct language is best. Adverbs are fine in moderation, but many manuscripts I’ve seen use very similar phrases within a few paragraphs, so there’s a lot of glaring eyes, saddened eyes, brooding eyes and bulging eyes. Writing is about being creative in how you write, not saying the same thing with a few different words.  Find different ways of physically showing how your characters express themselves. For example, instead of saying saddened eyes which is technically ‘telling’ – say ‘she hunched over, clenched her hands together, her eyes wet with tears.’  Leaving in adverbs can look amateurish and lazy as if you can’t be bothered, so describe things properly instead of generalising and be confident with leaner sentences that read in a cleaner, crisper way.

Cliché’s

It’s considered a big no no to mention too many clichés. Expressions of speech, are different if they allude to a certain way of speaking, but it’s important as a writer to find ways of saying the same thing in different ways and finding unique metaphors. Who can forget ‘Hills like White Elephants’, a short story by Ernest Hemingway. What a great description, and one that immediately evokes a visual picture.

What I did in Letters to the Pianist was if a cliché came to mind, I would try and put my unique spin on it, so instead of saying ‘trapped in a gilded cage’ which is a well known cliché, I used, my own – ‘Everything else came under his list of possessions and she was merely another, ‘trapped in a mink-lined dungeon.’

None of this came easy to me at first, and it takes consistent work to keep going through a manuscript and cleaning it up. And I don’t profess to be an expert on any of this, but I have learnt a lot through the years, and as tough as it might be, it definitely gets your creative mind ticking over, and that to me is what writing is all about.

Letters to the Pianist is out now in hardback, paperback and eBook

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Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Sherron. You can follow Sherron on Goodreads or via her Facebook Page.

Emma-Louise x

What Lurks Beneath (Part 1) 

Today I have the first in a two parter that I wrote for Halloween. It originally started as a flash fiction piece but has evolved into much more.

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The heart of Autumn surrounded us now. The leaves rustled in the bitter breeze that stings my cheeks and makes my eyes water.

I thought agreeing to this trip would be a good thing, I’d imagined a cosy cabin, log fires, long walks and early nights. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

First there was no heating save for the log fire, which also was the only source for heating water, the cabin was old and dusty and looked like it had been picked up from some cheesy Halloween film and put in the middle of this forest. I’m glad I wasn’t here alone otherwise I’d have turned and left by now.

There was however, a beautiful lake which on a night like this shone with a moonlit glow. It looked incredible, inviting.

I’m sure I could see things moving underneath it’s surface but it was clear the atmospheric effect of this cabin was playing tricks with my mind.

I could hear the others playing Monopoly in the main room. Louis loudly declaring how much he was kicking everyone’s arse on the property front, Sarah laughing because despite him owning everything he was broke and she wasn’t and then Ryan who just laughed at them both. My Ryan, the diplomatic one, never caused a scene, always the voice of reason and the one I was head over heels in love with.

Ryan and I had been together now for almost 2 years. We had met through random chance at a college fair when we were in our last year of school. This week was my 18th birthday and this trip was meant for me. Ryan knew I didn’t do massive parties or huge celebrations. Coming to a quiet romantic cabin with our best friends was the perfect gift.

At least it should have been. Leaving Louis to find and book a place may not have been the wisest of ideas. His version of comfort was quite different from mine. Despite this place though I was having a nice time, I just didn’t relish showering in the luke warm water or waking up to know I needed to de-frost the kettle before I could have a morning cuppa.

We were booked for a week and this was our 3rd night. I had to admit though this place was growing on me. It was my birthday tomorrow and we were going to have a barbeque if it wasn’t raining. The last few days had been sunny but cold, perfect walking weather. Louis and Sarah decided a barbeque would be a great idea, I have to say it did sound nice.

I excused myself and went up to bed. I wanted an early night so I could get up for a jog in the morning before everyone else awoke. Running through the surrounding forest with just the birds for company was relaxing. I could happily do this everyday rather than at home where I had to navigate roads and cars on my morning route. Living in the middle of a big city meant we didn’t have places so full of nature like out here.

I felt the alarm vibrating under my pillow, I must have slept great because I don’t remember anything from when I got into bed until now. I reached for my thick dressing gown while attempting to stay hidden under the cover. I grabbed it and quickly whipped it on, then slide my feet into my furry slippers.

I snuck out of the room and made my way to the main living room. Now that we had started to make our presence felt I could definitely see the charm in it. The kitchenette stood off the the left, a simple row of cupboards, cooking stove, fridge and other essentials. To the right a massive open fireplace and an arrangement if mismatched chairs, a sofa and some bean bags. There was a gorgeous real wood coffee table that had two tree trunk legs. To either side of the fireplace was wood stacked up to the ceiling as well as smaller piles scattered around the room, Windows sat next to the tall wood piles. The floor was made from wooden floorboards with thick worn rugs in random colours scattered about. In the centre of the back wall was a huge door and coat rack. I could see the moonlight just hitting the trees. It was still pitch black outside.

I walked over to the fire and added more logs, stoking it to bring up the flames. Thankfully the room wasn’t as cold since the embers had burnt through the night. I filled the kettle and switched it on, grabbing one of the mugs and popping in a teabag and some sugar. I walked over to the one of the windows near the fireplace. This view looked directly over the lake, it looked even more stunning than the night before.

I heard the kettle click off and went to make my drink. I shoved on some wellies, put my thick coat over my dressing gown, grabbed my mug and headed towards the lake. I sat on the bench that sat near the waters edge. Despite been dark the moon let off enough light that I could see easily.

I was sat contemplating the day ahead. Finally 18 years old. Old enough to drink and vote. A proper adult now. Due to start university in a weeks time. Life was good.

It was then I heard the whispers. At first I thought it was just me. I’d have put it down to the wind but there wasn’t even a small breeze this morning. It was still and silent. The whispering seemed to get louder, more frequent. I couldn’t make out any words. I looked around me but I couldn’t see anyone. I then got up and started to walk around the lake, staying in the light. I could hear the whispers getting louder now and tried to follow the sound, it led into the woods. I hesitated following, I mean I was still in my pj’s, who knows what else is out here. But still, I followed.

I came to a small clearing surrounded by the most beautiful wildflowers, the moon shone down into the centre. Everything seemed to sparkle.

The whispering had stopped now. There was no sound not even a bird.

“Hello Juliet” a voice said. I turned around, nothing was there. I couldn’t see anyone. Shadows hiding from the moonlight concealing what lurked in the darkness.

“Don’t be afraid Juliet, we’ve waited a long time for you” the voice spoke.

“Who are you? Where are you?” I replied, my voice shook with nerves. My heart was beating so fast I thought it would jump out of my chest. My hands had gone clammy. I was more than half tempted to to run back to the cabin but something compelled me to stay.

“Juliet, we are the people of the forest. You will see us when your eyes allow us to be seen” the voice said.

“What do you mean? My eyes allow you to be seen? What are you ?” I replied.

“Everything will be revealed in time Juliet. The question you should ask is not who are we, but who are you” the menacing voice replied.

“What do you mean? I’m a human of course. What else could I be?” I had no idea what was going on, were the guys playing a trick on me? Not exactly the way I wanted to start my birthday.

“You my dear child are not pure human, there are things in this world that have been kept from you. But now as you celebrate the day of your birth old magic will pump through your veins. When you are ready to know everything come back to this spot. We will be here waiting. You are not ready yet, don’t fight it when you feel it” the voice faded as it finished it’s words, I knew that whatever it was had gone.

I went back inside confused, sitting on the sofa in front of the fire my body started to warm up. What on earth did it all mean. I’ve never felt normal, at least not in the way that people seemed to look. My father has always kept secrets about my mother,  my heritage and what happened to her. Did this have something to do with her?

I jumped as Ryan put his arms around my shoulders, I hadn’t even heard him come out of the bedroom. “Good Morning birthday girl. Happy birthday” he said, kissing my cheek.

To be continued…..

Emma-Louise Smith x

Other bloggers who have written a small Halloween story…

J.E Kennedy – The Sven Lands

Cassandra Jones – Ghostly Writes Anthology Free E-Book

Writing TN Set Up

I finally got my writing TN set up completed. A while ago I bought a second hand Meadowgate TN from someone who had customised it with ink droplets and it was perfect. 

I finished setting it up yesterday when my friend Kirstyanne brought me a NaNoWriMo insert for it. 

(I’ll drop shop links below).

I have put in it;

  • A NaNoWriMo insert
  • A general writing insert full of prompts, info, ideas etc
  • A insert with chapters and writing info for my current work in progress
  • A tasks and notes insert to track everything I need to do.
  • My writing journal

I also have some cheetsheets and resources tucked in the back pocket.

I am so happy with it, not just how it functions but the style of it. 

Now for the links.

Leather TN from Meadowgate Leather

NaNoWriMo insert from BugzPlanning

Lined inserts from Paper Trail Notebooks

Task Insert from The Punk Planner

Pumpkin clip from Stitch and Weave

Ravenclaw Dashboard from LalaPlans

Accessories from The Royal Planner

All cheat sheet and resources are from Megg Geri and Eva Deverell

Thanks for reading:)