Saturday, 19 December 2015

Looking Back on 2015, and 2016 Goals

So, after spending all afternoon working on an outline for my latest manuscript (yay!), I started thinking about my goals for 2015 - and what I'd love to achieve in 2016. In January, I promised myself that I would:


I didn't achieve this goal, but only because TMatCB is now HOUSE OF SMOULDERING TEARS. In brief, I picked TMatCB apart, kept my heroine and some of the other characters, threw them into a whole new world, and so HoST was born. In 2015, I learned how to accept when a manuscript isn't working. And, I gained the courage to burn said manuscript and forge a new one from the ashes, so to speak. I sound like my heroine! 

Sometimes, you have to let a manuscript go - or at least be daring enough to rewrite the thing. 

B) Find time to read more books

Yeah, I definitely made time to read more this year. I explored genres I wouldn't normally read, and branching out fuelled my creativity in unexpected ways.

C) Exercise more


D) Draft something new

I drafted HoST, half of another manuscript I'm shelving for now, and a few other random things. So yeah, I'm calling this a success!

E) Never forget why I'm doing this

This is a big one. I am a writer. It's what I love. I didn't forget that this year - not even once. 

So, goals for 2016:

A) Get an agent

I have literally no control over whether or not this happens, but publication is my dream and I'm determined to chase it this coming year. 

B) Draft two more books

I'm about to start a new manuscript - that's one draft. And, whatever happens with HoST, I'm working on the sequels. I adore the characters, the world...everything. At the very least, I'll rewrite HoST if need be. But, if HoST is simply not working, then I'll have something new to hopefully query later in the year. 

C) Never give up

Like I said, I have no control over what will happen with HoST, or anything else I write. But I will NOT give up on my dream. Achieving it is my only option - however long it takes! 

I wish you all a happy, healthy and successful 2016! 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Choosing Between Ideas

I've been super busy recently, so I haven't had the chance to blog in a while. But now it's time to start on a new WIP (yay!), so I thought I'd explain how I choose between ideas.

Like all writers, I have lots of little plot bunnies bouncing around inside my head. At the moment, I have pitches jotted down for fifteen different YA fantasies. FIFTEEN. How do I decide which one to focus on first?

I try not to worry too much about market viability at this stage. I'm aware of trends and what else is out there, but now isn't the time for limiting my creativity. If an idea really speaks to me, I can always work on making it stand out before I start drafting.

I build everything around character. So, at this point, I look at those pitches and consider which characters appeal to me the most. Do I have a sense of who they are? Do I understand the challenges they face, and what burdens they carry? Can I visualise the main character and/or supporting characters, and maybe even the opening scene? Sometimes I'll come up with a cool concept, world or magic system first. But unless I can answer those questions, I can't get excited about the project and it always stalls.

Then, I get a notebook and start jotting things down to see if I can identify the heart of the story, or the story question. I know I'm on the right track when I understand how the story ends (and why it ends the way it does). At this point, I'll actually draft another pitch and possibly even the query. When I have the right character, the core conflict and stakes come pretty naturally to me, and I'm now VERY enthusiastic about the project. There's a good chance I'll dance at my desk. With all these feelings, I know this project is The One to work on.

Once I have a main character (and possibly even other characters) I consider how to make my project more original if marketability is an issue. Otherwise, I'll work on getting to know my characters better. I'm going to spend a lot of time with them, so I need to know their quirks and understand their personalities. I thought of an awesome concept recently, but I just couldn't visualise the MC and I didn't feel passionate about her journey. I stalled. But when I returned to my pitch list, another character and her dilemma called to me - and I can't wait to get started!

Everyone has a different process, and every project has its own unique challenges, but if you're struggling to pick an idea, I recommend starting from character. I wrote my Pitch Wars manuscript because I fell in love with the characters and their issues, so I'd say this process works pretty well! :)

This also applies if you're struggling to come up with an idea in the first place. Think of someone you'd love to write about, and what kind of challenges they face. You never know what you'll end up with!

I'll be talking about how I maintain passion for a story next year! :)