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Cookie Break

Writer, stationery addict & occasional cat pillow. Adorer of all things cute. Tea and pasta fanatic.

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A Writer’s Musings

World Building in Fantasy Fiction – Your World’s History

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I don’t know about you, but the word ‘history’ always reminds me of high school where the same stuff was repeated every year, and where one sentence spanned most of one page in text books.

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Don’t worry, your world’s history doesn’t need to be a nightmare and conjure memories of boredom and sleep overtaking you! In fact, your world’s history is the reason your world is what it is when your story starts. It’s kinda important.

It’s an intricate, detailed, and sometimes complicated thing. I don’t want to overwhelm you with information; rather I’d like to give you the starting points to help you make your world as believable as possible without losing its magic. And to make the whole thing a little less daunting, I bet you that I can break it down in as few as six hundred words! (Not including this intro, of course)

Your World’s History

Your world’s history encompasses everything, and it’s the reason plotting this specific aspect is so daunting. Just take a look at our own history – the many wars, the natural disasters, the countless civilisations which preceded ours! Where the hell are you supposed to start? How much do you need? When do you stop?

You’ll be relieved to hear that you don’t necessarily need all that, unless your story calls for it. How far back you want to go is entirely up to you. You can plot your world’s history all the way back when dinosaur-equivalents roamed your lands, or you can start at a time that’s relevant to your plot. The latter is what matters, but I won’t stop you if you want to go all out!

Because this step is a wee bit overwhelming, it can help to draw a timeline or make a list of important events throughout, well, history. Start at the beginning of your story, and work backwards. For example, imagine your main character is the last of her race. Why is that? Why has an entire people all but gone extinct? Was there a war? Did natural causes kill everyone? In many stories, dwarves have long since become an extinct race, or elves were driven out of their homeland. What happened to cause this?

Think about the landscape, too. Perhaps a city has disappeared, a great rift has torn a country in two, or a once fertile country has turned barren. Wars and widespread natural calamities tend to leave scars!

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There are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to break this down into small, doable chunks.

What are the large events (such as war/famine/genocide/natural disasters) that affect your world and characters?

What caused these events?

How long ago did they happen?

How do they affect your world and characters today? Why?

Local History

The environment we grow up in shapes us a great deal. Where did your main characters grow up? Focus on past events that have made the town/city/small collection of huts what it is. Has war ravaged the country for years? Has your main character grown up with stories of a local hero? Is the town, or the whole country, known for any large scale events like an invasion, or a natural catastrophe like a volcano erupting? Perhaps your main character’s people are peaceful and live secluded in a forest, but were driven out by deforestation. What have past events done to the people living there? What have they done to your main character?

The same list of questions I’ve suggested above can help you sort through this one, too!

But we’re getting more into character development and personal history now, so let’s move on.

Give It Time

Your world and its history will develop as you write and build your story, same as your characters do. Having some of it, maybe even most of it, figured out before you write that first word is brilliant, but don’t panic or feel like you haven’t prepared enough if you have less than that. Sometimes we start a new story and we know everything long before Chapter One is typed, and sometimes we know the bare bones of our newest book baby. It’s a long process, and takes time. Your world’s history is no exception.

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So relax, and enjoy yourself! Your history will come to you eventually if it doesn’t before you name your MCs, and it will likely do so because you’re writing. You don’t need to have everything figured out before you start – knowing that something huge happened at some point in the past is an excellent start!

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All gifs from giphy.com

For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

World Building in Fantasy Fiction – The Basics

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Creating a whole world from scratch is easily one of my favourite parts of being an author – but it’s also one of the trickiest ones. There are so many things to consider and get right that it can seem overwhelming. Where do you start? What does your world actually need?

This first chapter of my “master classes” *ahem* is focused on world building. In today’s post I’ll go over the very basics of your world with you, so that by the end of it the task won’t be quite as daunting! 🙂

Your world needs to be realistic enough that people will believe it and enjoy it, but how do you do that when magic is the norm and whole mountain ranges only exist because some ancient dragon says so?

History

I won’t go into too much detail now because I’ve got a post planned about this very topic in two weeks. The only thing you need to know for now is that your world doesn’t just suddenly begin when your book does. Your world has existed before Chapter One, before the prologue. Chances are it has also existed long before your main character was born, and showing your readers some of that rich history will make your world far more believable! I love intricate lore and discovering it slowly as the plot progresses – just be careful not to dump too much information on your readers at once!

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Religion

I’m agnostic myself, but a lot of my characters are religious and for some of them their beliefs play a huge part in their lives. You may not be religious, either – you may even be strictly against religion – but a world without any religion whatsoever is unrealistic. You don’t have to make it similar to our world’s religion if you don’t want to – you don’t have to use God, Satan, or the Afterlife if you don’t want those in your book. In fact, your religion doesn’t have to resemble ours at all! But it needs to be there, and it needs to make sense.

For example, a lone wanderer might have walked your world searching for meaning. He came to a forest, and got lost. Days later – thirsty and ravenous – he spotted a deer. The deer seemed to want this lone wanderer to follow him, and so he followed the animal until they reached clean water, and bushes full of berries! From there it’s not a long stretch to assume that the lone wanderer might have believed the deer to be a higher being looking out for him. Perhaps he settled down by the stream, invited some friends he met through his travels who also sought peace, and began to worship the deer that led him there. Or maybe they simply pay their respects to the wildlife by offering it berries and a bowl of fresh water at a shrine to the deer. Or by not hunting all the deer to extinction. Or perhaps they consume the deer and drinks its blood to be closer to their chosen diety? Either way, you’ve got a lot of wiggle room!

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It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to explain your world’s greatest mysteries – not all religions do.

Economy

Not every country in your world is going to work in the same way. Some countries will be poorer than others, some will have stricter trading laws than others, and so on. For example, say Country 1 places a high value on money and respects those who know how to do well for themselves. What impact does this have on this country’s beggars? On poorer families who can’t afford to go into business with some rich merchant?

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Cultural Differences

When you first start to think about your world, you might accidentally make every country similar. Your own background might reflect heavily in your world; for example, if you’re from northern Europe than your world might feature countries very similar to yours, simply because that’s what you’re used to. Don’t worry about it – it’s an easy mistake to make! Be sure to include different cultures in your world, and make sure that people from different countries speak different languages, have different habits and traditions – and consider that not all countries are likely to get along.

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No Country Has Smooth Borders

Eventually you might start to draw the first outlines of your own world (we’ll get to why you want a map in a few weeks). If you’re anything like me and have no idea what you’re doing, you might do this by just drawing, well… something. I mean, how do you draw a country you made up? Not with smooth borders, for one (unless you have a very convincing argument somewhere in your plot that explains it). Countries and the borders between them are curved, edged, zig-zaggy – and definitely not straight! This is one aspect where you can let your need for perfection go!

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The People

This is perhaps the most important point. Without the people populating them, your countries wouldn’t exist. You wouldn’t have a MC screaming at you to tell his/her story (random writing prompt: What if you character is the only character still alive? What killed the others?). The people make your countries what they are – rich, poor, proud, violent, profit-driven, pious, military strongholds. While not every single person in Country A is going to be devout, religion will still have played an important role in everyone’s lives if the country as a whole is religious. This could show through upbringing (some people go to church every Sunday and pray before they go to bed), festivals (Christmas, for example, or harvest festivals) and even speech habits (never saying ‘God’, ‘Maker’ or similar terms without good reason, or outright fearing their counter parts)

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Truth be told, creating your world from scratch is exciting but it takes work, too. All of the above points are going to take more consideration than a brief glance and a shrug if you want your readers to be invested in your book baby, but they’re a start! From here you can create anything. ANYTHING!

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What are the basics of your world? Are there any aspects you have to include, or else it doesn’t feel real to you? Grab a cookie and a tea, and let’s talk about world building!

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All gifs from giphy.com

For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

The Rapid Fire Book Tag

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I was going through my posts looking for… something (my memory is short and selective), and guess what I found instead of the thing I actually wanted? Two forgotten tags! From way back last year! So, I thought, why not have a little fun (and, admittedly, be lazy) and do one while I wait for last week’s poll to close? (if you haven’t voted yet you can still do so now here, but it will close in a few hours!)

I found this tag over on Donna’s lovely blog chocolatenwaffles, which I highly recommend you visit and follow if you love books and, well, tags!

eBooks or physical books?

Heh. Right to the point, eh? I like that in a tag! I prefer physical books because they’re pretty, they sound amazing when you leaf through the pages, and New Book Smell is a perfectly real thing, but my bookshelf is small. If it’s a book by an author I love, I prefer to get the paperback. If it’s a book I’m not sure about or a book by an author I’m not yet familiar with, I’ll get the eBook. Also, because my tiny bookshelf fills up rather quickly, I’ve vowed to make my next book-buying binge an electronic one. Just you watch as I fail miserably!

Paperback or hardback?

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Paperbacks all the way! As awesome and amazingly beautiful as hardbacks are, paperbacks are just as awesome and beautiful, and I may have mentioned this already briefly in passing, maybe, but my bookshelf is small (not as small as the picture makes it out to be). Hardbacks take up more room. Decision made! (Ignore the one hardback sitting on my shelf)

Online or in-store book shopping?

I like online shopping because it’s fast and easy. I adore in-store book shopping because I’ve found many treasures that way, and because bookstores are my happy place. So it’s a draw!

Trilogies or series?

Who cares? If it’s awesome and I enjoy it, I’ll read it!

Heroes or villains?

Both, if they’re written well! A well-written villain is just as much fun to be invested in than a great hero.

A book you want everyone to read?

Mine? *awkward cough* *it’s Rise of the Sparrows* Right, I’m gonna cheat and do two 😛

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This, because everyone who’s ever spent any time working in retail will laugh/cry reading this. Don’t scoff at this book if you’ve never been behind the till before and dismiss these as fake. They’re true. Even the disgusting ones.

And these-

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The duology counts as one, right? *ahem*

Shame on you if you still haven’t heard of these! (Where have you been hiding??) Go read them NOW!

Recommend an underrated book.

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I chose this one because for some reason I can’t find anyone who’s read her books. I know lots of people who’ve read Six of Crows, The Night Circus, and all those wonderful reads, but when I mention Karen Miller everyone stares at me. Click the picture to be taken to its Goodreads page, and add it now! I want to talk about these!!

The last book you finished?

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Easily readable in one sitting! I did it in half an hour.

Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?

I don’t think I’ve ever used anything weird. I’ve always had bookmarks handy, and when I didn’t I used paper strips. While those technically aren’t bookmarks I wouldn’t call them weird, so… BUT I work in a library and I found a book with naan bread stuffed between the pages once! (also, don’t do that.)

Used books, yes or no?

Of course! For £2 I can’t think of a single good reason not to!

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Top three favorite genre?

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Young Adult. (consider all sub genres of fantasy included)

Borrow or buy?

Usually buy, but since I work in a library it’s too convenient not to borrow books on occasion! I don’t borrow often, but I’ll likely borrow the entire Discworld series since my poor bookshelf would fire me as its owner otherwise.

Characters or plot?

Both. While awesome characters you’re rooting for can drag an underdeveloped plot along, I don’t see why writers wouldn’t make an effort to ace both. I know different readers will enjoy different aspects, and one person will hate a plot another adored, but from a writer’s perspective I say both are equally important.

Long or short book?

That depends entirely on what my last read has been. After I finished The Wise Man’s Fear (which I read immediately after The Name of the Wind) I was in the mood for something short, but I’m now reading the Grisha trilogy and each of those books is quite short, so I’ll go for something longer next time.

Long or short chapters?

I don’t care. Each chapter is different, and I’d rather have a mixture of long and short chapters than see short chapters lengthened and drag, or long chapters be cut and lose important information to match the rest of the book.

Name the first three books you think of.

The Name of the Wind, Six of Crows, and GAH, SO MANY! – The Making of Gabriel Davenport!

Books that make you laugh or cry?

Well, most books do that! It doesn’t take much for a book to make me cry, so if you want a full list you’ll be here for a while! I love both. If you’re asking whether I pick books because they’ll make me laugh or cry then that’s a no. I don’t know before I read a book what it’ll do to me, so I’m not sure how I could choose a new book based on that.

Our world or fictional worlds?

I’m happy with either as long as it’s done well. If a book is set in our world then the information in the book needs to be accurate, and if the world is fictional it needs to have been built well.

Audiobooks: yes or no?

I’m not against audiobooks but I’ve never listened to one.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Constantly! A book’s cover is the first impression a potential reader has. Most people decide whether they’re interested or not in the first few seconds of looking at a book, and if the cover doesn’t convince them they’ll walk away and pick up something that appeals to them more.

Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?

Oh God, please, no. Neither. Most of the time this just doesn’t go well. I know there are exceptions, but most of the time it’s a wreck! I’m still shivering from The 5th Wave movie adaptation 😦

A movie or TV adaptation you preferred to the book?

I can’t think of one! Harry Potter worked pretty well, obviously, but can I say that I preferred the movies to the books? I don’t think I can!

Series or standalone?

Both! I’ve read more series than I’ve read standalones, but I’ve read a few fantastic standalone novels, too!

If you’ve visited Donna’s post you may have noticed that she published it way back in October, so I won’t tag anyone. If you want to do this, go ahead – you’ve been tagged!

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

What Kind of Post Would be Most Beneficial to YOU?

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As I’m going over my blogging plans for this year, I’ve noticed that a lot of my topics could be put into series of “master classes” (Not that I’m a master or that they are actual classes… I’m just trying to confuse you, to keep your mind sharp *awkward cough*) Since you are the ones who have to put up with my rambling and the information I throw at you, I thought it best to let you choose what you’re most interested in 🙂 I will then publish the series in order of popularity.

Let me just explain what each of them contains, and then I’ll let you get on with your day 🙂

Beta Reading

I get asked about beta reading and various aspects of it quite often, so I hope this series will be helpful to many of you. There’ll be posts on how to be a beta reader, how to know which changes to apply, when (and how!) to ask for beta readers, and other helpful tips to make it a rewarding experience – no matter weather you’re the reader or the writer.

World Building

This will cover how to create the basics of your world, like its religion and important historical events, why you need a map if you write high fantasy, and how exactly google maps can help you make your world easier to grasp – for your reader as well as for yourself.

Character Creation

This series will include how to make your characters stand out, why your side characters are just as important as your MCs, how to make them human and relatable, and a couple of bits on POV.

Writing

This will explain what it’s like to be a plotster (as opposed to a plotter or pantser), why it’s important to write for yourself, and how to know when to start over or walk away from a project altogether.

Writer’s Block

Here I’ll give you a few ideas on how to beat writer’s block, and how you can prevent it from putting your writing to a stop for months at a time.

Self-Publishing

Since choosing the indie route can be a daunting experience I’m hoping that this series will help you decide whether it’s for you! It will cover topics such as why your book’s cover and editor are important (and how to find ones you like!), how social media can help you, why breaks are important and encouraged, and why you need to write for yourself above anyone else.

Blogging

This will explain how often you “should” blog, why interaction with your readers is important, and how to avoid blogging becoming a chore.  Setting up your first blog – especially when it’s supposed to be for your writing – can seem overwhelming or even complicated. I hope this series will help newcomers relax and create an online home they can be proud of.

Onto the poll! You can vote for as many options as you like if you’re interested in more than one series, but please don’t vote every day while the poll is active. We want this to be fair now, don’t we? 🙂

If there’s anything else you’d like to see, please leave a comment 🙂

Thank you! ❤

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

The Indie Writer’s Brownie Break

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A few months ago I asked Twitter if there were any good Facebook groups for writers. While the post had a few likes and even a couple of retweets, no one had any recommendations for me – in fact, the only person who did comment had the same question!

I gave up for the time being because NaNo was just around the corner and, well, we all know how little time that leaves!

More recently I’ve realised how much I love helping writers get self-published and get that first draft written and edited. While I can’t do much only having self-published myself last year, I wanted to do more and create a friendly community for writers to ask questions and get the help and support they need.

This is why I’ve created The Indie Writer’s Brownie Break! (See a theme there? Cookies, brownies – I’ll take whatever as long as it’s got sugar in it and can be eaten while I write/edit/pull my hair out) I want Brownie Break to be a place where you can find beta readers, critique partners, ask questions, give advice, and generally feel loved in your indie writer awesomeness.

Take a look, grab a brownie, and make yourself comfortable! ^-^

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

Bookish Goals for 2017

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HI EVERYONE!

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How was your break? How was your Christmas? Any of you read something great and want to share? ^-^

I’ve got an exciting year ahead of me, and since most of it is writing related I thought I’d share! 🙂

~ Publishing Schedule ~

This is very rough since I haven’t finished my edits yet, but the plan is to publish Wardens of Archos in the second quarter, likely close to last year’s publication date, and to publish Soul of the Heart (temp. title) in the third quarter. I’ll have a couple or three title reveals for you, too 😉 I’m currently aiming for June and September/October.

Besides publishing these two books I’m also going to write the final book in the Relics of Ar’Zac trilogy as well as the prequel. There’s a lot of history flowing into the story now, and the prequel will explain everything you need to know as it happened at the time, instead of me dumping a lot of info on you in the trilogy itself 🙂 It’s not necessary to read it to understand the plot of the trilogy, so if prequel novellas aren’t your thing you can leave it if you wish. It’ll also work as a standalone if you’re more interested in the novella than the whole trilogy.

~ Cookie Break ~

I’ve got a couple of changes coming to this blog, one small and two big.

The small change concerns my posts. Ever since I started Cookie Break I’ve posted every Tuesday with insights into my writerly life, but as of this year I’ll only post biweekly. This is partly because I’m running out of things to blog about and don’t want to regurgitate old posts, and partly because it takes time to prepare something new each week. Only posting every fortnight gives me more time to write and edit. This is, however, a good time to make suggestions if there’s anything you’d like me to write about! 🙂 If you have any questions about the writing process, publishing, or what it’s like to be an indie author, shoot away!

Regarding guest posts I published the last one in November – since I post them on the last Tuesday of every month I didn’t want to post one in December since most people would have been in a food coma then – and I won’t schedule any more for now. If you think you’d like to contribute, get in touch and we’ll talk 🙂 I also won’t arrange any more interviews for the time being. The last one is currently scheduled for April, and since I post one every month on Thursday I’ve fallen behind on my reviews. I’m not opposed to hosting interviews, however! If you’d like to be interviewed get in touch and we can arrange something 🙂

Now, to the big changes! The first one is that Cookie Break will receive a make-over. I want it to look more like a website with a blog then a blog that’s trying to pass as a website. I want it to look professional, so over the next two weeks I’ll be doing some renovating 🙂

The second big change is that I’m planning on starting a monthly newsletter. There’ll be rewards for subscribers – to give you a hint at one, I’ll be giving away copies of my eBook to the first few subscribers. But more on that soon 😉

~ Reading ~

I’m going to read a lot of theory this year! I read a few theory books last year and oddly enough I really enjoyed them, so I’m looking forward to it. If I come across any good books I’ll be sure to share!

There’s also a sad lack of classics in my life, so this year I’ll be reading a few 🙂 Books like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre are high on my list, but I’m open to recommendations! What is your favourite classic?

2017 is going to be a busy and exciting year, and I’m immensely looking forward to it. I vow to bring you more cats, more sarcasm, and more books. I hope to see some of you around again, too 🙂


All gifs from giphy.com

For all previous updates on my books’ progress, click me!

For all of my musings, click me.

For Cookie Break’s front page, take a look here.

Goodness Me, What a Year it’s been!

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This has been an incredible and busy year for me. I’ve published my first book, I’ve written another two (Soul of the Heart (temp. title) was finished on Friday!!), and I’ve met some amazing people. I’ve got so many plans for 2017 (including publishing two books and setting up a newsletter, but more on that next month!) but right now I want to sleep and cuddle my cat.

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When I set out to write Rise of the Sparrows, I had no idea what I was in for. I knew it’d be difficult, and of course it was, but it was also exciting and I haven’t thought for one second that I couldn’t do this. It’s been the best kind of challenge. The best type of learning curve. This is in no small part due to the amazing people I’ve met this year who’ve shouted my book baby’s name at everyone who would listen, and who are so talented themselves that they inspire me every day to do better. I’m deeply forever grateful to them, and will buy tea and coffee if we ever meet in person.You know who you are so go ahead, pat yourselves on your backs ^-^

I’ve learned an insane amount. Most of that came from self-publishing my debut novel, but a lot of it is thanks to being a beta reader myself and reading every book more critically. Next year is going to be exciting, I can promise you that!

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Thank you to everyone who’s walked this road with me this year and who’s supported me and Rachael (come now, we all knew there was going to be some cheese in a post like this…) I truly appreciate all the love you’ve thrown at me this year ❤ I’m planning on a few ways to give something back to you next year, so keep an eye out 😉

I’ve got a few more posts scheduled, including a Christmasy writing prompt on the 26th, but I’m off work now and very busy relaxing and being lazy, so I might not reply to comments immediately 🙂

Otherwise this is the last you’ll hear from me this year, too, so be save for the remaining few days this year, and have a wonderful start to 2017!


All gifs from giphy.com

For all previous updates on my books’ progress, click me!

For all of my musings, click me.

For Cookie Break’s front page, take a look here.

Eight Writerly Routines

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What’s better than one writer’s routine? You guessed it – eight of them! 😀 As writers we’re naturally curious and, yes, nosy, so today I’m bringing you the routines of eight writers from all stages in their careers. Some of the amazing people below are at the very beginning of their game, while others have published several books already. All of them have published at least one book – which makes this post a great source of information!

For a lot of new writers the routines they’re meant to have elude them. Truth is, there’s no right or wrong way of putting the words to paper/screen, and the eight authors below show just how different a routine can be. I hope this puts your mind at rest if you’re a new writer starting out, and if you’ve already released a book baby into the scary world I hope you get something from this post regardless 🙂

Holly Evans Profile PicHolly Evans, Author of the Infernal Ties series

I was honoured when Sarina approached me to talk a little bit about my writing routine! Then I realised, with a little awkwardness, that I don’t have much of a routine. I’m one of those writers who only write when they’re inspired. I absolutely refuse to sit down and write unless I’m in the right headspace. Fortunately I write pretty quickly, so I can pull this off. This means that I don’t set aside any set time to write. What I do instead is finish up pretty much everything I have to do in that day, my freelance work, niggly paperwork, errands etc, then I relax and run the story through my head. That means that I rarely sit down and waste time going ‘ssooo… what am I writing next?’ When I sit down, it’s already straight in my head and I get those chapters written as quickly as possible.  If I can write, I do so until I can’t any more. If I can’t, I read or watch a movie.

This does get a little bit difficult when I look at my deadlines, because they’re pretty tight. I have a strict publishing schedule that means I have around about 10 weeks to produce one book, from start to finish. About 6 of those weeks, (sometimes more) is then devoted to editing so I do have to write at a reasonable clip. To do this, I do a good amount of character development and world-building, with loose outlines for the plot. I freaked myself out when I tried a truly in depth outline, I need the freedom to play and explore, otherwise I shut down and can’t do it. Knowing my world and characters gives me the space to play in, without taking away that freedom. Oh and I absolutely must have music when I write, Spotify is a godsend! All in all, it’s a bit chaotic, but it works for me.

Find Holly on Twitter, her blog, and Goodreads

kathryn-evansKathryn Evans, Author of More of Me

I’m a really busy person– I work full time on our family farm, have two kids and do a lot of volunteering plus I have a couple of time consuming hobbies. I’ve learned to jam my writing in wherever and whenever I can – It’s getting trickier now, with all the book promotion stuff, but it’s the same rules really. I’m lucky that I can work in short, intense bursts of time – give me 40 focussed minutes and I can usually turn around quite a lot!  If I can get to writing first thing in the morning, it’s usually the best time, but that’s quite often not possible. Am often writing on trains, in the hairdressers or while waiting to pick up a child from somewhere!

I’m a sort of Plonter or a Plattser…I need to know where I’m going and what the highs and lows of my story are, but then I just write. It does mean a lot of going back and forth but we all have to edit, right? I wish I could plot properly, I think it would save a lot of time – but maybe it wouldn’t, maybe all the time I spend correcting stuff I would have spent plotting!

Find Kathryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, her blog, and Goodreads

liz-meldonLiz Meldon, Author of the Lovers and Liars series and the Games We Play series

My goal is to write daily. Whether it’s just a few hundred words or two thousand, I aim to get a little done each day. Now, I write both as a freelancer and as an indie author, and I split my week up accordingly. At the moment, three days a week are dedicated to freelance work, with a set weekly word count decided in advance that I split equally between the three days. Personal work gets three days too, and Sundays are usually my day off.

Both freelance and personal writing days tend to go the same. Before sitting down to write, I go through all my social media, emails, or any other internet distractions so I don’t feel the need to check during my writing stints. Twitter distractions are my biggest struggle!

Once I’ve sorted out my online distractions, I occasionally disconnect the WIFI on my laptop so I won’t be tempted to go clicking around while writing. I then set up my timer (I write in 15 minute stints, then take a break), open my word count app, and confirm what scene I’ll be working on or what word count I need to hit.

Stretching out my wrists is incredibly important—and it should be for you too! Find a little routine that works for you to maintain wrist health. You need those hands to write, after all.

From there, I just go. I write until my timer goes off, maybe a little over, record my word count (yeay accomplishments!) then take my break to avoid burnout. Rinse and repeat this routine until my word count is hit or my designated scene for the day is complete!

Find Liz on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads

kjchapmanK. J. Chapman, author of the EVO Nation series, and Thrown to the Blue

When it comes to a writing routine, I’m stretched to pull one together. I’m a pantser and a slap dash drafter; take an idea and run with it. Every draft is a journey of discovery for me. That being said, I do keep notes and snippets of dialogue that may or may not make it into the final cut, but my most important notes are the ones I write specifically for when I get to the editing stage- aspects that need more research, or chapters to add to make the ending plausible etc. Due to family life, I have to write when and where I can. On bad days, I don’t write at all. On good days, I can manage up to 3k words or more. The triumph is getting that first draft under my belt, no matter how I do it.

Editing is where routine features more highly on my agenda. I always redraft using my notes, and more often than not, I redraft my redraft. Being a pantser, I have to sift through the ramblings a fair bit. Once the redraft is complete, I comb through the manuscript for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. A rough deadline helps me to get through the edits in time to send the manuscript to my proof reader. I’m not an editing fan, so deadlines help me to slog through it.

My best advice is to do what suits your goals, lifestyle, and your sanity. Right and wrong is subjective when it comes to creativity. Do whatever it is that helps you get that first draft written.

Find K. J. Chapman on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads

james-fahy

James Fahy, author of the Phoebe Harkness series and The Changeling series

I know there are writers out there who plan every last line and detail of their books. Flowcharts, post-it notes pinned to the wall and joined to one another with a web of cotton like some serial killer’s crime scene investigation, but that’s not for me. I think too much micro-management can lead to dull writing. Your characters need room to breathe and express themselves. (within SOME kind of framework of course)

I like to initially split a novel into three ‘Acts’, as though it were a movie or a play. The Setup, the ‘Meat’ and the Conclusion. I have to know exactly what needs to happen in each of these three chunks to move the story forward and control pacing well. Once I’ve rolled the tale around in my head for a few weeks, and I’m sure of the shape of it, I’ll then usually break each of these three acts down into working chapter titles (even if these don’t make it into the final book)

It’s at this point you have to trust your characters to get you from A to Z. You’ve drawn the map as best you can, now it’s time to hand over the wheel to them and trust them to drive it forward. Hopefully, if your characters are strong and well realised, you can trust them to do all the work. It’s always surprising to me what back lanes, unexpected turn offs and occasional dead ends they take you down along the way, but it’s the absolute joy of writing just to fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

Find James on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, his blog, and Goodreads

beverley-leeBeverley Lee, author of The Making of Gabriel Davenport

I don’t have what I deem a ‘normal’ routine, as in sitting down at a certain time of day to write, but it tends to be the afternoon most recently. I like to get the real life things out of the way first as I find I can concentrate more. When I am in writing mode (as opposed to editing mode, which seems to be my default right now!) I usually have a word count for the day that I like to complete. There’s something so satisfying about seeing that number creep up daily. I rarely plan what I want to write in any session, I always just listen to what my characters tell me and where they want to go.

With all my drafts I write from beginning to end, even if I know what certain scenes will be further along. I find it helps keep me focussed more than jumping about. As far as rituals are concerned I write in silence and I have to have tea on my desk and be comfortable. Writing in lounging wear somehow makes the words flow much sweeter 😉

Find Beverley on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog, and Goodreads

alan-morganA. Morgan, author of The Siblings

My writing can be varied. I can write pretty much anywhere, but mostly use my phone (as I have done for this) using the Werdsmith app. My favourite place to write is in bed. Nice and chilled. When I was writing my first novel The Siblings, I was writing a minimum of a thousand words a day, everyday. After a few months I had a draft but it was brutal. It can be hard to keep up a schedule like that with full time work commitments, a busy home life with visiting new places and other things I like to dabble in.

I have now changed it up and write to a less strict word count. I am a pantser at heart but have been  known to make notes and outlines where necessary, to ensure that certain stories do not get out of hand. I have so many ideas rattling around right now in my mind that it’s hard to stick to one. But my main focus soon will be The Siblings Two in the new year.

Find A. Morgan on Twitterhis blog, and Goodreads

gr-thomasG. R. Thomas, author of The Avean Chronicles

Initially I had zero routine when I began writing. I was quite literally free-range. Many a post-it-note was plastered to my walls; yellow, pink and blue ones with scrawled ideas. My plotting to this day still relies heavily on voice memos and those little coloured squares.  Often though I still just write off the cuff and let the story take me where it wants to go. Characters in particular, seem to develop themselves, despite what I may actually want for them.  

I developed an effective daily routine for the writing of my second book as my life is chaotic. Three kids and a farm to run, I needed a dedicated writing time.  I began visiting my local coffee shop after dropping the kids to school. I now dedicate at least 2 hours to solid writing. Whether that is plotting, editing or putting down new words.

So, what did I discover when I treated my writing as a job? It worked! Surrounded by the smell of coffee wafting through the air, punctuated with the white noise of the chatter-chatter in the back ground, I actually zone out and achieve more than I did previously. I would often look up and the hours had melted away as the cups and saucers piled up.

This is what works for me and I love every second of it.

Find G. R. Thomas on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads

How do you fit writing (photography, sculpting, painting, marketing, etc.) into your daily routine? Get a cookie and a tea – believe me, you’ve earned the break! – and let me know in the comments! 🙂

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

Soul of the Heart’s Story Board on Pinterest

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Today I’ve got some visuals for you! 🙂 Given that NaNo has long crossed the half-way mark it’s probably a good thing I’m preparing this post in advance back in October. I expect my sanity won’t be doing too well by now – and a few pretty images is much easier to get through now than lots of text! Our minds have earned a break, NaNonites!

*ahem*

As you might know I’m a wee bit obsessed with Pinterest, and love creating story boards for my WsIP. The images I’ve got for you today are all from my Research Soul of the Heart Board – apart from the image immediately below. I made that myself, all by myself, and it went straight into my Soul of the Heart board 🙂 (and yes, I’m just a little bit proud of my creation. It’s not what I studied Photography for but this is what I do now.)

Because this WIP is still in its early stages and I haven’t even decided on a proper title yet, I don’t want to give too much away, but I hope that the images will give you a good idea regardless 🙂 I’ll post more details next year when it’s closer to being released – until then, these visuals will have to do.

soul-of-the-heart-countries

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Characters

Doran

doran

Naavah Ora

naavah-ora

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levi

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Countries

Ceidir

ceidir-2 ceidir-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hjeva

hjeva-1 hjeva-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vaska

vaska-1 vaska-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vasael’In

vasaelen-2 verasael-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you obsessed with Pinterest, too? Do you create story boards for your novels, or for everything book and inspiration related? Let’s stalk each other! (over tea and cookies, naturally – I wouldn’t have it any other way)

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

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