Tips from 2021’s Guest Authors
Since it’s December, we’re wrapping up yet another great year. This year was especially fun for me because it was the first year I had a guest author featured on the Newbie to Novelist blog once a month.
All of these authors are so talented and inspiring, so naturally, I had to bother each of them to provide one more writing tip before the new year.
Without further ado, here are the words of wisdom from 2021’s guest authors.
Write on the hard days
Writing is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise has never done it in earnest.
Of course, we have good days when the words flow and the writer’s high is on point. But it’s those hard days––when putting a sentence together feels like an outright chore––that I have learned the most as a writer. This doesn’t mean you need to write under duress or push your mental health to the side because everyone needs days with NO WRITING.
What I’m suggesting is that on those days when it just seems a little harder than others – do it anyway. Meet your minimum word count. You might be surprised by what you discover and delighted by what you leave on the page.
Guest Post: Creating A Book Playlist
Let your hopes shape your choices, not your fears
Whatever decisions you’re making in regard to your writing career, start by painting yourself a clear picture of what success looks like to you. Imagine the career you want for yourself, and what being a success will feel like. Then make the choice that moves you toward that future.
We all have different goals for ourselves as authors, so there isn’t one right way to do things. And there isn’t a “safe” choice either.
If you make decisions based on your goals, whatever you decide, you’re always right.
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”Nelson Mandela
Guest Post: Where to Self-Publish
Open yourself up to discovering the story you need to tell
This tip works especially well if you are in the redrafting stages of your novel. I would recommend trying this tip out by hand.
Choose a chapter or scene you know needs some more work. On a new page in a notebook, try to summarise in a sentence or two what needs to happen in this part of the story, and why.
Next, get yourself into the headspace of your POV character, and free-write from their perspective. Where are they? What are they doing? Are they going somewhere? Meeting someone? Why? What do they want to achieve? How do they feel about that?
‘Freewriting with a focus’ in this way helped me so much when it came to breaking through unknowns and self-doubt while redrafting and was instrumental in helping me cement my characters’ voices.
Guest Post: Finding Your Heart Draft
Writing action scenes is a lot like telling a mini-story in one scene
As it is with any story, action scenes generally follow a similar three-act structure: Act 1: Inciting Incident, Act 2: Ebb and Flow, and Act 3: Resolution.
The Inciting Incident should set up your key players in the fight, what their tools are, what their motives are, and where they are in the blocking. The Ebb and Flow should grow tension between the fighters. The Resolution should have one fighter or faction victorious over another, a stalemate, or a defeat.
At the start of the scene, there needs to be an Inciting Incident that brings forth the reason why the action is occurring while simultaneously setting up the arc for the scene. The action scene should improve characterization to avoid being a dull, bare-knuckles sequence. Finally, there needs to be a resolution to the action that follows the logical flow of the story.
Guest Post: Writing Action Scenes
Invest in yourself and your writing
If you were to ask me what the best tips for writers are, I would usually say budget and get comfortable with marketing. Yes, definitely do that! But, I’m also going to say, which I believe is more important than both budgeting and marketing, is to take the pressure off yourself and practice self-care.
There will be deadlines. There will be things you HAVE to do, especially if you want to make a career of being a writer, but please don’t forget about the YOU process. How can you produce the best work if you aren’t feeling your best? Take a minute to stop and smell the roses instead of writing about them.
Your body and mind will thank you.
Katrina N. Lewis
Guest Post: So You Finished your First Draft…Now What?
Use your five senses when writing
Whether you’re outlining and plotting, or writing, or revising, check in with each scene in your story and ask yourself if you’re including any of the five senses.
My personal general rule is to have a minimum of two to three different mentions of the five senses, whether it be a comment about a person, an environment, or a memory the MC may be feeling. For longer scenes, I try and go for all five senses.
I can’t tell you how many readers have messaged me saying they loved the mentions of smells, textures, or specific shades of colour.
Add those immersive details logically based on scene length and your readers will literally thank you!
Guest Post: Book Marketing Like a Bad-Ass
Keep a writing schedule
Make a writing schedule that works for you that helps you create and keep a habit but don’t feel bad for missing a day (or a few) if you need some self-care. No one wants to burn out.
Guest Post: Publishing in the Summer
Think of Your Book Like a Movie
Characters on the movie screen don’t always tell you exactly what they’re thinking or feeling — you have to intuit their moods and meanings through your senses and make a judgment of how they’re actually feeling. Books are the same way!
Tap into the five senses to “show” how a person is feeling and get to describing — NOT explaining. For example, you don’t want to say a person is “nervous” — simply “show” the reader the character is nervous by describing how their cheeks heat or they glance away or they shift their weight (whatever makes sense for that character’s personality!).
Bonus tip: It’s okay if the reader guesses wrong. We do that every day — that’s what makes your book seem more like real life!
Guest Post: Why Show Vs. Tell is so Important
Write one word at a time
Not so much a tip as a reminder.
Social media is great, we can connect with like-minded people, find a new favourite book and so much more. Unfortunately, we can also fall prey to the joy suck that is comparison. It’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough when you see other writers pumping out a completed draft in a month. What if you’re a 500 word a day person, or 500 words a week?
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how quickly you write, we all do it the same way, one word at a time. So next time you’re tempted to throw in the towel because you don’t know if you’ll ever finish, just focus on the next word and the one after that. Trust the timing of your story.
Guest Post: Preptober Organization & Time Management
Remember Why You’re Writing
As much fun as writing is, sometimes it can be discouraging when you’ve hit a wall, can’t figure out the tricky plot hole, or receive a negative review. When those tough and dark times come, it’s easy for the desire to throw in the towel to become overwhelming.
The thought of “I can’t do this anymore–I’m not good enough.” I’ve experienced this more times than I care to admit! Something that pulls me out of the grips of negativity is remembering why I’m writing in the first place. Everyone’s reasoning may be different, but for me, I’m writing because it sets my soul free. It makes me smile, makes me feel, and the idea of giving it up is the definition of insanity.
So when you’re feeling discouraged and low, it’s important to remind yourself of why this sparked your passion in the first place. Remind yourself why you started writing. And with that thought in mind, keep going.
Guest Post: Coming Soon!
Learn more about Sarah at Sarah-Sutton.com
Thank you for reading! Check out the articles these fabulous guest authors have written and give some love to their websites and social media accounts (linked in their articles!)