How to Write All the Way to the End of Your Book: Guest Post by Ali Luke

May 5th, 2012

I’m always thrilled when an author emails me asking to guest post, especially when it’s part of a blog tour. Today’s post comes courtesy of Ali Luke whose new book Lycopolis is a supernatural thriller / contemporary fantasy novel. Ali’s blog, Aliventures, is chock full of great writing advice, so be sure to stop by there and add it to your subscriptions.

Without further ado, here’s Ali:

How to Write All the Way to the End of Your Book

Ali Luke, Lycopolis blog tourAs a working writer, I come across a lot of people who want to write a book (fiction or non-fiction) or who’ve been working on a book for months or years. But most of them have never reached those magic words “The End” … and they’re afraid they never will.

A whole book isn’t a light undertaking. It takes many hours of work – and that work may be mentally, emotionally and even spiritually taxing. And there’s no guarantee of fame and fortune once you reach The End.

Yet I believe that if you have the desire to write – if there’s a book idea that’s been nagging at you, or if you know you have a way with words – then the journey is worthwhile.

Here are some simple ways to make sure you do reach The End, instead of stalling part-way.

Pace Yourself and Build Your Writing Muscles

A book (or any other long project) isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you set off at break-neck speed, you’re going to run out of energy before you get more than a few chapters in.

Your writing stamina is a bit like a muscle: if you’ve not written for a while, you might only manage 200 or 300 words every few days, but once you get into your stride, you could find yourself writing 1,000 words on a daily (or near-daily) basis.

Some writers like to work for a set period of time; say, 30 minutes or an hour. Others prefer to aim for a target word count. It’s up to you which you use – but over time, aim to gradually increase your writing stamina.

Create a Plan and a Schedule

Whatever type of book you’re working on, a plan and a schedule will help you get from start to end.

Your plan details what goes into your book. For non-fiction, most authors like to start off with a full chapter outline (though you could also work from a mindmap, or index cards). For a novel, it’s often enough to have a good grasp on your main characters and key plot points.

Your schedule helps you stay on track. As well as setting milestones for your book (e.g. “reach the end of chapter 10 before our vacation”), you’ll want to put writing sessions into your diary or calendar. When you plan ahead, it’s much easier to find opportunities to work on your book – whereas if you wait for a few hours of free time to appear from nowhere, you’ll probably be waiting for a long time…

Record Any Nice Feedback

If you’re putting your writing out into the world, perhaps on a blog, or in ebook form, then there’s a good chance that you’ll receive some feedback. Any time you get an email, blog comment, Tweet, Facebook message, etc that makes you feel good about your writing, record it somewhere safe.

One of the hardest things as a writer is to keep your faith in yourself and your work when it feels like no-one’s reading. By reminding yourself regularly of the people who are reading – and who value what you write – you’ll find it easier to keep going.

Keep Track of Your Progress

When you’re working on a whole book (or a whole writing career), progress can feel painfully slow. It’s easy to get discouraged, and to wonder whether you’re really getting anywhere at all.

For the past four years, I’ve been keeping an achievements book. Every month, I write down new accomplishments: milestones reached, new activities tried. When I look back now, I can track my progress as a novelist: in November 2008, I began on the very first draft of my novel Lycopolis, and in November 2011, I published the ebook version.

Your progress on your book doesn’t just mean words written. It’s progress to finally tackle a tricky chapter or scene; it’s progress to show an excerpt to your critique group for the first time. You might want to spend some time each week praying, journaling or reflecting about what’s been going well with your writing.

Don’t Burn Out

Finally … it’s okay to take a break from your book. You don’t have to write every single day, or even every single week. If you need to, take some time off (but give yourself a firm date for getting back into it – don’t let a week off become six months of no writing at all).

It’s easy to feel impatient, especially in today’s world where technology means that you know you can get from a finished manuscript to a published book in just a few days. But by taking the time that you need, you value yourself and your work. You deserve to enjoy the journey … and your book deserves to be as good as you can make it.

Whatever you’re working on – whether it’s a book, a blog, or something else entirely – I wish you the very best of luck. I’d love to hear your tips for staying motivated and keeping going during a big project, too: you can leave a comment below.

Bio: Ali Luke is currently on a virtual book tour for her novel Lycopolis, a fast-paced supernatural thriller centered on a group of online roleplayers who summon a demon into their game … and into the world. Described by readers as “a fast and furious, addictive piece of escapism” and “absolutely gripping”, Lycopolis is available in print and e-book form. Find out more at www.lycopolis.co.uk.

7 Links To Understanding (And Finding) Beta Readers

April 14th, 2012

3997687488_05f3e2de10_m_editingPerhaps one of the most daunting things I have yet to accomplish with my current WIP, Apprentice Cat, is finding enough beta readers. I imagine its a problem many of you have or will face, too. I’ve put together 7 links to understanding (and finding) beta readers, as well as critique partners and editors, in this post in hopes that it will be helpful to us all.

  1. Finally, an answer! Here’s the difference between line, copy, and content editing by Pavarti K. Tyler: Besides giving a quick idea to what beta readers and critique partners are, Pavarti shares gives us the inside scoop on what each type of editor does and why you might want one.
  2. 3 Ways to Determine if Your Writing is Crap by Jody Hedlund: In this post Jody breaks down the different levels of readers an author might use from “unskilled” beta readers (those who aren’t writers) to fellow writers to professional editors.
  3. Does my manuscript look fat in this? 7 reasons why writers need critique partners by Laura Pepper Wu: Laura explains what makes a great critique partner and why having one is so important.
  4. Ask Jami: How Do We Find Beta Readers? by Jami Gold: In this post, Jami goes into detail what a beta reader does and some ways we can find them, including offering ourselves as beta readers.
  5. The Art of Critiquing: I explain what makes a good critique and give some suggestions of what to do before handing over your manuscript to a beta reader or critique partner in this post.
  6. Critters Makes for Better Writing: In this post I give a more in-depth look at one online resource for critiques.
  7. Bad Critique Groups—8 Things That Can Push a Group Over to the Dark Side by Anne R. Allen: No one wants to be in a bad critique group, so Ruth gives us 8 things from having no rules to dogmatic PC/Religious policepersons to watch out for when choosing a crit group.

Do you know of other resources for finding a beta reader?

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Novel By Critique Group

September 17th, 2011

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris, available at Amazon.com

I’ve picked up a lot of great writing tips from Roz Morris’ blog and absolutely love her book Nail Your Novel. The following is one of the many useful posts she’s written.

I rewrote my novel through a critique group but I’ve lost my way

by Roz Morris

Critique groups are a great way to develop a critical sense and to experiment with what works. And to meet other people who are as dedicated to writing as you are. But too many cooks…

I’ve had this email from Vanessa, which is a fairly common problem.

During the past 12 months, I rewrote my novel 8 times as part of a critique group, and now I’m wondering if I should just go back to my first draft and start over. My book is different now, in some ways better, in some ways worse. I’m not even sure I can work with it in its present, 8th incarnation. I’m feeling a bit discouraged and don’t know how to recapture the original freshness. I think there are some good changes in the revisions, but also a lot of bad direction. How will I sort through it?

Discounting the fact that some of the advice might be misguided, inept or even destructive, even the most accomplished critiquers will offer different approaches when they spot a problem. You get a lot of input and you don’t know which to ignore. You try to knit them into a coherent whole and then realise you’re lost. And the idea is worn to shreds.

Read the rest.

***

If you’re looking for ideas and examples on simple ways to pray in my book Simply Prayer, available in print, for KindleNook and audio book.