This year Writing and Works has been embracing guest posts like never before. April saw a wonderful collection of bloggers talking about poetry and what it meant to them, with May slipping away already, we turn now to fiction and novels.
Sarina Langer has just published her fist novel ‘Rise of The Sparrows’ and has been lovely enough to agree to write a guest post about writing and what she has learnt about the writing process. You can find more about her and her book at http://www.sarinalangerwriter.com and find ‘Rise Of The Sparrows’ on the Amazon store.
When Carol asked me if I’d like to do a guest post for her blog, I knew immediately what to write about. I started my own blog nearly a year ago, and it’s also nearly a year since I started to take writing more seriously.
I’ve learned a lot since then, and have enjoyed every second.
… Well. Almost every second.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but over the past year I’ve really thrown myself into it and embraced every aspect of it. Most of the process I love, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today-
The aspects of the writing process I love, and why.
The Writing Itself
I’d be in the wrong profession if I didn’t like the main aspect of it. You could argue that the editing is the most important part, but without the writing there’s no draft to edit. Without the writing, there’s no book. It’s not a step you can skip.
I write fantasy (and occasionally I dabble in sci-fi, too), which gives me free reign. If I want a red river, I write a red river. If I want forests where green-glowing night whisps dance in a clearing every night from 1am to 2am, I write that. All within reason of that world, of course. I want to go nuts but I want my readers to believe me, too.
Writing fantasy gives me the chance to create something magical, and bring a bit of magic into the lives of my readers. Those are the books I’ve loved since I was a child, and I want to be able to whisk my readers away in the same way my favourite authors have whisked me away.
No story would be complete without its characters! I once read that a bad plot can be overlooked if the readers are invested in the characters, but it doesn’t work the other way around. A good story needs strong characters to survive (even if they don’t), and I love meeting mine for the first time.
If you don’t write you might not understand this, but for us meeting new characters is terribly exciting. We’ll be working together, after all, often for several years and it’s exciting to see how they develop and grow during that time.
The feeling only a new idea can bring is amazing, motivating, and feels like a fire that’s been ignited inside me and that’s burning its way through me. It makes my heart race and my mind leap. New ideas are full of opportunity, possibility, and they can still grow into any direction. It’s where the story itself is born and shaped – and we can take it anywhere (the promise of a new notebook if the idea stays exciting is pretty good, too – did I mention I’m obsessed with stationery?)
Creating a World
Come on. Do I need to say more? I create a whole world! From scratch! Who wouldn’t find this exciting? A whole new world, with its own magic system, its own religions, races, superstitions, beliefs, legal systems, countries-
I never said it was a small job, or an easy one. Creating a world that doesn’t exist isn’t simple, and a lot of thought needs to be invested if you want to do it well. If I’ve learned one thing from reading reviews, even on very popular books, it’s that people can smell lazy world building before they’ve
finished reading the first chapter. While a lacking world might not put them off completely, it might still sour the experience for them. Do I need to say more? World-building is important. And exciting.
I’ve learned so much since I’ve started writing my book, and most of it I didn’t expect. Did you know that Lady Fern can be used to calm and heal cuts, burns and other minor injuries? Or that the Incas treated their children extremely well before they sacrificed them? Or that the Hawaiians used to have rather cruel human sacrifice traditions?
I do most of my research as I write and edit. You never know when things pop up that you need to look into, and I’ve learned a lot that way. Most of it I won’t be able to apply in everyday life, but I love knowledge and the research I get to do is fascinating.
This is the part a lot of writers dread. Writing the first draft is exciting, but the edit is where we take it apart. Most of us will take time away from our draft before we start editing – some take only a handful of weeks, others take at least six months. I took one month away from mine before I started editing.
There are many different stages to this aspect. You edit yourself, very likely several times, but then there are beta readers and your editor, as well. Because you’ve written it you can’t edit the whole thing yourself. The plot twists no longer work for you, the surprises are no longer surprising, and small inconsistencies in your character’s behaviour don’t register with you. That’s because you’ve written it, and that’s why you can’t do it yourself. Someone who has never read it before will see it with new eyes, which is impossible for you to do.
Someone once said to me that the edit is where the magic happens, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s the most time-consuming and maddening part for many (dare I say most?) of us, but it’s also where we turn something that’s okay into something fantastic. It’s where all paradoxes are addressed, exciting scenes become really exciting, and where we fix all those little things that would have bugged our readers otherwise – such as consistency in our characters’ speech. They can’t have a scottish accent for most of the book, but not in two chapters near the end, for example.
Unwrapping the proof copy of your book and holding it in your hands for the first time is extremely satisfying and thrilling. Receiving the professionally drawn world map for your book is emotional. Seeing the finished cover design for the first time is an incredible feeling. You’ve created a world from nothing, and all those steps towards completion are proof of that.
There is so much to do – so much work that goes into this process – that you can almost forget how close you are to seeing it through. It gets very tiring at times, but receiving little completed bits here and there are small pushes of motivation towards the finish line.
I can’t say this often enough: The writing community – be that here, on twitter, on Instagram or anywhere else – is incredible. When I first chirped up nearly a year ago, the warm welcome was instant and it has been a wonderful and supportive community ever since. My fellow writers on every platform have made me feel very welcome and loved, and I couldn’t have chosen a better community.
If you want to write but are worried that no one will like what you’re doing, just say the word – we’re here for you and we will be your cheerleaders!