In just a matter of days many of you (I mean us) will be taking the NaNo challenge in the hopes of getting that story that’s burning a hole in your head out into the real world. To help motivate you toward meeting your goal Naleighna Kai, the national best-selling author of the romance novel Open Door Marriage and her latest, Was It Good For You Too?, stopped by Marti Ink as a guest blogger to offer some friendly advice to all the scribes out there pushing to become authors.
Anyhoo, here’s Naleighna!
Many authors seem to get stuck in one part of the writing process–completing the first draft. They’re so busy trying to make the first time out perfect, they will stop writing for days or weeks at a time; and possibly put the story down altogether. While people might dream of being a writer, they treat it as a hobby and not as something that they could do for a living. Think of putting the time in on writing the book as a “second job.”
Challenge yourself to write something every single day, at least fifteen minutes for twenty-one days so it becomes a habit. Whether you’re writing descriptions of people, places or something that is more meat and potatoes in your storyline—write something: Every. Single. Day. You might not use everything that you put into print, but you’ll get in the habit of writing and will soon find that you’ll let less distractions take you off point.
SET A DEADLINE
Another thing that I find that writers make the mistake of doing is not having a deadline. “Oh, I’ll finish it sometime next year,” is not a definitive deadline. If you keep things open-ended you’ll never finish the book. So, choose a deadline. Whether it’s a birthday, a family reunion, a particular holiday—choose something realistic and stick with it.
Most times, I don’t use a formal outline but a storyflow — a chart that has the chapter number, whose point of view the story is told from in that chapter, the place where the story takes place in that chapter, and three major drama/action/plot points that take place in that chapter. If you do that for the entire story at the start, realize that it will change, but at least you have a guideline or a map to start things off. A storyflow will give you some direction in how you believe the direction of the book should go. And it also gives you the ability to write anywhere along the line, and not in chronological order. I find that that helps a lot since I skip around a great deal and it means I never get writer’s block. I might write the ending, I may write some places in the middle. I may write points in the beginning. But I know where everything fits because I have the outline/storyflow and I can write what I feel instead of trying to force that next chapter.
IT’S CALLED A DRAFT FOR A REASON
As I said in the beginning, don’t try to make it so perfect the first time out. It’s called a draft for a reason — it will be all over the place. Use it as the time to get all of your ideas on paper. Some of those first sets of words actually make it to the end, and some of them get cut along the way (rewriting, self-editing); but it won’t make it at all if you keep belaboring over every little thing and don’t have enough on paper or the screen to call it a book in the first place. After the first draft, go back through and weed out the things that don’t quite work. Then you’ll read it again on paper, then read it again — out loud; then another time you’ll go through it to read just the dialogue; then another time read just the narrative. In my writing classes, I’ve also made the suggestion for writers to read the story backwards—from the last chapter to the first. One of the manuscript reviewers I use, Tanishia Pearson-Jones, actually has a software that reads the book out loud so she can “hear” how the story sounds and that helps her to catch a multitude of errors.
A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
If there is one book that I recommend for writers and published authors, it is Baring it All: The Ins and Outs of Publishing. The book covers everything from the writing process, editing, self-publishing, independent and mainstream publishing, agents, contracts, cover design, interior design and great emphasis on marketing and promotion.
Writing is definitely the first step. Finishing is a must. Then tackling all of the other elements involved is key to getting the work from your computer screen and into a format that readers will rave about for years to come.
Thank you Naleighna! To learn more about Naleighna’s books and upcoming events visit her website naleighnakai.com.
ABOUT Was It Good For You Too?
Tailan Song has four days to pull off the biggest accomplishment of her career of lose everything she’s worked so hard to gain. Throwing all her energy into making a Midwest tour for twenty-one authors work when everyone expects failure is certain to keep her mind off the turmoil in her personal life. That is, until her high school sweetheart, Delvin Germaine, now an Oscar-winning actor, lands on the bus at the last minute, and the heartthrob spells certain trouble for Tailan.
Years before, the couple complicated their lives by bringing another woman into the relationship to bear Delvin’s children. When threatened with losing the family he always wanted, Delvin felt he had no choice but to marry the surrogate and send Tailan packing, in spite of the fact that he loved Tailan like he loved no other woman.
Now seven years later, Fate has given Delvin four days to right old wrongs, and he’ll use everything in his power to win Tailan back. Unfortunately, Tailan is harboring a secret that she’s kept not only from him, but from the world. His determination to have her will turn the tables and make him have to either share Tailan with another man or walk away from the strongest love he’s ever known.