Author Toolbox Blog Hop, first draft

First Draft: Leave It Be

This #authortoolboxbloghop coincides with the final episode of my First Draft series. This final instalment is all about what to do with your first draft when you write those monumental words… The End.

My advice is to leave it be. By that, I mean to put it away out of sight and forget about it (well, almost).

Some writers head straight into the editing process, but this doesn’t work for me. I have compiled some reasons why leaving your manuscript to brew for a little can be so beneficial.

A Well Earned Break

Writing is hard. If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it. When I have finished an entire first draft, I know I have earned a breather.

Besides, writing the last part of your manuscript can feel like being on a runaway train; getting absorbed by the ending and ploughing ahead with momentum. We could all do with getting back to reality with family, friends, and our own thoughts.

Fresh Perspective

Coming back to your manuscript with fresh eyes is a brilliant thing. It helps with editing (knowing what the sentence should say and what it actually says are two different things), and you can critique yourself easier when you have detached yourself a little from your work.

A Chance to Start Something New

I don’t mean to dive head first into another story (unless that is your process, of course). I simply mean that it is useful to start thinking/note taking about a new story. A little bit of distraction is good for me. I feel like a month or so of a new story seems to help when I go back to my old one. It also breaks the monotomy.


You can check out the other #authortoolboxbloghop participants and their posts here.


Content belongs to K.J Chapman

Find me on:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

Advertisements
first draft

First Draft: The Ending

This post has been on the back burner a long while. I actually wrote tips for a satisfying ending when I did the vote to ask my readers what series they’d like to see on Writerly Bookish Stuff. When the First Draft idea came out on top, I put it on the aside to include in the series… finally, here it is.

Tie Up Loose Ends

There needs to be some sort of conclusion to the conflicts that presented themselves during the narrative. Unresolved conflicts is highly unsatisfying for the reader.

Believability

The ending has to arrive naturally as a result of the story arc. You must not force the ending you want on your narrative or you will have unsatisfied readers.

Cliffhanger After Conclusion

A cliffhanger is not a conclusion. A cliffhanger is another story spur that carries the reader further on with the narrative i.e. into the next book. It cannot take the place of concluding certain conflicts to the story so far, even if the main arc is still ongoing.

Know When to Stop

This can be tough. Knowing when to start the beginning of the end is ultimately a gut instinct. Be aware if starting new conflicts that you have time to resolve them or if they can be part of the longer arc into subsequent books.


Content belongs to K.J Chapman

Find me on:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

first draft

First Draft: Beating Procrastination

Midway through the first draft is when I start to procrastinate. It doesn’t mean my story bores me, it means I’ve been at the same slog, pouring over the same story for a long time, and other stories start screaming at me to be written. Pinterest calls me, Youtube calls me, and I fall into the black hole that is social media.

Thankfully, I can recognise the signs now and try to nip them in the bud. Here are my tips to beat Procrastination.

Time schedule

The best way to beat procrastination is to have a writing schedule. If you only have thirty minutes to write, you are more likely to sit and write as much as you can in that time slot. If you don’t set a time limit, you may feel like you have all the time in the world to procrastinate a little, and then voila… your time is gone.

Disconnect the Internet

Social media, music sites, and Pinterest can be huge distractions. Try disconnecting the wifi, so you can do nothing but write your story.

Take a Break

Sometimes, procrastination is due to lack of inspiration or tiredness. Take a walk, go meet friends for a coffee, watch that episode on Netflix. A step away from your work may be just what you need to go back at it afresh.

Change Up Your Drafting Process

Are you procrastinating because your scene is particularly tough to write, or because you have you been focussing on one scene all week? Shake up your drafting process for a few hours and write out of sequence. The change of pace and scene may be just the ticket.


I hope these tips help you cut down on procrastination and get the words written.


Content belongs to K.J Chapman

Find me on:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

first draft

First Draft: Character Development

I was looking forward to writing this post as character development is one of my favourite things about writing. I also enjoy reading well rounded characters who go on a journey, not just physically but emotionally.

Today, I am going to share my top 5 tips for character development:

Details and Actions

The reader needs to know and understand your character. I don’t recommend info dumps of description etc, but drip feeding little nuggets about your character throughout the narrative works perfectly. Showing your character’s personality by actions rather than telling is more organic for the reader.

Become One with Your Character

You need to get in your character’s head. If you know them inside and out and understand how they would act, then this will translate to the reader.

Don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to knowing your character. Even if you don’t include every aspect of their life, just knowing it will aid your writing.

Find their Voice

This is more than simply writing dialogue and giving them an accent. Voice can be a distinctive part of the character’s story. Do they swear a lot? Are they sarcastic? Perhaps their lack of filter gets them in hot water time and time again. Defining their voice is important in making them memorable, and voice can be so distinctive that it actually aids or hinders the narrative.

Actions and Consequences

This is an important point to cover to show the progression of your character over the course of the narrative.

How have the things they have been through affected their outlook or how they react? Would they react differently to a certain situation at the end of the book than they would at the beginning? This development should be at the forefront of your mind as you progress with your character’s story arc.

Internal Conflict

No one is perfect, so why would your character be? Internal conflicts such as anxiety or resentment can be used to drive/ influence the narrative. Overcoming an internal conflict is a great character arc and shows progression and growth.


Do you have any tips for character development and writing memorable characters?


Content belongs to K.J Chapman

Find me on:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

first draft

First Draft: Crafting Protagonists

A protagonist is the main character of your story. No, your protagonist doesn’t have to be a hero, an anti-hero works just as well, but I do have pointers on how to successfully craft your protagonist to drive your narrative.

Likability

But you just said they don’t need to be a hero, KJ?

Yes, I did. Likability doesn’t necessary mean the reader thinks they’d be best friends with the protagonist, just that they can understand where the protagonist is coming from, can root for them in some way, and will want to stick with them on their journey.

Believability

In my reading and writing experience this can make or break a book. A believable character is one who is a real reflection of a flawed human being. We all have good and bad traits, we all can make a bad decision or listen to the wrong advice.

Your protagonist has to be relatable to the reader. A bad decision here and there doesn’t have to hinder your narrative, but a perfect character just isn’t believable. Try to steer clear of black and white personalities, a little of the grey areas work best.

Persuasive Backstory

This point links into the above point. If you thrust your protagonist into your world without rhyme or reason, the reader will not invest in them. Why are you telling their story? What in their background led them to this point? Are they totally out of their comfort zone and why?

Motivation

Every protagonist needs motivation, otherwise the story falls flat. The character needs a reason for their actions. Why do they do what they do? Motivation can range from survival to love to revenge.


Who are your favourite characters and why? I’m sure you can benefit from studying them and see if you can ring your protagonist to life in similar ways?


Content belongs to K.J Chapman

Find me on:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

first draft

First Draft: World Building

Where your story takes place is just as important as every other aspect of story telling. Creating a well rounded world helps your reader visualise the story better and it adds another level – hidden depth – to your story.

World building is a lot more than just describing the setting. Here are my tips on what to think about for successful world building:

Landscape

Is your story set on Earth, in space, or a fictional, fantasy world with two suns and a red sky? The reader wants to feel immersed and be able to visual your world.

Laws / Magic Systems

This can include the basic authority hierarchy as in a government system, or the laws of magic and wizardry. You set the limits in your world, and setting limits is extremely important.

For example, JK. Rowling had a wizarding government that created and executed laws so she could keep the use of magic within a realistic, manageable realm with actions and consequences.

Religion

Does religion factor in your story? Do you need to create a new religion for your fictional world? It is always a good idea to think about this, even if you don’t think religion plays a role in your narrative. It may affect other characters or play into the historical side to your world.

History

Is there folk lore or myth in your narrative that dates back in your world’s history? Was there a tyrant King that changed the economy for the worse, or a heroine Queen who saved the people from a dictatorship? Backstory is an important factor in a believable, well rounded world.

Era

Era is more than just stating what decade or century your tale is set in. It is about staying true to the time period in regards to technology, etiquette, and society etc.

Language

A lot of authors struggle when it comes to language, especially if they have to make up a whole new tongue. Knowing your language helps you weave it effortlessly through your narrative without it becoming jarring for the reader.

This topic also follows on from the point above- era. Knowing your era and the language used helps with consistency and realism.


I hope these points have given you some food for thought. As you can tell, they all link into each other, and that is exactly what you want in your world: consistency continuity, and believability.


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Find me on:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

first draft

First Draft: Point of View and Tense

Thanks for joining me for another instalment of my First Draft series. This instalment is all about point of view (POV) and tense.

What is POV?

The point of view refers to the narrator. Who is telling the story?

3 Types of POV

First person: The narrator is telling you their own story. ‘The room was just how I had left it.’

Second person: The narrator is telling the story to another character or the reader using the word ‘you’. ‘You enter the room and see nothing has changed.’

Third person: The narrator tells the story of another, as an outsider. ‘The room was just how he had left it.’

I like to write in first person. All my books are in qfirst person. In Thrown to The Blue, I have 2 POVs, both in first person. That was a lot of fun to write.

What is tense?

Narrative tense is when your story is happening/ or has happened. Past or present.

Types of Tense

Past tense: You are telling the story as if it has already happened. ‘I jumped in the car and sped off.’

Present tense: You are telling the story as if it is happening right now. ‘I jump in the car and speed off.’

You will find that there are preferred POVs in regards to tenses. Third person past tense is preferred by many writers. I write in first person present tense. I find the intimacy of first person blends with the immediacy of present tense, the same way the unlimited view point of third person works well with the flexibility of past tense.


There is no right or wrong when choosing POV and tense, as long as you are consistent in your choice throughout.


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Find me on:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads