Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop: Dealing With Self Doubt

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*This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop

I’m yet to meet a writer who hasn’t experienced some sort of self doubt. Am I good enough? Is my story original? Doubting yourself is natural, especially when you have poured your heart and soul into your writing. We all want our work to be appreciated and enjoyed, no matter what our medium.

I am here to tell you five important points that I want you to remember:

1. No one can write your story, but you. Your originality will translate if you let it. Don’t compare yourself to others, because you can never be them, nor they you.

2. Consistency, hard work, and perseverance are the best traits to have for success. As long as you produce something that you are proud of, then you have already won.

3. There isn’t a right or wrong way to write. Some writers plan every detail, some are pantsers. Some writers produce a first draft in one month, some two years. Do what works for you.

4. Even the most revered authors get crappy reviews. JK Rowling has 1* reviews for Harry Potter on Goodreads. You can’t please everyone, and to be honest, you shouldn’t try to. Taste is subjective.

5. Finally, writing is not a competition. When writers stop competing and start boosting each other, then we can finally see how unique and individual everyone’s process and story is.

That last point is why I signed up for #authortoolboxbloghop. I love the idea of writers producing content to help each other and encourage each other.

Self doubt is natural, but surround yourself with people and resources to give you the strength to keep plodding on with your story.


You can find the list of links for the other #authortoolboxbloghop participants here.


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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?


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Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

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I was approached by the creator of #authortoolboxbloghop, Raimey Gallant, about joining in with approximately 30 other authors to share tips, experiences, and advice for other writers to benefit from.

The #authortoolboxbloghop is actually on every 3rd Wednesday of the month for interacting, commenting, and sharing some of the other bloggers posts via social media, but many posts will be live a few days before. I shall be posting on the Tuesday before.

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You can find the list of all participating authors here and some have been joining in with this blog hop already, so go check out their related posts.

The next #authortoolboxbloghop is Wednesday 21st August. I shall post my contribution on Monday 19th August.

___________________________

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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.


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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.


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First Draft: Naming Characters

Welcome back to the second instalment of my First Draft series. Today, I’ll be chatting about my process for naming characters…

Finding a name that is a good fit for my character is important to me. It’s like a part of their personality. We do have preconceptions in regards to names and first impressions can prove important.

In guest posts and other blog posts, I have stated eight points I think about when naming characters, and I will share them with you today:

Gut instinct: Does a name feel right? Your gut should be listened to. A name has to feel right to you. It’s your creation, after all.

Weird spellings: Unless you’re planning to include a page on name prenounciation in your book, I’d steer clear from names that the readers may not be able to pronounce.

Google it: Quickly check your name combinations via Google. You don’t want to use the name of a character from another book or a politician etc.

Age appropriate: Be aware of what names are suitable for your story, especially for different time periods. For example, if your narrative is set in the Victorian era, you wouldn’t find a Jayden.

Meanings: You could be quite literal with name meanings and name your character purely because the name meaning fits their personality. This is not the route for me, but I will check that a name doesn’t have a negative meaning I might not be aware of.

Preconceptions: This links into the above point. There are names that have a stereotype attached to them. For example, the name Jezebel is most commonly thought of as a harlet. It probably wouldn’t be a good fit for your godfearing, righteous type of character. Unless, of course, you’re being ironic.

No to samey samey: By samey samey, I mean similar to the point it might be confusing. Similar sounding names such as Lara or Laura may prove tricky. Also if you have a character called James, it may be best not to call another character a variant of that name such as Jaime.

Listen and look: This is my most tried and tested way to find names. I listen to snippets of conversation, search the credits at the end of films, I even read gravestones. I love discovering a gem of a name.


I hope my eight points may be of some help to you when naming your own characters.


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First Draft: Forming the Idea

So, you have an idea that you think you can turn into a full story? Firstly, congratulations. Secondly, I hope you’re ready for hardwork.

Writing a book isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be if you strive for perfection. However, having an idea that you feel you can see through to completion is the first step.

I’m a pantser, and that means I do not have a detailed plot before I sit down to write. I write by the seat of my pants. I let my ideas come organically as the words flow and I get to know my characters. However, when I first get an idea, I do let it roll around in my head for a good few months, gathering more possible narrative ideas, character voices etc. I think of it as a snowball getting bigger and bigger as it rolls around and more snow sticks to it.

Whether you are a pantser or a plotter, I highly recommend you do this with your idea – before anything gets to paper, before you start to outline, or crack on with your first page – be well acquainted.

Once I’m at this point, I crack out a notebook and write down everything and anything. My brainstorm over the last couple of months gets emptied onto paper. Every last bit, whether it is makes sense or not. If I like it, if I think it might work, I’ll write it down. It all gets dumped in my notebook for later use.

Once again, I feel this is good practise for plotters and pantsers. Your notes don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to use 99% of them, but it is worth having them written down physically in the long run.

I feel this is the initial process of forming the idea. The idea is a spark that needs to be fanned to turn into a flame. At this stage, you can plot and outline further, or like me, sit down and start typing, but as long as you have fanned that spark a little, your flame will keep burning.


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