My Books

My Books

Friday, 9 November 2012

Writing tips with author Dawn Meredith

Ever had a great idea and found yourself hesitant to actually begin the project? That blank, white screen on the computer can be daunting, like a snowstorm coming at you, daring you to try and find your way alone. But you can put your head down and plunge right into it, with a few tricks to get you started.

I have 17 small notebooks crammed with ideas from 1994 to present day. I still carry a nice leather one with me, but in the last couple of years when I've started a new project I've graduated to something different - A4 notebooks I make myself. Sound weird? Check it out.

1.  I bought a binding machine and some plastic combs, some clear plastic 'fronts' and some stiffer card for the 'backs'. It's so easy to use! And I can add new pages whenever I want, simply by placing the comb on the machine again, opening it up and slotting in the new pages.

2.  I write long hand, (remember that? with a pen?) The strangest thing is, I write quite well and end up transferring most scenes written this way pretty much as is. I also gather pictures of what my characters or gadgets look like, ideas and notes from trawling the net, drawings, maps and sketches etc. All in the one book. It keeps me focused and helps me remember what I was aiming for. As I change my mind about things, I put a line through it, but don't destroy it. Sometimes ideas can be recycled, perhaps not even for this book, but later, for another one.

This is Sye, one of the characters in my last novel. Pictures which inspired, notes that came to mind in the middle of the night etc. The reasons why she is the way she is, her family background etc. If I forget something I can easily find it here.

A map of the territory in which the story is set, so that when I describe movement in this valley, I am consistent, making it easier for the reader to imagine it clearly.

3.  I find my big books are quite portable, despite their size, and having it there, to hand, at any time, means I don't have to worry about laptop batteries dying or computers crashing.

4.  I find these big notebooks also force me to plan better, rather than just running with the muse until she decides to nick off and leave me in the middle of nowhere, tearfully asking 'Where am I? What's happening next?'

5.  When beginning a new project I find it helpful to write myself some questions: What style is this book? What is the intended age group and genre? Who are the main characters and why? What sort of book is this similar to? How are the characters related and what are their roles within the story? How do they react/interact with each other? What are the main themes I am exploring here? Why is that important to me?

6.  I also download any free helpful advice I can get and print it out, to add to my notebook. I highly recommend Michael Hauge's website, Story Mastery. (thanks again, Nicole Murphy for that tip!) His list of questions is printed out for each novel and I fill in the details as I go. Keeps me on track and helps me cut through the flotsam that gets attracted to every project!

Writing is enormously rewarding, but can be a lonely craft. We all know how it feels to struggle and just having a single good tip can make a difference to how much we enjoy the journey. I hope you've found this helpful. Any feedback is welcomed!

cheers, Dawn

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