My blog posts have been a little sporadic recently. Mainly because I’ve been focusing on my novels. The one that I’ve finished had a load of editing to be done after being beta read. The other I took a break from and so I had to go back through it, editing some parts and familiarising myself with the plot and its various strands.
Now I will confess I’m not experienced enough to give actual writing advice to other authors out there. Despite having been interested in writing since I was young and working of these novels for the last three years, I’m still learning. I’m still visiting the various blogs and web pages of other authors out there. I’m on a couple of Facebook pages and forums where I can ask advice. One of the best I have found is Kristen Kieffer at Well-storied.com. (Link below)
This is more a blog about my journey and what I have found, personally, since I’ve started writing. That said I would advise with what I’ve written above which is to try and join a community where you can get advice and (helpful) criticism from others.
I started writing back in my school days. Of course, for me, these stories were short and not very good. I had a whole series planed out, the adventures of Steve Falcon and his team on board their ship. I even had ideas for a spin off with one of the characters, Hawk, traveling through time often with a female companion. Yes these stories borrowed heavily from other fiction I experienced. Thunderbirds, Star Trek, Doctor Who. I think I wrote about forty of the planned hundred and sixty stories. I still have a fondness for these even though I threw out all the exercise books I wrote the stories in years ago. It’s not an idea I think I’d go back to but I regret getting rid of those works. There were still basic ideas there, names, characters that could be developed now. Just the other day I thought about how I could use some of those ideas in a future novel. So my second bit of advice is never throw anything away. There could be something there that can be used and if not then it still shows how you’re writing develops over time.
I think the next story I tried to write was a Doctor Who, Star Trek TNG crossover. (You can see a tread here) The story I had in my head was quite good. (I think) A Time Fracture causes the two universes to connect and the Tardis ends up on board the Enterprise. The Master was going to behind it and it would have featured the Cybermen and the Borg. But if I remember correctly the disk I had the story saved on became corrupted and I lost the work. It wouldn’t have really developed though, this wasn’t a story that would had got anywhere but all this early stuff was practise. Ok I was using characters already established but I had ideas in my head. I was forming plots, working out how the story could develop. So I’d say if you want to write working with already established ‘universes’ then do it. You won’t be able to publish it because of copy write but it will hopefully develop your writing.
My first novel, A Girl’s Night out started life as a short story back in college. We had to write a 1500 word story in the first person. I first wrote one that had its main character interacting with the Doctor. It turned out in the end this is how the MC viewed the programme and the character from Doctor Who was a role model. I liked it. But then I also had another idea. I wrote a story about a cross dresser who actually, thanks to a friend, gets the courage to go to a party with her as their alter ego. I loved it. It was a story I was pleased with. It was also very personal to me and this was the one I submitted. I got an A. So pleased with this piece I even considered submitting it somewhere as a short story.
Role on about two years later when in University I took novel writing module in my third year. I was already playing catch up after changing courses in the first year and with my dissertation, I had a heavy work load. The assignment was to write the first chapter of your novel. 3000 words. Now I’ve always wanted to write a detective novel and this was my initial thought. But then I remembered my short story. That was already half the work done. I just needed to expand it a bit more. I did. I passed the course and more so I felt, yes this idea had potential to be a full novel.
And so I did nothing with it for the next three years.
Life kind of got in the way and although I attempted to go back to it I never quite found the time until a couple of years ago. Then I began working on it. I wrote and wrote. A vague notion of where I wanted the story to end up but for the most part I discovered the story as I went. There was a lot of me, my experiences and my dreams in the story and so it just seemed to flow naturally for the most part. I also found it very therapeutic.
So again I reiterated, always keep what you work on.
Now I’m working on that detective novel I’ve always wanted to write. The title, The Devil in the Woods, has been in my head for years as is some of the most basic points. But now I was able to develop a character for the lead. Not just some previously created character from another show or a basic copy of one. But a character of my own making. D.C Marcy Bishop. With flaws and a background. A character I’m still adding little bits to, like her love for chocolate chip cookies. A character who is happy with who she is but finds herself still dealing with her past because she is transgender.
But I do find it harder to write this one.
It’s different to what I’ve wrote before. That came from experiences and personal things to me where this deals with murder, police procedural. There is a lot of research to this. And unlike the first novel where I could just basically write what came to me, here I have to introduces suspects, drop clues, head toward the final chapter and the capture of the villain. I simply started writing but realise that in this case an outline would have been handy. Notes to keep track of characters and threads. I realise unlike my first novel, I’ll have to do extensive re writes and edits on this story. I’m going to get the basics down and then go back and expand it, add in some more plots and character development. So I’m still on a learning curve, but it’s an enjoyable one. More than that it’s a path I want to go down. I want to write this novel, then I want to take the character and write another one. And another one. I also want to take this character and add it to some other shows. A Death in Paradise and a Columbo one. Not to publish, but just for fun and to help develop the character more in my mind.
There are doubts there. What if this genre isn’t for me? Is this story just as simple and badly written as those Steve Falcon stories from my childhood? This is where that community of writers come in handy. I got someone to look at my WIP and they seemed to think there was potential there. It’s very motivational to have feedback. And now I find the story is coming along quite well. About 30000 words so far and a few ideas on expansion when I go back through it.
My final bit of advice. Keep at it. Find the time to sit down and write and work at it. Especially if it’s something you enjoy doing.
I have ideas for another novel outside this series dealing with a drag artist, and maybe a sequel to A Girls’ Night Out. But they can wait or at least have the bare basics sketched out. Write any ideas down, let them bubble around in you heads but don’t lose focus on your WIP. I found sometimes that I would start something but then have a different idea and start something else. Thus I would never really develop a story. I guess it’s kind of like drawing where you start with a basic sketch. Then full it in more to take shape. Then go back to add details and then finally maybe colour. Its maybe better to do some rough sketches then concentrate on finish one completely before going on to the next.
As for Steve Falcon and his crew on that ship. I was thinking back on them the other day. Were any of the characters any good to use somewhere else. Steve Falcon. Sounds rather like a generic heroic name from a very cheaply made TV series. What if it was a cheaply made TV series? What if Steve Falcon was just a character played by some actor? What if he or one of the other actors were murdered? What if Marcy Bishop is brought in to investigate the crime?
Link for Well-storied.com