Writing exercises

Creativity exercises

I’ve never been one for writing prompts or formal creativity exercises. My cure for so-called writers’ block is simply to sit down and write. Like Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, creativity is a gift not a given. However, everyone’s process is different and many authors swear by them. For the benefit of my followers, I decided to compile a list of creativity exercises to help people get the writing juices flowing.  Continue reading “Creativity exercises”

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How to finish a novel in three months

The importance of word counts

If you’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo, then you know the importance of word counts. If you’re part of any social media network, you’ll see constant updates about other people’s word counts and this number will be tied to your success for the day.

Before reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing, I never put much stock into the importance of word counts. I preferred to work organically, but I usually hit 1,000 to 5,000 words per day anyway (without what I previously saw as the added, unnecessary stress). Continue reading “The importance of word counts”

Character driven books

Character versus plot driven

When I write stories, they are always about the people. Sure, things happen, but those situations don’t drive the story – the character arcs do. How do you decide whether you should write character versus plot driven books? Well, in On Writing, Stephen King tells us that he believes the best books are character-driven and I agree.

However, everyone has a different writing style and just because you write plot-driven books doesn’t mean you should be creating flat, one-dimensional characters. Twist of Fate has an exciting, page-turning plot, but my focus was on Trevor and Brooklyn‘s psyches, growth and development rather than external events. Continue reading “Character versus plot driven”

Writing romance novels

Writing for entertainment

I’ve been criticized for “wasting my talent” by writing for entertainment. When people learn I write contemporary romance, the criticism gets harsher. Why would I want to write that when I could be writing the next To Kill a Mockingbird? One of my friends even asked me when I would give up romance and write a real book. But guess what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing for entertainment (and romances are real books).

Continue reading “Writing for entertainment”

Writing is seduction

Writing is seduction

Stephen King tells us writing is seduction in his craft book, On Writing. However, this doesn’t have to be sexual. A good book can seduce you away from your real life and responsibilities (what laundry?) and sweep you into a new world you don’t want to leave.

What was the last page turner you read that had you thinking, “okay, just one more chapter” until you had accidentally sat on the couch for 6 hours and the book was done? That, my friends, proves writing is seduction. The last book that did this to me was this oneContinue reading “Writing is seduction”

Stephen King's writing advice

Kill your darlings

Before you get alarmed and click away from this post, when I say “kill your darlings” I don’t mean your family members – James and Buster are both alive and kicking. I’m talking about ruthlessly editing your work to ensure the most polished product is published.

Stephen King is the master and kill your darlings is his most famous craft advice. But what does it mean? Some folks advocate finding your favourite sentence in your manuscript and deleting it, but you don’t have to do that to prove you could if it was warranted.  Continue reading “Kill your darlings”

How many drafts should a novel have

How to know when your novel is done

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a book called Big Magic and it was a life changing read for me. I don’t typically re-read books, but with this one, I go back to it whenever I need a reminder to keep going with my writing. I previously shared other books that made me a better writer because I highly recommend devouring craft books if you want to be an author. One of my favourite quotes from Big Magic explains how to know when your novel is done.  Continue reading “How to know when your novel is done”