11 Tips to Creating Heroic Characters #amwriting #writingtips #writingadvice

I’ve been neglecting my blog for longer than I care to admit. Writing and publishing has taken over my life but I’ve missed blogging and connecting with people. So today I decided to share my thoughts on creating characters. I wrote this guest post for another blog last June for the release of The Sentinel’s Reign. Unfortunately, the blog in question is no longer active but I really enjoying writing this and wanted to share it with you.

It’s all about character

Writing characters that touch readers is something I’ve always wanted to achieve. Raised on a diet of David Gemmell and Robin Hobb, authors who create such vivid and heroic characters, how could I aspire for anything less?

When I create characters they stem for a tiny seed of an idea or a scene that just pops into my head. I allow them time to grow naturally while I jot down some scenes. Later I go back to flesh out the details and build upon their history and how it has influenced them. They soon become like people I’ve known my whole life.

Some reviewers have pointed out how my character, Tei, is immature at the beginning and rebels at the situation she’s thrust into. With time and experience, she starts to mature and accept her role. That feels like a natural progression to me. Who would like to wake up in the morning and be told ‘By the way you’re off to save the world today, go pack your bags.’

I like how characters slowly reveal themselves to the reader. You don’t meet people and find out their life story in the first 5 minutes, although I have met a few people who do tell you everything and I wouldn’t want to embark on an adventure with them!

Characters are the lifeblood of any story. I can’t imagine writing anything without starting with a character. However vague and unknown, all I need is a character in a situation and then I’m away writing and the ideas start to flow.

When I think about my books – Visions of Zarua and Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy – the characters are what make the whole process worthwhile. I love them like family and I feel the pain and heartache they suffer. I urge them to find the courage to fight on even if everything is set against them.

I’m drawn to things with strong, heroic characters, be that in books, films or TV series. So with this in mind I thought I would share my tips to creating those kind of characters.

 

11 Tips to Creating Heroic Characters Your Readers Will Love

1. Let the characters find you
I cannot sit and draft out a character from nothing, instead they need to come to me. It starts with a situation, a scene or just a snapshot of the character in my head. I write and develop on that first impression and see who has come to tell me their story.
The Silent Sea Chronicles started with a young woman lost in the forest. With her father dying, she was completely alone until two strangers arrive. From that tiny beginning, a trilogy has grown.

2. Flaws all the way
No one likes a perfect person and if your character is perfect, it’s unrealistic. There is no room to develop and change over the course of the novel. Flaws make the character. Tei is immature and naïve at the beginning of the trilogy, but by the end my readers have commented on how much she has matured.
Both Brogan and Farrell are driven by the need to do what’s right, but that is also their flaw because they have to make difficult decisions that costs lives.

3. Everyone loves an unlikely hero
It is a troop, especially in fantasy, but the fact is if the hero of your story starts out unwilling and is thrust into situations they are not equipped to deal with, they will become better characters for it.
A word of caution though – make it for the right reasons not just to fit the story.

4. Give them backstory
Characters are shaped by their past and it gives them greater depth if the reader can slowly learn about the history of the character before the story takes place. It makes them seem more real, as though they live beyond the pages of the novel.

5. Make them suffer
Everyone in life suffers. The more your characters suffer, the more they can develop. Plus it would be boring to read (and write) about a character that doesn’t have any life changing events happening to them.

6. Allow them to love
Emotions help the reader connect with the character. Whether that is love of family, friends or a love interest. To me that love, and what the character is prepared to risk saving it, defines them and the book you are writing.

7. Allow them to grow
All great heroes need to learn how to become a hero in the first place. Showing that growth will also help the reader connect with the characters.

8. Let them make mistakes – the worse the better!
How else do we learn as human beings? How bad the mistake, how many others are affected, or die because of that mistake is up to you. The darker the outcome, the heavier the burden your character must carry.
Tei feels her decisions have led to people dying and this shapes her decisions and the relationships she forges. Brogan too feels that his decision, or what he perceives as cowardice, lead to catastrophe events.

9. The path to happiness is never easy
Like most people, I like a happy-ending. But I want my characters to battle for their lives to get there.
Often, as with life, that moment is bittersweet. Not everyone can have a happy ever after, it’s just not realistic.

10. Kill off your darling – literally!
My motto whilst writing the Silent Sea Chronicles has become ‘No one is safe!’
It makes the plot less predictable to the reader and hopefully sparks some emotion in them.
If a book makes me cry then I know it’s a good one. I want to evoke that same feeling in my readers. I know the emotional response will be different for every reader, but the Silent Sea Chronicles has made me cry, so if I can’t please everyone, at least I have pleased myself.

11. Villains matter
The villains your heroes are up against can be larger than life evil, as long as they have a motive to act the way they do. And make sure they are a worthy threat, and have a credible backstory too.

A final note about characters.
I have created characters I would want to be friends with, to love or to have as a family member. I even care for my villains, who aren’t all bad deep down.
To make the reader care about your characters, first you, the writer, must care deeply for these wonderful people that inhabit the world you have created. Hopefully your love will shine through in the writing and the readers will form those same bonds and root for your characters too.

***

I hope you enjoyed my tips on creating characters and I hope to be back with more tips soon.

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

Visions of Zarua   The Lost Sentinel   The Sentinel’s Reign   The Sentinel’s Alliance

You can follow me on

Twitter  Goodreads  BookBub  Amazon  Facebook Instagram

cropped-website-banner

Mid year update #amwriting #amwritingfantasy #indieauthor

I haven’t been around on social media as much as I’d like as I’ve been juggling writing projects. I hope things will calm down once my latest book is released on 6th July. More about that in a moment.

What I’ve been doing…

I’ve tried a few new ventures. A craft bookstall at my local high street Staines-upon-Thames, where I met some nice people and managed to sell a few books too. A couple of people bought all three of my books, which was a great boost and made the day worthwhile.

DSC_3845

I shared the stall with G.J Stevens who writes Zombie thrillers. I’ve read his debut In The End and highly recommend it. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to share my review here at some point.

A week later, I joined forces with two authors G.J Stevens again and Katy Johnson who writes mystery thrillers and we ran a pop-up author shop in Eton high street. It wasn’t as successful as Staines, but again I met some interesting people and we hope to run the shop again in July on a couple of dates. More info will follow and I hope to get some more pictures the next time around.

DSC_3860

DSC_3863

I now feel more confidant with these type of events and have my public liability set up for a year, so I’m determined to make more use of it! Anyone know any local events we can crash?

Last week I went to Winchester Writers’ Festival and attended a fun workshop about fantasy writing run by Jasper Fforde. I also pitched a new novel idea to two agents and a publisher and received some encouraging feedback along with plenty of ideas to develop the novel. I highly recommend the day and want to thank @JunoGoldstone for showing me around and making the day less daunting.

Writing News

I’ve spent months editing and finalising Book 3 – The Sentinel’s Alliance. Now it’s just the last proofread to do before the big release day 6th July 2019! The pre-order is live, so why not make my day and pre-order a copy for only 99p worldwide.

Can new alliances save the islands of the Silent Sea from the murderers stalking their shores?

Find out in The Sentinel’s Alliance.

The Sentinel's Alliance ebook complete

SALE ALERT

To celebrate this, and to kick off the 10 day review blog tour starting tomorrow (21st June), I have reduced each book in the series to 99p. That’s all three books for £2.97 – on offer worldwide. How can you resist?

The Lost Sentinel

35113253

The Sentinel’s Reign

The Sentinel's Reign book cover

I will share more news about the blog tour run by Rachel’s Random Resources tomorrow, but here’s a quick peek at all the wonderful bloggers taking part.

Silent Sea Chronicles Full Tour Banner

On the 6th July, the release day for The Sentinel’s Alliance, Rachel will also be running a one day book blitz with 32 bloggers involved. More news to follow. It will be epic!

OTHER NEWS

And onto my other big news, the audiobook for Visions of Zarua is complete and is just going through the checks by ACX. I hope to have a link to share very soon. Any audio book reviewers who enjoy fantasy and want a free code, let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

I have another very interesting project in the pipeline and good news for all the residents of Staines-upon-Thames, I’ll be appearing in a pop-up craft shop in July. I’ll cover this in another post very soon.

That’s it for my latest news, so I’ll be back tomorrow with the start of the two book blog tour. Hope you can join us.

I’ll leave you with the trailer for the audiobook. Guy Barnes, the narrator, composed the music and produced this trailer. It’s brilliant, so please share.

***

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

You can follow me on

Twitter  Goodreads  BookBub  Amazon  Facebook

Instagram

WEBSITE BANNER

#Indieauthor April Update #amwriting #amwritingfantasy

Hi Everyone

It’s been a while since I’ve been around. I sort of stuck to my plan of a social media ban, and the best news is that I finished WIP The Sentinel’s Alliance – Book 3 in Silent Sea Chronicles! It’s already had beta reader feedback and I’m now working through some edits. Very soon I will be sharing the cover, pre-order links and the blurb.

I’m aiming to publish 6th July 2019 so the next few months will be busy. It will be worth it to finish the trilogy. I can’t wait to see what you all think. Let me know if you want to go on the list of ARC reviewers.

I also have some big news about Visions of Zarua to share very soon and lots of book reviews to come mainly how-to writing guides but also some brilliant fiction I’ve been reading lately.

I’m still on the look out for reviewers for The Lost Sentinel, The Sentinel’s Reign and Visions of Zarua. If you’re interested please comment or use the Contact Me form. The blurbs and goodreads links etc are in this post An appeal for reviewers.

Lastly, before the publication of Book 3 in the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy, Rachel’s Random Resources has organised a blog review tour for books 1 and 2 starting 21st June. If you want to join in, I think there a still a couple of spaces available.

I will be back soon with reviews, news and I’ll be setting down some targets for the summer. See you then.

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of heroically epic fantasy

You can follow me on

Twitter  Goodreads  BookBub  Amazon  Facebook

cropped-website-banner

Blogging Hiatus – Will be finishing WIP! #amwriting #amwritingfantasy

This is just a quick note to say that I will be taking a break from blogging, not that I have been the most prolific blogger over the last year anyway.

I will be doing my best to avoid obsessively checking my book sales, kindle unlimited pages read, reviews and all forms of social media. This will be cold turkey for me and I expect tears and tantrums!

I haven’t written properly for months, so starting now I have to commit to finishing The Sentinel’s Alliance and getting a publication date set for this year. I also have to prepare for the Winchester Festival and perfect my first chapter and synopsis, plus I have been speaking with a narrator regarding the possibility of producing an audiobook for Visions of Zarua! I feel like I have so much going on that I need to step back and just focus on the writing.

I will be back in April with some books reviews, and hopefully more news on the book front.

Please message me if you want to get in touch and I will respond as soon as I can.

The picture below is where I need to be in my head, writing until my fingers bleed!

bora-bora-685303_1920

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of heroically epic fantasy

You can follow me on

Twitter  Goodreads  BookBub  Amazon  Facebook

cropped-website-banner

Writing update and festival news #amwriting #amwritingfantasy

This is a quick update as I know I’ve been absent for most of 2019.

Work is going well on The Sentinel’s Alliance – Book 3 in the Silent Sea Chronicles. I feel as though I am on the home straight and I’m looking forward to passing the book to my beta readers very soon. I hope to stick to a publication date of the end of June, but I won’t rush it if it’s not ready. I’ve also been sitting on the beautiful book cover for months. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you but I made a promise to myself that I’d wait for the completed draft. Fingers crossed that’s not too long now!

Festival news

Next week I will be going to the London Book Fair for the first time ever. I’m going as a self published author looking to pick up tips but also a hybrid author. This is the first time I’ve really acknowledged the fact that I’m now a hybrid! My Czech publisher will be at the fair and I’m hoping to pop by and say hello.

From the sounds of things I will be spending a lot of time in the Author HQ area where lots of talks sound interesting and relevant to my current situation. I’m hoping to meet the team of the Writing Magazine whose advice I have been using since my late teens. I also just want to soak up the atmosphere of a place dedicated to all things books! Plus my friend mentioned a stationery area – now that will be dangerous!

 

Another first for me is that I finally have the chance to go to the Winchester Writer’s Festival in June. I’ve secured the three agent / publisher appointments I was hoping for and will attend a whole day workshop based on writing fantasy. I’m super excited but also nervous about the pitching as this will be a chance to move my dreams of being a hybrid author in the UK one step closer.

I’m already planning my letter and first chapter, but the idea of pitching something new is terrifying after working on a trilogy for a good few years.

 

I look forward to sharing  my experiences of these festivals with you in the future.

 

Over to you

Are any of you going to either of these major UK events?

Do you have any advice to make the most of the days ahead?

Have you got any writing festivals to recommend?

***

Tomorrow I hope to share a book review of a 5 star book I just finished last night. After I wiped away my tears, I closed the book and thought to myself that was bloody brilliant! Stop by tomorrow to find out what book I’m talking about…

***

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of heroically epic fantasy

You can follow me on

Twitter  Goodreads  BookBub  Amazon  Facebook

WEBSITE BANNER

Writing Plans for 2019 #amwriting

arm-1284248_1920

I have lots of plans for 2019  but the biggest and most important has to be completing the Silence Sea Chronicles trilogy and publishing book 3!

For the next few months I will focus purely on this trilogy, which will consist of:

  • Reading and making notes on The Lost Sentinel – book 1
  • Reading and making notes on The Sentinel’s Reign – book 2
  • Reading the draft of The Sentinel’s Alliance – book 3
  • Completing the draft of book 3 as per my outline and notes.
  • When the draft is completed and ready for my beta readers I want to focus on the map of the Silent Sea. At some point I plan to commission someone to produce a map but I’ve decided it’s more important to finish the books first.

Any advice you can give about map making would be gratefully received!

  • Once the book is edited etc, there will be all the usual jobs involved in publishing a new book.

 

Future writing plans in 2019

I like to set out some of my goals for the year, even though I know I probably won’t have time for everything. It feels good to have a record and I love to tick things off a list!

  • Write the prequel to Silent Sea Chronicles
  • Release all four books in the Silence Sea Chronicles as a box set
  • Republish all my paperbacks with ISBN’s and through a publisher Waterstones recognises.
  • Approach indie bookshops as well.
  • Keep trying to get my books into the libraries.
  • Read ‘Writing Short Stories to promote your novel’ by Rayne Hall and action what I learn.
  • Re-read the 72k partly written novel I am desperate to finish and actually finish it!
  • Outline and draft the novella prequel to the above novel using the techniques I’ve learnt from Couch to 50k and Take off your pants – See below.

 

Other writing related plans

Reviews

  • Review Couch to 50K by Rachel Tonks Hill once I have used the technique and discuss if it helped my writing.

couch to 50k

  • Review Take off your pants by Libbie Hawker once I’ve used the outlining techniques for some novel ideas. (By the way I chose this as my favourite writer’s guide of 2018 in this post.)

take off your pants

  • Review ‘Writing Short Stories to promote your novels’ by Rayne Hall, as previously mentioned.

writing short stories

 

Embrace my self publishing journey by

  • Contacting more reviewers
  • Organising a blog tour for the release of book 3
  • Buy KDP Rocket and use it to help with my book categories, keywords, ads etc.
  • Work on getting audiobooks produced for all my books.
  • Create a landing page on my website
  • Decide if I’m ready to set up a mailing list / newsletter
  • Go to writing events including Winchester and Gollancz scifi / fantasy.

 

Non writing plans for 2019

  • Find a way to get more sleep.
  • Fit in some exercise as often as possible.
  • Get out with the family more.
  • Read what I feel like reading without pressure as per my reading goals posted here.
  • Fall in love with my garden again
  • Be more adventurous cooking

 

That’s about all I can think of for now. I like to review my goals every quarter or mid-year, so it will be interesting to see how far I get with this list. As I stated at the start, the most important thing is working on book 3. Anything else will be a bonus!

Happy new year to you all and good  luck with your own goals whatever they might be.

***

You can follow me on

Twitter  Goodreads  BookBub  Amazon  Facebook

cropped-website-banner

2018 Wrap up – My writing year in review #amwriting

2018 has been a major year for me and it’s been good to look back over the highlights and have the opportunity to share them with you.

The year started off with a huge bang when I was approached by Albatros Media, a major publish in the Czech Republic. They are publishing a Czech translation of my debut novel, Visions of Zarua in the fall this year. 2018 saw one of my dreams come true and I earned (and spent) my first ever advance! I hope to be able to share a cover reveal with you very soon, I think the czech cover is perfect.

***

I received my first full MS request from an agent. This was a huge high point, though I’m very sad to say that I haven’t heard back from her since.

***

I published book 2 in the Silent Sea Chronicles – The Sentinel’s Reign at the end of June 2018 and it’s been seeing quite a lot of action on Kindle Unlimited, but unfortunately reviews are very slow to follow.

The Sentinel's Reign book cover

Please check the blurb and reviews on Goodreads and feel free to get in touch if you would like a copy to review.

***

In November I celebrated the 3rd birthday of Visions of Zarua with a birthday blitz hosted by 25 blogs and organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. It was a great day and I highly recommend Rachel’s services. I received 10 new reviews and had so much fun answering questions, writing guest posts and sharing extracts. Click here if you want to see the tour hosts involved and for Rachel’s info. I also posted about the day here part 1 and part 2.

VOZ blitz

***

I went to the Gollancz Writers’ Day. It hasn’t led to any breakthroughs with agents or traditional publishers, but it was a lot of fun going to an event centred around my genre. I spoke to other writers, bestselling authors, editors at Gollancz and a top agent. I feel more confident about attending days like this in the future. Here’s my review of the day.

***

I dusted off some of my favourite short stories, had them edited and beta read and then entered some competitions. So far, nothing has come from it but I have been inspired to produce my own short story anthology at some point in the future.

***

On a non-writing related topic, I lost 2 stone with Slimming World and feel so much happier about myself. I’ve tried dieting on and off for years, but it was only joining a group that really helped me reach my target weight and keep to it. I recommend it if losing weight is one of your new year’s resolutions.

***

In conclusion 2018 was a slow writing year, but I plan to change that in 2019. I hope to share the new technique I’m hoping will increase my output once I’ve tested it fully.

Join me next time where I will post about my plans for reading, writing and life in general for 2019. See you then.

A blogging break #amwriting instead

Hi everyone. This is just a quick note to say that I am taking a short break from blogging and social media. I feel it’s time to focus all my attention on The Sentinel’s Alliance – book 3 in the Silent Sea Chronicles. I need space away from technology and want to fill my time instead with pen, paper and lots of inspiration. Soon I’m off to Shakespeare country and hope to pick up some of the bard’s vibes.

I will still be popping up on other people’s blogs from time to time and, though I am trying to ban myself from looking at the computer as much as possible I will still reply to all messages, review requests and comments so please keep in touch.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.

See you some time in September!

Belated mid-year review #amwriting #amreading

My big news is of course that The Sentinel’s Reign – Silent Sea Chronicles Book 2 is now published.

It’s available here in ebook (99p for a few more days only), paperback and free to read on kindle unlimited.

That’s the sales bit out the way.

In other news, The Lost Sentinel (Book 1) is entered into SPFBO 2018 competition and has been given to Lynn’s Books to judge, which is funny as I had planned to contact her to review the book this year. There is also a cover competition going on right now. Of course I love my cover, but there are lots of great covers in the running from my group of 30 so it will be interesting to see which ones get put through to the next stage.

35113253

2018 has seen some major steps forward for me – landing a publishing contract with a Czech publisher for Visions of Zarua and having a full manuscript request from a UK agent for the same book. These are milestones I’ve been dreaming of, but we’ll have to see where they lead. I’m learning that everything takes time in the publishing world and you need to have a lot of patience!

 

My 2018 goals in review.

At the beginning of the year I set myself some goals (post here). Today I am revisiting them to see how I’ve done.

Writing

Publish book 2 The Sentinel’s Reign = Achieved.

Finish first draft of book 3 The Sentinel’s Alliance = Nope, but I have planned 2/3’s in a rough draft.

Look at WIP to see if I want to send to agents = Still to do. I have a draft almost finished that I would love to edit and polish and send to agents. I am also thinking on an idea I would like to try out on Wattpad. I have no idea how to go about this so I need to research it more.

Writing in general

Attend more writing events = I’ve attended 1 this year.

Contact book reviewers = I have done very well with this so far and have a new batch of reviewers to contact very soon. If you are a blogger interested in reviewing my books please use this contact form.

Learn more about marketing and get my books in front of more readers = I entered SPFBO (self published fantasy blog off) along with 299 other entrants, which will hopefully give The Lost Sentinel some much needed exposure. If you have read The Lost Sentinel, please consider leaving a review on Amazon / Goodreads, it helps with the ranking of the book though won’t have any affect on how far the book gets in the competition, that’s down to the judge of each group. I’ve run a mildly successful kindle countdown deal for The Lost Sentinel and it will go on Netgalley for a month starting 9th July.

Blogging

Tidy up blog, create banner and landing page = The blog is better but could still do with a tidy up, and I have a cool new banner. The landing page is something I still need to look into.

Blog more and focus on books about writing = I have reviewed a few writing books.

Feature more guest posts and get involved in more blog tours = I have featured Susan Leigh Noble and Ari Mehlen, but there is always room for more.

Lifestyle

Healthier diet and walk more = I lost almost 2 stone with Slimming World in 4 months, so that was a great success at the start of the year and I have been maintaining my target weight. I bought a treadmill and used that through winter but now it’s gathering dust.

Get more sleep = No chance! The hot weather and the book release don’t add up to a good night’s sleep. Maybe one day I’ll catch up on my beauty sleep.

Be more positive = I’m trying to be positive and take things as they come. For me being proactive helps, but when nothing comes of all the hard work I’ve invested it’s difficult to keep upbeat.

Reading

Read more fantasy = Yes.

Post more book reviews = Nope, I am way behind and have given up keeping my book review page up to date.

Read at least 35 books in 2018 = I’m trying but I’m behind schedule, total to date is 16.

My reading has been very slow. Editing and promotion has taken all my spare time and I’ve even struggled to find any audio books that hold my attention. My tbr pile grows almost daily and I am not making a dent in it.

I am still reading my book group choice Senlin Ascends (a previous SPFBO contestant, now traditionally published) even though I missed the group meeting last week due to a mix up with the day on my calendar! I believe it was enjoyed by all.

I did have a list of books I wanted to read and a couple of trilogies I wanted to finish, but for now I’m just going to wait and see what books take my fancy.

***

What’s to come…

I hope to feature on a few blogs over the coming weeks and see some more reviews go up for The Lost Sentinel and The Sentinel’s Reign. Then I plan to throw myself into writing and make lots of progress. Fingers crossed anyway.

Because of this I will probably take the summer holidays off from blogging to focus on writing book 3 – The Sentinel’s Alliance. It worked well last year, though hopefully I can keep my hand in with a book review or two.

 

How’s your year shaping up?

 

Last plug for The Sentinel’s Reign – don’t forget to pick it up for 99p as I will be putting the price up at the end of the week. And add it to your Goodreads shelf.

publicity ebook and paperback

Guest Post with writer Ari Meghlen #writingtips #amwriting @AriMeghlen

Today I’m really pleased to share a guest post from fellow writer, Ari Meghlen. She has some great tips for keeping your writing projects under control. Read on to find out more…

 

Keeping the Rabble in Line: How to stick to one story

A Writer’s Life

I always knew I was meant to be a writer.  Even in those very early years when I struggled to read and was way behind, regarding reading levels compared to other children my age.  After all, my inability to read well never stopped the ideas from coming.

While I loved to draw and was not bad at it, art never seemed enough to give all these ideas life!  So, writing was the only way to go.

A Rabble of Chattering Ghosts

I have been blessed (and cursed) with always having ideas.  Any time I suffered writers block, it was usually due to mental burn-out or a stubborn plot-hole that just won’t play ball.  It was never due to lack of ideas.

I appreciate that is something I am lucky to have.  However, it does have its downside.  It’s certainly hard to complete a current project when some juicy new idea pops up demanding attention.

I recently discussed the concept of Muses and how to me, my Muses were a rabble of chattering ghosts.  And might I say, they’re a rude, demanding lot too!

Their chatter follows me everywhere – in the car, in the grocery store, in the shower.  I am forever reaching for a pen or grabbing my phone to jot down a note.  It can be anything from a character, a scene or just an abstract concept or question.

It is awesome to have so many ideas.  I love that I have enough ideas to keep me going for years to come.

However, it’s also a bad thing because all this chattering is a deep distraction.  What is the point of having enough ideas for dozens of books, if I never finish any?

Acknowledging Bad Writing Habits

When I was younger, I fell into very bad habits.  The ones where I would drop a working project (no matter how far into it I was) to start another.  I felt as if every time a new idea crept up, I had to seize it!

That entailed abandoning story after story as I chased down whatever my chattering ghosts gave me.

This is a great route for disaster as a writer.  Does it sound familiar?  Have you ever caught yourself doing this?

We do it for many reasons, here are just a few:

  • New and Shiny – I feel like writers are a bit like magpies. We are easily distracted by shiny objects and new ideas are those shiny objects.  They draw our eye and it becomes our focus… until the next shiny appears.
  • FOMO – Fear of Missing Out is a big one for people. Whether you get an idea for a story that is in a trending genre and want to exploit that, to feeling the new idea would be a better, more solid first novel to bring out than your current one.  Sometimes we fear missing the opportunity that might be better for us.
  • Ninja Level Procrastinator – Many writers don’t realise, but story-hopping is a type of procrastination. Some people have a (often unconscious) fear of completing their work so story-hopping allows them to procrastinate and never actually finish while still considering themselves writers.

But as writers, no matter what our reason, it’s not something we should do.  It is more damaging in the long run.

Exorcise the Ghosts with a Brain Dump

So, what do you do if you’re bombarded by ideas all the time?

First, you need to acknowledge the new ideas. 

Don’t try and ignore them as some will slip away, and you might always wonder if it could have been something great.  Others will just bang loudly on the door, constantly demanding entry and stop you from working anyway.

Second, exorcise the ghosts with a good, solid brain dump. 

This is where you just get all the chatter out of your head.  Open a new document, save it in an Ideas folder and then just type.  Whatever they are giving you – character descriptions, scraps of scenes, plot, dialogue, questions.

The idea here is to purge your mind of all the noise but don’t expand on it.  Don’t jot down the basis of a plot and then spend 3 months developing it.  That’s working on the project, whereas what you want to do is just create notes.

All the while remind yourself that your current project is being delayed and you must go back to it.

Third, expect that this brain dump might not be 100% done in one sitting. 

For the few days following, additional pieces of ideas may pop up.  Keep your Idea file open while you’re working on your current WIP and just jump into the document to add the odd nugget as it comes.

This is JUST for the straggler ideas and should not go longer than a few days.  Anything beyond that and you’re working on your new project.  Be firm, give yourself a cut off.

When you’ve gotten the chatter to hush, throw your focus back at your current WIP with vigour and let the idea sit patiently in its folder.  Ideas must be taught to wait their turn.

Be Firm, and Cling to Your Discipline

While writers could possibly do with some drill sergeant keeping us in line, most of us don’t have that so we must rely on our own sense of discipline (terrifying, I know!)

But if you want to be a writer, if you want to complete something and get it published, you need to be firm.

Don’t read the notes you’ve made on your new project.  Don’t keep thinking about it.  Believe me when you come back to those notes eventually, they will still trigger ideas and you can build on it then.

Why an Outline can help keep the Ghosts under control

There is a lot to be said for having an outline of your work.  If you have a strong, detailed outline written for your current work, you will find that the desire to drift off to new projects is somewhat diminished.

This is because often writers will feel a spark with new ideas, especially if they aren’t 100% sure where their current work is going.  So, rather than just sitting staring at a screen and dealing with the plot-hole or up-coming conflict, we drop it and turn to the new project.

An outline is a map, showing you the way.  It reduces the need for staring blankly at a page, trying to figure out where you’re going in the story.

I was a pantser for a long time and my work has suffered because of it.  I have been much better since I (with brutal reluctance) started to do full, detailed outlines.

Those whispered ideas don’t grab me as tightly any more because my focus draws right back to the next scene I need to write in my current WIP.

 

So, do you often find yourself swayed by the siren of new ideas?  How have you managed to stop yourself from dropping one project to start another?

 

A big thanks to Suzanne for letting me be on her blog, much appreciated.

 

About Ari

At the age of 8, Ari Meghlen wanted to be a pirate, because who doesn’t look great in baggy pantaloons and an eyepatch.  However, lacking any access to a ship this dream was relegated along with so many others: Professional Ninja, Best Friend to a Dragon, Palaeontologist.

Yet Ari found that, in stories, she could be anything she wanted and so a great love affair started with the written word.  She mainly writes Preternatural Urban Fantasy as well as more Traditional Fantasy.

When she’s not creating worlds from the screaming, shuddering recesses of her mind, Ari can be found blogging about writing on her website or indulging in other hobbies such as drawing, shooting arrows, watching movies, playing cards badly.

Me-BW

Links

Website/Blog:  https://arimeghlen.co.uk/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/writerarimeghlen

Twitter: http://twitter.com/arimeghlen

Instagram: http://instagram.com/ari_meghlen