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Making the Most of Social Isolation: Start That Book!

Writing.ie | Resources | Better Fiction Guides | Getting Started
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Sam Blake

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While it’s hard to find postive elements of the current global crisis, one thing many of us have is more time on our hands – working from home (avoiding the time-suck of a commute), limiting social contact and no school runs mean that there are time slots in each of our days that were never there before – so if you have always wanted to write that book, this is the time to think about it.

Over on Facebook, Writing.ie runs regular writing challenges (pop over and like the page or sign up to be notified of the next one here) where you can connect with your tribe and spread your creative wings. But if you’re thinking of writing a novel and don’t know where to start, the ten points below, based on a handout from one of the very first Inkwell workshops faciliated by Rose Doyle, will help give you the bones of your novel. If you can’t manage them a day at a time, don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if it takes a week or a month to think about each step, it’s taking the steps that counts.

Day 1

Write one sentence summarising what your book is about.

Day 2

Jot down the characteristics/name/age and relationships of your major characters and repeat for the minor characters.

Day 3

Note the location and settings that will feature in your novel, describe them, perhaps look for location photos online that you can add to a storyboard.

Day 4

Define your character’s goals – set up the plot and look for conflict/points at which to create tension. Every character needs something hard to get.

Day 5

List the obstacles that prevent the main characters from getting what they want. These could be psychological, physical or emotional. These obstacles will create conflict, and in conflict you have story.

Day 6

Plan the conclusion – make up the ending. Write a paragraph and put it over your desk. You have now finished the book, so the goal is achievable.

Day 7

Create a brief outline of the plot – write an overview of how you think it will develop. Your story will probably change from this outline as your characters take over, but it will give you a sense of direction.

Day 8

Outline what happens in each chapter – you will have some blank spaces in some chapters but get a feel for where each major event happens, and where the key linking chapters fall. If you are writing a 90k word novel, you might need 30 chapters of 3000 words each. This is a very rough framework and everyone is different, but it gives you a sense of structure. Adapt it for your story.

Day 9

Set up hard copy files for each character and location. Consider creating a storyboard with pictures of your characters/locations/ significatant detail on it.

Day 10

Write the opening paragraph.

 

The best advice I was ever given, by bestseller and multi award winning author Sarah Webb, was ‘just keep writing’. Assume your first draft will be terrible – that’s what first drafts are for. Once you get to the end and you know what the story is, then you can reshape and rewrite and turn it from a lump of carbon to a sparkling diamond.

If you are looking for more tips on writing – obviously Writing.ie is packed with them, but do check out the Behind the Bestseller podcast on your podcast platform. Sam Blake chats to a host of bestselling authors, including a bumper edition with Literary Agent Sallyanne Sweeney.

(c) Sam Blake

Sam Blake is a character from the imagination of Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, founder of Writing.ie, the multi award winning writing resources online magazine, The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the Murder One International Crime Writing Festival. She is a member of the board of directors at the Society of Authors (UK), a member of the CWA and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. She was previously chair of Irish PEN. She is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow mountains for more years that she lived in the UK

About Keep Your Eyes on Me 

‘Pacey and exciting and totally joyous.’ Jo Spain, bestselling author of The Confession

You won’t be able to look away

When Vittoria Devine and Lily Power find themselves sitting next to each other on a flight to New York, they discover they both have men in their lives whose impact has been devastating. Lily’s family life is in turmoil, her brother left on the brink of ruin by a con man. Vittoria’s philandering husband’s latest mistress is pregnant.

By the time they land, Vittoria and Lily have realised that they can help each other right the balance. But only one of them knows the real story…

‘Delightfully dark and satisfying’ Roz Watkins, author of the DI Meg Dalton series

Pick up your copy of Keep Your Eyes on Me in your local bookshop or online here.

Find out more about Sam Blake at www.samblakebooks.com or follow her on social @samblakebooks – sign up for her newsletter at her website and get a bonus short story in text and audio plus find out three things that she loves!

About the author

Sam Blake is a character from the imagination of Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, founder of Writing.ie, the multi award winning writing resources online magazine, The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the Murder One International Crime Writing Festival. She is a member of the board of directors at the Society of Authors (UK), a member of the CWA and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. She was previously chair of Irish PEN. She is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow mountains for more years that she lived in the UK.

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