Showing posts with label weekend writing workshop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label weekend writing workshop. Show all posts

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Weekend Writing Workshop #7 - How A Writer Creates Characters and Makes Them Stand Out (Part One)

So you've got a great idea for a story. You're sure it's going to work. You've got the start, middle and ending all clear in your head. It's a wicked quest, or intricate love triangle. It's a coming of age story, or it's sci-fi piece.

The world you create is one thing. And it really could be amazing. The problems may start, or have already started to poke huge cracks through your story. Whilst it could be plot holes, nursery level grammar, or something else, what can you do about it?

Look at your characters.

Are they one dimensional? You may not think so, but they possibly are. This could be a huge reason why the story isn't working. If it cannot work for you, the creator, how can it work for other readers?

Your characters have to possess multiple layers to their personality and make-up. It's not enough to say 'Sarah has brown hair.' Is it relevant to the plot?  If so, expand on this. What hairstyle best pleases Sarah? Why does she wear it the way she does? Is she trying to impress someone, or just please herself?


A serial killer could be considered one dimensional, because we could not generally envisage doing things that they do. Often they plan their kills, so this area has great scope and potential for development. It won't be enough to say 'he's bad because his father never said 'I'm proud of you, son.' There has to be a reason for why they do what they do. If you give the reader enough back-story, they'll appreciate it.

A man who leaves his wife could be under financial pressure, having an affair, esteem issues through having lost his job - perhaps all three. A man just does not get up in the morning and decide to end a 25 year old marriage. Give the reader some breadcrumbs as to why.

Vampires, werewolves, witches and demons. You know, not every vampire has to be 'hot.' Not every witch has to be cool, or own a black cat. It may not be erotic to pitch your heroine to a demon, just so she can convert his bad ways. Fantasy characters have to have certain believable elements about them. The ones I like the most are characters that could - if you stretch the suspension of disbelief enough - fit right into our world. Yes, they  may do things that differentiate us from them, but that's how it should be, right?

Don't over egg your pudding.

Sometimes, your readers will want to catch their breath. Give your characters a break too. If it's a novella, accept that you will have to keep things tight, but a full length novel lets your characters have fun, relax, smile, cry - in essence they grow and enrich the story because you have allowed them that privilege.

If you throw them from one scene to the next, eventually there needs to be a payback. The scenes must link together and be part of a bigger picture that ties up in the end. If you give your characters yet another car chase, what's the point if they had one earlier in the story?

Writing a death scene.

Your readers invest in you their time and their energy into the characters you have created. If you kill one of them off, you had better have a good reason. It's not enough to kill character AB because you ran out of story. What if you need them later? 

Write the scene with great care. Make your readers feel it. The death of anyone should have an impact. The fact that your scenes are about fictional characters should not lessen the impact if readers care about them.

Pretentiousness in your characters.

You can't have a character quoting Keats one moment before committing a stupid act in the next scene. They should not use overlong sentences to make their point. This type of badly drawn character is the one I detest the most. A character can be honourable, charming and cool. Just use the dictionary and thesaurus for what you need, then set them down and write how you truly believe they would act, and use lines that they would say. It's got to be believable, otherwise your readers won't buy into it.

More next time. Until then, happy reading and writing, and er...oh yeah, editing and re-drafting. Don't forget that little puppy.

Previous WWW Tips are here


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Weekend Writing Workshop #6 - You've Written Your Book, Now Become An Editor

The cold hard reality of reading your draft back after a given period.
"Your book is ready? Nuh-ah-nuuh. No. I don't think so."

Anyone who has ever written a first draft of a book will know that it is just that - a draft. The hard work starts afterwards, where you have to look at your work in a different way altogether. This is a discipline so hard for independent writers - not all of us of course, but in my case, making the jump from mere writer to hard-line-critique-spewing-red-pen-at-the-ready editor is difficult.

No wonder we hand this task over to someone who does this for a living.

In my own experience, the choice of an editor was the right one, however we have to accept that even they have limitations to their powers. An editor will view your book one way, you, as the author will view it another way.

And then, there is an army of readers ready to read it in their own unique way.

So the need for the author to get his or her book right from the off has never been more important. Authors need help too - it's a far bigger team all of a sudden, with editors, proofreaders, beta readers et al getting in on the act.

However, not all authors can afford all these professional services. One proofreading service I contacted said they charged £450 for the first 50,000 words. This may be reasonable enough, but if you are a first time author hoping that your book is going to make enough (quietly) so that by month two or three, that vital service or services are suddenly more affordable.

Getting your book professionally proofread and edited is a must for authors. As a first time author, you should take a step back, because although your book has been written, you might just find yourself seeking out all these services, which you could save a lot of time and money by doing some more of the ground work yourself.

My books have a three month gestation period. Whilst that sounds hideous, it is pretty necessary. I may want to make swathing changes to the book - not the story itself (because hopefully you've created an outline first and knew how the story was going to end), but grammatical changes, sentence and paragraph structure, and of course, the (eventually ending ) hunt for typos.

It's all too easy to send your book out to an agent, publisher or editor without the proper cooling down time being applied to the work. After all, you worked hard on it, and the narcissist in us will want it read (and praised!) as soon as possible.

But you should wait. Really, you should wait. The draft is not the final one. There's much work to be done.

We have to toughen up and take the hits. Not everyone will think what we have done is awesome.
"What? Don't you understand? My book is finished. You don't like it. What do you mean you don't like it? My mum likes my book. Why don't you? Ugh - you're mean!"

You've only just thrown off the shackles of being an author.

So how do you become your own editor?

The simple truth is, you can't do the job of an editor. Not perfectly. But if you can get into an editor's mindset, your book will be all the better for it.

An editor:-

  • Will tell you what is wrong with the plot
  • Point out character flaws that simply do not work in tandem with the story
  • Highlight timeline issues
  • Highlight glaring plotholes
  • Simply advise you (you don't have to accept what they say, but you probably should)
Delusions that we have written a truly great story need shaking up. It may well be great, but be realistic. You can be truthful to yourself and win more readers as a result.
"I finished my book. And yet it seems amongst the praise, you dare to criticise it? Allow me to find something that will convince you that I am right."

As the author of the work:-
  • You may think your draft needs work, but that the story is brilliant
  • You may think your story is rubbish, even though it has potential 
  • You will speed read it, missing loads of errors, instead of going through it line by line
  • You will not see the story as it needs to be seen
  • Look at the point directly above, again
That is not to say that editors are the first, last and final word on everything. I have a paperback book from the Writer's Workshop - a very highly regarded entity, that contains a glaring mistake in a chapter about not making spelling errors. Something tells me that there is some irony at play here. 

Still, the book is excellent, so I would look over something like that.

The one month to three month holiday that your eyes gets from your draft allows you to come back, fresh, energised and most important - with some level of ability to effectively edit your work.

Don't try and write one book in the morning, and edit another in the afternoon. It really can mess you up - i know it did for me. So as appealing as writing new stories maybe be, hold off until you have finished your book properly. 

There's an argument that authors who suffer writer's block should go and work on other projects. Maybe - but I am inclined to disagree. If you are writing a book about vampires, and another about mermaids, if you don't split yourself properly from the respective works, you will end up merging the ideas.

This in itself is not always a bad thing. Darren Aronofsky, one of my favourite film directors, had the idea for a story where a ballerina fell in love with a wrestler - the highest art meeting the lowest one (that's not my quote or my belief - all arts are valuable to the one who practises them) - but the story would not gel, so DA split the ideas.

The result was the excellent The Wrestler with a powerhouse performance from Mickey O'Rourke and an Oscar winning turn from Natalie Portman in Black Swan.

So step back, take a breather, and become the Odile to the more comfortable Odette. If you really can't critque your work, do - really do give it to someone else. Editing isn't evil - it just needs to be done, done again, and done to death. You'll come to the point that you actually hate your book.

Now you're ready.

Previous WWW tips are here

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Weekend Writing Workshop #5 Novel or Novella? Which Should You Write?

"Just turn to the last page, alright? The water's getting cold."

It's a busy world, and all this technology has made it rather busier. We are more connected than ever before, yet perhaps more disconnected from things that we really want to do. As readers, we want stories that are engaging, characters that are interesting, plots that twist and turn, whilst serving to excite us at the same time.

Sometimes, we just don't have time to read a full length novel.

But what about writers? Don't we have to make that decision too? Do we really have time to write that full length novel. A story of some 300 pages will take a significant amount of your time, not to mention the energy required.

However, in my experience, there's no need to panic. There is no real rule (except in traditional publishing) that a novel should be a minimum of 70,000 words. And if you want my really important and special tip from me, I really do believe this:-

"The story you need to write is the one that is inside you. It will be completed only when it is completed."

What does this mean? Well, for some of you,you will need to adopt a routine for your writing. That means several thousand words a day. For others, you won't stop until a chapter or particular scene feels right.

For me, It is any and all of the above, plus this:-

"I don't actually have anything until the book is written and completed."

I am fully seized of understanding why people say 'Oh yeah, I am writing a book.'

It takes time and effort and of course, it should. But in the end, you want an end date, otherwise it is like Captain Ahab hunting his whale. He is intent on doing it, but the pursuit is destroying him. That's why the undertaking of writing a book should never be done lightly.

Maybe you start off with an idea, and writing goes well for a while, before you run out of steam at say, the 30,000 word mark. If that is so, maybe it needs a rethink, but perhaps, it is your writer-mind's way of saying 'this just isn't meant to be a full length story.'

Plenty of short stories hit the mark better than the long ones.

So make a start, and see where you go from there - and good luck!

I've just written a thousand words today - and am happy with it. At some point, you really can start to believe in your writing ability, without ego or misplaced support from others. You will know what you you have created, it's just a case of what the world will think of your creation!

Catch up on the previous writing tips here

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Weekend Writing Workshop #4: Characters or Story? Which should Writers attempt first?

Stories start with inspiration. Maybe you visited somewhere, or you saw a new programme that reminded you of a factual event, and you decide to put a fictional spin on it. Then, there are other stories that beg to be told simply based on your experience of life

And of course, a writer is inspired by the other books he or she reads.

In my case, I am inspired by all of the above, and many more I haven't listed. I mean, one of the latest books I am reading, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, is based on one of the key moments in US history, and is proudly stating the fact that it is SK's first time travel novel.

I think time travel is a tricky concept to make work, so maybe I'll do that when I'm better at the writing craft.


If you write the Story first, that's fine, but unless it is a novella or mini-novel, you'll find yourself running out of things to happen to character 1 2 or 3.

Unless your book is really tight, and features just a handful of characters, you end up adding a new character to flesh out a plot line that would have eroded with say characters 1 and 2.

The story must have a hook, or a MacGuffin, which, in the case of my favourite film, the martial arts wuxia movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, really needed. For fifteen minutes, nothing much of note happens. The cinematography is a work of art, and it is like director Ang Lee is trying to seduce the viewer with his visuals, and indeed, the film is a visual feast.

Pretty pictures alone do not a good film make, and just like your story, it must have that MacGuffin - the thing that is hard to describe to anyone else, but if it's in your story, and you have a McG....then you have a hook that will keep your readers interested.

Even when you have this in place, you might run out of steam after say 30,000 words, so a full novel won't happen. Maybe this is one story in a short story collection - you might excel at that kind of writing.

A sharp, witting, engaging story is what I believe people want. Even if it is a horror, make it fun. It doesn't have to be terror on each page, it can be paced so it creeps up on people. You can add funny episodes inbetween. Why should you do this? Well, people want to be entertained. If it is a constant barrage of depressing vignettes, you may lose your reader, even if it is a perfectly good story.

Shape your story, and you will keep your readers attention. 


If the story is like a cake with a nice texture, your characters are like the flavour of your book. If you don't like the taste, it's unlikely you'll be rooting for them. Of course, some authors go out of their way to create unlikeable characters - but that doesn't mean that they are not interesting. How many times have you read a book, hoping that the Bad Character who wants to hurt the hero or heroine of the tale will meet a grisly end (The Lovely Bones, anyone?). So bad characters may taste ugly with a capital UG....but you kind of have to have them to make the overall dessert more enjoyable!

I've read stories that were perfectly fine in themselves, but had forgettable or pointless characters. If you read about Adam's predicament on one page, then Sarah's on another, before Becky, Drew and Penelope are dropped in on you, you may have forgotten who Adam was - and worringly for the author - why you are supposed to care about Adam in the first place. 

So, what's the answer?

Everyone can have their view, so I'll tell you what works for me. I sketch an outline of the story. Now these notes could run into several pages, so sketching an outline is not a quick exercise, nor is it for the faint of heart. Sitting down and writing is hard enough without having an outline, which includes:-

  • A start
  • A middle
  • An ending
  • A brief description of each character (not necessarily what they look like or what they wear - what is their FUNCTION in the story)
  • If writing a series, try and complete as much as you can in one book before just ending it. Readers dislike books that appear to be padded out to fill a trilogy, so don't do it if you don't have enough story in the first place
  • Not every book has to have a prologue or an epilogue - do this on your terms no-one else's
Once you have your outline, look for plausibility and logic. Could the story happen? Even in fantasy worlds, it has to sound / read as a believable plot. Logic - do the characters do stupid things? If your character hears a noise in the night, but just has to go and investigate it, perhaps this needs a rethink. Sometimes hiding out of sight is an option. You'd do it in real life (unless you are totally kick-ass) so why wouldn't your characters? Just because they are fictional and free from actual harm, doesn't mean you should treat them that way. Logic must play a part in your characters' actions.

The 2am Lightbulb Moment

You're asleep, and you know you should be asleep at this time, but you awake to find ideas flooding your brain like some kind of orgasmic aneursym. DON'T go back to sleep before you jot these things down! Truly, I had a lot of inspiration after hitting the pillow. And the ideas are often good. Maybe it happens because we are truly the daytime you have to fit writing in around the cat, the girlfriend, the parent, the guy selling something of no interest at the door.  Oh dear, looking at the above, I really do need to get out of the house more!

Until next time, happy reading and writing!

Previous WWW Tips are here

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Weekend Writing Workshop #3: Scene Hopping - A Good or a Bad Thing?

When you are writing that special story of yours, there's a tendency, no matter how disciplined the mind, to run ahead of certain scenes. That's okay in itself - you need to know where the story is going. But if you scene hop just because you are stuck on the current scene, should you be actually scene hopping?

How helpful, or destructive, is this to your writing process?

We learn as we go. In my case, if I scene hopped, I needed to go back and check that at that moment in time, and how it fitted with the events prior to that, and those that came after it.

It would not be enough to simply suggest that you had reached an end point. The reader needs a reason, a justification as to why you wrote the scene in the way that you did.

It is often said that an author's first book is the one that truly nags to be written. Any book thereafter is an indulgence, no?

No, I don't think so. If you are a writer, at whatever level that may be, a second, third, hundredth book is fine. So long as you are happy with it, and you offer your readers a coherent, believable story.

The breaking of a scene, is a huge decision. You may have to - for example, certain elements aren't working and if you don't get to the scene twenty or fifty pages further on, you cannot make sense of this current one. Makes sense, right?

It only makes sense, if it makes sense to the reader. You cannot second guess how the reader will interpret your story, but try and make the job easy for them. Don't overload a scene with characters who have been barely introduced, or not mentioned for 200 pages. Don't over complicate the scene, so that the important details are lost. Don't bore your reader with too much detail! Sometimes, an oak tree, is just an oak tree!

I do this workshop in the hope it helps some of you, but I also say that I too am learning the craft, and it's something I will never stop learning. If each book I write is better than the last, I feel I am on the right path.

I've mentioned what I think you shouldn't do, so here's what I think you should do.

  • Do finish a scene. Then leave it to 'brew', come back, and flesh it out. 
  • Do not add drama for drama's sake. You are taking your reader on a journey, not an OMG on every page. After a while, they will desensitise to your perceived dramatic points
  • Do make the scene real, even in fiction works, this has to be believable, and relatable for the reader.
  • Make the scene hopping work. Ever tried to drive over a broken bridge? That's okay in GTA, but not in real life. Make the scene (hopping) work.

So, in summary, I don't think scene hopping is a bad thing, but it does make you lose time, and possibly, the thread of the storyline. If this is your first book, you're forgiven, so long as the story is good. If it is your second book, try your best to scrub scene hopping from your writing process.

By then, you'll be well on your way to having a back catalogue for readers to enjoy.

Happy writing!

Catch up on the previous #Tips here

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Weekend Writing Workshop #2: My Tips for Writing and Getting That Book Written - Part Two

If you missed the first of my Weekend Writing Workshop tips, then check out this link:- Tips #1

This week, I continue my tips. Whichever ones work for you, build them into your routine, and you will achieve great success! This is what I am wishing for you, and for all of us.

6. Lack of self-belief is your biggest enemy.

There you are, with a great sounding idea in your head. You start writing. Maybe you've already done the synopsis, or you haven't. Maybe you have the story in your head, and just want to get going without fully thinking it through.

But you must start somewhere. There are countless websites and books that will say 'oh you should do this - I did and I sold xxx amount of books'  and others will say 'oh you should do this' completely contradicting the other website.

Ignore them, because whilst you view the pros and cons, you are not writing.

But I digress. Procrastination is a killer of most things, but you need to believe in yourself if you are to get the book written (even if it is a book about self-belief!!).

Family may or may not support you in this venture. Same goes for friends - on and off line.

Writing is a lonely process. But if you have something to say, and you think it could be better served outside of blogging, then get the book done. Believe in yourself. Let no-one say to you 'you can't' when you can. Let no-one affect your goal. Otherwise you, who believes you have a book in you, will never get it done.

It's the fear of the thing, not the actual thing, that is scary - am I right?

Yes. I fear that terrible review. I fear the sales hitting the floor. Or worse - I fear not being able to write something good - something that I can believe in.

You may be thinking - 'but who would really want to read my story?' Well, let me say this - Hollywood pumps billions into making, producing and distributing low brain - high octane action movies (yes, Jason Statham, I am talking about you!) and it's has an audience. Not every movie has to be The Piano or Schlinder's List. I enjoy action movies. I love the stupidity of some of them. But they make money - because the studio believes it will.

The point is, even the worst ones make money. You can make money from your writing enterprise but you know - or may not know, the full extent of the amount of work you are going to have to put in.

But you can perhaps only put out trash once. Reviewers can be very unforgiving, and friends may get bored of you if you have 'yet another book' coming out. Not always the case, but you must push on nonetheless.

Why? Because you are a writer. You have a story to tell. Believe in it and yourself, and there is nothing you cannot achieve.

7. Give yourself a structure.

I like structure. I like process. Affect me in any way, and it could upset what I need to achieve that hour / day / week / month.

For some, it is writing for one hour in the morning before you go to work. For others, it is writing late into the small hours. But do give yourself a structure. Commit to finishing that chapter, or that word milestone, or simply getting particular scene as best as you can.

Don't let it become a chore, though. Actually, even when I knew my writing was substandard, I would still type away. It's like a pianist (also a hobby of mine) trying to find the right note or chord. Keep going. Give yourself a structure. Never stop until you have achieved your goal for that day, and if you do under hit or under achieve, resolve to fix it the very next day.

8. Pick a genre you like, not the hottest thing around.

The beauty of books is that they can be picked up at any time, and can contain absolutely anything within its pages. Imagine this - you read The Hunger Games, loved it, and thought 'hey, I can write a dystopian novel and it will be a hit because it is all the rage now.'

What happens? Many authors try it - Keira Cass, Veronica Roth, and so on. And your interest wanes because it is getting rather samey.

So if you are really set on writing the hottest thing right now, I think you can still write it, but it may get swallowed up by the Suzanne Collins and Co machine!

Quality is quality though - if you can write a quality book, then it will be found.

9. Allow yourself down time and down days.

There are days you simply won't want to write, nor be able to write. So allow yourself these moments of down time. Don't punish yourself. It happens. You have so much going on in your life that you can't focus. But the next day, it's better. And you can focus. Then you write, and you actually write better than you would have if you had forced it.

I'm trying to give myself the weekend off from writing, so that my body can heal from the teaching I do, and my brain can heal from the writing I do. Whatever works for you, do it by NOT doing it!

Go to the cinema, grab an ice cream, go shopping, see the football game, hammer the playstation.

But live.

10. Write the synopsis.

This is a very hard thing to do unless you have a real handle on your story and characters. Who do you mention? Who do you leave out? What significant event can be mentioned without giving the story away? What hook can you include that will make people want to read?

For my first fiction book, Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle, I managed to include two things that I wanted.

i) The short story hook the reason why the book is engaging and should be read
ii) A diary style entry that would get you into the character's head.

The Short Story Hook:-

Romilly Winter is no ordinary heroine, just an ordinary one. 

She has a gift. She can see the future. But can she see far enough? The world in which she lives is under attack - the dead are rising, and evil follows her at every turn.

Will she be able to save herself - and the world?

The synopsis cannot make you care about Romilly at this point, but it does give you an idea of the difficulty in which she finds herself. The cover gives you some idea, but raises more questions than answers. Can she save the world, indeed. If the story is total fantasy, you will have trouble caring about that. But this paranormal tale is told with elements that you have to believe are real, and could happen. That's why the short story hook works.

Again, if you missed the first of my Weekend Writing Workshop tips, then check out this link:- Tips #1

Happy reading and writing!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Weekend Writing Workshop #1: My Tips for Writing and Getting That Book Written - Part One

I remember an interview on Michael Parkinson's long running chat show where he interviewed Sir Anthony Hopkins.

MP: So how did you get into acting?
AH: By accident, really.

What did he mean by that? Surely someone as good an actor as Anthony Hopkins, who I first saw in The Elephant Man, later, The Silence of the Lambs, and understated but beautiful films like The Remains of the Day, would not have fallen into acting by accident? Yet, that is what he said on the show.

It's true that I've always enjoyed reading and writing. But my start - the actual beginning of getting something down that would end up in a book, was slightly accidental.

As a martial arts teacher, I often scribble down notes outside of the syllabus I am actually teaching. The notes would run and run. It grew legs, you might say. And the first book was created some two years after I finished my scribbles.

So maybe I started by accident, but the basics were always there. I liked reading and exploring new worlds. That's what a book is - an unchartered world and especially so if it is a new author.

So here are some of my tips for writing and getting the book done. I cannot stress the latter part enough, because if it remains as a file on your computer, that's what it will remain. At some point, let it go.

1. Tell the story you want to tell, not the story others may expect of you.

You can write. You have a story, an idea, and you want to flesh it out, and get feedback. I would recommend that if you do have a story to tell, be it fiction or non-fiction, perhaps you should tell it to yourself first.

You will have your influences, but do not write in their voice, no matter how tempting it is. Find your own writing voice. You have to be the next big thing, not the new 'whoever it is.'

If you constantly seek out advice from others, authors or not, you will be stuck in an ever-depressing circle of 'if only I change this, it will be better.' Only you can know that for sure. Be the authority on writing that you want to be - not in an arrogant way, but as a writer confident of knowing their subject and doing it better than anyone else (hopefully) !

2. Fight for privacy in a very open world.

Writing is a private thing, but in today's fast moving and demanding social environment, you are expected to share, share and keep on sharing. No bad thing in itself, but in a bid to be heard we've sometimes given in to
Amazon free downloads and the campaigns they entail. Do they work? Only if they give you long lasting exposure and a real climb up the rankings. Otherwise you fall off the radar very quickly.

When you write, get your writing space as you want it. I have heard from family that 'a writer can write whenever and wherever'. Spoken like true non-writers. For me, I need peace and quiet. That means house empty or those in it keeping the noise down, and the cats....they must be fed.

Otherwise you will find these time-eaters destroying your project. It's not that you shouldn't care about these things, but those in your life must support you too.

Shut the door, unplug the phone, cut the internet connection. And start writing.

3. Goals - Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly

What are your writing goals? To 'write a book' is a fine, and yes, realistic goal. It won't be done without hard work, and without a plan.

People, life and other things will mess up the plan. Don't let your writing be the be all and end all (unlike the very funny scene in Blackadder with Dr Samuel Johnson!!!) -

you've got to be alive and living in those around you. So what should your goals be, when there are so many Time-Eaters around?

Every day, write something / plan something / note something / read something.

Because you may not be able to write every day, not even a hundred words. Am I joking? No - life gets in the way. The people in your life are a priority, but no matter what you do, life will play out the way it is going to play out. In the end, the book lives and dies with you. If you don't get it done, you will be in a continual spiral of hate and self loathing - at least I feel like that sometimes!

It's no-one's fault but your own, if that book doesn't happen.

So....Every day, write something / plan something / note something / read something.

You will reach your goal.

For some, it's writing 250 words of absolute clarity that somehow, they know will make it into the book. These words won't be deleted. 

For me, it's anything between 200 and 5000 words a day. And I will probably end up deleting a lot of it and re-writing it (more about drafts in a future post, but if you want some motivation about getting to that first draft and editorial critique, read my thoughts on it here).

Some make a plan at the start of the week to state that 'by the end of this week, I will have written 10,000 words / completed four chapters' and so on..

But - It is not just about a word count. Whatever you write, it must be quality. I don't speak as an expert, but I am probably my own worst critic, so any abuse I received in real life or on-line no longer hurts. Get something quality written, and how it looks to you - that is the most important thing.

Then, under your critical glare, if you believe you have written something of quality, find an agent, get a publisher, or go independent. But if you have done all you can, let the book go with your good wishes.

Then work on the next one.

In the end, your writing goals can be summarised into one goal - get the book done. Nothing else is relevant.

4. Handle your time better.

You cannot save time, but you can manage it better. Ask yourself truly what your on-line presence actually adds to your daily life. If it impacts your writing, take a break from it. Your true fans and on-line friends, as well as real life friends, will understand, wait, be supportive, and will be there for you when you return.

Don't simply dump or ignore them though. They've invested in the friendships and you do need to maintain them. If they remove themselves from your life, as people do sometimes, let them go. Their loss.

Do prioritise. Your writing is a personal project, that at some point, you can involve everyone in. Not to beta read, not to critique as you are learning your craft - there are professional editors who you can and should pay for proper, brutal critique. Others, who may handle you with kid gloves (but made from real kids) are perhaps not the best ones to assist you.

Maybe you are a morning person. If so, get up even half an hour earlier, and start typing. You'll be amazed that you can get 500 words down in half an hour or less!

Whatever works for you, handle your time better. Phones are a necessary evil, but that doesn't mean you have to answer every time it answers. Turn it on silent. I do!

5. Show interest in others, and LISTEN.

Whilst you are writing that first mega blockbuster, as much as it is exciting to talk about the project, it can't always be about you. Show interest in others, ask them about their day, don't just ping them on facebook - write an email, phone them, chat on-line or in real life. But take interest in others. One of the most valuable things I have learned is to listen to others. Not whilst playing with your phone or iPad. Put it down, and listen.

Why? Will it get you more sales? Who knows, who cares? But the people you interact with will recall you as someone who is interested in them.

This may seem to go against the whole 'get your book done and written' principles above, but once in a while, you have to take a break, look up, and see the world around you. Maybe your fantasy world is a great escape, and that's fine. But if you deal with the real world, and do it properly, you can spend more time in your writing world.

More tips next week on WWW - The Weekend Writing Workshop.

See also: Editorial critique and how it helped me

Happy reading and writing!