It’s my pleasure to host Scarlett Van Dijk today. She is talented young author that writes YA fantasy and poetry. Without further ado, here’s Scarlett –
As I wrote my first novel, a Young Adult Fantasy named Sky Stone, I learnt much about the writing craft. I loved the process and discovered ways I could improve my method. As a beginner writer I had been stubborn, like so many aspiring authors. I refused to listen to the advice of more experienced, professional, authors because I didn’t like their regimented approach to writing. I still don’t. However, I have discovered through my own trials that some of what they were saying is, actually, a better way for me.
From my own experiences, I would like to share five aspects of my own writing method. These are five points I would have liked to have considered when I began writing my first novel. I now have taken these actions while writing my second novel, Guardian Core, and found them to make a world of difference to the quality of my writing.
- Plan out your characters and setting
You can’t write a story without characters or a place to put them so it only makes sense to design them before you start on your manuscript. You might be pouting and saying but I already have a character and of course I know where my story is set… but do you really? Can you tell me about your character’s personality, their appearance, their family and friends, their background. Who are they? Can you describe your setting? Is it set on Earth or a part of another world? Is it cold most of the year or hot? Is it forested, desert, or full of rolling plains? What era is it? Does your character live in a village, city, or are they wandering the wilderness?
When I began writing I refused to create an outline. I knew where I wanted the story to go and I wanted it to grow almost organically, unrestricted by guides. Now I realize that an outline doesn’t have to restrict your writing. I like to think of outlining as writing the entire story… just really quickly and to the point. I write my outlines as a series of scenes depicting the main issues and outcomes. As I outline I find that what I originally had in mind changes as I find better ways for the story to develop. It is easier to implement surprises into the plot and create suspense. By creating an outline I find it may even cut out a lot of the editing time needed at the end.
- Allow your mind to change, the characters will lead the way
Even with an outline it is important to remember that a story is a growing entity. You will come up with ideas as you are writing that just MUST be included. Don’t let yourself become trapped by your outline. You will find that, as your write, your well-made characters will start to take control of the story by themselves. Let them. Throw your challenges at them and see how they respond.
- Don’t try to be perfect
This one is difficult to let go. As writers we want to write a masterpiece and for others to love it, it’s only natural. However, we need to let go of the vision of perfection because it is impossible. There is no such thing. Strive to do your best and that is all that anyone can hope for. When writing your first draft don’t fret about each little sentence or word, just get the story down and worry about those details when you come back and edit. When editing, know when to stop. We could keep editing for years, constantly changing and tweaking our work without really impacting the quality of the work.
- All advice is subjective. You will find your own path
Other authors will throw advice at you left, right, and centre. However, no other author is you. You will have your own methods that only you can find through the act of writing. Learn from these authors but don’t feel obligated to do as they say. Remember, you can only learn to write through writing.
Good luck everyone and happy writing!
Scarlett Van Dijk
If you’d like to know more about Scarlett, check out her Blog or connect with her here:
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/scarlettskystone
Sky Stone Blurb
Skyla, a social outcast from an ordinary town in the 21st Century, is transported to a medieval land in the midst of war, where magic is a part of everyday life. Finding herself empowered with magical abilities she must fulfill a destiny decided by the gods, a destiny which will test her limits to the full. How can she cope with these new pressures and how can she possibly succeed?