How writers can benefit from historical non-fiction

I’ve managed to make a video this week! I’m pretty happy with it, too, which isn’t necessarily a given when producing stuff all on your own. πŸ˜€ (we all suffer for our art don’t we) This week, we’re talking about historical non-fiction. Having already done a video on this topic before, I was kind of discouraged by the low amount of views. But, since then, I have received so much encouragement to continue on this route, especially since it’s not as common of a subject on Booktube or Authortube. So here’s hoping that there are more people out there who, like me, love this genre and find it very useful when researching for our own writing.

Feel free to give it a watch, and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments!

❀

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I believe it’s time to change things up

I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about doing some substantial changes to my platform. The whole marketing thing is a trial-and-error practice, and I’ve recently come to the realisation that I’m not following my original vision in the way I do things. This would of course not be an issue if I was happy about the route I was taking, but as it is now, I’m not. Not entirely.

People are (usually) not interested in just one thing. I would say that I have a couple of interests that make up the majority of my time and headspace, and that is 1) writing/reading, 2) history and 3) gaming. History used to be my number one as that was my major at University, and when I was still a student there was no time for leisure writing/reading. Now that I’m working on my manuscript, that takes the number one spot whereas history and gaming are leisure activities. But that is everyone’s life: people have more than one interest and they split their time between different things that they enjoy and that they identify with.

So why am I talking about this now? Well, the content I make for Youtube and my blog have been pretty straight-forward – it’s about writing. There is something special about making writing vlogs as I work on my manuscript. I still enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m thinking long-term about how I can grow as a content creator. At some point, I’m going to finish my novel and go into full-on marketing mode. I don’t want this to cause a drastic change in my content, or worst case scenario, run my channel into a dead-end. On top of that, I also feel like I want more of me in my videos, and by me and mean that I want to define my personal brand. Therefore, I have decided that I need a little bit more versatility in my content.

I won’t be going into too much detail here. But I’m planning on making a vlog this week where I discuss my plans for my channel/platform. I do hope it all goes well.

Have a lovely Tuesday people ❀

Worldbuilding: Character Names

Goodness me, I struggled so much with naming my characters. The first thing that got me was the decision between 1) making something up and 2) using existing names. So for my first draft, I went with names I had made up myself – and they were absolutely terrible.

That’s one advantage with taking your time to finish your book. Something that you thought was great at the start might actually be quite bad, but you can’t see it until you get a bit of distance from it. So back to square one for me – and back to the initial decision. This time, I decided to go with existing names, but tweaking them a little so that they fit the culture of my world. This process was a lot of fun, and I explain it all here in this week’s video.

Feel free to give it a watch. Enjoy!

Time to write some character descriptions

I’m on my third draft, and I’m worrying about this now. Truthfully, I was terrified of writing character descriptions for quite some time. Every time I tried I just felt awkward. I couldn’t care less about a characters hair colour, eye colour or body type – but then again, how else could I describe them? I looked up different descriptions from various types of books and compiled them to get a better overview. Physical attributes, personality traits, metaphors. There are so many ways to describing a character. So, I did a bit of research, and I present my result in this video.

Also, Niles is making an appearance, being his usual, spoiled self.

Enjoy!

On writing believable relationships

We all love complex characters. Even more so when they meet other complex characters and start interacting with them – there are so many possible ways for this to go! What do they really think of each other? Is there instant like, dislike, jealousy, admiration, attraction? Will there be drama, trust, betrayal, romance? Just like with our real-life relationships, we don’t necessarily think the same of all our friends, colleagues or loved ones/family members. Just as every real person is unique, so should our fictional characters be, thus making their relationships feel real as well.

This is no easy feat. There are only so many questionnaires you can fill about your characters middle name or favourite colour before you start feeling like your brain is just one big pile of superfluous information. But truthfully, this is another matter. My point is that it takes a lot of trial and error to get the relationships right, and I’ve been working on this lately as a way to further improve my story.

The method is simple, but requires having a draft to be able to use. I don’t know if this is common knowledge, I simply sat down and tried some things until I found something that worked for me. So I decided to put it in a video and share it with the world! Feel free to give it a watch and let me know if you have any thoughts, I always appreciate that. πŸ™‚


End-of-year Reflections

I hadn’t really planned on taking a break over Christmas, but here we are. There’s no video ready for Youtube either, which makes me feel a little bad, but I suppose it was somewhat unrealistic to be able to stick to my normal schedule during those busy Christmas days.

But now it’s over, and we’re getting closer and closer to New Years Eve. I have mixed feelings about this to be honest. Whilst I’m super excited to start 2019 with a bang, I’m also a little apprehensive about my expectations and whether or not I will be able to meet my goals. I guess this is completely normal though.

What are my expectations? What are my goals? A few months ago, I played around with the idea of being able to publish my first novel in 2019. I haven’t quite given up on this yet – but I think the more realistic approach would be to aim for the end of that. It has come to my attention how much… well, preparation that needs to be done after the book is actually ready to publish. What I mean is, if I want to do things properly, I need to have the finished book printed and ready in my hand months before I can actually release it.

It’s a little bonkers, but it also makes sense.

As writers, we want to focus on writing, being creative, weaving together stories with interesting characters. But the marketing side of things is just as important as the writing side because we want people to read and enjoy our books, and if they don’t know it exists, well, then they won’t read it. With this in mind, I’ve come to realise that publishing a book – even self-publishing – isn’t as straightforward as I initially thought. But that’s okay.

To sum this up, next year will probably be quite a busy one, and I’m looking forward to it. I just have to try and calm down in my expectations, because ultimately, it doesn’t matter if I don’t finish in time to publish next year. The most important thing is that I keep going, that I work hard and never give up. As long as I do that, I can be proud of myself.

I finished the second draft!

Yesterday was a milestone – a pretty big one, too! Like the title says, I finished my second draft. To explain it a little further, I finished editing the first draft. I feel like I have a new understanding of novels and how they are created. The first draft is, without doubt, terrible. I don’t think there is a writer out there whose first drafts are flawless. Once you start really looking into your writing, your world, your characters, the plot oh my god, the plot… you realise you have a lot of work to do.

It would be interesting to have a specific number showing how much of the first draft I kept and how much was deleted or rewritten. Trust me, it’s not much at all. Kind of a depressing thought when you think about it: I spent six months writing the first draft, and ended up rewriting most of it. Even the outline changed as I worked. But you know, it’s still not a “waste of time” because in the end, my book will be better for it. I’ll probably do a lot of rewriting again once I start with the third draft.

However, before I start with that, I’m going to have a look at my characters and their arcs. I did this for one of my antagonists the other week, just to see how useful it would be: I wrote their backstory, from childhood and up, and then I wrote their side of the story in the book, kind of like an overview of their perspective. I had always known in my head what this character’s personal journey would be, but now I put it into words and fleshed out the details of it. It turned out great, really great. I see this character in a new light now, I know every move they make and why – that is the most important thing for a story in my opinion. Every character has to have a reason for their actions.

I have decided to do this for every important character in the manuscript before starting with the third draft. Some people might think that I’m very late to do this now, but I’m actually quite slow when it comes to building characters. I need to create them as I write my story, they come alive in the setting I’ve made up for them. I have a feeling that this exercise would also be very helpful in discovering potential plot holes and such, which is an added bonus. So that’s what I’ll be working on now!

I hope everyone else is having a pleasant Monday πŸ™‚

Summer recollections and Winter madness

Every morning when I wake up, I am immediately surprised that it’s December. Seriously, where did October and November go? Usually by this time I have already started getting tired of knitted jumpers and woollen coats (which is depressingly early in Sweden given the fact that winter lasts until May here). Not this year, though! I’ve only just started wearing them! Also, I can clearly remember the hot summer we had, and all the things that came with it. Like how difficult it was to sleep because of the heat. I remember swimming in the ocean and it not being too cold for once. I remember all the spiders on the boat during our sailing trip. Every single one of them.

My point is, summer was yesterday. Today is December and we’re already half-way to Christmas.

People around me are buying Christmas presents, decorating their homes and baking seasonal treats, and here I am, completely baffled and nowhere near the Christmas spirit that they seem to emulate. I’m just running around in circles trying to make sense of my second draft.

I suppose the reason why I’m feeling stressed by this is that I had hoped to be much further along in editing my manuscript than what I am. I had set a goal for myself to start finding beta readers in the beginning of January, and I honestly don’t think that will be possible anymore. I’m still changing things on an almost daily basis, therefore it would be impractical to let anyone read it. It’s always sad when you realise that you can’t reach a certain goal, but I’m also very much aware that when it comes to writing, patience is key. Not just any key, I mean a sneaky key that likes to play hide-and-seek.

I’m not going to beat myself up over it because that won’t make it go any faster. I’m just surprised, and a little taken aback at how fast the months fly by, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this! Anyway, this post was just a side note (i.e. distraction), since I’m supposed to be working on planning this week’s Youtube video. Speaking of which, I should really get back to that.

I hope everyone else is having a great week (and that you’re not panicking about the upcoming year-end)!

Shame on me!

I’ve taken a longer break from my blog than I initially intended – I must admit that. But it’s not like I’ve been procrastinating in vain, I’ve actually gotten a lot of things done! I am currently in the editing phase of the last two chapters of my second draft. It’s been a long ride, people. A whole year to be exact, since I first started writing my outline.

I suppose this is a given fact to anyone who’s writing books for a living, but I keep getting surprised at how my story grows with me as I become a better writer. It started out as a little baby first draft, and now it has certainly grown a lot bigger. Who knows what will happen once the third draft is finished! Hopefully, one day, it will spread its wings and get out into the world.

…but until then, there are more lessons to learn! This week I have focused a lot on endings in general, what makes a good ending, what is mandatory and what is superfluous etc. It has been quite the learning experience, so I decided to make it my vlog topic this week. Feel free to have a watch, let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject! πŸ™‚

Another week has passed

Last week, my aim was to get more editing done by cutting down some of my blogging and social media time. I have to say that it has proven most effective. Like I’ve said earlier, writing and marketing are polar opposites when it comes to the mindset of the writer, and I’ve found that I struggle a lot when toggling these different mindsets. The result was simple; I got 2 chapters done instead of one.

I’ve decided to continue with this for the upcoming week, to the point where I’m even sacrificing my weekly Youtube video to get more chapters done. You’d be surprised at how much time goes into making a video of 8-10 minutes in average length! You have to plan and structure the content, record the video and edit all the raw footage into something that feels accessible and (hopefully) fun to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing it and every week is such a learning experience, but it’s impossible to deny that it’s time-consuming.

I suppose this is just another experiment where I will see how much I can manage to do without any other distractions (although, there might be the occasional blog post or IG post if I need a break from editing). The reason why I really want to get more editing done is that I only have 5 chapters left! Well, for the second draft, that is. After that, I’ll start with the third draft. But I have this goal that I want to start looking for beta readers at the beginning of January, and in order to do that, I have to have a final draft.

Anyway, I hope everyone else is making progress on whatever projects they’re working on, and I hope you have a pleasant week ahead. πŸ™‚