I was delighted to do two guest blogs on writing.ie with the lovely Vanessa.
Here is a link to the first of these, which ran on the 10th of Ocbober 2016:
The post was all about….
What Every New Writer Should Know…by Faith Hogan
Faith Hogan lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has an Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector, and her novel My Husband’s Wives is out with Head of Zeus now. We asked Faith to share some of the things she has learned during the writing and publishing process that she didn’t know at the start…
It takes a long time to write a book
It seems like a long time ago since I sat down with the grand idea a writing a book. It felt like a huge challenge and even just thinking about setting down a hundred thousand words in a sequence that made a complete story with a beginning, a middle and end, seemed like a daunting task. To start, all I had was a vague idea of what I wanted to write, but no clear idea of the who’s, the how’s, the why’s or the where’s. I happened to have a stretch of a couple of weeks before me where I knew I would have the time. I was in the lucky position of having a ‘room of one’s own,’ and the comfort of a quiet house in which to think.
Many people want to write a book and yet so few finish to the end. The truth is, only a very small number really start. The start of the book is probably the easiest part. Being sixty thousand words in and doubting that you’re writing the best book you can is probably the most disheartening feeling and let me tell you, I think most writers hit that point at some stage in their journey.
If you want to write a book, there is nothing to stop you. It’s your choice if you want to watch t.v. or sleep that extra hour every night. Chances are it will take about a year, to get that first book down, from start to finish. The best thing you can do, in terms of just getting the words down is to have a target you wish to hit every week. You need to make it realistic, remember your tendons won’t thank you for bashing out ten thousand words in a day.
Don’t forget the thinking time.
While I would say, that not every novelist sits down and writes out a formal plan, exactly – it’s good to have an idea before you start. Don’t underestimate the value of sitting for a few hours just staring into space. Ask yourself – who do you want to write about? After all, you will be spending a long time in their company. Decide on what the book will be about – even a broad theme. It is possible to go for a long walk in a novel and actually get nowhere.
There are no rules.
Characters first or plot –it’s up to you. The best of writers have no idea how their book will end until they get there. The other half of the top seller lists are probably peopled by writers who know exactly ‘who dunnit’, before they write their first word.
There’s always a better draft in you…
When you’ve got your one hundred thousand words down and you’ve written those magical words – THE END! I guarantee you, the first thing you’ll want to do, (after you’ve done a victory dance about the kitchen!) is show off your baby to the world. My advice is simple.
Do the victory dance – do it for as long as you can without your nearest and dearest calling for the men in the white coats.
Then, buy yourself a nice big box. Place your manuscript in it and lock it in a drawer for at least a month, two if you can stand the suspense. Start reading, writing, cartwheeling whatever takes your fancy, but, leave the masterpiece alone.
In a few weeks, you can take it out, make a nice cup of coffee and read it as you would read any book you just purchased. Take your time, enjoy where you think the writing is good and underline the bits that grate. Read it again and let fly with your red pen.
When you’ve corrected all the bits that annoyed you on that reading – then you have a manuscript ready for other people to read. This magnum opus will be blessed with commas, full stops, semi colons, inverted commas and few if any exclamation marks. It will contain direct speech, verbs that are in tense and characters names that remain the same from beginning to end.
Like they say – all good writing is re-writing!
You need a very comfortable chair.
I think this piece of wise advice is self-explanatory – after all, if you’re churning out a three hundred page best seller, you will be a long time sitting down…
(c) Faith Hogan