Posted in Charlotte Writes Things

Charlotte Writes Things | Setting Targets

“Deadlines just aren’t real to me until I’m staring one in the face.” – Rick Riordan

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Deadlines are a massive topic of discussion for authors in the publishing industry. As more and more contracted writers have started being vocal about the realities of three books deals etc, it’s kind of impossible to ignore just how stressful they can be. The main one that always springs to mind when I think of deadlines is best-selling fantasy author V.E.Schwab who did a series of tweets about the fact that she was set to embark on a three month book tour. Alongside meeting upwards of 300 people at events in each city, she still had to average 2,000 words a day in order to get her next book in on time.

It would be unfair to not acknowledge the slight advantage I have of being an unpublished the author: I have all the time in the world, in fact, too much time. I struggle greatly with the idea that I may never get published, that simply finishing and editing a book isn’t enough when there are agents to query who will reject me and even if I get that glorious “yes” there’s no guarantee that a publisher will buy my book at the end of it.

So long story short, I make my own targets. My mantra is “we measure time spent not words” because I think it is incredibly important to count any time spent researching or planning as part of the process. You could finish a writing day with no words written and feel completely defeated when in actuality you’re discounting the fact that you spent four hours looking into some incredibly niche thing you want to include in your story, or you did rubbish drawings of locations or even just worked through what you’d like to happen in a scene. Every little second, minute, and hour spent all adds up to the bigger picture. I am to spend at least 30 minutes a day working on my current project. It can seem measly but if I get a scene sorted, or even just a paragraph written, it’s one more scene or paragraph than I had the day before. Words are just sentences which are paragraphs which are chapters which are books.

Everyone talks far too often about word counts: from people creating their own writing sprint months, to writing sprints with the aim of 500 words at the end, to the big old NanoWriMo where people (and I made this mistake only once) try to write a whopping 50,000 words in a single month. It’s too easy to look at others and see yourself in comparison to how much they can achieve. But we all find our own ways to work; the best thing for us.

Do you set deadlines for yourself?

What do you do if you don’t meet them?

Posted in Charlotte Writes Things

Charlotte Writes Things | The Meat

“The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them.”

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I decided that the best way to talk about my planning process when it comes to writing is to break it into two parts. The previous part, “the skeleton”, focused on getting down the initial framework on my next project. This one is about the bigger details; what I lovingly call “the meat.”

Once I have the basics down – characters, motivations, locations, concepts- I then begin to work my way through the big plot points in the narrative. This step is different pretty much every time because sometimes aspects come to fruition quicker than others. But this is where I plan out any scenes, dialogue between characters, while also keeping things open to happen naturally during writing; it’s remarkable how much my stories evolve in the writing stage from what I first planned out. In the past I’ve posed two options to myself of where a plot twist can go and then something else jumps up while I’m working on it that was completely unexpected but just works so much better than whatever I had in the pipeline.

It’s also often this part of the process I return to when I hit a wall writing. I have to come back here and re-evaluate things and work out which cog in the machine needs replacing with a shiny new piece to get it working again.

Do you plan? If so, what are your tips and tricks? Do you have a particular thing you simply have to do?

 

Posted in Charlotte Writes Things

Charlotte Writes Things | An Introduction

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I’ve wanted to start a series about writing for a while but held back for a multitude of reasons. Among them are niggles like: would anyone actually care? Will I bin it off when I burn myself out for trying to do too much on my blog at once? And will people just roll their eyes thinking that I’m another “book blogger turned writer”? But then I sat back and remembered that I’ve been a writer for longer than I’ve been  book blogger, and I’ve been a reader for longer than I have a writer. And also it’s kind of fundamental to be a reader if you’re going to be a writer. So, anyway, I’ve pushed those thoughts aside and I present to you Charlotte Writes Things (yes, very on brand and took me two seconds to come up with).

A lot of my writing journey has been accidental. By that I mean, a lot of how I’ve grown as a writer, minus the University side of things where I did joint honours in Creative Writing and English Literature, hasn’t been planned. I just wrote stories. Ridiculous ones from a young age, writing them more for me than to be read by anyone else (though there was one time I sold copies of my book to people in primary school for a pound each). I just wrote stories more about myself in certain situations and working out how I would handle them before I moved on to characters that had barely any of me in them; those kind of people I only wished I could be. It was only really when my mother approached me during my A-Levels with a list of universities she’d found that did joint honours Creative Writing that I realised that I could actually bring what I loved into the education sphere, but that I also had the support of a parent in what I wanted to hopefully make some money from in the future.

As I’ve said, my own story is littered with accidents. I was still just writing stories and thrown into uncomfortable writing situations at University where I was expected to write in styles I’d never tried and from briefs that didn’t interest me. It wasn’t until someone I knew told me that I had to read this John Green book called The Fault In Our Stars, and I did, that I discovered that I’d actually been writing Young Adult stories without actually realising. So naturally, I threw myself into everything I could find on those shelves in bookstores, desperate to work my way through everything I had missed out on. I’d mainly just read early teen books and Harry Potter over and over up until this point. It wasn’t until I started reading The Mortal Instruments series in preparation for the film adaptation that I discovered that, not only do I write Young Adult, I also wanted to write fantasy as well. See? Accident after accident.

Some things have obviously been more planned. Such as this blog to try and create a presence online, finding the online YA book community and, while I promise that I do try to write my stories following a plan, I often stray off the path and barely recognise them by the end of it.

So I’m starting a new series and I plan to cover a whole range of topics from planning to drafting, authors that inspire me, and querying as I plan to bite that bullet in 2019. If there’s anything you’d like to see me talk about to do with writing, please let me know!

Here’s to another long writing year!

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The Future

I know that the purpose of this blog it to deliver reviews on books I have read recently (along with the occasional bookish tag) but today I will be taking a different direction, however, for a very good reason.

On Thursday 16th July 2015, I graduated from De Montfort University with a “second class (upper division)” in Creative Writing and English.

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If it isn’t at all obvious from the title of my degree, I really love reading and I really love writing.
When I started University I was struggling with low self confidence and anxiety. I moved to a city, into a flat in halls with four other girls that I didn’t know and I would literally hide in my room watching Glee boxsets while eating copious bowls of cheesy pasta that I had made at 2am to try and avoid them. In classes, I was the stereotypical quiet one – keeping their head down hoping that the teacher wouldn’t pick me.

After the “settling in” period I knew things needed to change, that needed to change and so I began forcing myself to ask people if I could sit next to them in classes. The result was gaining (what would become) two very close best friends, funnily enough, both called Jenny.

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I have always known that I want to be a writer. Going to University helped me learn which genre my strengths lay with and what path to take with my writing: Young Adult Fantasy. I remember in my first year having a chat with one of my teachers and when she asked what my end goal was and when I said being a writer she said “then you’ve already achieved your dream” when I asked her, rather confused, what she meant she said “if you write, then you are a writer. What you want to be is an author.” This teacher in particular helped me gain the confidence to say that I am a writer and to not be ashamed of it as I had felt so much in the past. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who thought the same way as me. They were willing to have intense debates, listen to and understand opinions even if they didn’t agree with them. Being surrounded by fellow writers made me feel confident because all of them had experienced negativity from family and peers over wanting to pursue a career in some aspect of writing. They listened to my ideas for novels, encouraged me, and even made suggestions.

I was able to unapologetically be myself.
When I started coming out to people as bisexual, and when I told what would become my friendship group, I was shocked to discover that not only did it not bother them, but being heterosexual was actually the minority.

In my second year I really pushed myself to experience more from university life. I joined the Creative Writing society, run by Corey who would become a lifelong best friend. I went on nights out and tried to push myself to see how long I could stay out. The result? I eventually met my boyfriend in this society.. on a night out.

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Whether I had highs or really bad lows, it didn’t matter as much anymore (well it did a little) because I had that support network I didn’t have before. For one of the first times in my life I now have people I can turn to if needed and they won’t project their own issues on me when I confide in them.

Third year was must tougher as I had a Creative Writing portfolio (dissertation) to work on. I am now turning the piece I submitted into a novel.

Also I now have a very expensive piece of paper showing the world that I am now a good writer. So I can stick a finger up to anyone who’s negative to me.

I am now constantly bombarded with questions about the future… my future. For now, I will continue working on my novel so that it is good enough to be published. I will also continue providing review for you lovely readers. The long term plan? Write novels and work for Bloomsbury.

My intention with this post was to not only to share a special day but to show anyone out there who has doubts about what they want to do, that it is possible. You just need to work hard!

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For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

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For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

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Going Nowhere

Blurb: “Life has changed since university. Robert, Louisa and Jim’s careers are going nowhere. Yet when the three friends are brought together once more, their past regrets will lead them on a trip of ambition, recognition and revenge. Evan Hargreaves is dead. Faced with a new appreciation of their own mortality, the former-classmates embark on an impromptu getaway. But what starts as a simple writer’s retreat to the Sunshine State quickly goes awry.”

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While the purpose of this blog is to deliver book reviews, this time I’m going to be sharing something a little different. I am a third year Creative Writing student and sadly in a few months I’ll be entering the  “real world.” For one of my final projects, we had to produce a publication with the end goal being to sell it to the general public at the big Independent publisher fair which happens every year in Leicester.

I had the honor of working with friends (and super talented writers) Thomas Arthur and Corey Bedford.I couldn’t have picked better people to work on this project with and I’m truly grateful that I had these guys around for when I was on the verge of crying over how much work we had to put into this. But it was so worth it.

People often tell me that I’ll never make a lot of money from being a writer. This is something I accepted long ago. That was never my end goal when it came to writing. I just wanted to write. For me, it’s holding the final product in your hands. Getting to hold “Going Nowhere” after the months of planning, writing and editing was a feeling that I truly cannot put into words.

We have to present them at a showcase at the festival this weekend and hopefully sell all of our copies as it was only a small print run. I’m very proud of this piece because it wasn’t Young Adult, so I had to branch out and even write some poetry (which Corey will know better than anyone how much I struggle with).

It’s been a wonderful adventure and while I’m a little bit sad that it’s over.

On to more writing projects!

– Charlotte

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