How Art Can Save Your Novel’s Life!

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Hey everyone,

Above is a little sketch I drew about a year ago when The Last Queen of Terrivea was just an idea. The sketch is of the necklace Ophelia wears throughout the book, it’s the one her mother gives to her. Anyway, lets get down to business.

How can art save your novel’s life? Easily, by giving your ideas a physical space in the world. This not only solidifies the image you have in your head, but makes it easier on you when you have to describe said idea in writing.

Having a visual reference is always helpful when it comes to writing your book. Sometimes you can’t find the right reference you need online, so you’ll sketch it out for yourself. This is commonly referred to as concept art. It’s a helpful tool to turn abstract thoughts into concrete creations.

You don’t have to be an artist or good at drawing at all, since these pieces of art are generally only meant for you as a reference. I am going to suggest something to you that I think is really important, not only for sketching concept pieces, but for your writing in general.

Carry a small sketchbook around. Why?

  1. It gives you somewhere to jot down your ideas when they hit you.
  2. It allows creative freedom for notes and sketches, since the paper is not lined.
  3. Keeps your mind active and sharp, which can lead to great brainstorming sessions.
  4. It’s less distracting than electronics when doing brainstorming sessions.
  5. Is portable and easy to jot/sketch at anytime you feel the urge.

You can buy a cheap sketchbook pretty easily, but you can also make one yourself. Pinterest and Youtube have great tutorials for this. Here are a few photos of my most used sketchbooks.

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Your writing probably won’t suffer if you don’t bother sketching or jotting your ideas down. From personal experience, I find that it makes the process of brainstorming a lot easier, whether it translates to your prose or not.

One last tidbit of advice: write down any and every idea that comes to your mind, even if it seems stupid or bad. Just do it. Some of the best ideas sprout from bad seeds.

Thanks for reading!

-Lalia LaRose

P.S: Here’s a list of links for tutorials on how to make sketchbooks:

How Cue Cards Can Be Your Best Friend

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Hey there everyone!

I wanted to talk to you all about something I’ve used to help improve my writing as I’m writing. This trick is pretty simple anyone can use it, plus they can tweak and change it to their needs.

This trick is to use cue cards to remind of important aspects of writing that you need to include. For example, under Story and Plot I have questions like: Are the stakes high enough? or Is the story predictable?

On my ring I have cue cards for Story and Plot, Character, Writing Tools, and Scene. Under each category I have a pile of cue cards with questions and tips about the category. The really nice thing about this is that you can add new tips and questions at any time and easily. You can add new categories or sub-categories to suit your needs.

It’s nice to have these cue cards by your side while your writing so remind yourself of the things that make good writing. You can customize it to target the areas you need the most help on so you can improve your writing. They are meant to be used as a tool to help you get into the habit of asking yourself necessary questions and learning how implement them as you write.

It’s like using flashcards to study. For Writing Tools I used Roy Peter Clark’s book Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. I didn’t write down all 50 writing tools, but I went through and wrote down the ones I know I need to implement. One I particularly like is “Put odd and interesting thins next to each other.”

This cue card technique can be used for just about anything, not just writing. I find that is more compact and easier to use than making check lists on papers to look at. It’s a but more engaging and more fun to make since you can be creative with it. Mine are basic and adjusted for my needs.

It’s simple, yet helpful, tool I wanted to share with you!

Thank you for reading,

-Lalia LaRose

Inspiration, Motivation, and Imagination

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First, lets get some definitions out of the way: (all definitions came from the dictionary app on my MacBook)

  • Inspiration:
    • The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
  • Motivation:
    • The reason(s) one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
    • The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
  • Imagination:
    • The faculty or action of forming new ideas, or image or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.
    • The ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful.

To be completely honest, you only need one of these things to write, and that is imagination. Don’t curse me yet please! Let me explain.

Inspiration and motivation help make the writing process easier and they are quite valuable in a creative line of work. However, they are not pivotal to the writing process. Just stay with me as I make a comparison.

In any regular day job you don’t need a lot of inspiration or motivation to through the end of that day. It’s nice to have motivation, since it makes the day go by easier, but it isn’t necessary.

When it comes to creative jobs and hobbies inspiration and motivation become intertwined. To be motivated one needs to be inspired, or vice versa. This is a pretty natural process, but for some people motivation is hard to come by and inspiration even more so. Other people are lucky and have enough motivation they could hike a mountain. I congratulate those people, but a lot of people are not like that. I, for one, have a hard enough time getting out of bed.

Inspiration is similar to motivation in the fact that there are few people who are inspired consistently. There are not many people I know that are inspired everyday to do something. I will say that I am lucky enough to feel inspiration a few times within a two-week span. Not everyone is that lucky.

Because most people don’t have consistent inspiration and/or motivation we cannot rely on being inspired or motivated to get work done. If I only wrote every time I was inspired and/or motivated my first draft of The Last Queen of Terrivea probably would not be complete. I have a feeling most writers would be in the same boat.

So how do we crank out those words? We just write. We work out our creative muscle, imagination, and start typing. Sometimes this is enough to inspire and/or motivate us to continue writing for a longer period of time. Sometimes not, but we still do our work for the day.

For those of use who are not regularly inspired or motivated there is a piece of advice I can give to increase productivity!

Create a writing schedule that works for YOU! You’ve probably heard this before and you’ve probably tried this before. For some of you it might have worked, and for others it might not have. There are probably a few reasons why it might not have worked for some of you:

  1. You left your schedule too loose.
  2. You made your schedule too strict or tight.
  3. You did not make it realistic or practical (either too high of expectations, or too low)

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I’ve recently made my own schedule and I made sure to keep these points in mind when I made it. There were other factors that I kept in mind when I made my schedule as well. For example, I wanted to keep my weekends open for time with family and friends. So, I made a schedule that fit in the weekdays.

I also did not give myself time restraints for tasks/goals and I gave myself a limit of 5 goals/tasks per day. I did this because I know I can get overwhelmed easily. So having that limit will make it easier for me to actually complete all the tasks I want to get done in a day.

I’ve also started to improve and increase my marketing with social media, and so I included this in my daily tasks, as you can see. You might also notice that I left blank blocks for tasks, I did this for two reasons:

  1. I couldn’t think of anything to put there, so I left it open for future tasks I might want to add.
  2. So I know I can have breaks between my marketing bit and my actual writing time.

I put a lot of thought into making my schedule, because I didn’t want fail myself. I wanted to succeed in my quarterly goals and I wanted to improve my productivity. I am serious about making writing my fulltime career and I need to take these steps to get there. I know this, so I am putting in the time and effort. I may not have been motivated to make my schedule, or inspired to create a beautiful copy of my schedule, but I had the imagination to create a schedule that will work for me and help me reach my goals.

I will mention that these methods might not work for everyone and that’s fine. Everyone has to explore and find what works for them. Everyone is unique and so their approach will also be unique.

Thank you for reading,

Lalia LaRose

 

 

Pseudonym: The Pen Name

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I won’t pretend to know what every writer thinks, but there are a fair few of us that have thought about using a pen name for our writing. If it wasn’t already obvious, Lalia LaRose is a pen name I created for my writing. Why? Well, I’ll tell you.

I chose to use a pen name for a few reasons:

  • My name is boring.
  • I want to put boundaries in my professionalism. I work with children in an educational setting. I don’t want my job or professional life to mix with my writing. Due to some more mature content in my writing I don’t want my employers, students, or the parents of my students passing judgement on me or my professionalism based on my books.
  • I fell in love with the pen name Lalia LaRose, especially since it holds meaning to me.

Authors choose to use pen names for many different reasons and it’s not up to us to say if those reasons are valid or not. In the end it really doesn’t matter why anyone used a pen name anyway. If you are going to use a pen name you’ll need to focus on what it’s going to be.

Note: I am going to use my pen name as an example.

When coming up with a pen name there are a list things you want to keep in mind:

  • How does it sound and look?
  • Does is fit with your writing?
  • Is it the same or similar to the name of someone famous?
  • Do YOU like it? Does it have meaning to you?
  • Would you feel comfortable signing the pen name on documents or on your book?
  • Would you like being called this name on a regular basis?

There is a lot to think about when it comes to creating your pen name. When it came to creating my pen name it wasn’t something I spent days developing. I knew I wanted to use a pen name and I came up with a few ideas, but never delved on it too much. Every once in a while I would brainstorm some more names, but none stood out or seemed to fit with my writing. So I continued writing and occasionally write down some more ideas.

The one thing that all my ideas had in common was the name of my great great Grandmother, Eulalie Durand. I’ve use the first and last name of my relative many different ways and combined it with aspects of my name or of family names that I liked. Eulalie Dawn was my favourite for some time, but it was missing something so I never committed.

When I was researching pseudonyms of famous authors I noticed that it was not uncommon for the authors to use alliteration in their pen names. Example: Cassandra Clare. So I started fiddling around with sound. On my grandma’s side came the surname of LaRose, which I loved. Eulalie LaRose was an option, but seem too much. So I went online to find shorter variants of Eulalie. Eulalie became Eulalia, which was then shortened to Lalia. Lalia LaRose just sounded good to me and personified my writing.

What I’m trying to say here is take your time. It might take a long time for you to find the pen name that fits for you. Don’t rush and don’t settle for anything that isn’t quite right. Be picky, ask friends for their thoughts. You have to love it enough to attach it to your writing. It should be who you are and what you want to represent.

There is one question you need to keep asking yourself throughout this process: Do I really need or want to use a pen name? It’s your decision whether you want to use your real name or a fake name for your writing, but you need to make that decision. For some people it’s an easy decision, for others it’s not. There are authors who use pen name for certain books/genres and their real name for other books/genres. It’s all personal preference.

Final Important Note: You’re NOT a fake or hiding if you use a pen name.

 

Thank you for reading,

Lalia LaRose

 

 

The Ugly Truth of Outlining Your Novel

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Hey guys, I’m back! Sorry for the long wait.

Outlining. Some people dread this process, even to the point where they skip it. These are the pantsers. Some people love the process and these people are usually the plotters or planners. And some people, like myself, enjoy it to an extent.

When it comes to outlining your novel there is one ugly truth you NEED to know. There is no one way to outline. Believe me I’ve done the research. There are hundreds of different outlining structures and strategies. You can read outlining advice until your brain explodes and it might never help you. Why? Because I believe everyone has their own unique process.

Some people don’t write down the outline, but keep their plot points in their heads. Now are these pantsers or plotters? Who cares! Some people, like myself, like to start writing with a general direction and then once they get into the story more, then make an outline. Some people make super detailed outlines and never make changes to it. Others change their outline constantly. How I outline will not be the same process of how you outline. And that’s the beauty in it.

When you look for outlining advice remember to always allow yourself some freedom too. You are allowed to make changes to the process to best fit your and your novels needs and wants. Let me hit you with another ugly truth. Every novel you write might need a different outlining process! What worked for your first novel, might not work for your second novel. Sorry.

If you’re anything like me, you keep things simple. I tend to write down important plot points only. I repeatedly look at them and try to find ways to make the outline better. Sometimes that means moving plot points around. Sometimes it means changing them, or deleting them. I also tend to make separate outlines for each subplot and then create a master outline with all the plot points listed in chronological order (even though sometimes that order changes as I said.) I always try and remember to see the cause and effect relationship between my plot points. I ask myself ‘why?’ and ‘what if?’ all the time. This way I feel like I’m alway improving my ideas.

The only real advice I can give on outlining your novel is to find what works best for you and your novel. But always be open to try new things. Sometimes that’s how you find your new process.

Thanks for reading,

Lalia LaRose

Write About What You Know and Research What You Don’t Know

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As beginners we hear the phrase: “Write about what you know” a lot. And I mean a lot. But what does that even mean? Well, I’ll tell you. It means that you need to know about something before you write about it. It’s meant to deter beginners from writing something they know nothing about. Why? So they don’t embarrass themselves. Imagine a writer whose whole book revolves around a volcanic explosion, but they didn’t know anything about explosions, so they just winged it. This will get a writer into a lot of trouble.

The phrase “write about what you know” isn’t the most constructive way to explain what we want young writers to do. It sounds like we want writers to just write what they already know. What we really want is writers to have knowledge about what they’re writing, before they write it. If they have knowledge about what they’re writing it will create a more authentic experience for readers.

If a writer already has knowledge on their topic of choice, they’re on the right track (however I will never discourage more research). If a writer DOESN’T have knowledge on their desired topic, then they need to hit the books. Always research the topic you want to write about, especially when you have no knowledge or experience with that topic. Let’s go back to the volcano example. What that writer should have done was research volcanoes, before writing the book.

Here’s a short list of information he should have gathered:

  • Where are active volcanoes on earth?
  • Why do they form there?
  • How are volcanoes made?
  • What is the difference between active and dormant volcanoes?
  • What are the dangers of being near an active volcano?
  • What can trigger a volcano to erupt?
  • What kind of volcano is it?
  • And so on…

When we research topics for books we need to be careful where we get our information and how we use it. I will go into more detail when I make a post on Research, but for now let me give everyone a piece of advise. Go to the library. The internet is full of unreliable sources cough Wikipedia cough. However, published books on topics like volcanoes are usually based off of real research and reference their sources. Also look for academic articles on the internet. Whenever you are looking at a source, check if they have references, then check the references. Follow the trail to make sure the source you’re using has strong sources of their own.

So to sum up: Always research what you want to write about, even if it is fictional.

Thanks for reading,

-Lalia LaRose

Writing: What You Like vs. What Readers Like

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Should we write what we would like to read?

Should we write what we like to write?

Should we write what other readers like?

To this I answer yes and no.

When writing any story you need to keep all three of these concerns in mind. First thing you need is an idea and story you are invested in. You have to like your own story if you’re going to write it. However, this story is not just for you, it’s for readers. As a reader, would you like your story? This is also important when writing. If you don’t like it as a reader, then you might need to make some changes. Because if you don’t like, other readers won’t like it.

We all want readers to enjoy our work, but this should not have too much sway on what we write. Yes, we want to write it in a way that is entertaining. Yes, we want to write it with enough skill that it is easy to read. But don’t write it solely based on a trend or on what your friends want you to write.

Especially don’t write because of a trend! When I was writing as a teenager the world around me was captivated my the Twilight Saga. Vampires were in. I thought that perhaps that what I should write about, because it was popular and I was not. So I had the question: It is better to write something original or to try and follow a trend? I emailed my question to one of my favourite authors Libba Bray. When she wrote me back, this is what she basically said.

Trends come and go. Always write the story that you need to tell. 

This is what I want you all to remember. A story should be a piece of your heart and soul. It should burn inside of you like a bright flame. It’s something you have to write. It should be something that compels you to write until the wee hours of the morning. It should be something that keeps you awake at night playing inside your head. It has to be worth writing.

Thank you for reading,

-Lalia LaRose