Today I’d like to welcome psychological suspense author Maggie James to the blog. Maggie is the author of four novels and is about to publish a book helping people to write their first novel. Write Your Novel! will be published on the 1st July.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been told before you began writing?
I wish I’d been aware that being a novelist involves much more than writing books. I hadn’t a clue about marketing, running promotions or maintaining a website and social media presence. Not that I don’t enjoy those things – I do, very much – but I overlooked how much time they take. If only someone had warned me, I’d have been better prepared. It’s easy to be wise after the event!
What was it that you wrote that made you think ‘I could be good at this’?
That thought cropped up after I published my first (and very short!) piece of fanfiction online. For decades I’d not allowed anyone to read anything I’d written, so I was nervous about uploading it. To my delight, by the next morning I’d received a few favourable reviews. The confidence boost they gave me was incredible. I wrote and posted longer fanfiction stories, which continued to attract good reviews. After a few months, I felt confident enough to tackle a novel. I’ll always be grateful to fanfiction for the boost it gave my writing career. Continue reading
I thought I might share with you a piece of advice that really helped me with the book I am currently working on. In fact, it changed my whole outlook on the process and the structure of writing. It’s called writing from the middle, or the Mirror Moment. The Mirror Moment is the one scene, slap-bang in the middle of a story, where the main character looks in the mirror (metaphorically speaking) and understands that the odds are so stacked against him that he has virtually nowhere to go. He faces certain death, either literally, professionally or psychologically. What does this reveal? What are its hidden depths? The Mirror Moment is like the earth’s core. Once you know what the Mirror Moment is, you will then know the transformation and pre-story psychology of your main character. Continue reading
– ‘Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: Fool! Said my muse to me, look in thy heart and write.’ – Philip Sidney
It’s Monday morning, it’s raining, it’s cold, and I’m sitting at my desk with a blank screen on my PC and a blank look on my face. I wait in vain for inspiration to come and grab me by the… imagination. Where is my muse when I need him the most? Probably sitting on a beach somewhere, topping up his suntan and watching the world go by while I sit here abandoned and all alone.
So what to do on those days when you’re struggling to write anything at all? Perhaps this piece of advice from Dorothea Brande might help. First off, try getting up a little earlier than normal and begin writing as soon as possible. Don’t talk, don’t read anything, just write down the first thing that comes into your head. It might be last night’s dream, or perhaps a conversation from yesterday, but get it down on paper. Write rapidly and without giving any attention to the value of what you are writing. This is a training exercise in writing in the twilight zone between sleep and the full waking state. Forget that you have any critical facility. The unconscious mind is in the ascendant, so leave it free to rise. Continue reading