Monthly Archives: November 2018

How to write a book in 30 days: 8 key tips

Annual writing sprints like NaNoWriMo have many experienced and new authors alike testing their limits. Writing a book – a carefully, beautifully constructed book – does take time. Usually, much longer than 30 days. Yet trying this exercise is useful for building discipline, focus and just getting the first draft done. Here are 8 tips to help:

1: Set attainable goals

When someone asks ‘how do I write a book in x days?’ Writers’ reactions are sometimes discouraging. ‘Never write a book with a deadline as small as 30 days!’ Says one Quora user. Reasons you shouldn’t attempt to write a book in such a small time-frame include:

  • Being limited by time constraints could result in low quality writing
  • Producing a first draft may be possible within 30 days but you also need time to revise and edit
  • Burnout is possible if you don’t take sufficient breaks

These are all valid concerns. To work out it you can finish your novel in 30 days:

    1. Calculate how many words you write per minute: Use a free words-per-minute checker such as Typing Speed Test.
    2. Keeping in mind that you will also need to pause from time to time to think what happens next, halve your word count per minute. If you can type as fast as 60 wpm, take 30 as your base rate.
    3. Work out how many words you write per hour: If you can write 30 per minute, you can write approximately 1800 words per hour (assuming you don’t stop to edit or rest). Factor in resting time for a more conservative estimate (e.g. 1000 words).
    4. Work out how many hours you will have to write each day on average over the next 30. If you write 1000 words of draft per hour on a good day, an 80, 000 word novel should take 80 hours of writing to complete.
    5. Eighty hours of writing over 30 days would mean spending an average of 2.6 hours of writing per day. This is a lot when you have other commitments.
    6. Based on the amount of time you have available to write each day, adjust the length of your first draft until you have a word count you can achieve. You can always expand during subsequent drafts. Or write your first draft as a brief, novella version.

If this seems like an impossible task, give yourself more days. Or write some scenes in summary form. You can add connective tissue between plot events (such as scene transitions) later.

2: Set a realistic daily word count target

You might say to yourself ‘I can write for an hour each day, easily.’ The truth is that surprises, last minute obligations and life in general can hijack your writing time. For every hour of free time you have, bank on getting half an hour of that to write.

Start thinking about how you can make your word target attainable:

  • Cut down time taken up by other tasks: Make simpler, quicker meals, for example, and watch less TV – it’s only a temporary sacrifice)
  • Ask for help: Rally friends and family who are willing to help you chase your goal (for example, grandparents willing to babysit if you’re juggling telling your story with parenting)

Once you know exactly which hours you have free, block them out in a calendar. Use a colour that separates them clearly from other events and obligations. Draw an ‘X’ through each day once you’ve reached your word target. The satisfaction of this action (the sense of completion) will keep you motivated to continue.

3: Reserve time for each part of the writing process

The different parts of writing a novel require different types of problem-solving. Sketching characters, for example, is more imagination-dependent, while editing is a somewhat more rational (though still creative) process. [You can create full character profiles in preparation using the step-by-step prompts in Now Novel’s story dashboard.]

When seeing if you can learn how to write a book in 30 days, being structured is key. Divide each writing session into different tasks. Complete different sections of outlining or drafting simultaneously. This keeps the process varied and diminishes chances of getting stuck.

If, for example, you prefer writing dialogue to introducing scenes and settings, leave your favourite part of the storytelling process for the end of each session. This makes your favourite part a reward that you work towards every time you sit down to write.

Writing a book in 30 days - Infographic | Now Novel

4: Maintain a motivating reward scheme

Create a reward scheme for yourself to keep yourself motivated. Big gyms and insurance policies take this approach to keeping members active. Because they understand motivation, how reward-driven we are. Maximize your commitment to your story (and your word count targets) by:

  • Scheduling short breaks as micro rewards for reaching small targets such as completing scenes
  • Scheduling greater ‘bonus’ rewards for milestone achievements such as completing chapters

Rewards don’t have to be expensive, overly indulgent or distracting. Take a walk somewhere inspiring or beautiful, read a few pages from a favourite book or grab a coffee with a close friend. Make your rewards relaxing activities that will help you return to the track renewed and focused.

One crucial piece of advice on how to write a book in 30 days:

5: Make it a game to avoid unnecessary pressure

If you’ve ever watched competitive reality TV, you might have seen cases where the most competitive and committed participant cracked early under pressure. Placing too much pressure on yourself is a fast track to burnout.

Instead, treat writing a book in 30 days as an impossible goal that you’ll see whether you can reach, playfully. It’s crucial that this time is fun and varied. Some ways to make it a game:

  • Enlist a friend to join in the challenge: You can have your own NaNoWriMo any time of year
  • Create engaging prompts for yourself: Instead of saying ‘In this scene, the villain will discover a secret that sets him back’, tell yourself ‘Imagine a villain has just been informed of a development that ruins his plans. What does he discover? How does he react? Write 500 words’
  • Find an inspiring picture via Google images that captures the mood or tone you want a scene to create: Let images (or music) inspire you as you write

Try to write as freely as possible to maximize your speed:

Quote on writing - EB White | Now Novel

 6: How to write a book in 30 days: ‘Write drunk’

The quote ‘Write drunk; edit sober’ is often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, though it’s not clear whether Hemingway actually said this. Regardless of who said it, the quote does say something true about writing. It’s not that you should write drunk literally. But you should give yourself the freedom to write with that same uncontrolled giddiness. Before you get to editing.

A big part of how to write a novel in 30 days is letting go of complete control. Let the sober editor in you control when the time comes for that. The writing part should involve as little critical interference as possible, if you want to draft fast.

Some ways to ‘write drunk’:

  1. Make the font colour of your word processor match the background. Only highlight and change the font colour back when you reach your target word count. This will prevent you from focusing too much on what you’ve just said as you can’t edit until you reach a point of pause.
  2. Give yourself licence to be bad. Write terribly. Use clichés at every turn. Do this with the understanding that once you have the full draft and you’ve met your targets, you can go through and fix whatever you like.
  3. Leap in anywhere: Just because your novel tells a linear story doesn’t mean you have to be linear in your approach. If you’ve written the start of a scene, skip to the ending if you have an idea where it will go. Put in simple notes for whatever you’ll add later.

On the subject of speeding up, use shorthand in places to keep up your momentum:

7: Cheat and use shorthand

If you’re trying to write a novel in 30 days, you’ll likely only have time to fill in essential details of character, setting and the most important events of a scene. To keep going at all costs:

  • Fill in names of characters, places and other nouns with generic words and agonize over the right choice later (e.g. ‘[Character Y: Add character name meaning stubborn/headstrong here]’)
  • Reduce connecting sequences to basic elements. Instead of describing in detail how the party escapes the collapsing building, write ‘[Party manages to escape collapsing building; minus characters X and Y’]
  • Keep filling in these blanks for moments when you are tired and you need a quick, small win

8: Remember that progress never counts as failure

What people don’t always tell you when you ask how to write a novel in 30 days is that the most important part of this challenge is committing to it and trying.

Determination and dedication will help you make progress. If, by the end of the 30 days, you don’t have a continuous, polished first draft, congratulate yourself for the progress you have made. You have a sturdy skeleton for a book you can turn into a better read.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo or simply trying to get through your draft, try to write an 800 word extract every day for a week in the note-keeping section on Now Novel. That’s 5600 words further if you succeed.

Source: nownovel.com

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Inspiration for Writers: Hunt It Down!

Not many writers lounge in an ivy-covered tower pouring out inspired words – that’s unrealistic. Many successful writers still keep a day job, most out of necessity, some out of choice. How inspired would you feel if you sat in an ivy-covered tower all day? Seasoned writers say that, since few books make much money, the key to earning a living as a writer is to write a lot of books. Not to wait for inspiration.

A real-world example: professional songwriters don’t sit on a large rock with their lute or flute, watching the sheep and waiting for inspiration. Songwriting is a joy, true, but for them, it’s also a job. Every major music publisher pays a team of contracted staff writers. Particularly in Nashville, country songwriters get a monthly salary to come to the office every day (to a literal office) and write their quota of songs.

Legendary songwriter Carole King described that sort of life, which she experienced in New York’s ‘Brill Building’ in the 1960s:

“Every day we squeezed into our respective cubby holes with just enough room for a piano, a bench, and maybe a chair for the lyricist if you were lucky. You’d sit there and write and you could hear someone in the next cubbyhole composing a song exactly like yours.”

When inspiration flees

What if a staff songwriter doesn’t feel like writing? What if they feel like not writing? What do they do when circumstances conspire against inspiration?

That’s what happened to Albert Askew Beach (1924-1997). As I remember the story from Reader’s Digest Treasury of Beloved Songs, one night Mr. Beach was sitting at his piano trying to come up with new English lyrics for Charles Trenet’s song “Que reste-t-il de nos amours?” about the end of a love affair

Unfortunately, next door a love affair really was ending, judging from the noises coming from the neighboring apartment, as the soon-to-be-former couple angrily and loudly pronounced curses upon each other. In the 1950s, angry, loud love songs were not yet a thing and Beach wasn’t making much progress on his lyrics. (The angry neighbors probably didn’t much appreciate the romantic piano accompaniment either.)

Then Beach had an bright idea, out of necessity, his publisher’s quota, and his need for grocery money. What if he turned every curse he heard into a blessing? So when the neighbors shouted at each other, “Leave! I don’t care. I hope you freeze to death!” Beach wrote,

I wish you shelter from the storm
A cozy fire to keep you warm

The resulting song, known as “I Wish You Love,” became a standard, a classic in its day.

Inspiration by twisting

If you need to turn an overworked idea into something fresh, like Albert Askew Beach, try twisting it and reversing it. For example, all romantic comedies have the same basic plot: ‘Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl.’ But what if the boy never manages to meet the girl? What if he tries to lose her but can’t? What if she is not a girl but a ghost? (“Your wife’s family lives in the old mansion on the hill? Why, that’s impossible. Nobody has lived there for a hundred years…”)

J.K. Rowling turned a twist into a hit. By the 1990s it was hard to imagine what could happen in a British boarding school that hadn’t already happened in the hundreds of novels set in one. Then she asked herself, “Okay, what if I set my novel in a British boarding school for wizards?” Try it: it might sell. (Spoiler: it did sell – 400 million copies including sequels – it was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but now that fresh idea has been taken so you need to come up with your own.)

Adding a twist lets you borrow inspiration without stealing it or plagiarizing. Neal Gaiman didn’t say, “Let’s pretend I’m Rudyard Kipling and rewrite The Jungle Book.” Instead, he wrote The Graveyard Book, adding a twist to the same 1894 premise (ghosts instead of animals), and won the Newbery Medal, the Carnegie Medal, the Hugo Award, and the Locus Award.

Inspiration through diversifying

James A. Michener became a successful novelist only later in life – he published his first book at age 40. He didn’t ascribe his success to any careful plan, but to a wide variety of seemingly random experiences, saying, “I have worked all my life, never very seriously and never with any long-term purpose.” While still in his teens, he hitchhiked and hopped freight trains from Canada almost to Florida (45 states), and eventually visited nearly every country in the world. (A change of scenery often brings inspiration, but no, you don’t need to visit every country in the world.) In his early life, Michener was a chestnut vendor, a private detective in an amusement park, a night watchman in a hotel, a graduate student in Scotland, a high school English teacher, a social studies editor, and a naval historian in the South Pacific. He won a Pulitzer Prize for writing South Pacific.

Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Seuss Geisel, was first known as the creator of the line “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” then as the writer and illustrator of children’s books such as The Cat in the Hat. He was less known for the hundreds of hats he collected over 60 years, everything from an Italian colonel’s hat to a plastic Viking helmet. Whenever he needed a fresh perspective, he could put on a hat. The hat collection itself probably inspired his book The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

Even small changes can give you inspiration. You can find inspiration tools online that suggest and combine words in new ways, even offering first lines, writing prompts, and story starters.

By Michael
Source: dailywritingtips.com

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Publishing Trends: Tropes Readers Adore Across 15 Fiction Genres

Whether you’re looking to write to market or are scouring manuscript submissions for your next acquisition, knowing what tropes appeal to readers can help inform your decision. We see different trends in different categories. And studying these trends, especially those that have been selling well recently, will help you learn what content can best engage your audience.

To help you get a sense of what’s currently engaging BookBub members, we’re showcasing two trending tropes across each of 15 different categories, along with examples of books that performed well for each trope. These trends and examples are based on our internal engagement data from the past few months as well as our editors’ research. Note that our readers’ tastes change over time, and these are the tropes that are currently trending!

Special thanks to BookBub’s editors for contributing their expertise and trope summaries below!

Crime Fiction Trends

Missing persons

When a person vanishes, they leave dozens of questions in their wake: not just how and why the incident occurred, but sometimes even whether the disappearance was a crime at all. And our readers are loving a good twist right now!

Crime Fiction Trends - Missing Persons

Cold cases

Our puzzle-loving readers enjoy books that reopen a cold case — a crime that’s lain dormant for years, sometimes decades — from a fresh angle, where someone finally finds the tools needed to crack it.

Crime Fiction - Cold Cases

Historical Romance Trends

Marriages of convenience

In historical romances, readers love when heroines must wed the hero for reasons beyond their control, or marry for anything but love — only to find themselves falling head over heels!

Historical Romance - Marriages of Convenience

Heroes with titles

Dukes might have been few and far between in actual 19th century England, but in historical romance they’re thick on the ground, and our readers have been loving them as heroes lately — along with earls and marquesses.

Historical Romance - Heroes with Titles

Middle Grade Trends

Fantasy

There’s nothing better than magic with a good dose of whimsy. Middle Grade fantasy often strikes a great balance between the quintessential magical elements our readers love and an inviting tone that appeals to all ages.

Middle Grade Trends - Fantasy

Mystery

Drawing from classic series like Nancy Drew and The Boxcar Children, contemporary middle grade mysteries combine sleuthing with charm for low-stakes puzzles that are fun, exciting, and stress-free.

Middle Grade Trends - Mystery

Teen & YA Trends

Contemporary about real world issues

We’ve seen our YA readers turning to books about real-world issues recently, like abuse, suicide, and mental illness, as they explore tough topics through emotional reads.

Teen & YA Trends - Contemporary about real world issues

Fairy tale retellings

There’s nothing more satisfying than a new twist on an old favorite. Fairy tale retellings deliver a wonderful mix of familiarity and surprise as they approach the classic happily ever after from a different angle.

Teen & YA Trends - Fairy tale retellings

Literary Fiction Trends

Small towns

Literary fiction often helps us reflect on how we as individuals belong in a community. Small towns — where everyone’s business is inescapable — are the perfect settings for exploring the divides between personal ambition, duty, and home.

Literary Fiction Trends - Small Towns

Family sagas

The best literary fiction also helps us understand our relationships with those closest to us. Family sagas allow us to see how characters’ most intimate ties change over time, often underlining the sentiment that you can never truly go home again.

Literary Fiction Trends - Family Sagas

Science Fiction Trends

Box sets

Science fiction stories span galaxies and centuries — and more often than not, several volumes in a series. Our sci-fi readers love good deals that let them visit and stay awhile in worlds beyond our own.

Science Fiction Trends - Box Sets

Artificial intelligence

Great science fiction paints a picture of the future that shines a light on the present. Artificial intelligence has been a particularly strong frame for exploring current questions of consciousness, labor, and identity.

Science Fiction Trends - Artificial intelligence

Fantasy Trends

Epic fantasy

Our epic fantasy readers like to be swept up in vivid secondary worlds and love tales with high stakes, magic, and intrigue.

Fantasy Trends - Epic Fantasy

Fairy tale retellings

Fairy tale retellings breathe new life into classic fairy tales and myths, offering either lush reweavings of established storylines or new takes on familiar tropes.

Fantasy Trends - Fairy tale retellings

Paranormal Romance Trends

Sci-fi content

Our paranormal romance readers enjoy sci-fi romance tropes, particularly a steamier plot featuring a sexy, alpha alien looking for a human mate.

Paranormal Romance Trends - Sci-Fi

Fated mates

In the supernatural world, sometimes destiny delivers one’s soulmate, igniting an unfathomable, intense connection. Fated mates is one of our paranormal romance readers’ favorite tropes right now.

Paranormal Romance Trends - Fated Mates

Erotic Romance Trends

Billionaires

Sure, you’re probably thinking about Christian Grey from Fifty Shades, but he’s not the only brooding billionaire out there. What woman doesn’t want a wealthy man who can offer her everything her heart desires?

Erotic Romance Trends - Billionaires

Ménage

Right now our erotic romance readers are loving ménage romance and all the tension and pleasure that comes from adding another person in the bedroom.

Erotic Romance Trends - Ménage

Action & Adventure Trends

Military fiction

In military fiction, protagonists will likely have a degree of experience in the combat and survival departments, so the book’s action sequences will reflect that expertise.

Action & Adventure Trends - Military fiction

Ancient secrets, codes, and hidden treasure

Given the gargantuan popularity of stories like National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code, it’s no surprise that our action and adventure readers are big fans of books featuring historical clues, hidden treasures, and puzzle elements.

Action & Adventure Trends - Ancient secrets, codes, and hidden treasure

Cozy Mysteries Trends

English village mysteries

Our US readers like to visit the pastoral countryside with English village mysteries — think cozy town centers and witty suspects who are questioned over afternoon tea. The inciting murder typically happens off the page and the amateur sleuth is able to tie things up neatly in the end.

Cozy Mysteries Trends - English village mysteries

Bookish mysteries

Bookish cozy mysteries have amateur sleuths with one foot in the world of books — often as bookstore owners, book club members, librarians, or authors — and evoke the charm of a reading ritual or the thrill of researching through dusty tomes.

Cozy Mysteries Trends - Bookish mysteries

LGBT Trends

Queer literary fiction

Queer literary fiction is often bittersweet, with plots involving difficult choices and self-reflection. It captures parts of the queer experience not always covered in romance or other genre fiction.

LGBT Trends - Queer literary fiction

Suspense

In our LGBT category, mystery and thriller plots are popular when they provide a backdrop for a relationship — the central action or investigation creates tension, forcing characters into close quarters and bringing attraction sizzling to the surface.

LGBT Trends - Suspense

Chick Lit Trends

Opposites attract & enemies-to-lovers

An unlikely couple slowly realizing they’re perfect for one another is a tale as old as time. This classic plotline is a perfect fit for those who want a taste of will-they-won’t-they tension.

Chick Lit Trends - Opposites attract & enemies-to-lovers

Food

Whether they’re set in bakeries or centered around an aspiring chef, books brimming with food conjure up warmth and coziness — and are sure to satisfy every appetite.

Chick lit trends - food

Historical Fiction Trends

World War II

The horror, drama, and emotion of World War II have been depicted in countless bestselling books, and it’s no surprise that the time period continues to enthrall BookBub readers.

Historical Fiction Trends - WWII

Early America

Looking at recent performances, we can see that BookBub readers love novels set in early America, which often illuminate the dangerous lure of the unknown, the desire for independence, and the promise of a fresh start.

Historical Fiction Trends - Early America

Thrillers Trends

Memory lapses

Lapses in memory bring an added layer of uncertainty to thrillers, forcing us to question whether we can trust the person at the center of the story (or how much they can trust themselves).

Thriller Trends - Memory Lapses

Children in peril

Thrillers featuring a child in peril have heightened stakes — the helplessness of the victim means greater urgency to defeat whatever’s threatening them. This is a popular trope across many thriller subgenres, from legal thrillers to psychological suspense!

Thriller Trends - Children in Peril

What category trends do you want us to talk about next? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Source: bookbub.com

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