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Guest Post with Kristy Fairlamb


Today, I'm bringing you another guest post from an author! Kristy Fairlamb stopped by to talk about her top tips for writing and her writing process. Her novel, Lucid, recently came out. If you're interested in learning more or picking it up, check out my Indiebound link! (Affiliate Link).


Eight tips for writing a novel: Based on my vague understanding of the process after winging it and completing three manuscripts. 
My first book, Lucid, has just been published, the sequel, Luminous, is mid-edits and the third, a standalone, is at the 2nddraft stage waiting until I’ve finished with the others. 

ONE:JUST WRITE
I went to a writing class once and sat beside a lady who told me it was the sixth session she had attended. I asked what she was working on, she said nothing yet, she’s learning first.
I didn’t know how to write when I first started writing. I believe the best learning came after I’d written the first draft when I learnt everything I’d done wrong.
Don’t wait to write until you’ve learnt how to write. It doesn’t work like that. The learning comes with the writing, and the rewriting, and the editing. Just write. 
TWO:PLAN
Okay, so this might not suit everyone, but I need to know what I’m writing to be able to put words on a page. It doesn’t ruin the fun for me because I’ll still happily let my story go off course if it needs to. 
I use a kind of snowflake method when I’m planning. You can read more about that here: https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/Basically I start with one sentence which is generally the spark of an idea, and gradually expand on this. Over a few weeks I get to know the characters, their back story, their strengths and weaknesses, and weave this into the plot until I’ve got an almost scene by scene outline of the story. But I usually get about ¾ of the way through my detailed plan before I just want to write. And when I can no longer hold back, I begin.
THREE:WRITE FAST, EDIT SLOW 
I like to get the first draft down on the page as quick as possible. My first book took the longest because I took my time to learn what I was doing, but this process has gotten easier with each manuscript. The 3rdmanuscript took me about 45 days. The length of time will vary for everyone, and one person’s fast is another person’s slow. The important part about the ‘writing fast’, is the way it becomes all consuming when all you’re doing is writing without stopping. (Eating, sleeping and toilet stops are permitted). The goal here is to get that first draft down.  
Editing takes me much longer.
FOUR:READ YOUR WORDS, KNOW YOUR DIRECTION
During the writing stage I get up at 5am in the morning to get a chunk out the way before the kids are up. In order for me to write while I’m still waking up, and I swear some mornings I’m still half asleep when I start tapping on the keys, I need to know where my story’s going. It helps me to re-read what I’ve written during the day, before I go to bed. It’s usually between 1500 and 4000 words. I avoid editing the words while I’m doing this, but I do allow myself to make tiny changes if they can be made quickly. I try not to focus on how bad some of the writing is at this point. It’s allowed to be bad, it’s the first draft. 
Before I go to bed, I work out what’s happening next in my story; who’s in the scene, what they’re doing, what needs to happen. The worst writing mornings for me are when I don’t know the direction of the story. One of the tricks I use to avoid this is by leaving my writing mid-scene, ready to keep going first thing.
FIVE:LET IT REST
When I’ve finished the first draft, I put it aside. I take a big breath, celebrate a little and rest. And the house usually needs a clean at this point from all the neglect. 
I come back and read the story with rested eyes, but most importantly distance. At least 3 weeks, more if I can resist. And I read it on my phone.
Because I read a lot of novels on my phone it tricks my brain into thinking it’s a real novel, ha. At this point I try to enjoy it for the story, but with a notebook on hand to jot down any big plot, story, character, and pacing issues. 
SIX:BIG EDIT BEFORE SMALL
I go back through and fix all the big issues I noticed; plot inconsistencies, changing the order of scenes around, and then I work on the finer things; character development, adding detail where needed, slowing scenes down.
Then I work on the words; the sentences, adding more action and detail with the dialogue, and removing some of my crutch words like ‘was’ and ‘that’.  
SEVEN:DON’T SHARE TOO SOON
It’s never a good idea to share your story too soon. My suggestion is to wait until you’ve done at least a round of self-edits, because that way your readers are getting a better story and you’ve had a chance to make the story what you want before getting outside opinions. Once my story has had an edit or two, I ask a few close family, friends and/or a valued writer friend to read my story. The best way to improve your story is to get fresh eyes on your work. 
EIGHT:EDIT, RINSE, REPEAT
This part is very different for each person and has even been different for each of my manuscripts because my writing has evolved and improved. All I can say is you’ll know when you’ve played with it enough, because eventually there’s no more you can do on your own. Just don’t query it so soon that your story isn’t as good as it can possibly be on your own, but also don’t hold onto it forever and risk never being seen or discovered by your potential publisher. Be scared, be nervous, put it all on the line.  
______________
These are my tips from what I’ve learnt over my years of writing. They are by no means the answer for everyone, because sometimes the best way is simply your way. In the end it doesn’t matter how you get there, just that you make it to The End. Good luck!

If You Liked This Post...
Guest Post with Claire Bartlett: Here
Links Of Interest:
Heroine:  Review Here
Beyond High School Book List:  Here
Into YA with L.D. Crichton: Here
All Our Broken Pieces: Review Here

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