Skip to main content

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Queen of Geek Review

Queen of Geek by Jen Wilde
Overview: Charlie is a famous You Tuber whose indie film has exploded in popularity. It's landed her at SupaCon in San Diego with two of her best friends. While there, Taylor and Jamie try to find a way for Taylor to meet her favorite author, and Charlie has to do tons of press with her exboyfriend. Luckily, though, the magic of the con brings them all some good luck and memorable moments. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Charlie is so much fun. She's confident, has pink hair, and is full of life. She has some interesting commentary on being famous and also on how fandom works when people ship actors together in real life.
Taylor has anxiety and is on the autism spectrum. She's the biggest fan of the Firestone series, but winning the contests to meet the author requires her to step way outside of her comfort zone. With Jamie by her side, she reclaims a lot of confidence and makes the con her own.

Plot: 4 If you love books about celebrity and cons, you'…

More Than Maybe Review

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn (May 2020)
Overview: Vada works at a dive bar, scraping together money for college and learning about running from a show her soon to be step-dad to get closer to her future dreams. She also runs the Loud Lizard's successful music blog Behind the Music. Vada is about to head off to LA and start working towards her music journalism dreams, but she has to make it through senior year first. Luke Greenly is the son of famous British punk rocker, Charlie Greenly. The whole family has set down roots in Michigan where his mom works at the university, but remnants of his dad's past life still follow them. Luke loves writing songs but hates performing, and, because of his dad, he's been thrust into the spotlight more than he'd like. For now, he'd rather stick to making successful podcast The Grass Is Greenly with his twin brother, Cullen, and hopelessly pining after Vada through stalking Behind the Music. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Vada is a charact…

Izzy and Tristan Review

Izzy + Tristan by. Shannon Dunlap (324 pages)
Overview: Izzy and Tristan have a love story. When Izzy's family renovates a moves into a new house on a Brooklyn block their lives change. Her twin brother Hull almost immediately gets into a fight, pulling a knife on some neighborhood kids after a gambling chess match goes wrong. Izzy falls for Tristan, the boy who won Hull's match. With Hull away at a rehabilitation center, Izzy and Tristan are free to fall for each other until Marcus decides that he wants to take revenge on Hull by dating his sister. And even when that battle is overcome, police brutality draws a permanent line between the couple. Overall: 2

*Okay, I'm not really sure how to write a spoiler free review of this because the shocker ending is what I take the most issue with. I'll keep it spoiler free in the characters and plot section, but I will talk about the ending in the writing section. I still recommend you read it, even if you plan on reading the boo…

Reflecting on 2019 and the Decade

"It was the end of a decade, but the start of an age"- "Long Live"

I can't believe it's finally here. We're all getting ready to step into 2020 tomorrow. It always seemed so far away. We've all been talking about it so long that it's managed to creep up on me. I guess we're all getting a little extra sentimental because we're ending a decade (in terms of the popular view of decades). We're moving into the 20s. Seeing everyone's decade later comparisons has been weird because the 2010s were the first full decade I've ever lived. I started the decade as a six year old in first grade, so, even though I feel like I've accomplished far less than some people on Twitter, I have, in fact, managed to graduate elementary, middle, and high school and get into college in the last 10 years. I've also become a person.
Most of what's shaped me has happened in the last ten years. I've learned an incredible amount about mysel…

Top 10 of 2019: All the YA Love

We're winding down 2019, so it's time to get reflective on the past year. It feels like multiple lifetimes have happened in this single year. It was one of the best years for the blog that I've ever had. Even though I might have read less this year, I expanded my interviews and guests posts, got to work closely with some wonderful writers, and fell further in love with the YA community. A huge thank you to everyone in the Novel19s for working with me, being so kind, and putting out some of the best books I've ever read. In the next few weeks, I'll be posting more about the future I see for the blog going into 2020 and it's third year, but, for now, let's celebrate all the amazing stories 2020 has brought to us! I did my Reading, Writing, and Me book awards recently which honored over 20 books in tons of different categories so if you need last minute holiday shopping inspiration, check out this list and the earlier one!

1. Permanent Record
I have not stoppe…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

I Got Rid of (Almost) All My Books

On Twitter, everyone loves to joke about their TBR piles that are heading to swallow them whole. We talk about buying way too many books. They're like personality traits for book bloggers and book community members, but we don't really talk about the reality of that. Running the blog for close to three years, it was starting to stare me in the face in the form of heaps and heaps of books. Books everywhere. Shoved onto my tiny bookshelf, stacked on top of it, piled on my nightstand, piled on the floor, and lining my long windowsill. I woke up one morning and decided it felt like the books were slowly creeping in and stealing all the oxygen. So I decided to do something about it. I gathered together all the boxes floating around in the garage from Christmas, threw myself on the floor, and started to make piles of my books.
It was honestly overwhelming to start deciding what I was giving away and what I was keeping. I was both feeling like "EVERYTHING MUST GO" and &quo…

Past Perfect Life

Past Perfect Life  by Elizabeth Eulberg (July 9)
Overview: Ally Smith has lived for almost her entire life in Wisconsin. She briefly remembers living in Chicago, but it's always been just her and her dad. She's made a life in the town and become almost family with the Gleasons who basically own the town. Her perfect life is shattered, though, when an error with her social security number on her college applications alerts the FBI that she's actually a missing person. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 Ally is an awesome main character. Her voice and handling of emotions is so relatable, and I love how articulate she is. The emotional hurdles she jumps through are so shocking, but she makes them make sense. It's almost like a reverse savior situation she finds herself in as she's taken from her "perfect" life and dropped into one that looks much more "perfect" from the outside.
The Gleasons are great additions too. They're her best friends and protect…

Waiting For Fitz

Waiting For Fitz by Spencer Hyde (March 5) Click to Purchase
Overview: Addie is in the hospital for inpatient OCD treatment. She's not thrilled, particularly because her mom might watch The Great British Bake Off without her, but, overall, she's ready to try whatever it takes to get better. And it turns out that most of the orderlies are nice and her fellow patients are great company, especially Fitz, who's been there for two years battling schizophrenia. Inside, she makes major strides toward recovery, but Fitz comes to her and asks for help breaking out. Against her better judgement, she can't refuse to help him. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 I enjoyed reading from Addie's prospective. I thought that Hyde did an awesome job portraying OCD and the compulsions and obsessions that come with it. Addie is sarcastic and sensible. She has a wonderful, supportive mom and a team behind her that's determined to help. I love how she is both reasonable, and takes time to quest…