The Writing Habit: Planning

So, as promised, here is my thoughts on Planning storied thoroughly before writing them.

I think I’ve always been a natural Pantser, so this has been the harder thing for me to get my head around at all.

In order to start, I’ve invested in a giant notebook, along with a large blank pad of paper. I’ve heard there are other methods.

Lillian Heart swears by planning all her stories on computer, but that is far beyond me. Apparently it involves spreadsheets, word documents, and folders, but this is not my style. For anyone who works well with PCs, do give it a try.

I’ve also heard of using programs such as Scrivener to make lists and folders and write down details. Again, not my thing.

My thing is paper. I find that the written word on screen is scary, whereas the written word on paper, oddly, feels less permanent, less intimidating. And thus, I scrawl.

For anyone else trying Planning on paper, don’t be afraid to scrawl. Write notes coming off other notes. Write in the margins, write on the backs of paper, on sticky notes. Above all, write in big flowing diagrams. This has helped me hugely. Paragraphs are hard to follow, hard to see through to the salient points. Flow graphs are easy. Bite-sized chunks of info and big arrows? Yes please.

Character Bios go at the start of each notebook section, with a few pages left clear for all these details. It’s very helpful, if nothing else, to have a list of characters’ eye colours, hair colours, heights, preferences, etc. It saves the awkward situations where characters unexpectedly dye their hair halfway through a scene 😉

All in all I’ve found the process very freeing. I’ve been using a variation of the snowball technique, where you write the big picture, then you write a longer version of each part, then a longer version, and so on and so on. I still can’t bring myself to write down to the very smallest details, but they are usually easy to fill in when I turn to the PC for the true manuscript.

Is anyone else here a Planner? Got any tips for maximising Planning success? Or got any gripes with Planning your books?

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The Dangers of Self-Publishing: Reviews

Okay, maybe this should be a general ‘dangers of publishing’ post, but I’d argue not. Sure, reviews are part of every author’s life, and can make or break their success. However, in the world of self publishing, we see a rather stranger side of reviews.

Being a published author gives you some legitimacy. Someone, somewhere, has put their seal of approval on your book. In fact, most likely it took several people giving your book the green light for it to get published.

Self-publishing however can be done by anyone. As long as you stick within whatever rules the self-publishing company has, you can pretty much publish anything. People know this. The common reader, as much as we love and need our readers, knows that your book has as little backing as whatever they could write. . . and they may well tell you so.

Once it has been established that you are, in fact, fair game, the reviews will come in. Some honestly just seem to be negative for the sake of it. Some, of course, seem positive just for the sake of it. It’s an interesting mix.

When I read my first bad review, my heart sank. I put a lot into my writing, and hearing it slated so much really did hurt. It took me a while to step away, and think. On the internet, people will ‘troll’ or make nasty comments just for the sake of it. And sure, they may not have liked the book, but some comments can be needlessly harsh. We have to just accept that we are opening ourselves up to this kind of criticism, just by being brave enough to self-publish.

There is of course the up side. Once they have read your book, you will be getting the money from that, whether they liked it or not. It’s a small balm, but a balm nonetheless.

There’s bound to be good reviews too. I’m still very pleased with the review on Breaking the Stallion:

Even if I don’t quite think it’s worthy of such high praise. As they say, it takes all sorts to make the world, and we just have to learn to deal with that.

Author Bias: Kinks

Ah, a subject close to all our hearts (well, about 18 inches down from our hearts, but close enough)

I think it’s inevitable that as writers, we will write what we like. In fact, it’s well-known advice, to ‘write what you would want to read’.

It’s also, however, good practice to write things that we don’t always like ourselves. This does, however, become harder with something as personal as kinks.

SO, do we write what we like, or what other people like? It stands to reason that someone out there will have the same kink as you, so you can pretty well be sure that there are readers for whatever you like. However, I would highly recommend writing outside your comfort zone, if only for fun.

This is where I have to make a confession. A year ago, I would not have been into animal shifters. Heck, I possibly didn’t even know about it as a kink back then. Now, however, most of my books are based around animal shifters, and in all honesty, I’m really enjoying writing them. Exploring outside my own interests has opened up new horizons for me, both in my writing and my reading.

However, part of me really wants to get back to my own personal interests . . . so, maybe expect more BDSM work in the future, as well as F/M erotica, and some fantasy erotica. Because after all, erotica is meant to be enjoyable – if it isn’t, you’re definitely doing it wrong 😉 So don’t write outside your comfort zone if you’re not enjoying it.