So without further ado, I present... Susan Dennard's invaluable writing lessons.
(Pssst, awesome giveaway below the blog!)
Click here for an overview of the entire blog tour.
In May 2015 I decided to pick up my first draft, which then counted around 45K. Full of inspiration (I had visited an author event the day before) I read through the whole thing again and continued. Not long after, I hit 50K and although I was happy with that, my gut feeling told me I was telling the wrong story—I had been for a while, but I’d ignored that voice inside of me. Obviously, this was the reason why I’d never finished that first draft. I can see that now, but I refused to acknowledge at first.
Soon after I realised this wasn’t what I wanted to write, I asked myself what I was missing. When I knew what that was (basically everything), the solution to solving the problem was clear. I threw out the entire story and only kept my characters and the initial idea.
The idea of writing an entire novel was still daunting—the only thing I ever finished was a fanfiction during my teens. All other attempts had resulted in Unfinished Stories. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different things to get these stories to an end, but none of the methods ever worked for me.
I sat there with these Shiny New Characters With Background Stories in mind, and I realised I needed to find a method that worked for me. But what? I’d tried so many already… Somewhere in the back of my mind a thought trickled: didn’t Susan Dennard have a lot of articles on her website? I’d seen it on Twitter a few times, I thought… I opened my browser and went to her website… and found heaven. Because once I’d read a few of her tips and applied them to my own story, I realised this worked. I’d finally found something that did the trick for me! Eight weeks later, I finished my new draft at 78K. A lot of revising followed.
The articles that helped me most, you ask? I must admit I’ve read all articles—multiple times. Here are my favourites.
1. How I plan a book, part 4: Coaxing out the Magical Cookies
2. Simple Tricks to Unstick your Story: The Domino Effect
3. Lesson 1: what the heck did you write? (including worksheets)
The first two are the most amazing articles ever for me. From now on, I will never write another book without Magical Cookies. They really work magic! This has also resulted in my carrying a notebook per project with me at all times. And since I have several, my handbag is rather large and heavy. The Domino Effect has really helped me at times when I wasn’t quite stuck, but the story also wasn’t flowing the way I wanted it to flow. I can also tell you that my entire floor was covered in coloured post-its after my revision process. Don’t miss out on the other lessons on her website that will help you with revising!
I have also used Susan’s worksheet on how to write a query letter (you can request this after you sign up for her newsletter—which brings more awesome advice to your inbox!) and how to write a 1-page synopsis. We’ll have to wait and see if agents like the final result once I start querying, but for me these worksheets were lifesavers.
All in all, I think it’s safe to say that without Susan’s articles, Starstruck would not be where it is today. And whether or not it will be successful, I will always be grateful that I finally managed to get this story on paper the way I want it to be.
Susan, thank you for being awesome and sharing your own journey and advice!
Tell me: do you have a method when it comes to writing?