Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog! Today I’m going to be talking about one of my most frequently asked questions – my writing tips! Hopefully you will find these tips helpful!
My biggest advice to aspiring novelists is to plan your novel out. I really can't stress this enough, because I certainly didn’t do this in the beginning. When I first started writing The Crystal Chronicles I used to just write and write, hoping it would all come together in the end. I found when I didn’t plan properly, I constantly had to revise and add chapters to tie the whole book together. It was very time consuming and not necessary when I look back on it. But it’s up to you to decide how in depth you want to plan. Personally, I sit down and plan my books chapter by chapter. Usually, I ask myself two questions, what I need the reader to know, and what I want the characters to know. Answering these two questions forms the chapter in my mind and suddenly, I know exactly where to go. Now, I’m not going to say planning works for everyone. George R. R. Martin said there are 2 types of writers; engineers and gardeners. Engineers like to plan everything, and gardeners plant a seed and follow where it leads. Clearly, I am the engineer type of writer. But ultimately it’s up to you on how you want to let your creative juices flow. But hey, from my experience, I wholeheartedly believe at least some form of planning will make your life as a writer infinitely easier.
The next thing I always suggest to aspiring writers is to make your characters memorable. I read an amazing article when I first started writing that stressed the idea of how characters are remembered for what they do, not how they say or act. And when I thought about it some more, I realized it was true. Take any YA hero for example. Percy Jackson is remembered for being a kick ass demigod that defeats Kronos. Clary from The Shadowhunter Chronicles is remembered for being Nephilim with unique powers. And I strongly believe in order to have a memorable protagonist, you need an equally memorable antagonist. The protagonist and antagonist are meant to compliment one other and are meant to play off each other’s personalities and viewpoints. Having an equally strong protagonist and antagonist is what keeps a novel going, and keeps readers interested. If you look at The Crystal Chronicles, Alyssa Brooks is an unlikely hero who is fond of the mortal world and is the only one capable of defeating the antagonist – Kurt Bell. Kurt Bell on the other hand, has a burning hatred for the mortal world, and is really the only person who has the strength and the resources to defeat Alyssa Brooks. These two characters are opposite in personality and viewpoints. They serve totally different purposes, but one cannot exist without the other. And these two characters will essentially carry my whole series. Creating memorable characters is an absolute must and is especially important when writing YA fiction.
My third piece of advice when writing novels is to always leave unanswered questions. Now this advice is especially helpful to novelists who are writing series. And yes, that includes me; The Crystal Chronicles is a five book series. Leaving unanswered questions throughout your novel keeps a reader interested. If all conflicts and questions are resolved by the middle of a book, then there’s a problem. If you are writing a stand-alone novel, resolve questions and conflicts at the end of the book. If you’re writing a series, it gets tricky. Writing a series means you have to pace yourself and you have to figure out how much you want to reveal and at what point in the series. For example, the conflict in the end of my book leaves many unanswered questions that intrigues readers. Why is Jason Reeves working for the Society? How are the four main characters going to embark into the Amazon rainforest alone? What is Kurt Bell going to do next? These are all big questions that lead to even bigger conflicts. If I revealed too much at the end of book one, I would have a hard time prompting readers to pick up book two. Pacing yourself and pacing the plot of your novel is extremely important! Trust me on this one.
Like anything, writing novels isn’t a skill perfected overnight. The nice thing about writing is it isn’t set in stone. You have the freedom to go back and revise as many times as you want. Which leads me to my final piece of advice, revise, revise, and revise some more. Don’t be afraid to cut whole chunks of your book. It might break your heart a little, but with writing, it’s always better to have a foundation then nothing at all. You can cut a section and rebuild later. If you are not revising your book, then there is a major problem. No one in the history of writing has ever written a first draft and stopped right there. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and dig. Dig through your manuscript and cut and add, and I swear, eventually you will stop and realize you’ve built a castle. But first, you got to mold the sand. So my friends, edit and rewrite until you want to throw your computer at the wall. In the end, it will be more than worth it.
So I leave you with four pieces of advice for now. I have loads more of advice on the way, but here are my main tips for aspiring novelists. Thank you to everyone reading my blog. My readers mean the world to me! Leave me a comment or a review; I love talking to you guys!
Again if you’d like to check out my novel, The Crystal Chronicles, visit the bookstore page for loads of purchase options.
Until next time,
About the Author
Alessia Dickson is the author of The Crystal Chronicles series. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she is hard at work on her next book.