Writing is hard. There is no way around that fact. Every time I sit down to write, I reminded of how tough it is. Tough to find the time – away from a real a job and in many cases, the family – tough to have the conviction that what you are doing is worthwhile and tough to put something on the page that doesn’t make you cringe five minutes after writing it.
Advice that can make the process easier is priceless.
Here are four snippets I find useful.
Stephen King, in On Writing, challenges the would be writer to do just two things. Read a lot. Write a lot. You cannot write without doing both of those things. He suggests 1,000 words a day. 1,000 words a day delivers a first draft in three-four months. It’s not easy to deliver on that commitment but hey…I began by saying writing was tough.
There are times when the characters stop talking to you, and times when a promising plot fizzles on the page. The danger is running into an extended period of writer’s block. Margaret Atwood has the best answer to this. Hold your hand in the air and do not put it down again until you have a sentence to write. Then see how long the block lasts. It’s never that long, believe me.
I saw an interview with Terry Pratchett towards the end of his life. He was talking about the difficulty of writing, and he said the thing you have to realize is that a good idea is the easy part, that translating that idea to the page and making it come alive is the challenge, and as a writer, it shouldn’t be easy, and have to confront that head on, every time. Ideas are like tinsel, anyone can have an idea, it’s what you do with it that’s the important thing.
And finally, often I find my head with characters, plot jumbled, trying to remember what someone said, or who did what to whom. This I guess is my piece of advice. Expect that, and don’t let it frustrate you, and power on. It will come. As one of Raymond Chandler’s characters said, My head is as fluffy as whipped cream, but not as sweet. I think that just about sums up how I feel most days.
About Songs of Seraphina
Songs of Seraphina
by Jude Houghton
Publisher: Tenebris Books, Grimbold Books
Publication Date: Release Date: June 30th 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy
Some battles bleed so much, and for so long, that the earth never truly forgets their dead. Some battles are born of oppression, and some of greed, and some simply because it was written in the stars.
Three sisters—Charlemagne, Cairo and Pendragon Agonistes—are sent from America to England to live with their eccentric grandparents after their mother disappears and their father falls to pieces. But before the girls have time to find their feet, Charlemagne is married off to a dead man, Penny takes a nap and wakes up as a boy, and Cairo is swept into a dangerous romance with a man who wants her for more than her considerable charm. With the girls wrapped up in a conflict they barely understand, they don’t notice that their grandmother is transforming, or that the two demigod assassins who took their mother are now coming for them—if one of them can get over his crisis of conscience.
In this richly painted tale, at whose heart is the unbreakable bond of family and blood, the world of Seraphina collides with our own as three unique girls are dragged into twilight lives past, fighting for vengeance, retribution, and the survival of their exiled people.
Hamquist pulled back his cloak revealing his huge two-handed sword, the steel glinting naked and blue against his woollen breeches. “Have we ever needed more than this?” Hamquist replied. “Ever?”
That’s not what Crakes had meant, but he played along. “What a big sword you have.”
Hamquist grinned, then suddenly swung around and grabbed Crakes’s throat.
“W-what are you do-ing,” Crakes choked.
“Tonight you reek of carelessness, throwing punches around like some carnival puppet. Fussing about the stink as though we’re on a . . . a sniffing expedition.” He added in falsetto, “It’s so smelly here! Oh, where did I put my pomander?”
“I-I . . .” Crakes couldn’t breathe.
Hamquist let go, and Crakes doubled over choking. “Remember the last time you got careless?”
He tried to nod; speaking was impossible. Humiliated, Crakes studied the ground, but failing to fix on anything, inspected a small clump of mud on the tip of his boot. He picked up a stick and poked at it.
“You lost your hand and that’s why you wave that ugly stump around.” Hamquist pointed at a nearby tree stump. “Oh! Look at that!” he said with sudden alacrity. “Twins!” He laughed manically and slapped Crakes on the back. Crakes found himself laughing too. The joke wasn’t funny, but it broke the tension, a distraction from their real purpose, which they both knew was rotten to the core. Holding his sides, Hamquist was about to make another crack, when suddenly his eyes narrowed and his face became serious as stone.
“Athene,” he said, sweeping his nose back and forth. “She is coming.”
Headlights appeared around the corner.
“That’s curious,” Hamquist said.
“She knows we’re here.”
“Does it make a difference?”
Then it was time.
About the Author
Jude developed a love of fantasy from a relatively early age after realising an innate talent for making stuff up could result in something other than detention. Working across the globe in fields as diverse as journalism, data entry, sales, management consultancy and babysitting, Jude has partially succeeded in putting an English and History degree from Oxford University to good use. A somnambulist, insomniac, lover of letters, Jude writes late into the night, most nights, tumbling down the rabbit hole to dream of other lives. Jude currently lives in Pennsylvania with an over-enthusiastic family and absurdly entitled dog.