Hectic Lives and Kicking Goals

Hello again, I know I haven’t been posting regularly like I used to. I’ve been busy working on my book, but I am making progress, hitting 16,500 words this weekend. Apologies for not keeping my online presence up, but it is so hard trying to juggle everything. In addition to the writing, I’ve been reading as part of a reading challenge I’ve set myself. I’ve also been reading up on plotting, seeking those little nuggets of advice that might help things click into place and help me to write better. I’ve also been trying to maintain a bit of a social life, going out for a meal with my sister to celebrate her birthday. On top of that, I’ve been doing some work around the garden and trying to organize a present for my better half, who’s birthday is next month – all while working full time.

Incidentally, work often provides me with some great tips for my writing. As a leader of a team, I often come across articles on team building and the like, and I am always looking at how I can apply these as an author. The latest article was about motivation, and I thought I would share this with you. The article explains that motivation consists of feedback, goals and rewards. Here is a summary:

Feedback: 

Positive feedback can increase confidence and commitment, motivating when you start your goals. i.e. “So, you’re writing a novel? That’s awesome, I’d love to read it when it’s done.”

Negative feedback emphasising a lack of progress when your nearing the end of something, can motivate you when you need a push. i.e. “You’ve written three quarters of your novel and now your just going to leave it in a box under your bed. What’s the deal with that? I really think you should plug away and get it finished.”

Goal Setting:

This one really works for me, it’s about breaking down a big task into small goals. i.e. I am going to write 200 words a day. It has to be something achievable in a short time, so you feel like you are making progress every time you hit that target. You should focus on the progress you’ve made at the start of a project. Then as you get nearer the end, switch your focus to the distance left to achieve your goal.

Rewards:

Rewards work better if you can get them in a short space of time and if you get them when your target is met. A reward can be as simple as a bar of chocolate, a glass of wine, or a pat on the back. You could try buying a bar of your favourite chocolate and telling yourself, “I can have some of that as soon as I hit my goal for the day.” Or if you have someone supportive around you, why not let them know you just hit your goal for the day. I’m sure they will congratulate you with a “Well done!” Who knows, it may be just what you need to keep you on track.

If you’re not a writer, I’m sure you can apply these principles to another part of your life. Why not give it a go, it might just work for you.

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Taking a break. How do you unwind?

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I haven’t posted much recently, mainly because I’ve been concentrating on getting my novella finished. I’ve set myself a goal to release all three books in my ‘Blood Rage’ series this year, and if I’m going to make that happen, I need to cut back somewhere else. I’m also trying to get a bit more me time, as it helps me unwind and re-energizes me. So, I took a short break down to Melbourne last weekend and while I was there, I visited the State Library of Victoria. Here are some snaps I took on my visit.

It’s a fascinating place and it’s free, I’d recommend if you’re in Melbourne that you pop in. Well, that’s one way I found to relax, how do you unwind?

Book Review – The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne

The Story Grid: What Good Editors KnowThe Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Story Grid is a book by editor, Shawn Coyne. The book gives you an insightful look into the technique he uses to break down a story, to analyse it in all its parts and find out what is not working.

The Bad Stuff: There is a fair bit of repetition within the pages of this book, while it could be considered as a technique the author has used to ensure you remember the important stuff, it felt like filler to me.

The Good Stuff: This book gives an insightful look into an editors technique for finding flaws in a story. I have definitely gained some useful knowledge from reading this book.

On the whole this was an informative read for me, while I knew some of the details within, it gave me a better understanding of how to use the information I have at hand in a constructive way to better my writing. Will I use the Story Grid to break down all my stories? Probably not, but it has created a better awareness of what I am doing and what to look out for. I’m giving this book 4 out of 5 golden bookmarks.

View all my reviews

Free Book and a Guest post on World Building by Donna Maree Hanson

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Dragon Wine Book 1: Shatterwing by Donna Maree Hanson is free in e-book for a short time. As part of spreading the word about Shatterwing Donna is doing a blog tour and offering a give away of a hard copy of Shatterwing. Winners will be drawn from people who comment during the blog tour. So leave a comment to be in to win.

Blurb

Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.

Dragon Wine Book 2 :Skywatcher, the follow on book is also available in ebook and print.

http://momentumbooks.com.au/books/shatterwing-dragon-wine-1/

 World building

World building is an essential part of a novel creation, no matter the genre. If your novel is in a realistic contemporary setting you still need the physical attributes of the world, the rules, the clothing, the style, location etc. Think about a movie and those signals that let you know what kind of story it’s going to be.

For genre like SF and Fantasy there’s a bit more work to be done. Planning the world building is one of the most fun parts of writing for me. Sometimes I don’t do too much before I start because I have the story and a few ideas and I just go for it, but along the way I either have to stop and do world building or I get ideas that I incorporate and work on.

I also do some planning beforehand, depending on the story. For example, for the world building in Dragon Wine it was done in layers, by adding bits and pieces and weaving them all together. The more I delved into the world the more of the history and physicality of the place came into being. There was freedom in that process. I didn’t have a deadline so I enjoyed the planning and the thinking and the research I used to make the world work.

Now my way isn’t the only way. I know people who can spend years doing all the world building, drawing maps, documenting religions and history and the cosmos and everything. That works for them and the stuff they do is extraordinary!

The deal with writing is working out for yourself that there isn’t just one way that you have to do what works best for you. There are always cautionary tales about getting lost in the research and never writing the story. You can be an excellent researcher but not end up being a novelist!

The lesson for me is balance and the importance of story. I have a motto. Don’t let research get in the way of a good story. If I’m drafting and the story is coming I just go for it. I then research to make sure I can do what I’ve done. Sometimes I might have to tweak or change things but generally I’ve got enough background knowledge in my head to pull it off.

If your world building is a bit technical, then it is worth getting expert advice. I had a physicist advise me on Dragon Wine, particularly the moon stuff. That sort of science is interesting to me but the details do my head in. I’m not saying it’s all scientific. It’s not. I mean there are dragons and magic so no…not real life stuff there.

Best of luck!

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Donna.

Thank you Allan for  having me on your blog.