Chapel Ryan isn’t crazy. At least, that’s what she’s been trying to convince herself of for most of her life. But after being hallucination-free for three years, Chapel finds herself facedown on her English classroom’s gritty linoleum floor. When she looks up, everyone around her is suspended in animation. Mouths hang open mid-yawn, feet hover mid-cross, Ms. Freeman’s arm flexes mid-sentence diagram. It’s another hallucination. Or, is it?
Chapel prepares to tear herself back to reality when something happens. Something that has never happened before in any of her hallucinations–someone moves. And not just any someone—it’s the new guy with a scar over his lip and a reputation as black as his perfectly styled hair. And all of the sudden Chapel’s white-knuckle grip on her life has slipped, and with it, her assurance that what she’s experiencing isn’t real.
How to write a book.
First, you should know that I’m mildly insane. Most writers are. We’re great liars, we’re always in our heads, and we’re constantly picking apart our surroundings to scavenge ideas for our current (or next) book. With that as my disclaimer, take a journey with me through the glitter and leopard print labyrinth of my writer’s brain to see how I write.
Step One: Get inspired.
Read something that makes your heart beat fast. Watch a movie that makes you swoon. Listen to music. Go on a hot date. Kiss your child goodnight. Go to church. Eat a fantastic steak. You can’t get water from a dry well. Make sure you fill yourself up.
For me, I’m most inspired by music and books. When I hear something or read something that moves me, I stop and say, What made me feel that? And, How can I recreate that in my writing? Yes, EMOTIONAL PLAGIARISM, PEOPLE.
I’m always inspired by the music of Andrew Belle and books like Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion or anything by Cassandra Clare.
Step Two: Put it on paper.
That book isn’t going to write itself, sweetheart. So make sure you’re putting words on paper every day. Don’t waste hours crafting the perfect sentence or scene—that’s for the editing phase. What’s most important is transferring your dream from your head onto paper. Right now. No, seriously. Stop reading this and write one sentence.
I heard a quote once that said, ‘Don’t write it right, just write it.’ When I’m writing a scene that isn’t flowing the way I want it to, I push through. I make myself finish. I do come back and change like, 50 percent of it, but it’s better than getting stuck.
I don’t do outlines. L I wish I could. But my best ideas are always improvised. For me, the most important thing is to know my characters. It really takes the work out of creating the plot. If you know your characters, you can drop them into any situation and ask, ‘What would they do next? What would they want? What would they say?’ It really writes itself after that! (HA! I wish. But it does make it easier.)
While it’s important to know your characters, you don’t have to put your characters in a box. Let them change. Let them grow. In fact, they need to change and grow. It’s always good to sit down and evaluate your characters at different times in you writing. (Cue suspenseful music.) For example, in my last creative meeting for the sequel to TEMPUS, a character whom I’ve always planned to be good will take a villainous turn … (See how I plugged my next book, there?)
Step Three: Edit. Edit. And edit some more.
That first draft? It’s crap. No, seriously. It’s good crap, but crap nonetheless. Never stop at the first draft. Give yourself more credit than that! You have to edit. Edit. Edit. Peel back the layers. Remove the excess. If it’s not vital, lose it. If it’s something you think is GOOD, but still isn’t vital, save it for your next book.
Read it until you’re sick of it. Ask other people (who aren’t your mother or significant other) to read it. And, if you’re serious about being published, hire someone to edit it. I know this idea sounds terrible, because I love money as much as the next shopaholic, but you need the help of a professional.
I wrote Tempus in six months. I spent two years editing it. Now, that’s what we like to call OCD, so I’m not saying that’s wise (or even socially acceptable). I’m just saying that the amount of time you spend perfecting your piece should at least be proportionate to the amount of time you spent creating it.
I love to hear from other writers! If you have great writing ideas, email them to me at HollyLaurenWrites@gmail.com. I’ll put the most helpful ones on my blog!
About the Author
Holly was born and raised in a small town in North Georgia. The third of four children, Holly grew up telling stories to get herself out of—and her siblings into—trouble. When she was eight years old, she penned her first publication: a newspaper called Sunny Dayz News. While she didn’t sell any actual copies, her sympathetic grandmother did peruse through the edition at least once.
When Holly isn’t dreaming up new plotlines for her next book, she enjoys breakfasting at Picnic Café in Dahlonega, Georgia with her (handsome) husband and their two (adorable) daughters.
(20) eBooks of Tempus.