How to run a blog as a student

As the new academic year has drawn closer, I’ve been thinking back to when I first started my blog in college. When I started, I couldn’t find much advice on how to navigate all of this. I didn’t know how to plan my time, my content, I thought I needed loads of fancy equipment and I felt a bit lost and lonely in it all. At the moment, I feel that many people will probably be starting their own blogs as they want to document a new and exciting time in their life as they go to college or University. Starting a blog is an awesome hobby, I can never seem to get bored with it. So, for those of you considering starting a blog or have just started one, I wanted to share with you a few tips and a bit of advice that I wished someone had told me when I first started. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but I hope this can help you find your feet as you enter the blogging community.

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The villain doesn’t have to die – alternative endings for your book

When it came to outlining my book one of the biggest things I had to consider was how the story was going to end, what would the climax be? This was by far the longest part of the whole outlining process for me and arguably the most difficult. Since the age of 16 I’ve wrote YA, young adult fiction was what I read the most and by default was what I wrote the most of. This age range was fantastic because the reader was older enough to understand heavier topics and as a result there was a whole host of possible endings for you book. However, after studying children’s fiction at university I found myself wanting to write a children’s book and this presented me with a few unexpected challenges.

When you write for a different age group to the one that you’re in you have to do far more research. At university I got used to writing for adults, the age of those around me. My work became more mature and I had no issues with touching on hard hitting issues like abuse or murder. But as I stated outlining Mirrors and Magic (working title) I quickly realised this had to change. I was now writing for those under the age of ten and I was not going anywhere near those topics in the way I had done in the past.

In a lot of the short stories I’d drafted that followed the tradition hero’s journey (just like Mirrors and Magic will), I killed off the antagonist at the end and usually at the hands of the hero. But when it came to the ending of Mirrors and Magic, I wasn’t jumping at the idea of having my hero killing off the villain. I’m writing a children’s book with a protagonist who is under ten years old. I can’t say I feel comfortable with a child becoming a killer.

I appreciate that what I’m writing is fiction, so it doesn’t have to play into real world values, but as a writer of children’s fiction I wanted to explore other options and consider there being another ending. As well as it feeling slightly morally wrong, I felt that jumping straight for the hero kills the villain was a bit lazy, it was the easiest option (by the way, there’s nothing wrong with this ending I’m not criticising people who kill off the antagonist of their book. I just felt that I would only be choosing it because it required the less amount of thought for my book). So, I began to explore alternative endings where the villain didn’t have to die, and this lead me down a bit of a rabbit hole I want to share with you all today.

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Mistakes I made when I outlined my book

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on getting my book sorted. It’s still very early days but I felt I had a good enough grasp on the plan for it to start creating an outline. For those of you who may not know, and outline is a step-by-step plan of what’s going to happen in your book. It can include your main plot, any subplots, important information, locations of particular scenes and the general timeline your book follows.

Outlining is an integral part of writing a book. Yes, you don’t have to outline, and you can still write a book. However, being completely truthful your books is going to have a lot of plot holes and most likely have a weird pace. What outlining does is it makes you think in detail about your plot and by doing this you can notice any plot holes or discrepancies that may be in your book. Another cool thing about creating one is that it can significantly reduce writer’s block. Just think about it for a second, if you’ve got a plan of what’s going to happen in your book your less likely to run out of ideas because the ideas have already been thought of and wrote down.

Basically, it’s a really good idea, and the more detailed it is the easier it should be for you to write your story (in theory).

This is what I’ve been spending most of my free time on as of late. I completed my outline a few weeks ago and have since moved on to creating character profiles and really getting to know the ins and outs of every character in my book. However, as of the doing this and referring back to my outline I’ve noticed there’s a few things that aren’t quite right and that’s what I’m going to discuss today, the mistakes I made when I outlined my book. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and save yourself time and a lot of annoying editing. Continue reading “Mistakes I made when I outlined my book”

Simple writing exercise – Rory’s Story Cubes

If there’s one thing in the writing process I seriously underestimated it would be the importance of warming up before you write. Before university if I was to write something, I would open my laptop, get up a word document and just write. The start of my writing was always a bit clunky; it didn’t flow very well. If anything needed the most editing in my work, I could guarantee you it would be the start. I now understand that was because I didn’t warm up before I wrote anything.

Since being at university I’ve come to realise the importance of being in the right mindset before I write. I’m not talking about making sure I’m relaxed or feeling very motivated, what I’m talking about is making sure the ideas are flowing and I’m warmed up. So far, I’ve been doing this by free writing. I will set a two-minute or five-minute timer on my phone, pick up a pen and write non-stop until the time was up. What this did was let me get most of my clunky writing out of my system before I was working on my manuscript or essay. You don’t have to do this with a pen and paper, it’s just I find it a little bit easier to be less perfect when I’m scribbling down ideas on paper and not typing them.

It’s all been very well and good but over time it’s got a bit boring so when I went back home at Christmas, I found my story cubes and decided to bring them back with me to university.

I’ve had these since I was about 13 and I think they’re so useful. They’re a fantastic way to just have fun thinking of stories and plots. Since I’ve been back at university, I’ve been using these cubes regularly as writing prompts and over time they became my warm up, replacing free writing. What I wanted to share with you all today is how I use these as a professional writer as a method of warming up my writing muscles. I understand they’re designed for children, but I really wouldn’t underestimate them or dismiss them because of the target audience. Continue reading “Simple writing exercise – Rory’s Story Cubes”