NaNoWriMo Nov Day 19: Veronica Cossanteli

Posted by Jazz on Saturday November 19th, 2016

It's day 19! We hope all you NaNoWriMo-ers are still going strong, but if you're in need of an extra boost of motivation, The Halloweeds author Veronica Cossanteli is here to share her top tips! 

What would be your five top tips to budding writers?

1. Don’t get bogged down trying to make your first draft stylistically perfect. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up jettisoning half of it. The longer you’ve spent polishing Chapters 1 & 2, the more annoying it is when you realise your story actually begins at Chapter 3 …

2. The most fruitful hours are often those NOT spent hunched over a keyboard. Explain to your Near and Dear that, just because you are not slumped at your desk, it doesn’t mean that you are not writing in your head. They may then be (marginally) less offended when they try to talk to you and all you do is grunt.

3. If you can’t quite get the flesh and bones of a character, go People-Watching. Be a fly-on-the-wall wherever/whenever you can. Eavesdrop. (Some discretion advisable. Try pretending to read a book; it helps if you remember to hold it the right way up.)

4. Keep a stern eye on your plot. A finished MS is the merest tip of the iceberg that has crystallised in its author’s head, but the only scenes that belong in it are those that move the story forwards.

5. My greatest sin … DO NOT ALLOW RANDOM CHARACTERS TO WANDER INTO YOUR BOOK. Sadly, this includes those with four legs. As above, if they’re not a necessary link in the plot, send them packing. If you don’t axe them, your editor will – and the longer you have lived with them, the more it will hurt. Console yourself with the thought that it doesn’t have to be goodbye forever: their turn may come.

Bonus tip: Enjoy yourself. There’s a self-indulgent joyfulness to being alone in your head with your own story. Make the most of it. You can have the loveliest editors in the world – and I do, obviously – but once they’re breathing down your neck, with their deadlines and word-counts and mutterings about let’s focus on the main narrative … for all the rewards, it’s never quite the same.

For those hoping to take part in NaNoWriMo or enter the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition, what would be your best tip for writing something every day?

For those days when you sit down, all ready to be brilliantly creative ... and absolutely nothing happens.

You have to write, intones the voice in your head. You MUST!

You struggle through a sentence or two but they're just words, not a whisper of life in them. Why, oh why, you wonder, did you ever imagine you could do this?
DO NOT DESPAIR! With luck (and possibly cake), this will help.

TURN YOUR BACK ON YOUR COMPUTER. Go for a walk, have a bath, stand on your head ...: anything that leaves your mind free. Sink, slowly, into your story. Visualise the location; wait for your characters to wake up. Spend a bit of time with them; let them talk to each other (about anything - it doesn't have to be related to your plot). Tune yourself in.

BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN AGAIN ... have a sentence or two ready in your head, to lead you in. This will give you the momentum you need - and off you'll fly.

Good luck!

Enter the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition to be in with a chance of winning a £10,000 publishing contract! 

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