You have your latest novel idea ready to go for NaNoWriMo. Your characters are fleshed out, your plot is alive with twists and turns, and ev...

You have your latest novel idea ready to go for NaNoWriMo. Your characters are fleshed out, your plot is alive with twists and turns, and everything is in place! Or at least, you think it is, until you realize you haven't developed the world in which it all takes place. Your setting is a white screen with the occasional desperate pine tree and castle thrown in there.

But October is quickly drawing to a close, and you don't have time to develop a complicated, intricate world whose details will fill up seventeen notebooks. So what do you do?

Today I'm going to try and help all you last minute world-builders out there, and give a few quick tips on how to develop a storyworld in less than a week.

Draw a Map

This is often my first step, simply because I'm a visual person. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece! It can be as simple as a quick scrawl of triangles for mountains, and dots on a landform shaped suspiciously like a boot. 

Pinpoint where in this world your character lives; is it the desert, the mountains, the plains, a city, or village? Where your character lives will define your setting and will give you details to throw into your novel when you need to increase your wordcount. Write about the warm northern winds travelling down from the burning desert sands, the roar of a nearby waterfall, and the salty bite of fish caught from the nearby ocean.

You have to know where your character lives, and ideally where they're from, to write your setting and how they interact with it. So get a quick sense of what landforms are nearby, what water they have access to, and what they would see as they passed by a window.

Who Has the Power?

I could go on and on about how important power in is worldbuilding (I wrote a guest post about it actually!). It is vital to know who has the power to drive change. Most stories revolve around a character battling forces more powerful than him/her, and trying to overcome these powers to either have the power for themselves, reach a goal, or make change. If you're ever stuck on how to move your plot forward, check in on who has the power, and make them do something which puts all your character's plans into chaos.

Most often the answer to this question is the government, whatever form that takes, but it often manifests in individuals. So rather than saying "the monarchy" look at the specific people that make it up. Is it really the king who controls matters, or would it be smarter to approach his advisers if you wanted to have your way? Once you figure out who has the power, look at the why, and there will be plenty of secrets, politics, and history that will develop your world into an intricate one.

Find a Unique Element and Flesh it Out

Some stories have thousands of unique creatures, names, and places that are so vibrant and rich in detail you can't help but think they're alive. But you don't have time for that, not with NaNo. The best thing you can do is to find one aspect of your world that you love, or an idea that excites you; for example, I'm intrigued why one group of people in my storyworld always wear masks.

Now ask questions. Lots and lots of questions; the why, how, who, what, and when. Get to understand how this element operates and its impact on your characters as much as you can, because having one fleshed out element to your world is always better than multiple shallow aspects that are just...there. Readers can forgive you for a lack of originality with other parts of your world-building if they are intrigued and engrossed with the part that you highlight. You can always flesh out the other less important elements in editing!

Steal From Your Old Worlds

If you're really desperate, go back to old stories and novels you wrote when you were younger and less practiced; stories that you are sure you will never touch again. (If you think you might one day come back to it, leave them with the story, because it is far more hassle stressing about having the same setting in two stories.) I've done this on multiple occasions, when I thought a cultural element in a story I wrote five years could work in one of my current WIPs. 

Borrow elements and ideas that you still enjoy and see if they can fit in your world. If it wouldn't make logical sense to include it, don't, but if you could explain to the reader why this element is like that, then it's a great solution. You might need to skim read the old story to be able to understand the stolen idea again, but it will save you time and give extra spice to your current story! 

How do you last minute world build? Are there any tips you have? Have you ever stolen ideas from your old stories or do you always come up with fresh ones?
Good luck with your worldbuilding and NaNo! <3

Perhaps a better title for this post would be "Why I'm Not Planning to Self Publish but Still Respect All Who Have", for it...

Perhaps a better title for this post would be "Why I'm Not Planning to Self Publish but Still Respect All Who Have", for it's never good to make definitive claims. But of course, that would be too long, so for now we'll stick with this one.

Self-publishing is fairly new as far as book publishing history goes, only coming around when digital technology grew in importance and reliance. I know, follow, and read many authors who have self-published, and am close friends with many writers who are pursuing that path. And I support that! Many writers who self-publish are successful, and can make a living from their writing.

So why I am not interested in self-publishing?

The 'Publish' Button

From what I've been told, when uploading a book into Amazon or so on, there's a 'publish' button, and once it's clicked, you're published. (If I'm wrong, let me know.) For a lot of people this probably sounds like a good thing. You don't have to rely on industry professionals to like your book, have a few chances of selling it, and then hope desperately an editor likes it enough to consider publishing it. 

But I know that for me, if I was interested in self-publishing, I would have likely already published the book that I'm currently rewriting. I was pleased with the previous drafts, and readers enjoyed it, but after taking a break from it, I knew it could be better. In a strange way, I want publishing my book to be hard. (But not impossible.) Because then I know that if I submit my story to professionals, and they acquire it, it's the best or one of the best versions I can write it as. It's almost "proof", if you would have it. 

I should clarify here that I don't think indie authors are taking the easy route out by being able to click 'publish' themselves. I know there is so much work and stress and heart that goes into their books before they click it. But I know personally, I would be tempted to click it before I put all that hard work in. And I want to make sure that the work I'm putting out, is the best that I can possibly make it.

Not Understanding the Market

I try my best to keep up with the publishing industry, and the shifts and tides of consumers' desires for stories. But unless it's your job, keeping up is practically impossible. With my current study load, I struggle to find time to keep up to date with it and still be able to write, revise, and so on. Understanding the market is crucial for publishing success; if you want your book to be bought, it has to be liked by readers.

In traditional publishing, you have the ability to work with professionals whose job it is to keep track of trends, to stay on top of readers' wants, and help you tailor your marketing and presentation so you reach more readers. For example, most major publishing houses design at least two or three covers for each book. There's usually an American cover, which tend to be bolder, busier, and more colourful, and a UK cover which tends to be more clean and crisp. Occasionally there'll be a Aus/NZ cover, and when foreign rights are sold, new covers may be designed too.

If I was to self-publish, I would have a general impression of what each region preferred cover-wise, but I might not be able to tailor them as well as a professional. It would be too risky, or too expensive to pay for that many covers. I'd rather trust professionals to sell and promote my book the best way in each different place.

No Professional Team

This may sound vain, but I like the idea of having an agent who will fight for me and my work, and editors who fall in love with my story and pitch it to their publishing house, and a whole team of designers and publicists all pulling for the story. While indie authors often have a strong group of friends around them (who tend to be wonderful people), and may hire professionals, I like the idea of having the support of friends and of people I've never met offline. Now that I've typed this up, it does sound vain, sorry.


Now for the cold hard fact. While there are many successful indie writers, traditionally published writers tend to get better sales. Bookstores I've been to almost entirely consist of traditionally published books. Some readers don't read indie books, and libraries are less likely to buy them too. Simply put, there is stigma around self-published books, that may be fading to some extent, but still exists. It shouldn't exist, and perhaps I should go indie in order to try and break it, but I would love to get my stories into the hands and hearts of as many readers as I can. And so traditional publishing currently appears to be the way to do that.

That rounds up my current list of reasons of why I'm going to attempt to enter the world of traditional publishing. If you want to self publish, great! If you want to go traditional, great! I think the most important thing is considering how each path will affect you and your books, doing research, and then coming to a decision. Everyone's path is different, and at the moment mine appears to be veering towards traditional.

Are you thinking of self-publishing or going traditional? What reasons do you have? Do we share the same ones, or are we completely different in our thinking?
Have a wonderful day! <3

It's time again for another link-up! The wonderful Liv created 'The Language of Worlds' to help everyone get to know their chara...

It's time again for another link-up! The wonderful Liv created 'The Language of Worlds' to help everyone get to know their characters better, and she's come up with some great questions this time! 

The last two link-ups I talked about characters from Silver Storm and The Tears We Bleed, and just to confuse you all (and not because I have a million stories on the go right now), today I'll be answering the questions for my two main Golden Revenge POVs; Mida and Taylan. I'm currently rewriting half the story, after receiving beta feedback last year, and I'm loving its new direction.

Now, to the questions!

What does your character fear the most?

Mida -- She's afraid of having hope, and then having it torn away.

Taylan -- Of never finding peace, and constantly being caught up in this state of inner and outer turmoil wherever he goes.

How would they handle it if they were to face their fear?

Mida -- She would go cold, turn off all her emotions, and be removed from pratically everyone in her life (except for her brothers). She'd tell herself it was pointless hoping anyway, and that she was a fool for doing so in the first place.

Taylan -- Not very well. He'd start relentlessly pursuing any type of stability he could see, whether it be in his revenge plans, his relationships, or something else.

Do they want to get married? Why or why not?

Mida -- She's never even considered it a possibility, since she's an outsider, and though she might be a princess, the whole "my touch could turn you to gold" makes things a little complicated.

Taylan -- Yes, a hundred percent. He's a romantic at heart.

What is their love language (i.e. words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, quality time, acts of service)?

Mida -- Probably quality time, since she'll go and spend a few hours with her brothers for no particular reason other than she wants to be near them.

Taylan -- Gifts, for sure. He likes to make the people he loves smile when they see what be bought or brought them.

On a scale from 1 (messy) to 5 (organized), how do they rate?

Mida -- 3. She doesn't care much for an organised room, but she keeps a neat appearance.

Taylan -- 4. He knows where everything he owns is, and always keeps things in a particular place.

How do they feel about debates/disagreements?

Mida -- She loves them, since words and wit are usually her weapons of choice.

Taylan -- Not a big fan. He prefers to say his points, then leave.

What do they bring to a battle (figurative or literal)?

Mida -- mental shrewdness, a quick tongue, and a dangerous golden touch.

Taylan -- speed, good swordmanship, and focus.

What's their favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

Mida -- Pastries. She could snack on them all day.

Taylan -- Bread and cheese. (Not that he has much choice in what he can eat)

How do they treat themself after a long day?

Mida -- She'll most likely go for a bath in the Royal Baths, where she can soak in peace by the ocean and pray.

Taylan -- He'll settle down by a fire and make some sketches in charcoal.

What do you most want readers to glean from this story?

Mida -- I'd like people to know that just because they feel different or like an outsider, it doesn't mean people don't care about them. It's important to draw close the ones around you, and let them in.

Taylan -- That peace can't be obtained through violence. That it needs be found in the people we surround ourselves with, and the homes that we make.

Have you participated in The Language of Worlds? (If so, drop a link below so I can check it out!) Would you rather have tea with Mida or Taylan? What does your character fear?
Have a wonderful day! <3

Whenever I research marketing advice for writers, one word always comes up: platform. And most platforms for writers these days involve soci...

Whenever I research marketing advice for writers, one word always comes up: platform. And most platforms for writers these days involve social media, from Twitter to Facebook to Instagram. But there are millions of social media accounts, with high numbers and thousands of fans, constantly promoting goods and merchandise and products. Then there are accounts that follow you called "get 30K free followers" that have their own millions.

Chances are, if you've set up a blog, or social media account, it was because someone told you if you ever wanted to make money selling your books, you needed one. Because numbers, equal money, which equals being able to make a living selling your books. Isn't that what we all want?

But there's a danger in building a platform solely for your own ends. It's risky reaching for high numbers and thousands of likes or retweets. Why? Because then you're turning your audience into dollar bills. They stop becoming people, and they start becoming numbers. 

Another like. Another follower. Another comment.

Platform, is important, I agree completely. And all the marketing people are right, in today's digital landscape, a platform is vital for your success. But the point of social media should not be about obtaining high numbers so you can sell them a product. So what should it be about?

Community. Friendship. Support.

Have you ever seen accounts like these? "Book Name is 99c today!!" "Guess who just won a writing award??" "Book Name is in your local bookstore. Go buy NOW!" That's not a platform. That's an advertisement account. I can't think of any book I've seen advertised like that, that I've bought.

If I know you, as a person or as a writer, and I hear you have a book coming out, I'll buy it. Without hesitation. (It's okay to advertise your book, as long as it isn't all of your content!) Because I want to support you on your journey, and because I want to read what my friend has been working on so passionately for years of their life. Without a platform, I would have never met you and never bought your book. 

That's the power of connection. To me, 'Platform' suggests a place that is yours but can include other people. A place to meet, and chat, and share work. 

In a large school research project that I conducted over a year, I found (among other things) that 74.3% of writers have made friends with other writers online. Writers understand how hard writing is; that's why when a book comes out, we'll jump to buy our friends' and support them.

Now I'm not going to claim to be a social media or platform expert -- I don't have large swathes of followers or friends, or even a tangible fanbase. But in my opinion connection and relationships are the key to social media. People want to buy stories from other people, not robots.

Of course, you can't be close friends with everybody. The larger you grow, the harder it is to personally interact with everyone. But if you have a large foundation of friendships, and keep those intact, naturally as those friends recommend your work to their friends, you'll grow. 

Take Nadine Brandes, for instance. Have I ever talked to her online? No. But I'm friends with close and loyal friends/fans of her, so when I walked into a bookstore last week and saw "Fawkes" on a shelf, I bought it. Why? Because writer and reader friends posted photos of it, shared how they loved it. And no doubt these friends of mine have interacted with Nadine in some way. Their relationship with her, led to others like myself buying a copy of her book. Relationships, connection, and then, sale.

Connecting with others on your platform leads to sales, especially in the long-term game, but also friendship and support. It's a give and take system, and one with benefits beyond money. The friendships I have made with other writers and readers through my own platform are invaluable.

It's possible to have a successful platform without connection, but then social media is turned into a game of marketing and advertisements. Into who can profit the most. But there are other kinds of profits to be gained for creatives, by connecting, by sharing and supporting, and receiving it in turn.

What's the point of social media? To build something other than sales. To build a community.

What are your thoughts on social media as a platform? (Sorry if I've rambled in this post!) Do you agree or disagree with me? And how can I support you all?
Have a wonderful day! <3