I received some comments saying my post with tips for prospective writers and its accompanying masterlist were helpful for some people, so I decided to write a new post about what I’m doing after that. Here are some links that I found useful when I decided I wanted to try and write professionally. (Wow, that still sounds weird to me.)
There are more links I can’t share because they’re from patreon and won’t work unless you’re patrons of the author, but I promise I’ll do another masterlist post in the future with more points, and I’ll also share some of the books/eBooks I’ve read about writing.
And please share any good posts here so we can all read them as well!
It’s about time I wrote a post about the genre I want to explore, isn’t it? You may remember that, when I talked about the books that changed my life, I mentioned that one of them made me rediscover a genre I thought was too homogeneous for me: Romance.
Twenty years ago, I was an avid reader of Science-Fiction. Ten years ago, I read nothing but Fantasy. Now I find it hard to read anything that’s not Romance. I have to confess that, before that book changed my life, I’d tried reading some books and comics with romance elements, my favourite being Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. However, after a while I started thinking that they were all similar; I didn’t feel represented by any of them (in my defense, I mostly read physical books in Spanish, and there was not an ounce of diversity to be found back then). I thought it would always be the same. Never have I been so glad to be proved wrong.
Once I stepped out of my comfort zone and started reading new books, I realized that Romance had actually become the most open and complete literary genre. There’s variety (fantasy, paranormal, historical, sci-fi, contemporary…), diversity (characters who are POC, LGBTQ+, disabled, depressed…) and hope (happy endings are the norm). Romance readers and authors have been leading a loud revolution that you may not have noticed (if you don’t know anyone who’s part of the community), but —I believe— it’s making the world a better place. Of course I’d want to do anything in my power to help! The problem is… that a little is never enough for me, so now I’ve turned to writing.
To be honest, I never thought I’d end up this way. As a person with anxiety, zero self-confidence and a different mother tongue, I know it’s gonna be hard. But hard is not impossible, so I had to try. And who knows, maybe my weaknesses can help me write something that will help people like me. Even if it’s just one person, that would make all hardships worth enduring.
I’ve been here for three months and in that time I’ve received many follows, likes, comments, and a lot of encouragement from all of you. Thank you so much!
In this time, I’ve transcribed some of my notebooks, updated an old fanfic, read a lot about writing, and decided to write a short story.
Of course, in these three months I’ve also created this blog and my new account on Twitter. I even got a new mobile phone with a better camera that will hopefully allow me to take better photos for this blog (you’ve seen some of the old ones, like the photo in this post). I’m now trying to find some books that will allow me to do some research before I write the short story.
For this short story, I had some ideas:
Summer crush that turns into love. Takes place in Northern Spain, one of them is a foreigner and there’s a dog involved.
Rich boy with an old building meets student that not-so-secretly wants to turn it into a museum. There might be ghosts in the building, though.
A young superhero from Spain has a crush on another European superhero and tries to get an Erasmus scholarship so he can meet his hero.
This super popular guy finds himself without home, family or friends just before the holidays, but there’s a serious guy in the office who never talks to anyone but offers his help.
So, which one do you prefer?
And since November is approaching, should I try to do something like NaNoWriMo? If it’s too stressful, I may have to pass this year.
After the last notebook of 2015, I had a bit of trouble choosing which notebook to transcribe next. I found myself with 4 notebooks I’d filled in 2016… but I didn’t know the order. I already said I’m rather chaotic, but I didn’t want to make things worse by starting with the wrong one. In the end, I realized I had two notebooks I must have used at the same time… more or less.
One was big, so I must have used it at home, and the other one was small, so I must have taken it everywhere. I probably finished the smaller one before, at least, so I decided to start with it.
You may have noticed this notebook and the previous one have the same format, but I already said they’re my favourite ones, so you should just know that I bought this one after reading “A Seditious Affair” by KJ Charles. I couldn’t not buy a notebook inspired by William Blake’s poems after reading that wonderful book.
This notebook had many snippets that never became a story and a lot of information for a fanfic I never wrote. Other than that, I continued working on rewriting my old fantasy story, now with new main characters. I also started to collect names for all the characters and places. And there’s even a story a cab driver told me, about one of his ancestors who’d been a bandit in Southern Spain.
Spoiler alert: I was surprised to find out that it was in January 2016 when I decided that two of the characters in the fantasy romance would know each other, but only one of them would remember having met before. I thought that had been much later and now I wonder where that came from. Anyway, that made a lot of sense and it became an important plot point.
Someone recently asked me if I was going to write in English or Spanish. And the truth is… I don’t know.
Well, I know what I want, but my feelings are complicated. I want to write in English, but English is not my First Language, so I wonder if I should and if my writing would be any good.
Writing in Spanish is weird for me, though. I’ve read and studied Literature in English for decades, so Spanish sounds weird to me sometimes (Especially explicit language, which sounds too technical or too cheesy). Still, I would be able to tell if my writing is crap in Spanish, right? Maybe.
For me, the main reason to write in Spanish is that… I want to write Romance with LGBTQ+ characters, and it’s something one can’t easily find in Spanish. I love helping and I want to help Spanish speakers find stories that will make them happy (which is why I became a translator, but that’s another story).
However, I love writing and reading in English, and if I was confident about both my English and my writing, I wouldn’t hesitate: I’d write in English first, and then see if I want to publish anything in Spanish as well.
Maybe that’s what I should do. Just follow the Fake-it-till-you-make-it philosophy. After all, there are proofreaders, editors and beta-readers out there. I wouldn’t be alone.
I love masterlists and writing reference posts, so I thought I could make a short one to go with my “Tips for prospective writers” post. These are some links I found helpful as I followed these steps, so I hope they’ll be useful for you too.
Read a lot
Sometimes it’s difficult to find what you’re looking for, and sometimes you find it and it’s too expensive. For those times, I recommend doing this:
-Find your favourite books on Goodreads. They probably belong to a list of similar books. See what other readers have added to the list and increase your Want-to-Read bookshelf. You can also check the most popular lists (and all the rest) here, but there are too many, so proceed with caution.
–Here is another masterlist where you can find many sites where you can legally download books for free.
-Do everything in this tumblr post: How to legally get cheap or free ebooks instead of pirating like a garbage person. If you’re an ebook-hater, some books won’t be available in this day and age, but authors and goodreads still organize giveaways for paperbacks; and bookdepository, already mentioned in that post, will always be your friend.
Join the community
You will have done it if you’ve followed the tips to legally get cheap or free books, but you can get more out of this experience if you’re a prospective writer, so:
-Follow your favourite writers and publishers on goodreads, twitter, facebook, their blogs… Join their newsletters and read what they have to say. It’s always interesting!
Don’t be shy
Yeah, you people should be the ones telling me how to do it. I just try to reply whenever I have something to say and keep my fingers crossed, but if you’re following your favourite authors, maybe telling them why you love their books would be a good way to break the ice. You’d like that if you were in their place, right? And they’re human after all. Amazing human beings, for sure, but still human.
-I don’t have links for this one, but please remember that being polite is always necessary when you talk to other people.
How you want to practice is very personal, so you may want to go look around the Internet and check what works for you. Here are some things that did the trick for me:
-Lee Welch shared a post On ignoring writing advice that I found extremely useful. I have problems with anxiety and self-doubt, but now I’ve embraced the thought that my first book won’t be perfect and it doesn’t have to be. I’m also thinking about writing some short stories before I write a novel. It’s all an experiment, right? We’ll see how it goes.
-Anyway, in order to ignore the advice, you have to read it first. And there are lots of places for that. I think I may make another masterlist about writing advice, but if you want to do some reading now, there’s a very complete list in thewritepractice.
-You’ll also find lots of sites that will share prompts daily, like the popular Writing Prompts account on tumblr.
-And, again, a good way to practice and receive feedback from readers is writing fan fiction. There are many places, but my favourite is Archive of Our Own.
I finally decided what pic to use as an avatar! I will use something different in the future, but I hope this one is good enough for now.
Do you like it? I’ve chosen this image (with assistance) because it’s a photo I took of the sky in Madrid. You can see the sun, which is “sol” in Spanish, together with the clouds and sky I like so much.
Dusks with beautiful colors are very common and popular in Madrid, all thanks to pollution (I wish I was joking), so I thought it would be good to have an image people could associate with my name and origins.
I have also updated my twitter account with the same profile picture and then embedded the twitter widget on the sidebar here.
Now I just need a new header, right?
By the way, it’s probably too early, but I just got a domain for this blog. It’s https://solverawriter.com/ and… we’ll see if it’s worth it!
I’m always surprised to find people on the Internet who think they’re “too old” to write a novel and… they’re… 30 years old. Or younger!
It makes me wonder how literature is seen in the rest of the world. In Spain, important and famous writers are over 40 years old. The older, the better, since you have more experience and you’re supposed to write serious novels that critics will approve.
So I always thought 30 was young for a writer to start publishing. Below that? That was gifted-kid level. But maybe things have changed since then. Maybe it’s just different in Spain…
…Or so I believed until a Spanish friend mentioned she felt it was too late for her, and she’s younger than I am! So, here is what I have to say about this: no, you don’t have to accomplish everything before you’re 20, but it’s fine if you want to start before that (even though you’re not even an adult in some countries). You can also be a genius and write amazing novels before you’re 40, but life experience will always make them better with time. So go ahead and start writing as soon as you can, but don’t stop there. Keep writing and getting better at it.
As I said in this post, I’m glad I didn’t try to publish what I used to write years ago (because it was terrible). However, I’m aware that I’m taking the slowest approach and it’s not the best way to do it. That’s why I decided to create this blog and check what I’ve accomplished and what I have left to do. So far, I think it’s working: for the first time in two years, the mountain of notebooks I have to transcribe is decreasing!
I still have much to do, but at least I don’t feel too old or too young anymore. I’m just proceeding at my own pace, and trying to make it the right one for me.
Today I wanted to let you know that I’ve changed the color palette of the blog. I hope this one makes it easier to read! But let me know if you liked the previous one better, of course. For me it had an important issue: the default color for links was too similar to the rest of the text, and I couldn’t tell where they were. Did this palette fix that or do you have trouble seeing green text?
In other news (already spoiled by the title), I got a new Twitter account! This one is in English and will be related to this blog, so I hope I can use it almost daily. We’ll see, I guess. For now, feel free to check it out here!
And that is all for now. If you have any suggestions, complaints or pieces of advice, feel free to contact me here or on twitter!
As you know, I am a prospective writer myself (I also like the term unpublished writer), so I don’t have much experience… but I’ve been at this stage for a long time and everyone’s journey is different. Sometimes it’s better to share your experience before too much time has passed, I think, so this is what I’m doing hoping it will help other people out.
Read a lot.
Especially in the genres you want to write. There’s no better way to know what the tropes are, what has been done before, and what the readers are going to expect and demand.
You may realize that your original ideas have been done many times before, but don’t get discouraged. As a reader, you’ll know that every work is different and you’ll always want to read more of what you love.
However, you may also notice that something is missing in your favourite genre and find a way to contribute by making it more diverse.
Some people avoid reading in their genre while they’re writing, so as not to be influenced by other works. That’s fine, and reading other genres may help during those long periods of time, but I think it’s important to note that those writers have been avid readers before they started writing. Better not skip this step.
Join the community.
Thanks to new technologies and social media, now we have the opportunity to follow authors, editors, publishers and readers across all platforms. Take it!
Your favourite writers are all over Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads… and some of them can even be found on tumblr!
You can also follow their blogs if you prefer that, of course.
Readers of your favourite genre will also have interesting things to say, and they’ll share a lot of helpful information. They also share reviews and related news… even more often than authors, who are usually busy writing and panicking about deadlines.
I’ve learnt a lot this way, and I’ll share some useful links I’ve found if you’re interested.
Don’t be shy.
I know I should follow my own advice, since I’m terribly shy and have no self-confidence… but if someone like me can ask questions when in doubt, you can too!
And the first thing I learnt talking to writers is that many of them are glad to talk to readers, help people and answer questions.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be polite. Please don’t send authors your work out of the blue and demand their opinion. It doesn’t work like that (sometimes editors and agents have free time and will read some first chapters and give their advice, in case you were wondering). I can’t fathom how some people think demanding things from authors is the best approach, but it’s apparently very common.
If you’ve already read enough (it’s never enough, I know), remember that practice makes perfect.
Well, nothing will actually be 100% perfect, so don’t become obsessed with perfection… but the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Fanfics are the most common practice nowadays, and with good reason.
Some people prefer writing short stories and sending them to contests, but I am a fanfic advocate. You get lots of practice making short and long stories, get quick feedback, learn how to deal with critique and how to work with beta-readers… (And if you prefer contests because you have a chance to publish your story, remember that some fanfics have shared the same fate.)
This is also related to the previous point. Good fanfics need a good beta-reader… and that could be you! Reading allows you to devise a goal, practice allows you to realize which are your most obvious mistakes… but all works need a second pair of eyes (at the very least!) and you can learn a lot from other writers. It’s easier to beta-read fan fiction, since there are lots of fanfics being written every day and you don’t need a resumé to apply. Seeing other people’s strong points and weaknesses will help you discover your own. It is an incredible chance you shouldn’t miss.
That is all I have for now, but I am open to suggestions! Which steps worked for you? Do you agree with any of these? Tell me what you think!