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As you know, I am a prospective writer myself (I also like the term unpublished writer), so I don’t have much experience… but I’ve been at this stage for a long time and everyone’s journey is different.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!
Another notebook that’s now part of the digital world! This one I bought after my trip to Switzerland, where I’d visited an art exhibition and seen Monet’s Water Lilies. As you can see, the cover of the notebook mixes one of Monet’s manuscripts with a background based on the Water Lilies, while the magnetic clasp displays Monet’s signature.
The small notebooks by paperblanks are my favourite because they’re beautiful, solid, and the most durable I’ve found so far. They’re not heavy, either. I prefer the ones from the Embellished Manuscripts collection, like this one. Not only because I love seeing manuscripts of artists I like, but also because the magnetic clasp is very useful, saving the pages from (very) possible encounters with spilled liquids and sharp objects found inside a bag.
Anyway, there were lots of ideas for different stories in this one, including a few ones set in the city where I was born: Madrid. I think I have mentioned them in my previous post.
The fantasy story I was rewriting also appears in several pages, and it looks like I changed the names of the main characters along the way. I didn’t even remember they had placeholder names before!
I also wrote down some weird dreams I’d had and more tips for amateur writers I found around the internet. Maybe I could share some links in the future if anyone is interested.
By the way, this is the last notebook I filled in 2015. I wonder what I’ll find in my next notebook…
First of all, thank you for all your likes, comments and questions! It was a surprise to find so much support and encouragement after just a few posts.
Some of you have asked me about the actual contents of my notebooks. In other words, you wanted to know what I write about. I don’t know if you meant everything that makes it into my notebooks or what may become a book one day, but I’m assuming it’s the latter.
I’m still reticent about giving details because I’m not sure about anything I do… and I’ve changed plot and characters too many times to ignore the very real possibility that it may happen again. I’m aware that nothing is set in stone… but I can give you (and myself) some general ideas.
These are the stories I’d like to finish one day:
A fantasy romance with a disabled MC.
A paranormal/historical romance set in Madrid, Spain.
Another fantasy romance with an MC trapped in someone else’s body.
A paranormal/historical romance set in Alcalá de Henares, Spain.
Since I love fantasy, historical and paranormal romance, I want to write those, but I keep having ideas for other contemporary stories with main characters and situations that’d be fun to write. Perhaps even a superhero romance…
Maybe I should start with those, since the research wouldn’t take that long? I could write a short story first….
I’ve always wanted to give credit where it’s due, so before I answer any more of your questions, I thought it would be good to give you a bit of a background. For me, reading comes before writing, and I learn something new from every book, but I wanted to share a list of the books that had the biggest impact on me and why:
“The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende: In hindsight, this is the book that made me want to become a writer, even though I didn’t dare say it out loud. I know I’m not alone here; this book is really inspiring.
“The Hobbit” + “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien: A classic, right? But these books did not only fuel my love for epic fantasy… they also helped me decide I wanted to study English Philology. I was very young at the time, so I didn’t really believe I’d go through with it, but at 17 I realized (again) that it was the best degree for me.
The Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling: These novels belong to the fantasy of manners subcategory and are to blame for the longest book hangover I’ve ever had (over a year and a half!). Yes, they are that good. I’d never read anything like this series, and I thought I never would again. I’m glad to report I was wrong, but it was the first time I’d read a fantasy book in which the main characters ended up being LGBTQ+, and I didn’t know where to find more.
“Widdershins” by Jordan L. Hawk: It turned out one of my friends did know where to find more, and wisely told me to read this book (which is the first in a series). It cured my book hangover, made me want to read and write again, and helped me rediscover a genre I thought was too homogeneous for me: Romance. The book was a real eye-opener, the kind that makes you ask “Wait, people can do that?!”, and my life has fortunately never been the same afterward.
This list is chronological, as you might have guessed. Of course, there are many books I love just as much, but reading these were life-changing experiences, and I hope this post will help you understand what I want to write one day.
I got asked this question and the short answer is: I’m not sure. I’ve been thinking about it, and I remembered I used to write diaries and very long letters, but I wasn’t very good at keeping diaries and people tend to stop replying to handwritten letters, so that was it.
But then I started what I didn’t know was a self-insert fanfic when I was 10 or 11 years old. As you might have guessed, I’m very glad I never shared it online (I didn’t have a computer and AO3 didn’t even exist back then!), but it must be hidden somewhere. And it shall remain that way forever. It was an animorphs fanfic, if you have to know, and all my friends were in it, of course. Together we were fighting the Yeerks, saving the Earth, getting Tobias to open up about his feelings…. the usual. There was no romance because I wasn’t the only one who liked Tobias, so I didn’t want to make him choose. Better to keep all options open and all parties interested.
I was 13 when my parents heard about a writing workshop for kids. I went there every Sunday for a while, but they cancelled it. Some years later, they decided to open one for teens with the same teacher, and I joined again. And after a while, I joined the one for adults, even though I wasn’t an adult yet. There was a a very intelligent boy who was even younger than me, a goth girl that fought ignorance and intolerance in every way, a Tunisian girl whose writing flowed as beautifully as her drawings, a journalist that hated journalism, a historian that loved auctions, and lots of mate (the drink). One day I got to touch a piano score handwritten by Chopin. It was amazing.
We even published a few books, but nothing too long or elaborate.
After the workshop ended for good, I tried writing a couple of things. But not having a teacher who would tell me if they were good or not… meant I just decided they weren’t. To be honest, my fantasy story was too childish and still a bit of a self-insert, so I think I was right to abandon it. Still, I didn’t want to let some of the characters die, and I kept thinking about them… until I got that notebook I told you about. That’s when I decided to rewrite the whole story now that I know what I want. More or less.
Years have passed and I’m still not confident enough, but I’ve decided to keep writing. Mainly because I enjoy it. But also because these stories and characters are eating my brain until I let them out.
Books don’t write themselves, yes, but they also take a lot of space until you do.
Another notebook that I can finally put away! I bought this one before leaving on a trip to Switzerland in 2015. It’s bigger than the previous one because I was expecting to spend a lot of time travelling by train and writing.
And I did write a lot during that trip, so it was a good choice, but it took me a while to finish it because it was too big to carry around. Once I went back from my holidays, I only used it at home because my bad shoulder doesn’t allow me to carry too many things.
Anyway, its contents are now part of my Scrivener projects, and I have to admit it was an interesting process. At some point during that trip to Switzerland, I must have decided to change the main characters of the story I was rewriting (again, and hopefully for the last time). I thought it had happened much later and I was expecting to find a ton of obsolete information, but it wasn’t so. Most of what I’ve found in this notebook is still usable, and I was pleasantly surprised.
It took me a lot of time to type all of it, but most of my notebooks are much smaller, so I hope the process will be faster from now on.
Yes, Sol Vera is a pseudonym, and I have to use it for various reason. I have a day job, I use my real name for other kind of publications, I’m terribly shy…
I wanted so use a short name that shared my nationality (Spanish) and sounded familiar. People who know me have said it reminds them of my personality, so maybe I chose well after all.
I chose Sol because it means “sun”, which is something typically Spanish. A vera can be the bank of a river or somebody’s side (as in she stood by my side), but also half of the Spanish name for spring, “primavera”, which is the season in which I was born.
I can still change it if I find something wrong with it, so let me know if you think it’s a bad name for any reason!
This is the first notebook I filled with my own writings. The notebook was a present from a friend who lives mainly in Singapore, and it made me want to rewrite a story I’d started writing years ago.
I started rewriting in 2014, so it has rained a few times since then. I’ve also found lots of notes for other stories inside, including several fanfics, and even tips for wannabe writers.
At one point, I started using different colours each time I sat down to write. That way, it’s easier to recognize when another story (or another part of the same story) begins, so I’ve been doing the same ever since. I use pretty colours like purple, teal or crimson because I think they help with creativity. Or, at least, I do get bored when everything looks the same. And my handwriting is terrible, so let me have something that makes reading it acceptable.
I already have this notebook in my (several) Scrivener projects, but this was the notebook that started everything, so I wanted to post a… memorial, I guess.
If I think about it a bit, I’d reply “Yes, trying to make sense out of Chaos”.
And that’s true, but after years of reading, introspection, trial and error… I’ve realized I prefer writing on paper. Thus, I have several small notebooks, and I always carry one with me wherever I go. Whenever I start writing something, I make a note of the story/idea it belongs to. Each notebook has parts and pieces of various stories, and my mind doesn’t quite grasp the meaning of time and chronological order, so I have to make sense of that mess eventually.
This happens when I type everything I’ve written. I use Scrivener for that, and it’s very useful to be able to jump from folder to folder within the same project, but I can’t use it as my sole tool because I keep revising the text every time I open the project instead of writing anything new.
So I’ve decided to stick to my notebooks. But first I have to type everything I’ve done until now because the queue is turning overwhelming. I’ll let you know each time I finish with one, as a kind of reward.