Writing Bootcamp: Five Ways To Revive Your Novel by Luisa Plaja

Monday, October 10, 2011

Writing Bootcamp is a blog series in which I invite fabulous authors to share with you (yes, you! assuming you are an inquisitive writer) their best bits of writerly advice. Today, Luisa Plaja, author of novels including Split by a Kiss, Swapped by a Kiss, and Kiss Date Love Hate, shares five ways to revive your novel!


When you wrote the first page of your manuscript, it was true love. But now, several chapters in, things have cooled a bit. Perhaps it's all starting to feel too much like hard work. Or you're totally stuck. Maybe your novel is flagging... or you are?

Here are a few of my tried-and-tested methods for reviving a WIP...

  1. Look at it from a different angle. Take a character who doesn't already have a direct voice in your story and freewrite from their point of view. Let this character rant about their likes and dislikes, and talk about what they think of your main character. I did this for my second novel, Extreme Kissing, which was originally told from one point of view ('good girl' Bethany). I ended up so involved in the new voice ('bad girl' Carlota) that I decided to keep it and write both points of view in alternating chapters. After that, there was no stopping me. I'm not sure I'd recommend that you go that far, but looking closely at another character's point of view can definitely get the writing flowing again.
  2. Give yourself permission to delete. If you're stuck, you might want to delete a whole scene or scenes, taking you back to a time when you knew where the story was going and everything felt rosy. This can free you up to go in a shiny new direction. Keep all the off-cuts in a file so that it's not too upsetting, and remind yourself you can always put the chunks back. Chances are, you won't do anything of the sort. You'll rid yourself of some cumbersome darlings and never look back. But who knows when someone might be interested in a Director's Cut...?
  3. Skip forwards. Is there a scene you're dying to write, but you just can't figure out how to get there? Write it anyway and work out the route another day. You might even find that you don't need the part in between after all. In either case, it's fine to write the bits that excite you today if it means getting unstuck and moving on with your story.
  4. Join a writing challenge. Or, if there isn't one, start your own. Declare on Twitter/Facebook/offline - wherever the right kind of people hang out - that you intend to write a certain number of words or reach a particular goal. It's amazing how this can get you writing. (Personal note: I hadn't finished a novel until the first time I did NaNoWriMo, which is when I completed the first draft of the manuscript which is now Extreme Kissing. At that point I was stuck half-way through the novel which is now Split by a Kiss...)
  5. Read something inspirational. There are a couple of how-to-write books I keep handy because there's always something there to give me the right kind of spark. (These books include Juicy Writing by Brigid Lowry and Escaping into the Open by Elizabeth Berg.) Or sometimes I hang around on Twitter (!) and it's never long before someone posts a wonderful, inspiring link, such as this one by Karen Mahoney: http://kaz-mahoney.livejournal.com/248213.html or this one by Malinda Lo: http://www.malindalo.com/2011/09/how-to-not-give-up-when-writing/


Luisa Plaja loves words and books. Her novels for teenagers include Split by a Kiss, Extreme Kissing and Swapped by a Kiss. She lives in Devon, England, and has two young children. Her next book, Kiss Date Love Hate, will be published by the Corgi imprint at Random House Children’s Books in February 2012. Check out her website: http://www.luisaplaja.co.uk/ and the teen book site she runs, the very awesome Chicklish: http://www.chicklish.co.uk/
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