Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to write a book in 30 days by Lizzy Ford

Welcome back Lizzy Ford to The Mystique!! 

Lizzy has been wonderful enough to share how she writes all her novels. Now Lizzy is unlike most authors I know, she can write a book in about 30 days! So yes Lizzy I am VERY intrigued!!

I also invite you to check out her first book, "Katie's Hellion" which is free on Amazon US, iTunes/iBooks, and Smashwordsword. It's currently in the top 50 free books for Kindle and on the iTunes "What's Hot" list.  

And now here Lizzy explaining what she does best!!

How to Write a Book in 30 Days

First, I’d like to thank Mila for asking me to return to her blog! I think I sparked her curiosity during my first visit when I told her about my freakish ability to write a book every 30-45 days.  Thank you, Mila!

For those who work full-time jobs or are trying to wrangle kids, the first few steps below can be done in a few minutes each, when you have time. This is how I used to do it at work. I’d write my one sentence summaries on sticky notes around my desk then take them home with me to write a scene.

My main goal was to do as much of the character and plot development in my head as possible, because I had to focus all my free time on actual writing. 

Step One: Preparation.

Set a daily goal. It can be to write a scene, a certain number of words, or for a certain amount of time. To finish a book in a month, you’ll need to write about 2000 words a day.

Buy a small notebook/start a word doc to centralize your brainstorming.  Use this for:
one sentence summaries/blurbs (below)
  • character/place/other names
  • ideas you want to flesh out but don’t have time for
  • plot holes you recognize and want to fill later
  • potential subplots that pop up that you want to write about
  • any other ‘notes to self’ you want to make

Step Two: The Foundation

Summarize your main characters, their internal and external conflicts, and the barebones plot into one sentence each.  For each main character, include his/her foremost strength and his/her tragic flaw. The example below is for Rhyn from “Katie’s Hellion.”

Character summary: A half-demon exiled for his inability to control his magic
Conflicts: Internal: He struggles with the evil side of his nature
      External: He must find a way to be accepted among those who exiled him
Plot: He is destined to become the mate of a human with a unique gift

Step Three: Interrogate your characters

Ask each main character about his/her background and what they’re doing right NOW.  Then interrogate them: why, how, with whom, when, where. Boil these answers down into a few brief sentences. Pretend you’re peeking in on your characters and their worlds. Imagine what the weather is like for them, the time of day, what they see or hear going on around them and most importantly – how they feel about their world in that split second.
Example: The half-demon, half-immortal Rhyn is pacing in his dark, cold cell in Hell. His only friend, Gabriel, just appeared and handed him a leather-bound book about humans. Rhyn’s been exiled to Hell by his six brothers, who are angry at him for almost blowing up the world.

Step Four: The opening scene

This is for the first chance you have to write.  Write your first scene (or two!) based on the answers your characters gave you above. I know it can be difficult to expand those short blurbs you’ve created. A few tips:

There are two keys to these initial scenes: Dialogue and sensory detail.  You want about a 70:30 ratio of dialogue:prose and you want to introduce your readers to this new world in a way that makes it real to them.

Not sure where to start? Give your characters something to talk about, like why Gabe is there and why he’s got a book for Rhyn.

Start your story at a point right before major transition occurs. This transition should be the plot taking off. Your opening scenes will provide the introduction and foundation to the world you’re inviting your reader into. It should also provide the foreshadowing to something getting ready to happen.

Jot down a sentence about each new character you introduce. In this case, I’d go write a sentence about Gabe on a sticky note.

Put everything down on paper, even if the dialogue sounds hokey and half the prose is misspelled. You’re not aiming for perfection in the first draft; you want to get it all down then revise later.

Step Five: 

If you’re writing a book with multiple points of view, repeat steps one through four to create opening scenes for your main characters.

Step Six: The subsequent scene(s).

In your opening scene(s), you laid the foundation. In the subsequent scenes, the plot takes off. Interrogate your characters, reread the first scene, and write down a short blurb about the next scene.

Example: Rhyn sees a human woman brought into Hell. Through discussions with his fellow inmates and the warden of Hell, he discovers she’s been kidnapped – and is somehow special.

Step Seven: 

When you get home from work/put the kids to bed, write the second scene using the same tips as before: dialogue, sensory detail and foreshadowing (or launching of the plot.)

Step Eight: 

Repeat steps six and seven ad nauseum!

Step Nine

If you get to a place where you run out of ideas to write, try one of these:
  • interrogate your character(s) again
  • change the setting and give a character a reason to go somewhere else
  • fill in one of the plot holes you identified
  • introduce transition
  • DIALOGUE. Give your character a reason to talk to someone and let him/her talk.
  • add in one of the identified subplots
  • write a scene where your main characters meet each other (or other important people) in their lives

Step Ten: Cut yourself some slack. 

No, really!  Your first draft is about getting your ideas, characters and plots on paper. Allow yourself to make mistakes, to start subplots you never finish and to explore the world you created.  Just keep track of everything in your notebook, so you know what to start with when you go back to revise.

What makes this method work? PRACTICE.  

If you can learn to do a lot of the planning and outlining in your mind, you’ll save time when you go to write your scenes.  Try drilling yourself for a week about making one-sentence summaries for characters (or coworkers!) or mini-plot summaries until it becomes easier to do.  Or start writing the opening scenes in your mind before you put them on paper. 


About the Author:

Lizzy Ford is the hyper-prolific author of the "Rhyn Trilogy" and "War of Gods" series, both launched in 2011, as well as multiple single title young adult fantasy and paranormal romances. Lizzy's books have reached into the bestseller lists on both Amazon US and Amazon UK in multiple categories. Through her unconventional online marketing strategies, Lizzy has gone from selling 20 books in January 2011 to around 5000 books in September 2011 and from over 7,000 free downloads of her work in January 2011 to over 40,000 downloads in September 2011.

The Lizzy Ford team consists of: Matt, IT and search engine optimization expert; Christine LePorte, freelance book editor; Dafeenah, graphics artist; and Toni, English-Spanish translator.

Lizzy is considered by most to be the ultimate writing freak of nature for her ability to write and epublish a new book every 30-45 days. She is also a regular contributor for the Curiosity Quills website and is an active member of a small guild of nine passionate, talented writers, the Indie Eclective.  Lizzy's books are available from Amazon, BN, Smashwords, iBooks/iTunes, and all other eReader libraries.

Lizzy’s links:

·        Website: http://www.guerrillawordfare.com/
·        Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/LizzyFord2010


Jenn said...

Fantastic post! Sorry I missed the day! I thought it was going to be posted today!!!!!!

Lizzy said...

Thank you for hosting me again, Mila! :-) It's always a pleasure working with you!