~ More Step by Step ~

Posted: September 15, 2022 in books, creativity, Social media, Story, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, Top Tips, Writing
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Recently, I shared some of the insights gained from the Step by Step writer’s workshop, run by bestselling author Graeme Simsion, at our local writer’s festival. Graeme based his novel writing advice on his latest book, The Novel Project: A Step-by-Step Guide to Your Novel, Memoir, or Biography. He started the workshop by saying, “What I want you to have is what I have. When I get up in the morning, I know what I’m going to do, and I make serious progress on my novel by the end of each day.”
Then he gave us the seven principles from The Novel Project.

0: Be aware of the process: or how you work best: “I always write in the same place at the same time. I start by reading what I wrote the day before.”
1: Writing is a craft that can be learned: “Every trade can be learned. Improvement is a career-long process.”
2: Concentrate on one thing at a time: “To write at a professional level takes work. Don’t try to focus on everything at once. The best way to tackle a difficult task is to break it down into steps.”
3: Make your work explicit (and learn the language of structure): “At every stage, write it down. Whether it’s a line of dialogue or a character trait, keep notes.”
4: Manage your creativity (and give your unconscious a chance): “Set the time aside for creativity for your story. We can do tons of things to enhance our creativity. Your job is to figure out what works best for you. Notice when you get your best ideas and try to reproduce those. Think about improving the quality of your creative time.”

5: The process is mostly top-down, but not rigidly so: “Start with the idea and keep adding to it. Flesh it out. File every brainwave. The process is not a straightjacket; it’s a support. It’s not about rigidity but safety nets.”
6: Decisions are crucial to stories: “What makes a plot sing is plot twists and character development. When these two things come together, things happen. Character decisions are what makes a story interesting. A story outlined and conjure six or more character decisions, and you have gone a long way.”
7: Think in scenes: “It’s all about shape and structure. We are told ‘show don’t tell.’ A lot of writers don’t understand it. Try thinking in scenes. If you can imagine it on a movie screen, you are showing and not telling. You can stitch the reflections and the summaries in later.”

Great stuff, huh? The seven principles laid the groundwork. Then, Graeme shared the preparation and the process of novel writing, which I will detail in the next step-by-step post.
Even for pantsers like me, using a planned approach like this one espoused by Graeme Simsion will pay dividends. Graeme said, “If you write intuitively, you can still use structure. It pays to learn the language. Once I have my structure I have a safety net. Then imagination can take you somewhere stronger. Creativity loves a challenge, and constraints inspire creativity.”
Today, I’ll finish by sharing what Graeme told us about social media for authors. I’ve always struggled to manage all the social media requirements as an author. At one stage, I had seven different social media accounts. When I hired a publicist in 2020 to release The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, she told me to limit my accounts to two and focus on my writing. I quit every site except for this blog, and my Facebook page. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I found it fascinating that Graeme concurred with this attitude about social media for authors. He said, “Don’t waste your time.” And he demonstrated with a great example about the time Bill Gates mentioned his book, The Rosie Project, on Twitter. Graeme watched the stats that day, and he received virtually nil extra sales after the top-level shout-out. However, when Bill Gates mentioned his book during a television show, Graeme’s sales spiked through the roof. Likewise, when Graeme himself was interviewed on TV, his book sales rocketed. He said, “It’s a waste of time promoting your books on Twitter and Facebook and so on. Social media doesn’t sell books.” What a revelation, considering it’s currently touted by most folks in marketing as the snake oil you need to use most while promoting your book. It pays to listen to those in the know.

Thanks for the top tips, Graeme!

Talk to you later.
Keep creating!
Yvette Carol


“It’s a process of constantly enhancing creativity. You can break the rules and then come back again.” ~ Graeme Simsion


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  1. What a coincidence! I start writing by reading what I wrote the day before too. Helps with getting me back into the story.

    But regarding social media, I think that it depends. Authors like Brandon Sanderson have used social media to great effect, selling some $20 million worth of books through YouTube and Patreon. Perhaps it depends on the audience too. Anyway, thanks for this post!


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