What I’ve learned from Ghostwriting.

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As I pass another significant milestone in my (crazy?) attempt to write one million words in two years, it occurred to me how much my outlook on the craft of writing has changed in eighteen months.

(Image: At night, by Georg Charwat)

In 2015, I embarked upon my personal challenge to write half a million words before the year ended. By the end of December, I was able to claim 502,000 words written in the form of stories, outlines and synopses. I’d fully intended to throttle back in 2016, but a busy first few months saw the numbers continue to rack up. As March came around, I realised I was already on target to complete 125,000 in the first quarter (4 x 125k = another 1/2 million, yeah?).

So I thought, why not go for the full million?

Yes, I know I planned to calm down in 2016, but my momentum was building, and by July, I’d achieved 3/4 million, and was (almost) on target to complete the full million by the end of the year.

It was an irresistible target.

*Pauses for breath*

Those who know me will have noticed I’ve been less active on social media and blogging since I began this crazy journey. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day, and something had to give. But just so you know, I’m planning to throttle back, to calm down, and take it easy with the writing in 2017.

Maybe.🙂

But eighteen months of writing at near-NaNo pace has taught me many things.

First of all, I realised I needed to be organised.

Although my spreadsheet is not yet as graphic as the one on the NaNo site…

graph

…I managed to put together a useful sheet that charts every word I write, although it still lacks the nicety of a graph(I will address this soon).

At the end of each day, I have a list of stories, both current and historic, on which I manually insert the word count of the project I’m working on, and it updates this, the daily count sheet.

target screen shot 2

A third sheet then tells me how many words I still need to write in order to reach my target of one million.

target screen shot 1

If I write less, the requirement rate rises. If I have a good day, and manage to write a few thousand, the requirement rate falls. You get the idea.

Without this, I would have little idea of my progress, and couldn’t plan my writing targets. Heck, if I hadn’t counted up how much I’d written in the first place, I could never have aimed for the half-million!

The uppermost spreadsheet allows me to chart my slow days, and my best days. Most of my writing happens mid-week, so I have an additional target cell for the ‘four day week’ period. If can fulfil those days, the rest of the week takes care of itself.

The second thing I learned was the need for self-discipline. It’s a quality needed by any writer who is serious about their craft. You might already know this, you might be learning this the hard way, or you might be blissfully unaware of the need, in which case, enjoy writing at your own pace. It’s wonderful, but not necessarily productive.

For me, the spreadsheet keeps me motivated. Creating a target of one million words is a harsh motivator, but an effective one. It’s quantifiable. If I don’t work hard, my assigned workload creeps up, and if left unchecked, it would reach a point where it becomes impossible. For now, 1,600 words per day is feasible, although I would have preferred it to be lower. That will only happen if I increase my output, but I only have a finite number of free minutes in my day.

You might prefer to set yourself number-of-chapter targets, or number-of-minutes per day targets. Work with whatever fits best into your life. For me, the word count ties in nicely with my short story work, which is measured (and paid) by the number of words produced.

The third thing I became aware of was the need for constant inspiration. My clients, for the most part, leave the subject matter up to me, although I’m supplied with a few words to point me in the right direction (e.g. romance, adventure, vampire, shifter, werecat, paranormal, time travel, sci-fi etc). This means I constantly need to dream up new scenarios for as-yet unwritten characters, and the stories must differ enough from each other to avoid brain-mashing confusion as well as potential plagiarism (of my own work!) issues.

The plus side of this is I often end up with spare story ideas, which I can then use to create short stories under my own name. Several times, I’ve begun writing for a client, only to realise the story has greater potential for an extended series, so why waste the idea on a one-off?

With that in mind, I keep the proto-series idea for myself, and write something new which better suits a one-off HEA (Happy Ever After) tale.

Win-win.😀

Finally, I had to embrace closure. Seasoned writers will appreciate how it’s possible to get close to characters, to want the best for them and leave them happy (or not, depending on the genre). Perhaps it’s so difficult to let them go, that sequels spring up, even a whole series. Not so with Ghostwriting. It’s necessary, even essential to learn to let go. Once they’ve flown the nest, they never write, never call and very rarely do they return for new adventures. I have fond memories of some of my creations (my Valkyrie women, to name one), but they’re gone, and I must move on…

I’d be interested in hearing from other ghostwriters who haunt the blogsphere. What has writing for others taught you? Do my experiences ring true, or do you feel differently?

Now I must return to my laptop and fulfil my allocation for the day (2,821 words) or I’ll fall further behind (it’s been a slow week).

I wish you all well in your endeavours.

If you enjoy it,

you should;

acern270ginger write on

PS I’ve now added a graph to illustrate my progress better. Plus, it adds a little colour. And it illustrates graphically that I’ve fallen behind my target.😦

screen shot progress graph

‘A Fury of Angels’ is now available for pre-order

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April sees me unusually organised with my work.

With ‘A Fury of Angels’ out for beta reading, I’ve already listed the book provisionally on Amazon, and its now available for pre-ordering, should anyone be keen to read it.🙂

There’s plenty of time for me to make final changes to the MS before it goes live, but I thought I’d set myself a publication deadline in order to get this, the final story in the (first) trilogy completed and put to bed.

Put to bed? Nah!

It ought to be rising with the lark, ready for the day ahead, its tummy filled with tasty breakfast!

Just to demonstrate that Amazon’s pre-ordering system works, I found this whilst browsing:

A Fury of Angels japan

Also available for pre-order in Japan. Don’t you love the 21st Century?

Have a great day!

I must now Write On. Half a million words aren’t going to write themselves!

Andrew Toynbee logo

Cover reveal – A Fury of Angels.

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It’s been a few months since my last post. I’ve been extra busy this year with artwork, formatting, editing and writing. Already my word count is matching that of 2015, which means I might once again hit half a million words, even though I’d only planned a target of one third million.

One of the projects has been ‘A Fury of Angels,’ the final story in ‘The Angels of York’ trilogy.

Yes, Sara and Michael’s adventures have now concluded, although they haven’t ended by any means.

So here, for the first time, is the third cover, as created by the talented Ravven.

angel_promo

It’s consistent with the previous two covers, featuring the quatrefoil tower, stormy sky and mysterious supernatural character. I’ve already received early feedback that this colourful cover is more eye-catching than the first two, something which was intentional.

Each new cover is brighter than its predecessor, promising a better and brighter future for my characters, even though the stakes are higher and the danger grows.

I’m close to completing the Kindle-formatted ‘Fury of Angels,’ and the Createspace layout is all but finished, meaning the trilogy will be complete and up for sale very soon.

Watch Amazon and Smashwords closely!

Until then, I continue to;

acern270ginger write on

Acer Switch half million words

 

 

Half a million words in a year?

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source; Stock.Xchng

source; Stock.Xchng

Back in June, I wrote a blog post about my aim to achieve Quarter of a Million words by midsummer. That particular goal was achieved, and more, so I looked ahead and wondered if it would be madness to aim for half a million before the end of 2015.

Crazy, I thought. Half a million?

Now, at the time of writing, I’ve somehow (and it still amazes me) racked up 410,000 real words, most of them the in order right.

(Yes, I know I did the same joke back in June) *shrugs.*

So, at this point, half a million words before the year end seems achievable. My target for the end of September (this week), if I had been writing consistently, was 375,000. Bang. Blown that figure out of the water.

How have I been able to put down so many words this year? Having a whole string of short stories to write has been a major part of this, leaving me with no shortage of writing material. Got a block? Simply skip over to another story until the block passes.

The downside of all this is that my third book, and the last in the trilogy, ‘A Fury of Angels,’ has slipped behind schedule, so if I’m to complete it in time for my editor to savage (kidding!) in January, I need to put aside at least a month to complete it.

If only I had a cloning machine…

Andrew Toynbee logo

Live action book trailer for A Construct of Angels.

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film-clapper jaylopez

image courtesy of jaylopez at Stock Xchng, modified by Andrew Toynbee

 

In the past few days, I’ve released several teaser trailers for ‘A Construct of Angels,’ my live-action trailer.

Now here’s the full video, which has gone through many phases of editing, as well as a beta review by several friends.

A Construct of Angels (novel).

camera-gianni testore

image courtesy of gianni testore at Stock Xchng

As with writing, it’s only once you embark on making something like this, do you realise how many people become involved. Creating something as complex as a novel or a short movie requires patience, dedication and a number of good friends, willing to lend a hand.

There were many other elements I wanted to add to this short trailer, but time, money (i.e. the lack of it) and a wish to see this released on September 16th, the day the first book begins, all led to the video being wrapped up in late August, with a few last-minute edits (inevitably).

I hope you like it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the time to make a sequel, but who knows? If the response is encouraging, then it would be worthwhile.

Until then, I endeavour to Write On…

Andrew Toynbee logo

 

Teaser trailers for ‘A Construct of Angels.

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CoA 4

It’s been a long time coming, but my efforts to create a live action trailer for my novel are nearing completion:

(Teaser1)

(Teaser2)

(Teaser3)

(Teaser4)

The Full video will be released on September 16th. It’s been almost three years (November 2012) since I conceived the idea of a live-action trailer. Finding people to feature in it has been difficult.

I’ve tried in vain to engage drama schools in both Burton-upon-Trent and York areas. Finally, with the help of a work colleague I managed to find Tamar, the young lady who acts out the role of my main character, Sara Finn.

More on this feature in a couple of days.

Logo created by Tarnya Rutheford

Logo created by Tarnya Rutheford

 

 

Second paperback completed!

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tarnya paperback banner

Ordering the CreateSpace proof copy was a good move. Definitely. The 1.5 line spacing I’d used to prevent the book being as thin as an advertising flyer made the whole story look as if it was a child’s book.

I changed the spacing to 1.0, which immediately shrank the page count to the point where the cover would have wrapped twice around the book. Oops.

So some re-jigging was called for. After several infuriating days watching words, sentences, and images sliding around of their own free will (anyone who has worked with Word will know what I mean), I’ve finally arrived at a point where the MS is where I need it to be.

Six copies have now been ordered from the US, along with another six copies of CoA for my ‘impulse buy’ stocks.

I can now declare book 2 to be over and done with, done and dusted, completed and in the bag. *shifts focus to book 3.*

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to:

acern270ginger write on

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