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Planning – Part 3 (It’s All In The Detail)

Creating the perfect names for my characters and pinpointing the location for my story is hard work. I don’t know if it’s because I’m quite an indecisive person, but I’ve spent an extremely long time trying to make the correct decisions.

I’ve changed the names of my main two characters more times than I can count. And I’ve still not decided on the actual location of where the story will be based.

But is there such a thing as correct decisions when it comes to writing fiction?

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Geographically speaking, I could choose to set my story here in London, or somewhere I’ve never even visited.

I could totally even make up a whole new place and act like it’s been here on Earth all this time. Or not even specifically name the location. So many writers have done these and it seems to work.

I think the key to writing a convincing and vivid setting is this: RESEARCH. If the location is a real place, go visit, take photos and note down small details that you notice that you normally may not pay attention to. If visiting isn’t a realistic option, watch documentaries and take a look at photographs or books. If the location is made up, draw maps, sketch certain places where important events take place. Basically, familiarise yourself with the setting you’ve created so that the descriptions can flow freely instead of being imposed.

NAMES

In regards to characters, I believe it’s important to choose names with meaning, that suit their individual stories and still sound cool. The name needs to fit the person. I’ve even checked and double-checked origins of surnames to be ethnically accurate.

I’ve had times that I thought I’m overthinking these little details and I questioned if they will even have a big impact on the story… But being an avid reader myself, I know how important details like these are. It helps set the tone and build a connection between the reader and the world within the book. Paying attention to these details is the difference between a memorable story and just any other book off the shelf.

Hey, it’s me.

It’s a grey, wet day in London and having spent the whole day at home with the kids, I haven’t been able to do much work…not for a lack of trying. So I thought I’d do something quick and tell you guys a little bit about myself.

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My name is C. Gizem Arik. I was born and raised in North London.

From a young age, I loved to spend my time curled up in bed reading. It was the calmest moments of my day, when I was completely out of my own head and engrossed in whatever world the author had created. I could experience such vivid adventures with just a few words in a book. And that’s what I want to create for other people.

I love so many books from so many different genres that I really can’t say I have a favourite. But I think I can say that the author that truly amazed me with their imagination, and inspired me to put mine to good use, was J. R. R. Tolkien. So I’m also not surprised that my favourite movies of all time are the ones based on his books.

It would be crazy to imagine ever reaching his level…but it’s good to aim high.

Like everyone in the world, I’ve had bad times, good times, and times somewhere in the middle. And I’m hoping I can put all of it to good use through my stories and characters.

Do I ever think it would be easier to just go and get a job in a company for design and engineering, seeing as I’m already qualified for it? Truthfully, sometimes I do. But my heart’s not on it. I want to write. It’s funny, but I actually feel super excited every time I’m about to sit down and work on my novel. Even though I’m still on the outlining stage, seeing my ideas come together just makes me more eager to start writing up my first draft.

The only challenging part for me now (but also the best part of my life), is doing the amount of work I need to do whilst running around after my wildlings at home.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Planning – Part 2 (The Outline)

To outline, or not to outline, that is the question.

The topic of outlining seems to be somewhat controversial amongst writers. There are many successful authors, such as J. K. Rowling and Jodi Picoult, who like to have, at the least, a basic plot outline. But, there are also other successful authors, such as Khaled Hosseini or Stephen King, who feel that having an outline boxes them in and takes away from the spontaneity of writing and, therefore, the story.

I can see why some writers believe that having a plot outline can make a story or its characters seem less realistic. It’s not like everything in our lives is planned out and executed perfectly. Or that there are never any surprises. But could it also be that these successful writers have gained so much experience over the numerous books they’ve written, that they haven’t felt the need to make an outline in a long time?

However, why then do other very successful writers still believe that having an outline is beneficial to the writing process? I suppose having already figured out any kinks and plot holes in the outline provides a sense of reliability and makes for a more organized, comfortable and enjoyable writing experience.

Having only just entered the magical universe of doing some serious writing, I feel that not having an outline is very brave, and kinda crazy. That’s why I’ve started a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline of my story. You could argue that that’s slightly extreme, but not knowing if I will have to redo everything because my story has ended up riddled with loads of plot holes, makes me really anxious. Maybe that will change as I gain more experience, but for now I definitely think I will feel more confident writing when I know what’s coming up.

Who knows? Maybe once I start writing, I will naturally divert off course and let my curiosity and spontaneity take lead…

Planning – Part 1 (Write It Down)

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. — Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie was right, at least in my case. Over the years, I have spent many dish washing sessions trying to think of a perfect plot with awesome characters.

The problem was my confidence in my ideas kept faltering, therefore I never made it to actually developing a plan. I got to a stage where I was so annoyed at myself for having spent countless years in the cycle of thinking and scrapping, I decided that the next idea I have, whether it initially seems good or bad, I will write it down and look back at it a few days later. Just doing this really basic thing made a big difference.

Good old pen and paper!

You might be thinking, what kind of writer doesn’t write down their ideas anyway? And you’d be correct. Once I started putting pen to paper (old fashioned, I know, but that’s how I roll), I actually started to feel like I was making progress as a writer.

Even though I have noted down loads of ideas that I haven’t explored further, I feel more confident when I look back at them because I realise they aren’t as bad as I had myself believe in that moment of self doubt. Having a log of ideas to go back to is the most simple step a writer can take to embark on their mission of finding a story they want to tell.

I finally have an idea I want to pursue, and if I hadn’t jotted it down, planning it further would have been more daunting (if not impossible) for me. At least I am no longer recycling through the same ideas in my mind with no real development.

Lesson learned: I still use my daily dish washing sessions to plan my book, but now I WRITE IT DOWN. Whatever the idea.

The Journey Begins

It’s the job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish. — J.R.R. Tolkien

Hi, guys! This is my first ever blog post, so I kinda don’t know where to start. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any.

Growing up, I could never decide what I wanted to be. One day it would be ‘museum curator’, the next it would be ‘interior designer’, and then ‘singer’. You get the gist. I still couldn’t decide, even when college and university came around, so I ended up doing things that I have no interest in pursuing as a career, whatsoever.

When I had my first child, I finally had some time to really consider what I wanted to do. I thought about my passions, my likes and dislikes, and tried to imagine myself in my dream scenario. And I realised that my one true passion has always been reading. For years I had always thought about writing my own novel, but I never had the courage or mindset to seriously attempt it.

Now, years after battling anxiety, I’ve decided to say screw it! and just begin. I’ve wasted enough time and the longer I wait, the further away the dream seems to get.

I mean, what’s the worst that can happen, really? …Okay, let’s not delve into that…

Here we go!