Posts Tagged Fiction writing

Marie Laval’s Top 6 Writing Tips

I am delighted to have Marie Laval as a guest on my blog today. Marie is published by Choc Lit and writes both contemporary and historical romance. In 2021 she was shortlisted for the RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Award. She has kindly agreed to share with us her top six writing tips. Over to Marie:

Thank you so much for welcoming me on your blog today to share with you my writing tips. Every writer is different and I don’t pretend that my tips will suit everybody, but they have worked well for me so far. So here we go! MarieLavalAuthorPhoto1

  1. Write every day, even if it’s only a few lines. I know it’s not always possible, and I have myself found it extremely hard over the past year and a half and my writing has suffered. I try to scribble something about the story or the characters on a notebook before going to bed if I haven’t had the chance to do any ‘proper writing’ during the day.
  2. Be completely in love with your hero. It may sound corny, but you are going to be spending many hours with that person, so it is essential to feel a connection to him!
  3. If like me, you don’t plan a lot, you should at least work out what the motivations of the main characters are before you start so that you understand why they behave the way they do.
  4. Research the setting well, or even better, visit the locations in order to experience the landscapes, the colours and the smells so that when you describe them the readers feel they are actually there with the characters. It’s not always possible to travel, of course, but there are brilliant videos on YouTube, such as walking tours of a town or a historic building which can help you get a good feel for the place.
  5. Be patient. Sometimes you get stuck but things always work out in the end. Go for a walk and talk to yourself aloud to experiment with dialogue, even if it makes you look a bit silly.
  6. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes we judge our writing far too harshly, or we take a critical review to heart and feel discouraged and ready to give up. I love writing. It helps me escape from daily worries and it brings me a lot of joy. And that’s what matters in the end.

Marie’s latest book, Captured by a Scottish Lord, was published last month and sounds intriguing:

ScottishFINALCan a Desert Rose survive a Scottish winter?
The wild Scottish landscape is a far cry from Rose Saintclair’s Saharan oasis, although she’ll endure it for Lord Cameron McRae, the man she married after a whirlwind romance in Algiers. But when stormy weather leads to Rose’s Scotland-bound ship docking on Cape Wrath – the land of Cameron’s enemy, Bruce McGunn – could her new life already be in jeopardy?
Lord McGunn was a fearless soldier, but his experiences have made him as unforgiving as the land he presides over. He knows McRae won’t rest until he owns Wrath, and the man is willing to use brutal tactics. Bruce decides that he’ll play McRae at his own game, take the ship and its precious occupant, and hold them hostage.
Rose is determined to escape, but whilst captured she learns that there’s another side to her new husband – and could her supposedly cold and ruthless kidnapper also be concealing hidden depths?
CAPTURED BY A SCOTTISH LORD is available on Amazon and Kobo and other platforms.

About the author
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire and writes historical and contemporary romance. writingpixabayBest-selling LITTLE PINKTAXI was her debut romantic comedy novel with Choc Lit. A PARIS FAIRY TALE was published in July 2019, followed by BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC in November 2019 and bestselling romantic suspense ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Award. Marie’s historical romances, ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE, QUEEN OF THE DESERT and CAPTURED BY A SCOTTISH LORD, all feature members of the Saintclair family and her short stories are published in the bestselling Miss Moonshine anthologies. Marie is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors, and her novels are available as paperbacks, ebooks and audiobooks on Amazon and various other platforms.

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How to Write a Novel

As you may have gathered from reading this blog, short stories and articles are my ‘thing’. I find the prospect ofNovel Writing Starter Kit with Martin Davies writing anything longer than about 3,000 words terrifying! I succeeded in NaNoWriMo 2009 but my 50,000 words were rambling and certainly nowhere near a coherent story.

Hence my decision to sign-up for Martin Davies’ Novel Writing Starter Kit.

Last Saturday was the big day and I came away thinking that writing a novel might actually be possible. Martin was very generous with his advice and here are the most important bits :

  • Writing is a habit that gets easier the more you write. Decide when and where you are going to write. Don’t be too ambitious because that makes failure more likely. Sticking to 10 minutes, twice a week before bed is easier to maintain than trying to write for the whole of every Saturday afternoon. Remember that little bits, done regularly, will add up.
  • Set a time limit for each writing session and don’t use that time to re-read or revise what has gone before. Don’t worry about the standard of your writing – just keep going.
  • Write what you enjoy reading. You will have to live with this novel and its characters for months, maybe years, so it’s no good trying commercial chick-lit if you hate reading that genre.
  • Don’t wait for a fantastic, original idea to drop into your lap. Most plots have been done many times over and it’s perfectly acceptable to re-tell an old tale or legend. Maybe set it in a different time period or tell it from a different point of view.
  • People + Events = Change. This is the formula for a novel. Drop an event on your characters and watch as they react to the ripples and changes around them.
  • Create a structure for your story. Include the main events plus the milestones that must happen to lead up to these events. This is your map for the journey ahead but remember, you can change this as you write and get to know your characters better.
  • Only include subplots if they have a reason within the overall plot. For example they may give an insight into the character of your main protagonist or give necessary information to the reader.     
  • Know your setting but don’t go into reams of descriptions about the landscape. Feed small details to the reader and they will build their own images.
  • Similarly with character descriptions, less can be more. Show your hero’s characteristics through action where possible.
  • Don’t get bogged down by research. If you’re unsure of something when writing don’t stop the flow to find out, put a question mark and look it up later.
  • Keep your first novel simple. You will gain confidence from finishing it, whether or not it is published, then you can move on to a more complex story/structure.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? Just stick to Martin’s mantra of  ‘Writers Write!’ and you can’t go far wrong in turning yourself from ‘someone who likes the idea of writing a novel’ into ‘someone who has a completed novel under their belt’.

So, fired up with enthusiasm, I am now publicly setting myself the goal of writing a 30,000 word My Weekly pocket novel and I’m going to start by brainstorming some ideas…

My writing buddy, Helen Yendall, also attended Martin’s workshop – you can read her take on the day here

P.S. Only one day left to enter my free prize draw!



Novel-writing Starter Kit with Martin Davies

If you live within reach of Derby you might be interested in the Novel-writing Starter Kit being run by Martin Davies.

It’s at Mackworth Library on Saturday January 29th, 10:00 am until 3:45 pm and costs £25, including tea and coffee. According to the web-site, the workshop ‘will help you address some of the challenges of novel-writing – from planning and structure to plot and characterisation. Most of all, it will help you tackle some of those anxieties that make it so hard to get started’.

For full details and how to book click here.

It sounds like a good way to kick-start writing in 2011. I shall be going and it would be great to meet some of you there – let me know if you decide to sign-up.

Many thanks to Helen Yendall for telling me about this workshop and a reminder that time is running out to win the pile of writing books on offer at her blog. All you have to do is leave a comment on Helen’s blog by clicking here – it needn’t be deep and meaningful, just a few words agreeing or disagreeing with one of her posts – and you will go into the prize draw.

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