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November 25, 2012

Guest Post By T.K. Harris Phantom Dreams,

Writing Tips for "New" Writers
(In 12 Easy Steps.  Ha!)

Whether you've been writing for years or just getting started, we can all use a little help.  Though I have sold several short stories and finally published a novel, I can't give you the same kind of tips as a pro.  I won't even try!  For that, I think one of the best books I've read is Stephen King's "On Writing".  It’s a weird mash of autobiographical information with a heaping dose of practical advice toward the end.  If you haven't read it, read it.  If you haven't bought it, buy it.  It's worth it.
Ok, now for advice from a newbie published author. 
I tried it all I think.  Outlines, freeform writing, story boarding, classes, articles, books, writing while upside down chanting yoga like prayers…Ok, maybe not that last part.  But I may just have to try it the next time I'm staring at the screen with a "deer in the headlight" expression.  Everyone works differently.  But I really hate when an "advice" piece says something like that, or "just try it until you find something that works for you".  You can.  But, sometimes you want to say "Just tell me already!". 
So, here goes. 
Step 1)  Type up a character sheet on each character. Its ok if they change as you go.  But at least have the basics such as full name, age, hair and eye color, etc.  Do this for every character. 
Step 2) Find a wall, a board, it doesn't matter.  Just find a place where you can put up your character profiles and a bunch of 3 x 5 cards and they can stay.  For months if need be.  (I used my dinning room for awhile and then my bedroom wall).  My suggestion is to use paint safe tape or thumb tacks (because both can be pulled off and reused numerous times – although the tape leaves no marks).   This wall should really be close to where you write, maybe across the room so you have to get up and stretch your legs and rest your eyes.  But not too far away.
Step 3)  Write.  Write until you finish your story or novel or opus magnum.  Don't stop, don't rethink.  Write.  With ONE exception.  When you've finished that paragraph, chapter, or even just your 7 words for the day, grab a 3 x 5 card, a pen, and highlighter(s) and write down the relevant pieces of information (by chapter or scene) that occurred.  For me this was the major points in the each chapter of Phantom Dreams such as who lead what scene, any deaths that occurred, how, and who died.  (You'd be surprised how quickly your dead bodies get mixed up!).  You can use the highlighter to highlight things like when a major turning point occurred.  In my case, I used red to highlight each killing and Kathy's escalating dreams. 
NUMBER the cards sequentially.  Either by chapter or scene and try not to put too much information on these.  These note cards and character profiles are going to do a couple of things for you later on. 
Step 4)  Use the cards as reference points to keep you on track and remembering things like what your character looks like and how old they are.  (Kathy changed age in my first draft 5 times! Obviously I didn't start out with Step 1. :/ )
Step 5)  You've finished your first draft!  Have a glass of wine, beer, or whatever.  Put your manuscript and your cards up.  Celebrate.  And then ignore that manuscript for at least a month.  Two months is better.  And find another project.  Try something new to help refill your creative well.  You're going to need it…
Because this is a blog and I'm supposed to keep it short, if you're interested in receiving the entire article and the next 7 steps, simply contact me at: https://www.tkharrisonline.com  and go to the contact page OR  my Phantom Dreams page on Facebook and leave a comment requesting the article. 
You can also just stop by to say "hi"! 



SYNOPSIS:

A scorned serial killer on an old vendetta.
An FBI agent who has been chasing monsters for too long.
A woman whose nightmares start invading her waking life.
FBI Special Agent Jack Matthews finds himself on yet another serial killer case, having barely recovered from the last disastrous hunt. Still stiff from a gun shot wound in his leg, under investigation for a botched job, and having lost his fiancée when she walked out on him, Jack is beginning to wonder if it isn’t time to move on to something new. But, for Jack, these cases are personal and he can’t say no.
Marketing specialist Kathy Gilliam leads a fairly boring life. If she’s not working or caring for her ailing father, then she is doing whatever it takes to avoid going anywhere near crowds of people. Her few distractions include her friend Margo Longfellow, occasional hiking trips, and her increasingly alarming dreams of women dying.
As her nightmares cause her to begin to doubt her sanity, the media releases news of the “Coast-to-Coast Killer” and Kathy discovers her dreams may be related. In a moment of panic, Kathy does something that places her on the FBI’s “persons of interest” list. Suddenly, her life is set on a collision course with Jack who must decide if Kathy is the killer or destined to become a victim.


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Dreams-ebook/dp/B008I4R1FM
 
 
BIO
T.K. Harris, who currently lives in Colorado, is a Solutions Architect, teacher, and full-time mother. She has been a story teller
since she could talk and has had several short stories purchased by professional magazines such as Woman's World. She is excited
that her first novel - Phantom Dreams - has now been published.

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