How to (Try to) Plan a Book

am writing

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a massive plotter and I’m at the stage of planning a new project, so I thought it might be fun to explore how my brain works in the planning process (spoiler alert: I’m stuck at step 16). I’m going off what I’m doing right now and what I’ve done for various projects in the past… some of which even turned into full length manuscripts… though some did not 😉 So, obviously, this is completely fool proof and there’s no way it could go wrong 😉 Without further ado, here is my definitive guide on how to (try to) plan a book:

lightbulb moment

Step 1: Have an idea *POP* into your head like magic- which seems makes it seem like all the hard work is over, right? WRONG!

dr-evil

Step 2: Decide that you are going to do the unthinkable and turn this idea into a book…

brainstorming ideas

Step 3: Time for some *brainstorming* to see if this idea has legs (NB step 3 can be step 1 for some people, because creative people are different, and not all ideas throw themselves in your face 😉)

hopscotch

Step 4: Keep repeating steps 1-3, jumping through the steps in any given order like you’re playing hopscotch.

simpsons ideas

Step 5: Spend a while (years) writing and compiling notes, adding characters, potentially world building and plenty of contradictory ideas. Make sure your notes aren’t logical at this point- you don’t want to make things easy for your future self!

gotta go to work

Step 6: Get on with your life for a bit, work on other creative projects and generally forget about this vaguely fleshed out idea.

grave robbing

Step 7: Dig up/stumble across whatever you’ve been working on (whether it’s in a notebook or some random files on your computer). Have the sudden dawning realisation that you actually want to write this book and decide it will be your *next project*. And that means taking said idea seriously from here on out! So at this stage, do you a) make a schedule for when you can fit in writing time and/or b) rough draft an outline to get the ball rolling…?

trick question

Step 8: Neither! That was a trick question! You print out the notes, making a BIG DEAL out of that and promising to be proactive about it from now on! (all the while not really breaking any new ground)

stare into space

Step 9: Stare at pages, trying to figure out how to write out a basic synopsis out of this contradictory mess (see, I told you it’d be helpful not to make it too logical!) Ah great- now you can either continue on with optional steps 10-11, or skip right ahead to 12…

aha

Step 10: Discover that you did in fact write a helpful synopsis you entirely forgot about…

this isnt right

Step 11: Read it and realise how different it is from the notes

bad writing gig

Step 12: *Weep*

highlighters

Step 13: Devise a complex strategy, involving highlighters, where you colour code notes to match up all the existing ideas. Perhaps even pick up a stack of post its! Maybe get funky with an excel spreadsheet! Whatever you do, make sure it looks organised, but has no functional purpose.

thinking monkey

Step 14: Try to make head or tail of your new notes

muses

Step 15: Wait around for the Muses to strike…

monkey typewriter

Step 16: Give up and write a blog post about planning a novel (…ooh getting meta…)

let's go to work

Step 17: Get your shit together and decide just to write out all your ideas in a new synopsis.

writing

Step 18: Type up into one great big messy document.

think pen write

Step 19: Pause to give chapter titles (this is a great step because while it is entirely unnecessary, it’ll make you feel like you’ve been super clever and productive).

read satisfied

 

Step 20: Readthrough it with satisfaction (ignoring the inner voice that tells you that this may have to be revised later) and shove it in a drawer to be ignored until you can carve out some time to actually write the damn thing.

congratulations

*Congratulations you have planned a novel*

(at least that’s the dream anyway 😉)

How to DNF!

Every so often I come across a meh book and renew my promise to get better at DNFing… but I never do. That’s why I decided to realllly think about how I could improve! With a great deal of research (into fun gifs) I’ve managed to write a comprehensive guide- enjoy!

pick up book

Step 1: Crack open a book, hyped or otherwise, naively *brimming with excitement*

thinking monkey

Step 2: Realise “huh, this wasn’t as good as I thought it would be”

reading

Step 3: *Shrug shoulders* and keep reading- but this time with a growing sense of foreboding…

bored

Step 4: Feel the boredom growing.

mood reader2

Step 5: So. Much. Boredom.

read-fast

Step 6: *Start speed reading*, thinking that maybe it’ll get better, but begin to consider that this book may not be for you and perhaps you should just quit…

my everest

Step 7: But no! There must be a reason you picked it up in the first place! This must be your secret mission in life! You must PERSEVERE!! Continuing against the odds, you feel the weight of this uphill battle as you trek, page by page, deeper into this dreadful tome…

despair

Step 8: With a sinking feeling, you wonder will there be a light at the end of this tunnel…

light at the end of the tunnel

Step 9: …but there is only darkness…

think pen write

Step 10: You wonder if maybe you’re only reading on just so that you can write that stinking review.

agonise over decision I don't know what to do

Step 11: And if this is true, you realise it may not be the best reason to keep reading… yet still you *agonise over the decision* past the 30% mark…

throw book2

Step 12: Okay, that’s it, you’ve had enough. *Put the book down*

three hours later

Step 13: You stay strong for approximately three hours.

choose books2

Step 14: Then you cave and pick that bad boy up again!

pretending to read

Step 15: Ugh, you realise it’s worse than you remember.

throw books

Step 16: *Put that book down again*

hide homer abandon

Step 17: Leave said book on your bedside table for approximately three weeks.

stare shiftily

Step 18: Eye book, thinking “maybe I’ll try it again”.

put book back on shelf

Step 19: Quietly put book back on the shelf, promising yourself this is not the end…

unhaul books

Step 20: …except it kind of is, because you’ll never pick that book up again until three years have passed and you’re looking for something to unhaul. You think to yourself “maybe I was wrong about it”, but nah, it’ll look better in an unhaul photo than a review… and so you announce on your blog that you never finished it and never will!

thumbs up

*Congratulations you have successfully DNF’d

Woke by @TitaniaMcGrath is the most important book of our time

wokeWhat a STUNNING and BRAVE and MAGNIFICENT creature Titania McGrath is. It is an absolute pleasure to bask in her tweets that liberate us from reality and hear to her shrieking *ahem* spoken word poetry. We are all blessed to breathe the same air as her (except that we probably shouldn’t do that cos that is stealing air from minorities). We, the undeserving, are fortunate to merely be able to listen to this goddess of progressivism preaching how much better she is than us. Her wisdom is undeniable.

“It is no exaggeration to say I would rather be living in a Soviet gulag than a capitalist country”

Of course, it can come as no surprise that Titania experienced *horrendous* abuse from an early age, being brought up by wealthy parents and privately educated (the horror, the horror!). Worse still, she recently faced a twitter ban by the evil Nazi capitalist overlords over in Silicone Valley! I now thank my lucky stars that I have never experienced such inhumane treatment!

“That’s the wonderful thing about identity politics: you never have to explain yourself, or even develop your thoughts into what right-wingers call a “coherent argument””

Are we not all oppressed though? Titania teaches us that anything can be a form of oppression if shouted about loudly enough. I for one would love to share my invisible disability of extreme laziness but I’m afraid I’d have to get out of bed early to do that (#slovenlypride). But really, I recognise that my biggest obstacle in life comes from being a woman (obviously) and that even my cartoon depictions of myself are oppressed by the patriarchy (obviously) since no one recognises I’m a woman unless I put on a dress!

orangutan in dress

“When women are valued more than men, then and only then will we have achieved equality.”

Althoughhhh when I say everyone is oppressed, I’m not really talking about everyone. Straight white men don’t count. Even if they’re living in a dumpster, they have privilege. I mean, that goes without saying. I actually bought a copy of this book for my brother’s birthday because he needs to feel SHAME for being born male and having the audacity to stay that way. Maybe he’ll learn his lesson from our Great and Glorious Saviour, Titania McGrath! And on that note, given that I don’t have the power to award this book a Nobel Prize, I shall have to give it the equally prestigious award of 5/5 bananas:

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

Okay, I think I might have blown my cover by engaging in the imaginary free market with that endowment 😉 Of course, *disclaimer time*, this book and my review were satire. I’m afraid I must break character or you’ll all think I’ve gone totally bananas. Surprising as it may be, Titania McGrath is a fictional character invented by the hilarious Andrew Doyle. Having said that, if you’re worried about authenticity, this was replete with plenty of bonkers things real-live-people have actually said. Woke was an amazing antidote to some of the barmy media out there- I was belly laughing and chuckling throughout- so job well done! (and yes, I did actually buy this for my brother’s birthday and he thought it was brilliant too!)

Alright, did I fool you? Did you think I’d lost my marbles? Do you think you’ll pick this up? Let me know in the comments!

Hating on Fairy Tales: A Not-So-Serious Take on a Ridiculous Article

As much as I’d like to pretend that people don’t write pieces titled: “Five Reasons to Stop Reading Your Children Fairy Tales Now” this is a genuine title of a genuine article. I came across this gem while I was researching for my last piece and being a monkey I just couldn’t resist having my way with it. Rather than deconstructing all their ridiculous claims, I thought it would be far more fun to mock it *ahem* rewrite this piece for them in as honest a way as possible 😉 So *WARNING: INCOMING SATIRE and ALL THE SARCASM*. (If you’re looking for serious reasons I don’t agree with the article, maybe check out yesterday’s post 😉 ) Okay, with that out of the way, I’m heading each paragraph with their reasons to stop reading fairy tales and then I’m gonna respond- brace yourselves! 

monkey typewriter
Let’s get down to some (monkey) business…
  1. “Women are passive damsels that can only be saved by men”

swoon

Well firstly, it’s really important to note for the sake of all the following arguments CONTEXT DOESN’T MATTER. Okay, now that we’ve got that covered, I think it’s really important to ignore all attempts Cinderella makes to save herself- because when in doubt erase women’s agency in a story. Also, Rapunzel no longer stands up to the witch, Snow White doesn’t make it to the forest and Gretel watches as Hansel is roasted… This last one is really important, because as the article states, violence is always bad. This leaves us with the comfortable conclusion that female characters are weak if they run away (presumably cos all male characters in the history of ever have stood their ground- although a young/inexperienced male character running away is a trope… but ahh who cares about that right?) or they’re too violent if they fight back (aka like men). My favourite example of passivity of course is Belle from Beauty and the Beast- since sacrificing herself for her father and inspiring a change in her foe aren’t heroic in the slightest… hang on a minute… Err maybe we should move on?

  1. “Marriage is the ultimate reward”

marriage mawwiage

Never mind that Cinderella got status and power from her new role AND that she escaped her abusive relatives. Let’s also forget the fact that this is basically the equivalent of winning the lottery in Perrault’s days, cos context doesn’t matter and we want to teach people to be ignorant of the past. Also, let’s pretend that the Little Mermaid doesn’t die (*coughs* cos apparently the original version no longer exists *cough cough*) which is nice.  I’m so glad we cleared up that the symbolic representation for future life is *e-v-i-l*.

  1. “Lack of racial/physical/sexual diversity”

Because there’s no such thing as a fairy tale or folklore from the non-Western world. Gosh, I am so progressive… Oh wait. I forgot- other cultures exist- silly old me. But let’s just pretend that’s not a thing and criticise Europeans for being historically European- cos context can eat it. Also this is my favourite bit of the article: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that Disney princesses are beautiful, slim and more often than not, white”- cos it just goes to show that I think reading entails watching a movie. Take that book club!

throw books

  1. “Female characters are either bound to the home…”

All female character should strap swords to their backs and go off to their certain death- cos *context* doesn’t exist. But also fighting is toxic so the female characters can’t do that- which leaves me at a loss as to what would be an acceptable story? By the metric of the article, women can’t stay at home, but they can’t leave it to have “manly” adventures, they can’t get married (and we’re gonna cover a bunch of other stuff they can’t do in #5). So basically, are we saying that it’s probably better to just write about men cos then at least we won’t be able to criticise it into oblivion? Or are stories just bad in general? I get the feeling there isn’t an acceptable answer here.

it feels like a trap

  1. “Or they’re evil step mothers/sisters/witches- or fairy godmothers.

maleficent laughing

The point being that it’s not okay to portray women as good or bad. Pff- who needs complexity? I don’t think it’s okay to portray women as a binary- cos then people might get this crazy idea that women can be either good or bad. Then we might get something other than a Mary Sue for a main character- and no one wants that. We don’t want equality- only men should have the possibility to be either Prince Charming or the Wolf of the story- what we want, as women, is to be seen as the Angel (out of the house). What we want is flawless female characters that stroll into the story, take down all the men and then kick all the ass- is that so much to ask?

Also, moving on from the article, thanks to a few recent remarks by celebrities, I now know not to take food from strangers- OBVIOUSLY Snow White was subliminally telling me to take apples from people I don’t know, even if it kills me. Also, I do not consent to magical true loves kiss- never mind that this is fantasy and it kinda reminds me of mouth to mouth resuscitation- LALALA NOT LISTENING!!

Alrighty then- I think I might have offended enough people for one day- see you all in the next post 😉

All the ways you can shoehorn politics into your book

Hello!! After my post yesterday, I thought it might be fun to talk about all the ways you can (and some of the ways I’ve seen) shoehorn politics into books- enjoy!

Usual *disclaimers* that this is satire and should not be taken too seriously applies…

First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room: Donald Trump is ORANGE- and there’s no way that joke’s been overused- so make it at least five times. For no reason. Preferably with cheerleaders over lunch. Because cheerleaders are very politically engaged.

orangutan and trump
Yeah laugh it up… but all us orangutans are *offended*

While we’re at it these high schoolers are having a normal conversation and then BAM *moralising*. It’s been a lonnng time since I’ve mentioned this but you can and you must *insert the most banal opinions* into dialogue. Preferably something that virtue signals just how on message the author is and strawmans the opposing view. My favourite is the good, old-fashioned “war is bad”. You can follow this up with “yes, but it’s necessary”, then “but it’s b-a-d”. Etcetera, etcetera, until the bell tolls.

saved by the bell
Well done, have a pat on the back

Oh look, your character has litter- and you know what that means don’t you… GLOBAL WARMING (of course there are several stages in between, but who cares, what is science anyway) And you know when I’m reading a fluffy teen romance, I want to be reminded that the polar ice caps are melting. Please, tell me more. Time for a page long monologue while they walk the halls…

Mean-Girls-GIF-Cady-Heron-Lindsay-Lohan-Falls-In-Trash-Can1.gif
Remember: “catch it, bin it, kill it”- put that on your book’s tagline 😉

Now your character is sitting in class. Perfect time for some internal thoughts! Perhaps akin to: “Something, something, red button, something something, we’re all gonna die… oh is that a hot guy! Never mind.” That’s called stream of consciousness and it’s for only the smartest writers!

seinfeld gif.gif

BREXIT (there’s no punchline, just put that in and leave your reader to squirm)

uncomfortable.gif

Also, the teacher gets to use their lesson as a soapbox for their political views- YAY MORE MORALISING! (actually this happens … I don’t know why I’m being so sarky about books for, they’re kinda just representing the politicisation of everyday life- which means all of the above is actually just representing real life- which makes me wonder WHAT THE HELL is happening in the real world arghhhh)

argh.gif

Annnd that’s all I have for now! What other ways do you think politics can be shoehorned into a book? Let me know in the comments!