Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings and Kinsman Chronicles), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or on her author website. And try her books for free here and here.
The #WeWriteBooks series starts today. I'm pretty excited about it. A few things before we get started:
1. There are already lots of posts on the Go Teen Writers blog. Like, five years' worth of posts. Much of what I'll be talking about will be review. So rather than repeat what's already been blogged about, I'm going to give my take on it as it relates to me writing a new book, then I'll post links to related posts that will help you. Use those links because there are so many helpful posts in our archives.
2. We're going to go slowly at first. And then, a few months from now, it will seem like I'm going too fast. That's because I won't be writing a post for every chapter in a twenty-chapter book. There will be lots of planning posts, several posts about different aspects of writing, and some posts on editing. And you'll be like, "But I'm not done with my whole book!" But that's okay. Just go with it and keep on working toward your goal, whatever that is.
3. Speaking of which, set some goals! I have planned this series to last 31 weeks. We will be on the 13th post (that's week 13) before I blog about, "Where to start your book." You might want to start before then. I'll will. But you don't have to start before then. Do what works best for you. This is all for fun and learning. Start today by jotting down some goals. The contest will open on August 31. You need to move at your own pace, but keep in mind that the first phase of the contest will be one chapter (a maximum of 3000 words), and the second round will be the first three chapters (a maximum of 10,000 words). Should you final, you won't have a long time to prepare those three chapters, so you'll need to have them ready. Take those word counts and the weeks you have until the deadline of August 31, and figure out how much you'll need to write each day (or week or whatever measurement works best for you) to get it done with some time to rewrite and edit it too.
4. I will be posting my book as I write it over on my author blog. I've been neglecting my blog lately, so it will be nice to have something to post. I'm going to start posting material on February 15. I will keep you all posted on how to follow/subscribe.
5. What will I be writing, you ask? Because of my crazy deadlines, I couldn't choose a story that was totally new because it would have taken away too much of my creative brain and time. So I took a look at several stories I've started writing and never finished and I chose one. This book is called Thirst. I wrote a good portion of it already by mistake when Zondervan/Blink almost bought it. Then they decided not to buy it. (Long story.) Basically, Thirst is a stand-alone prequel to The Safe Lands series (Captives, Outcasts, and Rebels). This is the story of a teenage Papa Eli when the Great Pandemic happens. I chose this story because 1) I've already done a lot of work, so that will save me time as I blog about it, 2) It's a stand-alone, so I don't have to stress out about planting things that will pay off in subsequent books because I've already written those! 3) It's a contemporary setting, which, hopefully, will engage a wider audience. (Since I know not all of you like weird fantasy novels with massive magic systems. This one has regular people in it, even though the world is going to almost end--I've got to fit my "weird" in somewhere...) 4) This book has one point of view! (The book I'm writing now has, like, ten points of view. It's a LOT of extra work.) So writing in one point of view will be so nice. 5) Because this meme.
The ContestWe will get more detailed on the contest specifics when the contest opens on August 31. For now, here are some things you'll need to know:
1. This will be a contest that helps you get together material to submit your book to an agent or editor. It will have two rounds. The first round will ask for your first chapter (a maximum of 3000 words) and a one-to-two-page synopsis (both due August 31). In the second round, finalists will be asked to submit their first three chapters (a maximum of 10,000 words) and the synopsis (due date TBA). We will be judging your premise, your writing, and your overall ability to plot. (Which is where the synopsis comes in. Stephanie plans to do a post to help you all tackle synopsis writing.) These criteria are the same things an agent or editor looks for when reviewing submissions.
2. Anyone can write along with the group (we love you, alumni!), but the contest will be open to writers who are 21 or under, since we are a blog geared toward teen writers. Otherwise we will simply have too many entries to judge.
3. You can enter anything you've written. It does not have to be a new story that you started to write along with me and my blog posts.
4. Only one entry per person.
5. Everything must be formatted for industry standards. I created a YouTube video about this. Here is a link to it: http://jillwilliamson.com/teenage-authors/writing-podcast-tutorials/
Today's Topic: Genre and Genre MashingYou'll start your new book by choosing a genre. A genre is simply the category your story fits into. There have been SO MANY POSTS related to genre on Go Teen Writers. I have listed them here.
Posts on defining different genres:
What genre do you write? (Includes a long list of genre categories)
What am I writing, anyway?
Speculative fiction subgenres
Study your genre
Genre conventions (What are some elements that your genre must have?)
Posts on specific genres/types of books:
Beginning chapter books for children
Writing for kids, word counts
Middle Grade or YA?
A beginner's guide to mystery writing
New Adult fiction
Did you know that you don't have to pick just one genre? Genre mashing is something we've never talked much about on Go Teen Writers, so as you consider your new story, I want to throw this out to you as an option. In my experience, genre mashing is done in one of two ways:
1) Genre + Genre = Coolness
I've been DYING to write a Regency fantasy novel. Seriously, I've been talking about it for years. I even told Julie Klassen about it, since I love her books. My book would be me mashing, or combining, fantasy and historial (specifically the Regency era). It's that simple. So think about some of your ideas, then play around with mashing them with another genre. You can worry about how it will work later. For now, just think, "What would equal EPIC COOLNESS?"
2) Next book in a series + new genre = interesting twist on original genre and coolness.
Say you wrote a romance novel and now you need to write a book two. Well, if you are going to keep the same characters, a nifty idea is to throw your characters into another genre. Maybe your characters stumble onto a mystery. (Mystery genre) Or perhaps an ex-boyfriend shows up to stalk your female lead! (Thriller genre) Or maybe your hero's grandfather passes away and leaves him a WWII journal and the story drifts back in time as we learn something intriguing about why your hero is the way he is. (Historical genre) Or maybe your characters got married, but now they're struggling with something big. (Women's fiction genre) You get the idea. I did this a little with my Kinsman Chronicles since they're a prequel to my Blood of Kings trilogy, which is fantasy. So rather than just have another fantasy story set in the same world, I decided to add a different world and destroy it. (Apocalyptic/Post Apocalyptic genres) For you, the same rule applies here as did in number one. Just think, "What would add an interesting twist to my world that would be EPIC COOLNESS?"
Each week during the #WeWriteBooks series, I'll give you an assignment. This week we're going easy. Two easy peasy things. You can do it!
1. Set goals. Set at least a word-count goal and a story start date goal. Because if you're starting a brand-new story, you might not be ready to start writing today. And that's okay.
2. Genre. Pick your genre and, if applicable, subgenre. Or if you're genre mashing, decide on those.
That's all I'm asking of you for this week. If you're feeling saucy, maybe read a book in your chosen genre to get you excited. But if that only drives you crazy, don't do it!
Any questions? Share your goals in the comments when you know the answers. And spread the word about this series. The more the merrier. It's always fun to write with friends.