This morning I finally made some decisions about my upcoming YA story, ‘Being Watched’. Not only did I finalise the editing of the final draft but I also made a firm decision that this story will have a sequel. Although it stands alone well, it leaves me with so many ideas to take forward these characters that I have grown to know and respect.
Writing my first novel has been a steep learning curve but I definitely gained lots of experience when I launched my first novella, two years ago this week. ‘The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost’ taught me about the writing process. It showed me how to promote a book and how not to. I owe so much to those people who supported me as I took those baby steps towards being a fully fledged author.
A few things I have found helpful when writing YA:
1) Speech is everything. Characters in YA stories let you know what they’re feeling through dialogue. Indeed, the stories themselves move along largely via conversations, rather than exposition.
2) Contractions matter. My first book had a large part written by adult characters but when it came to the chapters written from the teenagers’ viewpoints I wish I had used more contractions. I love everything about my novella apart from the fact that I often made their speech sound very formal.
3) Short chapters are welcome. There is no need to write great swathes of text just for the sake of it. To be honest, I love short chapters in any genre. ‘Being Watched’ celebrates short chapters which I hope will grasp your interest, as readers.
So now I will send back my revised version of the story, safe in the knowledge that there will be more to come with these characters. As time goes by I will gradually introduce you to them and the mystery that they are forced to unveil.
I appreciate everyone taking the time to read my blog and love when you comment below as I see blogs as conduits for conversations. Please consider following my blog and coming along for the ride as I continue to write about books, the environment and mental health.
Although I have had a blog for two years, I didn’t start taking it seriously until two months ago. Up until that point I simply wrote a poem or a book review every now and again.
In May I decided that I wanted to properly become a blogger and so began researching how to set up my blog properly. I learned so much about some the important steps that you have to take when setting up the foundations. Here are some of the steps that I took to get going with my blog. You could call it a recipe for a good blog.
Know your audience
Yes I said know your audience rather than grow your audience as step number one. That’s because you need to make a decision about your niche. Now, for me it was easy as I always focused on things to do with reading but I also wanted to keep commenting on environmental issues too, as these are close to my heart. If you can have two subjects in your degree then why not for your blog? If my blog were a degree then the Major part would be in literature and the Minor bit would be about the environment. 3/4 of my posts are about reading after all, even though when I do write something eco-friendly, it carries a lot of weight for me.
Use titles which are grabbing
In the past I had written whatever I’d felt like writing with titles that were totally made up. However, when I started looking at other people’s blogs and doing some basic research, I realised that I needed to be more punchy. Readers like list articles where they are told five or ten ways to do something. They also like to be answering a specific question, such as ‘What kind of reader are you?’ One of the most popular blog types is the HowTo, which is what I am writing now.
As this article is about the very first steps that you take, we have to consider how to get those initial followers and retain them. So, it is obvious that you must make sure to write a blog post at least once a week. Writing engaging material is important, of course. But you also need to get yourself into the blogging community.
Start reading and commenting on other blogs and following them.
It is not about making people follow you back but it is about essentially making friends and showing the community that you have arrived. Some wonderful bloggers will soon take an interest in your blog. You may build very useful relationships that can later lead to guest posting.
In order to be visible and to appear on search engines you need to know something about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). To be honest, I knew nothing at the start and had to watch several Youtube videos about this to establish a grounding.
Key Words Much of this I will cover in a later blog post but initially the main thing to consider is Key Words. UberSuggest is an app which is free and can help you search useful Key words to use. It shows you how competitive they are. Just noticing trending hashtags can also be very useful. Crucially, after you have chosen a key word or two, you must then make sure you use them in three places. Include them in the post title, the body of your article and in the tags. Search engines look for them being replicated in those three places.
Shout a little
Everyone needs to start somewhere. A wonderful blog may go undiscovered if you don’t promote it properly.
Twitter Twitter is one of the big platforms that allow you to promote a blog relatively easily. Jump on the daily threads which have hashtags such as #writerslift and #shameslessselfpromosunday as these are safe places to share your wares without charge.
Instagram Add am image of your latest blog post onto your instagram story and make sure your readers know to check your link in bio.
I was late to the party with this one but now am really utilising Pinterest. It seems to be one of the best ways to drive traffic towards a blog post. Have a go at sharing one of your posts there. Try using the free app ‘Canva’ to design the picture and text.
Pinterest is such a complicated search engine to use that I will write about it in more detail in a future post (once I am more secure with using it myself).