1. Plotter or Pantser? There are writers who just begin. No outline, just a voice and a sense of where the story is going. They’re lovingly referred to as pantsers, as they fly by the seat of their pants, let the writing flow, and then do a lot of structural work later on. I am not this kind of writer. I need to know scenes, I need to have a strong sense of all the characters and their role in the story, and I find I’m more confident when I’ve already mapped out the book (plot twists! surprise endings!). Which one are you? If you’re a plotter, you may want to write a detailed outline before jumping in.

This Is Not the Jess Show

This Is Not the Jess Show

2. Character. Why this character? Why this story? Some of my characters start as a voice, almost like someone is dictating to me. Others start as the central figure in a bigger story I want to tell. Either way, I spend a lot of time thinking and getting to know the character as I would a friend. Some of that comes from the actual writing, but I sometimes create bios beforehand, detailing who this person is and who are the key people in their life. Where were they raised, and how? What are their secrets? Their fears? What parts of them will this story reveal? What will they have to confront?

3. Genre. I had to include this one, but full disclosure: I don’t think I’ve ever written a book that falls neatly into one genre. That said, it’s good to have a sense of what kind of book you’d like to write before you start, and to be well read in that category. Mysteries and thrillers have certain plot twists. Readers expect something very specific from a horror novel or a romance novel. Know the genre your writing in so you can either meet or subvert expectations.

4. The Kids are Alright. As a young adult author, this is a huge pet peeve of mine. If you’re writing in this genre, you have to know your audience. The fifteen-year-old reading your book in 2021 is nothing like the fifteen-year-old you were, or the fifteen-year-old who was a student in 2005. One of the thrilling aspects of writing for young adults is that every generation is unique, not only in the technology they use, but the way they talk and how they think about themselves and the world around them. Do your research.

5. You’re Amazing! That may sound like an empty compliment, but it’s not. So many people think they can write a novel, or talk about writing a novel, but few actually sit down and try to write that book. Be kind to yourself, and know that writing is hard…even on good days. Give yourself credit for trying to create something from nothing. Give yourself credit just for showing up.

RELATED: Why I write about the adventures of young women in the city by Ashley Brown

Life choices; they are tricky, aren’t they? The shooting of arrows into the dark that navigate us through life. They intrigue me. Particularly those of young women pulled to big cities by a relentless ambition to make something of themselves. You see, I am very much an advocate of write what you know and in my early twenties, I was one of those women when I ran away to London. I know intimately that first rush of freedom and smell of possibility that can pull you in a million which ways... to read more click HERE