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3 lessons from writing my debut novella Confession

When I was putting together my debut novella Confession, I spent a lot of time experimenting. The whole purpose of the story was for me to play. I wrote for my enjoyment and, to paraphrase Marie Kondo, if a section or action didn’t spark joy for me as the creator I cut it. Or rewrote it.

Confession was born from one need. The need to finish a story. To take a tale from beginning to end and see what there was to see on the journey.  Confession isn’t the first story I’ve written. Far from it, but it is the first one I’ve taken through the drafting process to actually finish it. Confession, put simply, is here because I wanted to see if I could do it. And I think I have.

Writing the book, I came across three key lessons that will stand me in good stead for future writing projects. I wanted to discuss them briefly here:

Lesson One: Start at the end.

One of the problems I’ve always had finishing even a draft is a tendency to get lost in the storyscape without knowing where I’m going. Now, I’m not saying you need to plot the story in such a way there’s no room for your creative input. I’ve done that too over the years, it strangles me. Before I began Confession, I knew three things. I knew Emily, the main character, was selfish and had a tendency to kill people who got in her way. I knew her girlfriend, Gabriella, was the exact opposite. Of the two, she was kinder and more considerate of the needs of others. And, thirdly, I knew exactly how the story ended. The ending was the first thing I came up with beyond the novella’s name. By knowing exactly how it ended, I knew all I had to do was write until I got to that particular scene. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s how I’ve learned to write. Know the ending and then write till you get there.

Lesson Two: The boring bits are essential.

I’m aware I’m probably in the minority here, but I find planning tedious. I rarely spent the time prepping for a story. I was always too eager to get to the ‘fun stuff.’ For me, the fun stuff was the writing, exploring the story, watching how characters reacted to the situations they stumbled into. While this is still fun stuff, I learned with Confession, it was essential to do the ‘boring bits,’ first. It took a couple of weeks to build my characters, for example. I’ve never spent that long on developing a character. Using Emily, our main character, as an example, I made pages of notes. Everything from her eye colour to what sort of breakfast cereal she liked. Fun Fact: She hates cereal. Prefers sourdough toast and strong black coffee. Did all of this come in handy for the section of her life we explore? No. Funnily enough, there’s not a single breakfast scene in the whole thing. But, there is a scene where, as a 10-year-old, she watches as the family home burns to the ground while she sips a tall glass of fruit juice with an umbrella in it. The lesson I learned here was just because its not necessary to the section of the life we are privy to doesn’t mean it’s not important to the character themselves. How they feel and what they think underlies how they will ultimately behave and act when the pressure is on.

Lesson Three: Say nothing until you’re ready.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but here’s the kicker. I announced Confession was coming in November 2019. I picked the release date, Friday the 13th of March 2020, and I bought the fantastic cover from a website SelfPubBookCovers.com. Sidenote: the cover I purchased looked like it was specially designed for this story. It wasn’t. But it’s perfect, and I’m still pinching myself I came across it. From November to March. Oodles of time, right? Wrong. I have a day job that is an absolute time-sucker. Plus, Christmas and New Year was wedged in there. By the time I finished the final edit of the book, it was almost mid-February. The pressure I felt was intense. Hours of nights and weekends where the only thing I focused on was Emily, Janice, Marcus, Amara, Simon, Gabriella, Father Eugene, Doctor Becker, even Great-Aunt Moira and her fascinator. They were more real to me than my own family at some points, and I felt the push of running towards a deadline that kept getting closer. The next book in the Sin-Eater Novella Collection will be finished, or a close to it as possible, before I breathe a word of its existence.

There are dozens of other lessons I’ve learned in writing and creating Confession, Book One of the Sin-Eater Novella Collection, but these are my top 3.

I still find myself surprised that Confession will be live, and strangers will be able to read it in less than a week.

You can Pre-order #Confession now at the following sites

And don’t forget to put Confession, Book One of the Sin-Eater Novella Collection onto your want to read pile on Goodreads.

I can’t wait for you all to meet Emily and the other characters in Confession. Don’t forget to leave a review if you do read it.

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