Sylvan Rose - Facts & Fiction

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A Word About Social Media...

In case you were wondering if I partake in the world of social media, let me assure you I do not! I am aware that my name appears on various social media sites but author Sylvan Rose will not bore you with inane descriptions of her daily life. Indeed, if you want to know what I did today, hopefully the answer will be ‘Another 2000 words of my next novel’ – which is far more likely, the less time I waste on social media updates!

Greetings, and welcome

And an especially warm welcome to the readers of the world. But what’s it like, being a writer? Long, dreamy days wandering the hills alone before returning to a cosy study; no distractions, just a computer ready to let you tap out your inspired thoughts until the wee small hours? And the rewards – well, you need your own financial advisor, don’t you, helping you save tax on those offshore investments?

Er, in a word, no!

Writing is a craft, and while we all have talents, the writer needs to study the craft and not simply assume that all will be well. For the novelist there are many aspects to writing that might put some dreamers off. You need to know your subject, do your research. Have a keen memory or ability to file so you don’t scribble something in chapter 14 that totally contradicts something you wrote back in chapter 3. Be aware that we have five (if not six) senses and ensure your characters reflect this – if they all 'see what you mean' it becomes boring – some might 'hear what you say' or 'get your drift'. You have to decide how much of the plot to disclose to your readers – the open or closed mystery. Consider the value of subplots and how they affect the main storyline, and remember the seeds sown early in the story when their time comes to bear fruit. You need to keep yourself out of the story, unless it’s meant to be an autobiography. Understand the stages of story formation and the merits of character driven plots. Have an extensive knowledge of your native language and a ruthless ability to spot clichés, cut the crap and avoid repetition.

Yes, this list is endless. There is one more thing the writer needs to do. Write. Sounds obvious, but unless you’re prepared to forego nights at the pub, days out in the summer, the television, and even your family, you might find the days keep ending and all your plans have yet again come to naught! You need to set yourself a target, preferably a daily target, for the number of words you will write. An average novel is 90,000 words long, whereas fantasy fiction tends to be much longer – 130,000 being the norm. Then there’s the rewrites, the editing, even the reading of your own work, which often results in more work as you spot mistakes or areas you’d like to improve on.

Just like any career, writing can be tremendously satisfying. If someone upsets you, and you happen to write crime or horror stories, you can ‘murder’ your neighbour/colleague/boss without them even knowing! You can truly set the world to rights in the fantasy genre. The ‘perfect’ partner really can exist in romantic fiction. And the unworthy always get found out and punished! However, it is not a romantic pursuit. It’s hard work. It demands dedication and concentration, study and practice. You don’t just take your work home with you – you may end up taking your work to bed with you, in the car with you, the bathroom, the kitchen… that dialogue you were struggling to write earlier may come to you in the middle of the night, or while sat in a traffic jam. There’s no escape.

Years ago, when I was a member of a writing group, one of the members described writing as ‘an affliction’. Those who write may recognise the truth in this. We often don’t recall ‘choosing’ to write, it’s just something we’ve always felt inclined to do. I’ve been afflicted with this bug from an early age, and now it gives me great pleasure to spread my affliction across the bookshelves of the world, not forgetting the digital era, inviting me to infect your electronic devices like a literary plague… or perhaps a vaccination against apathy?

'The world shall perish, not for lack of wonders, but for lack of wonder.' - J.B.S. Haldane, 1892-1964