How I Planned my Novel (A Crown of Sea and Stone) | Writer Tips

Every writer/blogger/project-lover plans. You can’t avoid it. And everyone has their own methods, their own ideas on how to plan a project/article/book.

I feel like I’ve really honed my planning technique with this book, so, I thought I would share how I planned my latest novel: A Crown of Sea & Stone.

The Initial Idea:

Whether you’ve had it in the back of you mind for months, or you wake up one day with it, we all gets ideas. When I get an idea for a novel, I like to go with the flow; write the idea down as it came to me, and see what it looks like.

Is there something interesting there?

Can I work with it?

Is this a good idea for a novel or a short story?

Is it total rubbish?

Often at this point, I like to read the idea aloud, whether to myself or someone else, and see what changes as I attempt to explain my (very raw) idea. This usually helps me flesh it out/work out the major plot holes.

Getting It On Paper:

Next, I flesh it out on paper. In the initial process, I usually make rough notes, but I use this next stage to really fill in the blanks. I usually write 2-5 pages summarizing the story to myself in linear order.

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Notebooks:

I do all of my notes, planning, character and location descriptions in one notebook. That way, I’m not frantically searching for random pieces of paper or documents.

I will continue to use this notebook the whole way through the writing process, and during publication too.

Mood Boards:

This book is the first time I’ve used mood boards, and I regret waiting so long! I really struggle with visualizing characters and locations, so this really helped. (Here are my boards for A Crown of Sea & Stone if you’re interested.)

Excerpts:

Despite my best efforts, I don’t always write my novels in linear progression. Sometimes, when I’m stuck on a scene, I move on to a different one further on in the story, and eventually the two pieces will meet in the middle.

This can backfire, and you can end up writing yourself into a corner and then having to spend ages correcting it, so approach this tip with caution.

Word Count Tracker:

I use social media (mostly my Instagram to hold me to the mark when it comes to word count. For this novel, I wrote the first 50,000 words during Camp NaNoWriMo 2020.

The next 15,000 came gradually over the space of 3 months, interrupted by lots of editing and re-drafting.

I like the pressure of being kept accountable by my friends and followers; knowing someone is aware that I am writing really helps me focus.

However that pressure can be quite intimidating, so do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

Talk It Out:

This book would gathering dust on my hard-drive if I hadn’t had several chances to talk it out. My main sounding board was my best friend, but another surprising listener was my partner’s best friend.

Whenever he came over, he would ask how the book was going, and the poor sod would have to listen to me frantically try and piece the story together enough to explain it to another person. It really helps find the plot holes, the twists that don’t make sense, and to get another persons perspective on your characters.

The Drafting Process:

Now, depending on your method, the drafting and editing processes’ could easily be switched/intertwined here. I like to do a mini edit to each chapter as I go – it saves some embarrassing grammar errors being missed in the long run.

After I’ve got one complete draft, I comb through looking for more glaring errors, go back and correct a few plot holes, and then ignore it for at least a month. That way I am able to be more critical as I become more detached. You can’t spot most mistakes whilst you are writing.

Editing:

See above?

In fairness, I struggle to separate editing and drafting. Although, I would like to think I do different layers of editing: grammar, structure, plot, layout, character consistency, and location consistency (i.e.: a door has moved from one scene to another, a character’s hair has changed colour, etc.)

Once I am happy that the manuscript is finished, I send it off to a few beta readers and wait for feedback. Once I have collated their notes, I do a min (or major) redraft, and finish the book.

Cover Design/Visuals/Marketing/Release:

Yay! I’ve got a manuscript. Now, I’ve just got to publish it… ugh.

Personally, I prefer to self-publish using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, but this would also be a great point to seek out a literary agent or publishers.

I do all the cover design, interior design and layout, formatting, publishing and marketing myself, (although this time my lovely best friend, Ash designed the book cover with me [thanks, Ash!]).

And that’s it, you’ve written and published a book. Wasn’t that easy?

**EXCLUSIVE** extract from ‘A Crown of Sea and Stone’ by Melissa Holden

****EXCLUSIVE**** extract from my new novel, A Crown of Sea & Stone:

Mercina could feel his eyes on hers, and she knew their colour took him. Even among mermaids, starry silver eyes were unheard of, and many people recognised the princess from her eyes alone. Many mermaids had red tails or pink hair, but none had the beauty of her shining silver irises.

Usually, Mercina became irritated whenever someone called her beautiful or pretty; seeing it as a veiled attempt to curry favour with a member of the royal family, but this was different. The human prince had no reason to assuage her, and so instead of annoyance, Mercina found herself staring back at him, taking in his beauty.

“You are the most beautiful man I have ever seen, my prince.” Mercina replied, and then smirked, “However, you are also the only human I have seen so closely, so perhaps you are an eyesore to the others of your kind. Even so, I think you are beautiful, and I thank you for deciding to spare me.”

“Everyone deserves a chance to live, princess.”

OUT NOW on Amazon Kindle for £1.79/$2.99

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08WZ4TMK7

(Extract included belongs to the author, Melissa Holden, copyright 2021, and therefore is subject to all copyright laws.)

A Crown of Sea and Stone – BOOK COVER REVEAL

A Crown of Sea and Stone by Melissa Holden

Book Cover by Ashleigh Watkins

Synopsis:

Princess Marina wants nothing more than to live a peaceful life protecting the reef, instead, she is next Queen of Oceania. Rivalled only by her uncle, Lord Lucian, Marina knows her royal duties come before everything, even love.

When Marina discovers secrets to her families past in a lost shipwreck, it turns into a journey she thought she would never make… to the land above.

Can Marina finally unravel the families long-forgotten secrets and will a chance encounter with a stranger be her undoing?

Coming to your e-reader February 2021

OUT NOW on Amazon Kindle!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | Quick Book Review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – JK Rowling ⚡️

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Book 19 of 2021

Review: 7/10 ✨
Format: 7/10 ✨

Quick Review:

I’ve put off reading the screenplay for ages, but I had a HP movie marathon last week and I just needed it continue.

It does not read like a Potter book. It is in script form, although has been formatted so it reads a little easier, but do not go into this expecting a novel.

I read the whole thing in less than a day (including several hours break). It’s easy to read, it’s nice to see the characters back, but it’s reads a bit cheesier/ a bit like a midlife crisis rather than a fun Hogwarts adventure.

I used a free library app, @borrowbox, so I didn’t pay for the ebook.

Disclaimer: I do not support JK Rowling’s current statements about the LGBTQ+ community, but HP is my childhood happy place, and I believe the movies and books have outgrown their author.

The Twins: Men of Violence – Kate Kray | Quick Book Review

The Twins: Men of Violence – Kate Kray

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Book 18 of 2021 📚

Overall Rating: 9/10 ✨
Performance: 9/10 ✨
Graphicness: 3/10 ✨
Detail: 6.5/10 ✨

Quick Review:

Written by Kate Katy nee Howard, wife of Ronnie Kray about his life in Broadmoor and the events leading up to his arrest. Focusing mainly on their marriage and what it takes to marry into the firm, Kate Kray shares letters, quotes and stories from the bizarre but loving marriage.

Inside Broadmoor – Jonathan Levi & Emma French | Quick Book Review 📚

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Book 14 of 2021 📖

Overall Rating: 9/10 ✨
Performance: 8.5/10 ✨
Story: 9/10 ✨
Graphicness: 4/10 ✨

Quick Review: A really interesting book! It covers the patient experience inside Broadmoor, covering some of their most famous patients and incidents.

Talking with Serial Killers: Stalkers – Christopher Berry-Dee | Quick Book Review 📚

Talking with Serial Killers: Stalkers – Christopher Berry-Dee 👀

Book 13 of 2021 📚

Overall Review: 8.5/10 ✨
Performance: 9/10 ✨
Story: 8.5/10 ✨
Graphicness: 8/10 ✨

Quick Review:

Another book by Christopher Berry-Dee, this time focusing on the hunting pattern of stalkers. Quite interesting to hear the lengths serial killers will go to to lure their victims into the trap.

Written on the Skin – Liz Porter | Quick Book Review 📖

Written on the Skin – Liz Porter 🧬

Book 12 of 2021 📚

@melholdenbooks

Overall Review: 7.5/10 ✨
Story: 8/10 ✨
Performance: 7/10 ✨
Graphicness: 6/10 ✨
Detail: 8/10 ✨

Quick Review: Written on the Skin is a true crime multiple case overview from the forensic experts; the scientific analysis behind crime-solving.

The book goes into painstaking detail about DNA evidence in the late 80s and 90s, how maggots and larvae can reveal a time of death, and just how meticulous forensic experts have to be in their experiments.

I enjoyed the information overall, although felt the audiobook performance let it down a little as was very monotonous.

The Killer Across The Table – John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker | Quick Book Review

The Killer Across The Table – John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker

@melholdenbooks

Book 11 of 2021 📚

Overall Review: 8.5/10 ✨
Performance: 9/10 ✨
Story: 8.5/10 ✨
Graphicness: 6.5/10 ✨

Being read a criminal profiling book by Kristoff from Frozen is a bit bizarre (Jonathan Groff), and yet his soft, calm voice adds a chilling note to the horrific details of these true crime stories.

The Killer Across The Table covers the gruelling beginning to criminal profiling; ‘helping law enforcement’.

Talking with Serial Killers – Christopher Berry-Dee | Quick Book Review 📚

Talking with Serial Killers – Christopher Berry-Dee

Book 10 of 2021 📚

@melholdenbooks

Overall Review: 8.5/10 ✨
Story: 8/10 ✨
Performance: 8.5/10 ✨
Graphicness: 9/10 ✨

⚠️ Please do not read this book if you are sensitive to topics on or surrounding child abuse, rape, murder, crime, or traumatic experiences. ⚠️

Quick Review:

This is my second read by Christopher Berry-Dee, but he has been mentioned in a few other true crime novels, which makes me question how reliable he is as a storyteller. (Sources suggest that he claimed to know who the Babes in the Wood Killer was all along, but never made the information public.)

It’s a good read, quite graphic, and like all of his books; boastful almost to the point of distraction. But detailed all the same.