Q&A with Alyson Noel discussion

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Writing Process & Writing Tips

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message 1: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Feel free to ask questions about the writing process here!


message 2: by Mart (new)

Mart Ramirez | 7 comments How many rejections did you receive on your first book? Also, how many requests did you receive?
LOve this discussion!:)


message 3: by Sara (new)

Sara (sarasunshyne) | 3 comments do you base your characters on people you know? I notice that I take bits and pieces from people I know to create characters.


message 4: by Emily (new)

Emily | 1 comments First I love your Immortal series, and second. how do you plan your books? do you just get random ideas and then write them down? i could use some help wit that.


message 5: by Audrey (new)

Audrey (mintcat) How long had you finished your first book before it was published?


message 6: by Omar (new)

Omar | 2 comments hi


message 7: by Audrey (new)

Audrey (mintcat) HI!!!!!!


message 8: by Omar (new)

Omar | 2 comments hi


message 9: by Avery (new)

Avery | 2 comments When you write a book do you start with on outline that you come up with or do you just write what you come up with then go back and edit and edit and edit?
~Big fan of the Immortals series!

Thankyou


message 10: by Tamara (new)

Tamara (authortamarab) | 3 comments hello :)
i am writing a book and i was wondering
1. what do you do when you have a blocade?
2. how can i expand my story? i am writing a rought cut now and i think im going to have about 70 pages when im done with it.
Thanks, Tamara :)


message 11: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (victoriasgoodreadscom) | 1 comments Hey Alyson!

I was wondering if before you begin to write a novel to you ever feel overwhelmed by everything you want to bring forth to the novel?


message 12: by Anna (new)

Anna | 4 comments Dear Alyson Noel
how did you manage to publish your first novel? what steps do you need to take? do you have to have an agent? did you have one at first? how did you make a manuscript? i'm trying to publish mine but now nothing about how to please give me some advice.
Anna Lai.


message 13: by Anna (new)

Anna | 4 comments Dear Alyson Noel
how did you manage to publish your first novel? what steps do you need to take? do you have to have an agent? did you have one at first? how did you make a manuscript? i'm trying to publish mine but now nothing about how to please give me some advice.
Anna Lai.


message 14: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (lydia34) | 26 comments hi Alyson im trying to write a story but all my ideas just spill out and i cant manage to put together and when i read my story i just sounds weird....
any advice????
thnx LIVI


message 15: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (torisawesome) | 1 comments Hi Alyson! I was wondering when you decided you would be an author and how long it took you to write your first book and how long it took to get published?
thanks


message 16: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rdyne1) Uhm, Hi there?

I feel like I'm talking to a computer screen :s
Anyways, pushing on. I'm a young writer, and as I've been told - fairly talented, as egotisitcal as it is.
I'm just starting university and pursuing a bachelor of arts - creative writing. My question is: how old were you when you first started writing as opposed to when you were first published? I'm desperate to get my own name out there but am having trouble simply sitting and writing for long periods of time. It seems like I get an idea, go with it. Get bored, and start again. How did you find the discipline to write and entire book?


message 17: by Rose (new)

Rose (chomesuke) Hey, I'm Rose.
I'm a writer and I have trouble with keeping to one idea too. I'm working on getting a collection of short stories published on a self publishing ebook site but I'm just having trouble balancing schoolwork and writing. Can someone give me advice on how to keep to one idea at a time? I'm working on three and it feels like way too many.


message 18: by Inger (new)

Inger Iversen (ingeriversen) | 1 comments Alyson,
When writing your manuscript, how do you gauge your chapter lengths? Also how many pages is your average manuscript for a YA novel? Is sending a query letter and manuscript through mail the best way to alert a publishing company that you want then to read your work or should you be more hands on and call them? I have so many questions, but these will do for now :}

Thanks Kristen


message 19: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rdyne1) Rose Belikov wrote: "Hey, I'm Rose.
I'm a writer and I have trouble with keeping to one idea too. I'm working on getting a collection of short stories published on a self publishing ebook site but I'm just having tro..."


But, aren't short stories... you know - short? Shouldn't it be easy to finish one? I'm talkign about like novel works....


message 20: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rdyne1) Kristen wrote: "Alyson,
When writing your manuscript, how do you gauge your chapter lengths? Also how many pages is your average manuscript for a YA novel? Is sending a query letter and manuscript through mail ..."


okay, neophyte question: what is a manuscript and are they necessary?


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

First off I just finished reading the books of yours I have and I can't say how amazing they are and how well written they are.

So, I'm a writer (or trying to be one) I'm writing a short story and I want to know how did you start your process of creating a story? And how you begin starting a story?

Thank you


message 22: by Baylee Miller (new)

Baylee Miller | 3 comments Alyson,
First I would like to say that I love The Immortals series, and your book Art Geeks and Prom Queens. You are one of my favorite authors!
I am 14 and an aspiring writer. So, I have some questions. If you have enough time (I know you already have a ton of other quetions to answer), please try to answer them.
1.Where and How do you find inspiration to write?
2.How do you slow down a novel?
3. What advice do you have for a young writer, trying to write her first novel?
Thank you so much!
~Baylee Jean


message 23: by Heather (new)

Heather Helene (heather_helene) | 2 comments Alyson,

Thank you so much for doing this Q&A. I'm a huge fan of your work. I'm so sad the Immortals series is almost complete, but I'm looking forward to the new Soul Seekers Series & loving Riley's adventures.

My question pertains to queries. I don't know anyone in the publishing world and I'm unable to afford going to conferences to meet with agents.

Do you have any advice for going the cold query route?

Thanks,
Heather


message 24: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Martha wrote: "How many rejections did you receive on your first book? Also, how many requests did you receive?
LOve this discussion!:)"


Heather wrote: "Alyson,

Thank you so much for doing this Q&A. I'm a huge fan of your work. I'm so sad the Immortals series is almost complete, but I'm looking forward to the new Soul Seekers Series & loving Rile..."


Martha wrote: "How many rejections did you receive on your first book? Also, how many requests did you receive?
LOve this discussion!:)"


Hi Heather & Martha-

Thanks for stopping by!

Heather- Don't worry about not being able to attend conferences,etc. Yes, you can make connections with editors and agents that way, but it's be no means the only way. I didn't join any professional writer's groups until my 3rd book was on the shelves. But now, unlike then, there are a lot of online writer's groups you can join where you can increase your knowledge about the business--YALitChat springs to mind, though of course there are others- search for Yahool loops that represent the genre you're interested in, or join a pro writing org- RWA & SCBWI are good ones, so you can join their online loops that are great for helping each other find their way through the publishing maze. The point is- you don't have to go out there" cold" if you know who to target. Oh, and make sure to sign up over at Publisher's Marketplace and they'll send you their weekly newsletter listing all that week's publishing deals for free. When you're truly ready to query, you can sign up for a month (I think it's around $29-) and run more extensive searches on who's representing who and what kind of deals they're getting. The Internet is rich with info--and most of it's free--good luck!

Martha- Well, the truth is everyone rejected me! I had no idea what I was doing and I queried publishers directly. But, the majority of them asked to see a sample- and then they rejected me. Though, most of those offered to take another look if I were to revise. So I knew I was on to something, but it wasn't until I read STORY by Robert Mckee that I was able to figure out what I was doing wrong. SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder is another must read!


message 25: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Sara wrote: "do you base your characters on people you know? I notice that I take bits and pieces from people I know to create characters."

Hi Sara- bits and pieces of all my experiences, including the people I know, always find their way in!


message 26: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Emily wrote: "First I love your Immortal series, and second. how do you plan your books? do you just get random ideas and then write them down? i could use some help wit that."

Hi Sara-

I do get random ideas, and I do write them down. They usually start with a "what if?" and then I build the world and the cast around that. When it comes to the protagonist, I try to create a character who is seemingly most ill suited - or reluctant - to handle the challenge before her--that way they'll really be tested and forced to grow in big ways in order to reach their goal. At their core- all stories are about transformation!
Good luck!


message 27: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Audrey wrote: "How long had you finished your first book before it was published?"

Hi Audrey- Well, it's a convoluted answer! I worked on my debut novel, FAKING 19, for around 15 years before it got published--though, sometimes a year or three passed when I didn't work on it at all. When I finally got serious about it, it was a 2.5 year process of finishing the book, revising the book, getting rejected by publishers, revising again, taking classes, revising again . . .until I finally signed with an agent who after more rejections, sold it in a 2 book deal to St. Martin's Press.


message 28: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Omar wrote: "hi"

Hello! :)


message 29: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Audrey wrote: "HI!!!!!!"

Hi!! (Waving!)


message 30: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Omar wrote: "hi"

Hello, again! :)


message 31: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Avery wrote: "When you write a book do you start with on outline that you come up with or do you just write what you come up with then go back and edit and edit and edit?
~Big fan of the Immortals series!

Thankyou"


Hi Avery (great name!)

I start with an outline and I go back and edit and edit and edit! Who was it who said "all writing is rewriting"-? Well, it's true!

I'm a big fan of Blake Snyder's "Beat Sheet" that can be found in his amazing book, SAVE THE CAT, as well as on his website: blakesnyder.com. It basically lists the 15 scenes that should occur to keep the story moving forward, and I never start a book without it!


message 32: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Tamara wrote: "hello :)
i am writing a book and i was wondering
1. what do you do when you have a blocade?
2. how can i expand my story? i am writing a rought cut now and i think im going to have about 70 page..."


Hi Tamara-

1. When I have a block - I do more research and it never fails to get me going again. I research my characters, the world I've created, my characters motivation, etc. If I don't know what to write next it's because I don't fully understand what I'm trying to say, so I need to clarify that before I can move on.

2. You beef up your story by raising the stakes, adding more conflict, more obstacles--characters have to WORK for their happy ending. They have to be transformed by the events they were forced to overcome. And they need a worthy opponent- so make sure your antagonist is truly working against your characters happiness.

Best of luck!


message 33: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Victoria wrote: "Hey Alyson!

I was wondering if before you begin to write a novel to you ever feel overwhelmed by everything you want to bring forth to the novel?"


Hi Victoria-

Yes. All the time. I'm working on my 17th novel right now, and I still sit down, look at the blank computer screen, and think: How will I ever fill this page, much less the next three hundred and some??

It's just one word at a time. It's the only way!


message 34: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Sammi wrote: "Hey ALyson! Just wondering about your pre-writing routines. Is it a good idea to listen to music as you write or to have other sounds going on around you? Does it affect your writing in a positive ..."

Well, everyone works differently, so there's no right or wrong way. But for me, I light a candle, make a cup of green tea, put on a crystal necklace a reader gave me, and then I fire-up my playlist (I make one for each book), put on my headphones, and go!

At first the music can be kind of distracting, but after a while it tends to fade into the background so I don't really notice it.


message 35: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Anna wrote: "Dear Alyson Noel
how did you manage to publish your first novel? what steps do you need to take? do you have to have an agent? did you have one at first? how did you make a manuscript? i'm trying t..."


Hi Anna-

My first novel got published after years of writing, revising, taking classes, reading book, revising again, and again, and again, until I finally got an agent who sold it to a publisher.

If you want to publish traditionally (as opposed to self-publishing or e-publishing, which I know nothing about) you will most likely need an agent. But you will not need an agent until your manuscript is finished- they will not be interested until then anyways, so make sure you take the time to get your work in the absolute best shape possible before you start your agent hunt.

How do you make a manuscript? You just type it up in "Word" or whatever writing program you use. You don't have to bind it or anything like that. If an agent wants to read your work they will let you know how to send it.

If you're serious about publishing you might want to join some online writer's groups - YALitChat is a good one, or search Yahoo groups for ones that represent your genre. Read agent and editors blogs, join professional writing organizations if you can. In other words, the more you can learn about the business the better. There are loads of other writers out there willing to share info and it's free for the taking!

Best of luck!


message 36: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Olivia wrote: "hi Alyson im trying to write a story but all my ideas just spill out and i cant manage to put together and when i read my story i just sounds weird....
any advice????
..."


Hi Olivia-

You might want to try outlining your story. It doesn't have to be anything overly formal, just make a list of the big events--the order you want them to happen in, where the events will all lead, how it will end.

And remember, you don't have to give us all the info up front- that's called an "info dump" and it slows the story down. You give the reader the info as they need it. Keep the story moving, increase the obstacles and the stakes, make your character WORK for the ending, so she/he can be changed at the end.

Best of luck!!


message 37: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Victoria wrote: "Hi Alyson! I was wondering when you decided you would be an author and how long it took you to write your first book and how long it took to get published?
thanks"


Hi Victoria!

I decided I wanted to be a writer in 6th grade after reading my first Judy Blume book - ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET. That said, I didn't really work at becoming a writer until much, much later in life.

I worked on my debut novel, off and on for 15 years! But when I finally got serious about it, I spent 2.5 years finishing the book, revising the book, taking classes, revising some more, reading books, revising some more . . .until I signed with an agent who sold it in a 2 book deal to St. Martin's Press. Those two books turned out to be: FAKING 19 and ART GEEKS & PROM QUEENS.

:)


message 38: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Rebecca wrote: "Uhm, Hi there?

I feel like I'm talking to a computer screen :s
Anyways, pushing on. I'm a young writer, and as I've been told - fairly talented, as egotisitcal as it is.
I'm just starting uni..."


Hi Rebecca-

I started writing when I was young-- I didn't get serious about writing until much, much later--and it took 2.5 years from that point to get published.

Here's the thing about writing: It all comes down to "butt in chair." "One word at a time" and "butt in chair" is the only way to finish a book. And if you want to write for publication you will spend the majority of your time with your butt in the chair while your friends and family are out having fun. It requires a lot of sacrifice and there ares no guarantees, no pensions, no health insurance plans . . .and you'll often feel like you're wasting your time. That's the reality of it.

I didn't have the discipline to finish a book early on, and that's not such a bad thing because I was out living my life and those experiences often come into play when I'm writing my books. The discipline came when 9/11 happened and I was working as a NYC based flight attendant, and we got major pay cuts, etc, and I knew it was finally time to go after my dream. Now the discipline comes from publisher imposed deadlines!

And here's another reality: Most writers go through the same thing you are. The next book or idea is ALWAYS more intriguing than the one you're currently working on, this never changes. But if you want to get published, then you have to finish, and now we're right back to "butt in chair."

Wishing you all the best!


message 39: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (lydia34) | 26 comments hey alyson thnx for the advice!!! it really helped. im planning to write a book and now im planning everything down. but wait please reply this its urgent: do you have anymore writing tips you no to develope the story?
plz reply LIVI


message 40: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Rose Belikov wrote: "Hey, I'm Rose.
I'm a writer and I have trouble with keeping to one idea too. I'm working on getting a collection of short stories published on a self publishing ebook site but I'm just having tro..."


Hi Rose-

While some writers are able to juggle three projects at a time- I am not one of them!

I can work on two series at a time, as I am now, but I always finish one book in one series, before I move on to the other.

Most writers struggle with the constant influx of ideas that seem was more exciting than whatever it is we're working on at the moment--that's just how it is. But, it's really important to finish--you can't publish what isn't finished--and this happens when you make yourself sit down and do it-- aka "Butt in Chair." Keep your new ideas in a file so you don't forget them, but concentrate of finishing your story before you move on.

Best of luck!


message 41: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (lydia34) | 26 comments alyson how old were you when you started writing your first novel?
thnx LIVI


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Alyson. I was wondering at what age did you start writing and how you where able to get your book published? I was also wondering on how you where able to research characters in your book?


message 43: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Kristen wrote: "Alyson,
When writing your manuscript, how do you gauge your chapter lengths? Also how many pages is your average manuscript for a YA novel? Is sending a query letter and manuscript through mail ..."


Hi Kristen!

Let's see . . .

Chapter lengths: Each chapter is as long as it needs to be. I prefer short chapters so mine tend to be under 10 pages, but that's just a personal preference. They usually contain one or two scenes (usually one) and that's it.

Publishers speak in terms of word count rather than pages, and an average YA word count can run anywhere from 60,000 words to 100,000 words. The Immortals run between 85,000 - 90, 000 words on average. My earlier single titles run around 65,000 on average.

Querying publishers- Never, ever call a publisher! Seriously, never. It's just not done and you won't get to speak to an editor anyway. Also, you don't want to query publishers, you want to query agents who, if they agree to represent you, will then reach out to the publishers on your behalf. You can learn more about this process by reading agent, editor, and industry blogs, joining online writing loops like YALitChat, or search Yahoo for online loops that represent the genre you're interested in. There's a lot of great information out there and it's free for the taking, so try to learn as much as you can before you start querying!

Best of luck to you!


message 44: by BD (new)

BD (bd-zainabhosain) hey Alison :)
i was juswt curios.. approximatly how long does it take to writa a chapter or so? ive been trying to write a book.. i started when i was in 8th grade...13 years old.. im up to the 4th chapter (ive planned the sequals.. no i know wats hoing on) i just can't get the story on paper.... screen.. ive tried writing and re-writting.. what do you recomend as better... writing the chapter then reading and then re-inserting the additional changes...or... setting and brainstorming the entire idea before writting it down? or do you think the latter idea will just end up encompassing the first?


message 45: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Rae wrote: "First off I just finished reading the books of yours I have and I can't say how amazing they are and how well written they are.

So, I'm a writer (or trying to be one) I'm writing a short story and..."


Hi Rae-

Thanks for the kind words, that's really sweet of you to say!

As for your question: All of my stories start with an idea or a premise or a "What if?" Then I plan the cast around the idea, then I use Blake Snyder's "Beat Sheet" -which can be found in his amazing book, SAVE THE CAT, and online at blakesnyder.com - and outline the major story turning points, and then I dive in. But the outline for me anyway, is a really important part of the process serving as a sort of road map to keep me on track.

All the best on your short story!


message 46: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Baylee wrote: "Alyson,
First I would like to say that I love The Immortals series, and your book Art Geeks and Prom Queens. You are one of my favorite authors!
I am 14 and an aspiring writer. So, I have some q..."


Hi Baylee-

Thanks for stopping by and for all your kind words!

As for your questions:

1. Inspiration: Inspiration for story ideas are everywhere! I steal from my own life a lot (and then I change it to make it more interesting!), but I also get ideas from things that I see, hear, news stories, etc. Inspiration for finishing my books comes from my deadlines!

2. I'm not sure you want to slow a novel down! You want to keep the action moving forward, you want to keep the obstacles mounting, you want to require more and more of your character and force her to really work for the ending. Of course you need quieter moments here and there as well, but don't let them drag on for too long!

3. Advice- I'm sure you've heard it before but the best thing a writer can do to improve their craft is to read. Read a lot of books of all different types. Read them for fun, read them analytically- if you love a book ask yourself why-what did the author do to make you enjoy it? Same thing if you don't like a book, ask yourself why it didn't work for you.

Also, keep writing! Write for assignments, the school newspaper, write for yourself-just keep writing - the more you write the better you get.

Live! It's important to take breaks from writing and reading so you can live your life and partake in experiences that'll inform your writing down the line.

Wishing you all the best!!

1.


message 47: by Alyson (last edited Feb 21, 2011 09:52AM) (new)

Alyson Noel | 234 comments Mod
Heather wrote: "Alyson,

Thank you so much for doing this Q&A. I'm a huge fan of your work. I'm so sad the Immortals series is almost complete, but I'm looking forward to the new Soul Seekers Series & loving Rile..."


Hi Heather-

Oops I answered this earlier, it's in the one at they very top to Heather & Martha-- I was still figuring this format out--sorry for the confusion!

:)


message 48: by Tristan (new)

Tristan Bishop | 2 comments What is your number one writing tip?


message 49: by Elijah (new)

Elijah Ray | 2 comments I'm about 75% done with the first rough draft of my own book and I can't seem to figure out what to write next. Usually when I get writers block I end up just throwing the whole thing away but this book is important and I think it might help other people if I can get it done and find some way to publish it. So question is do you have any tips on extreme writers block???


message 50: by Keres (new)

Keres Hi Alyson
I love the immortals series. I love how you used red tulips to represent Damen's love for Ever. It is intriguing as it is something not many people will know.
I have a lot of ideas for stories but I just can't seem to express myself properly on paper/computer. I have the basic idea on how and what the story is going to be about but I don't know how to start (the writing process) or how to progress from there. It difficult to get the first word out. Sometimes ideas from different storylines seems to collide and combine into a new one. Should I stick to the originals or combine them together. And even though I have te main plot of the story it doesn't seem enough. How do I expand it from there?
Another problem that I always have is names. How do you decide you character names? Do the names must have a meaning? Are they names of people you know? Do the names represent something? I worry about not getting my idea through and people not understanding what I'm trying to say or misinterpritating it.

Thanks,
P.S Keres is not my real name.


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