No matter the hobby or project we decide to spend our precious time and effort on, we always make sure to give it our all in order to achieve the best results. However, despite popular belief, you don’t always have to do it alone. Here is a short list of resources that every fantasy author should have while creating their fictional masterpiece, and hopefully more than a few of them can help you on your way to greatness.
You would be surprised by how much something as simple as having background noise can help you clear your mind and find your groove. Music has been a tried and true method used by students across the globe to aid with studying and retaining information, but it is also a great way to keep you focused on a long writing project as well! Many theorize that this is due to music being one of the only things that activate almost every part of the human brain at the same time, allowing information to flow or collect more easily. Pretty cool, right?
The common cliché’ of using music as a focusing tool is forcing yourself to listen to the prancing tones and mournful melodies of classical music, but recent studies have actually found that almost all music (even heavy metal) has found a place in our carefully crafted toolbox. If it’s late, however, I’d suggest keeping the AC/DC to a dull roar, as your neighbors may be focusing on the backs of their eyelids and won’t appreciate the late-night type session.
2. Have A Good Editor.
Finding someone you trust to go over your work and find flaws or fix grammar issues is not always an easy thing to do, but I would highly recommend engaging in the search. A good friend (or even a hired expert, if you prefer to keep things professional) will more than come in handy when going over your precious pages, as another set of eyes is more likely to find mistakes that you’ve either grown accustomed to or didn’t even notice. Little phrasings that are second-nature to us may stand out to your editor, helping you realize that describing a character’s temper as *half-cocked* may not fit in so well with your Medieval-themed novel. Some editors (like mine) can be a little more opinionated than others… (example below from my current book’s partially-completed manuscript)
3. A Fan.
Always have at least one fan to push you along and encourage your work. There is nothing better than sitting down and launching into your next plot point (which is genius, by the way!) to someone who is genuinely interested and excited to hear about it. As with therapy, speaking your thoughts out loud can help you discover new ideas or theories, and that can make all the difference in an intricate plot.
This fan can be the typical mother waving the #1 FAN foam finger over her head, or it could be a spouse or good friend – it doesn’t matter. As long as you have someone telling you that “you can do eet”, that’s what counts.
4. A Critic.
Let’s face it – nobody likes a critic. These people can be mean and ruthless, and they can pick your whole book apart with the tug of a single thread. Intimidating, right? Absolutely. So let’s stay away from the professional critics for awhile and focus more on finding a friend that doesn’t mind looking for plot holes or time-line confusions. This person should hopefully enjoy reading, and especially reading fantasy, or their opinions are going to be a little bit harsher than usual. If listening to this person’s assessment causes you to feel as though you need to change everything, or even give up and start over because there’s simply too much to fix, you have found the wrong critic. Simply thank your friend and find another person to look over your work. Good constructive criticism is handed out with a detailed reason why the writer’s idea doesn’t fit, and it usually comes with other ideas for the writer to think about. Even if you don’t take these ideas, they will kick-start your mind into finding solutions much faster and more effectively than a simple, “this story sucks, brah.”
5. A Clean Working Environment.
Numerous studies have found that depression, mental fatigue, and even a hindrance to creativity can result from having a dirty environment. People, by instinct, have a deep desire to control the things around them. If your bedroom or office has gotten out of control, it begins to affect you in many different ways, and can even lead to poor health and a lowered immune system. If you intend to finish that book in a timely manner (and you don’t want it to be tainted by a sour mood), I would highly suggest that you finally pick up that pile of dirty laundry and take out the trash.
(On a side note, I’ll be very impressed if you can recognize all of the movie-related pictures!)