Guest Post by Deniz Bevan

Kick Start Your Writing

Sooner or later, most of us get bogged down in the middle bits of a novel and find our drive and attention dwindling as fear and self-doubt creep in – even Nathan Bransford.

This happened to me not just with a novel but with all my writing in the last few years. I played up the usual excuses but forced myself to keep writing – and researching – anyhow. Something was wrong somewhere, though, for the excitement was few and far between, left behind a year or so before when I’d started the first draft. Researching grew more exciting than editing and it was easy to lose my characters’ voices and slip into long stretches of expository omniscient telling. And then something happened…

I sent my characters off to another houseparty.

One or the other of them had previously participated in the writers’ houseparties that take place on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community; there have been eight such parties to date and I – and my characters – were present at the very first one in June 2007. Each party after that grew in size and complexity, as more writers joined in the fun, bringing their characters to interact with the characters of other members, who all come from varying places and time periods. Houseparties are a great way to thrust your characters out of their familiar worlds and learn things about them that you may not have known before. Writing for a houseparty is just like writing your first draft – fast paced and fluid, with no second guessing; anything goes at a houseparty, from magic to skipping between time periods, to anachronistic events and language, to romantic interludes…

The last such party took place in July and was hosted by ZanMarie. Some magical combination of the setting (Cherry Hill, Georgia, Fourth of July 2008), the other characters that arrived at the party (courtesy of Adderbury and Claire and many other authors) and my rediscovery of the romance genre, brought back the rush and the fun I’d lost. I’ve churned out more words in the past two months than I had managed to squeeze out all year!

Starting on 8 October, the ninth houseparty will take place in the Writers Exercises folder of the Community. The setting for this edition of the house party is Constantinople 1493 and my protagonist Rosa will be your hostess!

How to play:

Step 1: Invitations to anyone who’d like to play are up right now in the Houseparty Invite and Character Introductions thread; feel free to bring as many characters as you like from your novel(s)!

Step 2: Read (or skim) the descriptions of the place we will be playing in, in the Description thread

Step 3: When you see that the houseparty thread has started (it will be called Constantinople Houseparty), click on reply at the bottom of the first message and write a post of your characters starting their journey to the party, or arriving there.

Step 4: Have them greet their host, see the rooms they are in or outside areas, and talk to any other writer’s characters who have already arrived before you.

Step 5: Other writers will have their characters arrive and start to do things. If someone is doing something interesting in the next room, write your character going to see what they are doing and getting involved, helping out, and other writers will be doing the same thing (yes, you will be writing someone else’s character responding to your character’s actions, and vice versa!), moving in and out of various locations in the setting.

Don’t worry about timing; if you’d like your character to be involved in something you may have missed you can always tack on an “[earlier]” or “[later]” to the start of your post. Time trousers – where a characters ends up in two places at once at the same time – can be quite fun!

If you’d like to see examples of previous parties, links to the first six parties can be found here. The seventh party took place in London during World War Two. Background information is here, character introductions are here, the commentary thread is here, and the party itself is here. The last party – the most detailed one we’ve had to date (and longest, at over 183,000 words!) – has three threads, the character introductions here, the commentary thread here and the party here.

Hope to see you all in Constantinople come October!

Thank you Kait for letting me guest today!

I blog at The Girdle of Melian and I’m also on Goodreads and LibraryThing (links on my blog). I’m seeking an agent for my MG historical fantasy The Face of A Lion and finalising the first draft of my YA historical romance Out of the Water. I’ve previously published book reviews and travel articles in the Bizim Anadolu newspaper.

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