About the writing process: The first writing year

It's a month to my deadline. Wow. I'm not going to worry about it: I'll write everyday and see where it takes me. I'll try to finish my novel the day I've planned, but if I can't I'll do it in January.

December 27 I'll be on my way to Tenerife, where the first book is partly set. This will be my second visit in Tenerife and I'm really excited about it. It's going to be amazing to see the places I've used in Young Fighters.

Today I'll tell you about the writing process of the first Young Fighters novel. It's been a long way to get here and I think it's good to give you some information about it.

I could say there has been four periods in my writing process. Period number one was the first writing year. Second period was from summer 2005 to summer 2008, third was the three years I went in upper secondary school and the 4th begun in summer 2011 and still goes on. They're all quite different so I'll write a post about them all.

During the first writing year I mostly made plans for characters and their lives. I wrote short texts about the protagonist and her friends. I decided to write in the first person - it felt right from the start and made the story more real. I made plans for the plot and wrote few versions of the first chapter.

I also thought of the computer chip and the reasons why someone would like to use it to disturb peace. The first antagonist started to visit my mind often, but I didn't write anything about him yet. I focused on the main plot issues because I had no idea how big story I was creating.

Because I was so young, I didn't take the writing so seriously. I wrote because it was fun. I had no deadlines, no regular writing time. It was easy and enjoyable. It took me the whole year to understand that I was writing a book - after finding that out I was stunned. My ideas started to  grow, my characters started to feel much more alive. Suddenly I realized I wanted to write the book. 

I think the first period ended when I understood what I wanted to do. But want happened the next writing year? That will be the topic soon!

Here's Daughtry song for today. It's from their newest album!


For my peacekeeper

This post is dedicated to my friend who is going to spend next six months in Lebanon as a peacekeeper. He's leaving tomorrow with over a hundred people and comes back in May. This has been his dream for a long time so I'm very happy for him - even though I'm a little scared sometimes. But, like he said, nothing bad has happened to Finnish peace keeping force in Lebanon, so I shouldn't have a reason to be worried.

I want to tell you something about him because he's one of the first who I've told about Young Fighters. He's always been very supportive and made me believe in myself when I have been insecure. He is also a great muse: he gave an idea for a character in Young Fighters, for example. He gives me strength to write when writing is difficult and I feel nothing is going right.

Another reason to write about him is that he's a real treasure. He has shown me what true friendship means. He's always there for me and also gives me a chance to be there for him. He makes me smile even in my darkest days and is always ready to talk with me. I know I can tell him everything - I can't imagine a day when I couldn't trust him. He knows what I'm going to say before I say a word. Could say we have a strong connection.

During the years we've known each other I have learned a lot about life and myself. I can't find words to describe all the good things he gives me all the time. Sometimes I have said something like this about him:

"There are many people who can help me to get back on my feet, but he is one of the few who can keep me from falling."

I think this says something about how much he means to me.

Because of our friendship it's also been easy for me to write about friendship, one of the main themes of Young Fighters. I've created many friendships between my characters that I try to describe the way they deserve. One of the greatest friendships is the friendship between the protagonist and Sam, the characters inspired by my friend. I'm looking forward to write the chapters that bring it to life. Writing about friendship is a way to thank my "peacekeeper" for all the support he has given me in my life. I'm really lucky to have him in my life.

Here's a song that always reminds me of him. He linked it to me once in a special situation and after that it has made my day many times. It's a beatiful song that gives me strength in every situation. 

And here is another song that fits this post - specially because I've just written about a person who definitely keeps peace in my life. I will miss him so much.

"All I need is a memory of you
And I'll hold my head high
I won't let anything break me down
I'll walk through tears and stones

Across the distance 
I can feel your embrace
I know you're here with me

I keep walking
through tears and stones
Because you're here with me
and show me the way when I can't see"



Word count is now 85,980. Going strong! 

Today I wrote 751 words. Goal for tomorrow is about 900 words.


A journey to the dark side

Today I'm going to talk about the villains of Young Fighters. One of my friends asked me how I create my villains and I think it's a very interesting question to answer.

Creating a villain is a difficult and interesting task. When you create an evil character you have to take a journey to the unknown, to a world that can't be explained by sense. It's a journey to a foreign land where everything is possible.

The more I've read the more often I've noticed how important it is to explain reader, why and how the character became bad. It's important to tell why an ordinary person has become a monster. To make readers understand why there's evil in the book writers have to lead their readers into the villain's mind.

When I've been thinking about the villains of Young Fighters and planned their life stories, I've tried to find the reasons for their action. I say find because I think I have to get to know my characters the way I get to know real people. Writing a character into a story is a process: I don't know everything about my characters yet. I have investigated their personalities piece by piece and developed a strange, extraordinary past for all of them - I can't wait writing the scenes that show the events that made them who they are today.

Another important thing is to think how bad the villain is. I've spent tens of hours thinking of how should I describe the evil. The villains play a big role in Young Fighters series so it's crucial that they are strong and really different, really bad. A "dork" villain wouldn't be believable. It's a challenge to make people see the evil in little things - to make them recognize the bad guy without saying it. Dialogue is one way to make a difference between a villain and a good character. I have written, for example, a dialogue between Amy and the leader of the criminal organization that is trying to get the computer chip.

It's also challenging to describe feelings that you haven't had. Villains can hate something or someone, they can be resentful, in their world love isn't real... They have really complicated personalities which makes the description difficult. It's important to make readers see the whole picture at right speed. I think you shouldn't tell everything about a villain straight away - readers need time to think of the things the villain has said and done. I want to give my readers chance to use their head.

There are many villains in Young Fighters, who have different motives and different goals. They all are Amy's enemies but they want to harm her from different grounds. There is the leader of the criminal organization who makes Amy's life a real mess. There is a girl who has hated Amy from the first sight. In Young Fighters you will also meet a serial killer.

Here's few thoughts about the villains. Feel free to ask if there's something you'd like to know about Young Fighters or about the writing process! Hope you enjoy to songs I linked: they are from Daughtry's first and second albums and they're called All these lives and What have we become.


Raised with Harry Potter

I have always loved reading. When I was a child, my Mom read to me almost every night and took me to a library every week. Sometimes I didn't have time to read all the books we took with us. I was surrounded by stories and enjoyed creating them - I created them already before I could even write. 

I can still remember the day when I realized I want to become a writer. I was eight years old and my friends were talking about Harry Potter all the time. One day I decided to stop by a small library that located in the same building as our school and start to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone. I found it quickly, and soon I was sitting at the table. I looked at the book for a while and then started to read.

I had never had that kind of experience. Harry's story amazed me. I had read only a few pages and I already loved Rowling's writing style. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I loved Hogwards. The whole world was fascinating and couldn't be compared to anything I had read before. If I could write a book that made someone feel this way, I would be the happiest writer in the world, I thought. That was the moment I knew I wanted to write a book. I had no idea when I would start but I knew I would do it. It felt like my whole world had changed. Today I think that my life really changed that day.

I took Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone home with me and read it in few days. I started to read the next book as soon as I got my hands on it. I raised with Harry and thought of writing more and more each day. That was how I got interested in book series. Suddenly I was eleven and had the idea of Young Fighters. I think that journey with Harry and his story was also a journey from wanting to write to writing

The Potter series will always have a place in my heart. The books have made me laugh, they have made me cry. I've learned a lot about life and writing because of them. Every time I read one of the Potter books I remember why I write - I remember what I want to give my readers. J.K.Rowling is the best. I wish I could tell her how much inspiration she has given me during the years I've written Young Fighters.

So this is how I found my dream. Now I'll add few words in my novel. My goal for today is about 600 words.

Here is a song by my favorite band, Daughtry. It inspires me now - or should  I say again. Amy is feeling her life a bit supernatural right now.


A battle in the USA

As you know, Young Fighters is set in the United States. I've mentioned it on a post once (The birth of Young Fighters) and now I think it's time to explain why a Finnish girl writes a book series that is set in USA. Thank you, Jouneezeh, for giving me the idea for this post! And thank you, Virtuefiction, for inspiring me to write more in English! It's great to hear that someone is looking forward to my posts.

So, why USA? It's definitely because of the story. The first thing about Young Fighters I saw in my mind was the protagonist. I just saw her in my mind and knew she is American and that her name is Amy. There were also three other things I found out  immediately. First: Amy loves her friends; second: Amy's grandfather got murdered and third: the legacy of Amy's grandfather is a computer chip.

The basic idea of Young Fighters made it clear that the story couldn't be set in Finland. Our country is too small. It's also difficult to imagine that someone would inherit a computer chip in Finland. It's a very powerful device that is chased by unknown criminal organization. That doesn't fit Finland. 

The USA has inspired me a lot from the start. It's a huge society that has it's own rulesI've been interested in the United States for several years so it's been amazing and interesting to build a world around the country. In Young Fighters I describe 1) crimes that brake state lines and 2) how the crimes affect Amy and her friends and the people who have no idea of what is really happening in their country. Young Fighters is pretty much about a big battle between the criminal organization and the people who protect the chip - and also a battle between privacy and publicity. This is one of the reasons why I write about American people instead Finnish. The villains of the series are really bad and their crimes are really shocking - they need a strong adversary. The media and the policy, for example, have much more power in the USA than in Finland. Many countries don't have the kind of enemies that the USA could have.

In the beginning of Young Fighters the villains are a threat only to Amy and her friends. Amy is "nobody" and the center of the battle at the same time. What happens when the threat becomes real to everyone? How will the USA react? Who will survive? Will the chip stay safe? These are fascinating questions to answer. 

When I plotted Young Fighters, I wanted to create something different. Almost every Finnish writer writes about Finnish people, Finnish culture, Finnish nature and so on. I didn't want to do that. It's ordinary. Amy's life definitely isn't ordinary.

With or without plans?

I had a day off today so I've had a lot time to write. Today my goal is to finish a chapter I've been writing for two weeks - my studies and a weekend in Helsinki kept me from writing for few days. When the chapter is written, I'll check my word count again.

On this post I'll answer to a question asked by one of my friends at university. If you have something to ask, leave a comment.

Do you write chapters from first to the last one and if not, how do you find it?

Depends on situation. When I was writing the first version of the manuscript, I finished the first chapter before starting next one. I also tried to write some scenes from the middle of the book. However, the plot changed so much during the years that it made writing difficult - my new ideas didn't fit the text I had written and so on. That was when I put the manuscript aside and focused on planning the plot.

I've written my novel with and without plans. When I write chapters in order I don't need to look at my plans so much: I write what I have in my mind and let the story grow. It's quite straightforward and makes daily writing easier.This year I haven't had an order to follow; I've just written what comes naturally - but I couldn't have done it if I didn't have a good, specific plan of the chapter. There is a lot of little things in Young Fighters I have to keep in mind, so planning has been very useful. It has helped me to remember, what happened before the scene I'm writing, specially if I haven't written the things I have to remember. When you want to write a chapter between first and fifth and next a chapter between 15th and 25th, for example, plans are crucial, I think.

If you want to write a good novel, you need to have some plans. The plan doesn't have to be specific: the main thing is that you have some kind of plan. The first plan I made was only a list of events - it only gave me a direction to go and an idea of where to start. A little decision can also be a plan. I made few decisions like "Today I'll make a plan for second chapter", "Next week I'll focus on the opening chapter" and "Now I'll try to write a completely new scene". I think that specific plans work for some and others they don't. They can make a writer anxious and terrified. The only way to find out if they work for you is to try. And remember: plans can always change, so don't worry. Plans are supposed to help you, not to tie you.

Ps. It's winter here now! I had to stare a while when I saw the snow. Everything is white - and cold!

Great news and the writing mood (first posted in October)

First I want to tell you something: The bone season will be also a film. Samantha announced it on her blog Saturday. Read her latest post to know what I'm talking about: Miss Shannon remarks - Film rights optioned

I'm so happy for Samantha. This is amazing! It's really great to see how much people love her book. 

When I first saw the title of the newest post I was like "Wow. Film rights. Wow." Next I thought of how great this is and how quickly this all happened. Not every writer gets an opportunity like this. Samantha's story is unique.

I've been working on my novel every minute it's been possible during last seven months, and the news about The bone season gave me a huge inspiration to work harder. I'm in a state of mind that I call writing mood.

This state of mind - or state of inspiration - is a state where everything I do and hear gives me ideas and makes me want to write. It usually begins when I listen to some inspiring music or read a good book; it begins with thoughts that grows until I have an idea of a scene or a chapter. Writing mood is a combination of feelings and action: something makes me think and then I want to write. When I'm on the writing mood, I think of my characters and the chapters I'm writing - I think of everything that has something to do with Young Fighters. I inspire myself every way I can: by reading, watching movies, listening to music, eating chocolate, having many cups of tea a day; anything that keeps me writing. Usually the writing mood grows with time and makes me feel like I was living in the world of Young Fighters. This time it started in March - now it gets stronger every day. If I had a chance, I would write all night long.

During this very longintensive state of inspiration I have read all the chapters I had written, started to make my editing list, rewritten one chapter and written eight new chapters. Lately I've finished few unfinished  chapters that were really challenging from the start. Last week I started to write two completely new chapters: I'll work on them this week. I've also checked my word count: it's now about 75000 words. It sounds huge.

 My goal is to finish the novel in December and send it to publishing houses. I can only imagine the feeling when I've really done it.

I'm really getting forward. It's awesome. Thank you for stopping by! Every reader is a treasure.


A muse called Samantha Shannon

I want to tell you something about Samantha Shannon and how she has been inspiring me since I heard of her the first time.

It all begun when one friend of mine told me about a girl who was called the next J.K.Rowling and who had signed with Bloomsbury for her debut novel, The bone season. Next she said: "This girl made me think about you."

I got curious and started to find out what kind of person we were talking about. I visited the website of Bloomsbury and found Samantha's blog. I read her first post right away: you'll find it here: Miss Shannon remarks - The story so far

Soon I found out that we really have something in common: we are almost at the same age, we both write a book series and we had the idea as we were very young (I was eleven years old and Samantha was fifteen). We both are also literature students and the most of all: we both love writing.

Samantha's debut novel, The bone season, will be released globally in August 2013. It's the first book of the series and the genre has said to be fantasy, science fiction and urban fantasy. I think the last one describes the novel the best. Read Samantha's blog and find out more about the book - I want to give the honour of describing it to her.

I got hooked on Samantha's blog after the first post. I've read all her posts and my love for them keeps growing. I love her way to write and describe the writing process. Her text is fluent and easy to read and it shows how much she loves writing. Samantha has shared a lot of her experiences of publishing process and given tips for her readers who are writing their first novel. I can't even count how many times her text has made my day.

Samantha is lovely also because she is so supportive. To me she has given a lot of inspiration and motivation to finish my novel. She makes her readers believe in themselves and reminds us that we should not give up.

Thank you, Samantha, for sharing your blog with us and making sure that we fight until our books are out there. I'm sure the world will love The bone season! You're great. 

If you're interested in her book, there's a fansite on facebook. Just search with words The bone season and like! I can only imagine how great it is. I can't wait to read it! 

I will write more about her in the future. Stay tuned.


Plotting and making progress (first posted in July 2012)

So, more about Young Fighters. First, the serie will be long. I don't know exactly, how long, but at least ten books. That's what I think today. Of course it may change. Second, I work on the first Young Fighters novel every day. And third, I love writing it.

In eight years I've written many versions of my first novel. All the versions had the same basic idea, but I realized there was something  wrong in the manuscript every time I started to read it. Too many characters, something didn't fit in the plot or the words didn't come out easily. The text wasn't fluent or something just didn't feel good. So I started to write again. I decided to write a completely new manuscript and solve the problems I had with the text.

The first thing to do was to think which of the characters were important. There were few characters that were difficult to describe - I think I didn't have a strong connection with them. I put them aside and concentrated those who really were part of the plot.

Next I made changes to the plot. I removed some events and discovered new, I changed to course of the events, created one new relationship and so on. I've written many chapters again, most of them are in the beginning of the book. Some changes I've made in the last four months and I guess I have to rewrite at least five chapters before I can say the manuscript is finished. Most of the text will be totally new.

One of the problems I had was that my writing was too rush. I hadn't described situations enough and I gave too much information in one chapter. I tried to say too many things at the same time. The version I was writing about three years ago is full of things like that. When I started to rewrite the novel, I did it much slower and told myself that I have to trust myself. Nowadays I don't rush and I let my heart to tell me what to write.

Last year I started to look for inspiration more actively. During the high school I didn't have much time to read, for example. Now I have and I've made the most of it: I've been reading fantasy, drama, thrillers - almost everything from Stephen King to Michael Connelly. I have found so many interesting books that they don't fit in my bookcase. Because music plays a big role in my writing, I also search music that inspires me. Since I've written every day for about four months I've let my friends to read my text and say their opinion. They help me a lot!

Like I already mentioned, I write every day. My goal is to write at least from one to three pages a day and finish the manuscript and the editing process this year. I believe I'm able to do it. Right now I'm writing a chapter that shows how much things have changed in Amy's life and how she's trying to do the right thing in every single situation - which of course is not possible. I love writing it!

Feel free to ask questions. Have a good weekend!


The birth of Young Fighters

I started to create and write the story of Young Fighters in June 2004. At the time I was eleven years old and I didn't have a hunch how much my life would be changed by writing. I had been dreaming about writing a book since I was eight and I knew I would do it some day – but what I really didn't know was how quickly I would start to write and that an idea would grow so fast. Soon I started to create a long book series and discovered that the secrets of Young Fighters would reach beyond decades.  

I remember brightly the day when the first pieces of the story snapped in the right places. I was on holiday with my mom in Crete, it was Wednesday and the clock was ticking few minutes after 11 a.m. According to my memories it was third day of our trip and I was yearning to write something.  

Eventually my burning desire to write lead to the point where I could see the protagonist of the story, Amy, in my mind. The name just came to my mind without having any big sessions with my brains. It was the right name for this character and it was also obvious for me that she is American. So the most of the story would be set in the United States. I know it is an unusual choice for a book that will be written by a Finnish girl, but there are many good reasons to do it. On of them was that a story like Young Fighters doesn't fit Finland -  I guess it wouldn't be that credible

Soon you'll undestand, why.

I took a note book and started to develop the character of Amy. I used her as a narrator and wrote short texts from her view. I got some inspiration from myself: the colour of the hair, the clothes Amy likes to wear, hobbies, parts of personality... Amy is quite different from me after all. It's important to remember that she reminds others of me but is not me. I think it's easier to write about the character you've made up totally yourself when the protagonist has something familiar to writer. I think that's the reason why many writers get inspiration from their own personality.

After Amy I discovered her friends and some other people who are important to her. In Crete I got an idea of a big family that has a place in Amy's heart. In the summer I wrote a lot and made plans for the plot. I wanted to create something different, something interesting and new. Piece by piece the heart of the story came to my mind.

 Young Fighters is about this:

Amy's life changes when she gets a legacy from her grandfather. Her grandfather left her a mysterious, powerful computer chip that is chased by an unknown criminal organization. Amy should keep it safe and find out what kind of secrets are hidden in it.  Amy confronts danger with her friends when finding out the history of the chip and the answers to her questions. She has to rebuild her life and find the people who helped to make the chip. Only they can tell how the chip works. There are also few romances in the first book - and of course conflicts between the characters.

What is Amy's destiny? What happens to the computer chip? Who wins? 

Read my blog and find out!