Writing A Novella + A Writing Book Haul | Behind the Scenes Writing Vlog #4


Hello, Writers!


I’m super excited to announce that the Weekly Writing Vlog is back, yay! In this Behind the Scenes Writing Vlog, I will discuss where I’m at with writing the first draft of my crime thriller novella, Missing and share a writing book haul. This episode covers the first few weeks of September, where I discuss how I outline my scenes, breaking my own writing rules and editing as I go along, researching while writing the first draft. I went a little crazy on Amazon and purchased a few writing books.

A Word Count Update

My word count for Missing at the time of this Behind-the-Scenes Writing Vlog is 26,917 words. If you follow my podcast, then you’ll know that my word count hasn’t changed since the update on that episode because these two pieces of content were released in the same week. One of the reasons why I didn’t contribute to my word count this week was two-fold. The first has a lot to do with procrastination and getting distracted. And, the second is I needed to do a lot of research before I started writing a couple of scenes in the latter part of act two.


The scene is set in a location that has now been turned into a crime scene. Time had passed since James was at the scene, and I had to figure out what a crime scene looked like before a professional crime scene clean up crew had started working. I spend a lot of time researching fingerprint powders and the surfaces they are used on and looking at a series of disturbing scene images. Even though I didn’t technically write since I write in a genre that is set in the real world, I need to bring a certain level of realism to my thriller. So for me, research is considered a part of the writing process.


Setting and Locations

I’ve also started creating in-depth location and setting sketches to help with consistency and continuity within the novella. Because I am writing a novella, there is a small number of locations in the story. The return to familiar settings doesn’t happen as often as you think, but when it does, I need to make sure everything is consistent.


I’ve also realised that I get stuck on describing settings and often have to research places to help me describe the locations in the story narrative. It was this realisation that led to a book purchase and the creation of a series of location profiles. I’ve decided that I’m going to create these sketches in advance between the outlining and the drafting phases of the writing process. This limited number of settings, along with many other elements, contributes to the shorter word count of the novella. If you’re interested in writing a novella, then check out my blog post which highlights why you should start out writing novellas instead of novels.


Outlining Scenes

If you’ve been reading the authorpreneur blog, listened to the podcast, or watched my youtube channel then, you’ll know I’m a huge outlining fan. Before, I write the first draft I will create a scene by scene outline in excel, with a vast array of columns focusing on a story element. After this, I will edit the outline then go on to write the first draft. At the scene level, I will also do a bit of outlining before I start writing.


Yes, I know more outlining.


However, these scene outlines are just a list of scene notes. These notes are a general gist of how I want the scene to play out on the page. I usually play the scene over in my mind then write the notes. The notes will basically be a list of moments that unfold. These scene moments are referred to as beats. I’ve picked up this habit from learning the craft of screenwriting. A beat is a unit of a scene that an actor will generally focus on as they prepare for auditions and filming. At this time, I will write down any ideas for dialogue. These ideas usually lead to better dialogue during the first draft phase.


A Quick Update

I know this is going to sound alarming, but I’ve not been happy with the first book in the James Lalonde Amateur Sleuth series, Missing. My unhappiness has led me to create a third edition with new scenes, improvements to the old ones, and a more satisfying ending.


This week, I sent the third edition, which is titled “Suspicion”, off to my editor. I’m so excited because I’m very close to publishing this new first-in-series novella. And, I plan to make this novella available for free to my James Lalonde Insiders reader club.


A Writing Related Book Haul

On the previous Friday afternoon, I started browsing the pages of the UK Amazon store in search of another thesaurus in Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi series for writers. As I was writing the first draft of Missing, I realised that I struggled with setting the scene and describing the five senses through the eye of the point of view character. At the time I was looking for something to helping with scene-setting, and I remembered the thesaurus series, and thus, The Urban Setting Thesaurus found its ways into my shopping cart.


Prior to this blog, I had purchased four other books in the thesaurus series that relate to characters. This purchase was made after listening to an episode of The Creative Penn Podcast where the host, Joanna Penn interviews one of the authors of the series about the latest edition which focuses on emotional wounds. If you’re interested in watching the interview on YouTube, then click this link. The protagonist of my thriller series is emotionally wounded and thus prompted the purchase. I desired to give the character a greater sense of depth in the revision stages of the writing process. Below is a full list of the thesaurus I have purchased with links to the Amazon store.


Book Number 2

While perusing the store on Friday afternoon, I noticed that a few writing-related books on my wish list were eligible for free delivery from my Prime subscription. As consequence, I had a mini writing book haul. The next book in my cart after the thesaurus was How to Write A Thriller by Scott Mariani. For those of you who do not know, Scott Mariani is the author of the Ben Hope series and is a great thriller writer who is skilled at crafting page-turners. In spite of the fact that I don’t always love Mariani’s characters, I wanted to read it in hope that I would learn something about writing a great thriller.


Book Number 3

The final book that I added to my cart was The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. I was prompted to purchase this book after listening to another episode of The Creative Penn Podcast where Joanna Penn interviews her Mother, Jacqui and discusses their journey of co-writing sweet romance under the pen name, Penny Appleton. On the video version of the Podcast, her mother held up a few books on the craft of writing, and this book was one of them. If you’re interested in watching this podcast interview, then click here to go to the video on The Creative Penn Youtube channel. I purchased the ebook version eighteen months ago and decided that It would be great to have the paperback on my writing shelf.


The Story Grig is not just a book but is a podcast hosted by Shawn Coyne and first-time author Tim Grahl. Just a side note, this book is not a book I would recommend for beginners. The author, Shawn Coyne is an editor and is great at what does, but I recommend you avoid reading this book from cover to cover. It is best used as a reference guide that you refer back to as you need throughout the writing process because it contains an overwhelming amount of information on writing fiction. The book delves deep into the unit of story structure and discusses the concept of a beat. All of this knowledge can become overwhelming. When you start out learning the craft of writing, I recommend you focus on what you need to know to get started and learn as you evolve as a writer or get stuck with a story element.
I hope you enjoyed this Behind The Scenes Writing Vlog.


Happy reading and writing, and I’ll see you in my next video.


Your coach,


Amelia xx



* DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. The commission helps support the blog and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for the support. 🙂

Amelia D. Hay

Amelia D. Hay

I’m Amelia. I write amateur sleuth mystery novels under the pen name A. D. Hay and I’m the author of The Candidate, The Locked Room, The Lawn, Suspicion and Duplicity. I’m also the host of the Mystery Novel Nerd Podcast and The Authorpreneur Podcast™️. Right now, I’m writing the first novella in a cozy mystery series, and writing the third book in the James Lalonde Mystery Series. When I’m not writing, hosting my podcasts or coaching aspiring authors, I love to travel around Europe with my Husband, drink tea, and eat pizza.

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