Find out what it takes to create a novel for Nollybooks.
These tips can help you craft a better story, create more believable characters and deliver a more enjoyable read.
Finding your Stride as a Nollybooks Author in 5 Stylish Steps
“The only thing to be taken seriously in life is one’s shoes.” Dion Chang
Don’t you agree with the famously stylish Mr. Chang? Women love good shoes. For many it’s a secret – OK, often not so secret – pleasure. Another guilty pleasure is a novel as light as the froth on a cappuccino and as satisfying as a box of white chocolate truffles.
We love stories featuring contemporary heroines that reflect our own lives, but give us an escapist storyline with a nice romantic angle. Don’t you dream of a hero to sweep you off your feet after you’ve been walking around in killer heels all day?
And that’s what Nollybooks are about ... being swept off your feet!
The good news? Our editors are always looking for hot new authors. The Nollybooks brand is all about fast, fabulous fun reads for aspirational young black women.
We’re looking for authors who can create escapist fiction – a hybrid genre combining stiletto-sharp Chic Lit with to-die-for Romance. Think you’re up for it?
To help you aspiring authors out there, we’ve have put together a Step-by-Step guide to getting started.
Step 1 – Trying it on for Size
While we aim to give you some great advice and exercises to try, the best way to get into the swing of writing a Nollybook is read a couple of books in the Chic Lit/Romance genres.
Grab a notebook. Take notes on what you loved – characters, settings, situations.
Why not buy some glossy magazines? You will get a feel for the market, be inspired by the stories (and soak up the fashion pages!)
Now brainstorm a bunch of ideas for your own story. Mmm. Still stuck?
There are good ideas for stories all around you. (Pity that can’t always be said of good men.) Find them in your own life and the lives of friends. Think about everything from bad dates and broken hearts, bad bosses to broken heels. Write about these.
Collect images from magazines and newspapers as cool visual references. Characters, jewellery, perfume, hair care products, clothes and, of course, shoes. Visit a travel agent and collect brochures of hot destinations.
Step 2 – Stepping Out
So now you have wonderful ideas for a story but it all seems a bit chaotic. Relax.
Try to summarise the story in a page or two. This will pull your ideas into focus.
Sexy men and shoes are great, but beware of making your story too frivolous. There’s a central conflict at the heart of a Nollybook – it could be a job your heroine really wants, a fight with a family member, an old boyfriend showing up. Shake up her world like a martini.
Do you have the spark in your story? No? Jot down some possible opening crises for your heroine.
What’s next? We’d suggest you fire up your laptop and get the first chapter down. Send it to us with a synopsis. We want your sparkling and unique voice to shine through.
Imagine your story as a movie that’s coming out. Write the copy for the theatrical trailer. If your story doesn’t sound exciting to you, would it catch the attention of the audience? (Munch on popcorn while you do this exercise.)
Step 3 – She’s All That
Now it’s time to focus on your heroine. Why not? We’re going to be walking in her shoes for the duration of the Nollybook.
She’s sassy, independent, smart. She’s a young woman going places, someone readers will look up to. That doesn’t mean she’s perfect. She is also vulnerable and flawed. Maybe she can’t resist a sale. Maybe she’s always late.
Our best advice is to take a character trait or flaw and challenge it in your story. If she’s impulsive, make sure her rash decisions land her in hot water. If she’s clumsy, she spills a drink on the hero etc. – maybe that’s how they meet?
Think about what qualities she has that draws people to her – friends, colleagues and, of course, the hero. Perhaps those people closest to her could provide a helping hand – or cause a setback.
Start building her world - and her wardrobe!
Imagine your heroine spots the man of her dreams in a coffee shop. What would he look like? How would she describe him?
To download the She’s All That character sheet click here.
Step 4 – Keeping it Sharp and Sassy
OK, you’re so into your writing you live in your slippers and forget to feed your cat. That’s great. Here’s some help on getting through the middle of your story without a breakdown or ice cream binge.
Nollybooks are short in length, but never short on emotion, conflict and fun.
Once you’ve set up your central conflict, expand it with a series of chain reactions or mini-crises that take your heroine through the middle of the story. A story that keeps the reader turning the pages is always filled with little triumphs and major setbacks for your character.
Plot out one or two "standout" moments in each of your chapters. Pulling out your hair? You could change the setting in a new chapter or introduce a different character or subplot.
Look at those pivotal moments in your story. What could go wrong at this point? Could the balance of power shift between hero and heroine? What decision would take the story in a different direction?
On a piece of cardboard write out your heroine’s goals (in black), all her challenges and setbacks (in red) and the victories and the final resolution (in blue). This will keep you on track.
Step 5 – Divine Inspiration – No, it’s not a fragrance
We know how life is – it gets crazy. We have jobs, dogs, bosses and boyfriends demanding our attention, although not in that order. Finding the time to write is your greatest challenge.
Once you get started, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be churning out those pages.
Our advice? Create a realistic writing schedule. Stick to it. Block out time in your diary. Turn off the Internet and cell phone for an hour – you’ll be surprised at how much you get down.
In order to give you more help and divine inspiration, we’ve put together a reading list.
To download our Red Hot Reading List click here.