Stepping out of my comfort zone...
Jem-McCusker_Author

“How did I eventually succeed and write a novel?

I stepped outside my comfort zone. “

Stepping out of my comfort zone...

I’m a lifetime reader and began dabbling in the craft of writing a few years ago. My biggest challenge was the blank screen and the internal battle I’d wage between myself and machine to create engaging content. I had a long list of characters and scenarios mapped out in my head but when it came time to write the actual story, I struggled to develop the characters and the story line, so after a couple of chapters it flat lined.

If I’m brutally honest, writing fiction with adults as the main cast is a challenge. They have these awful things called flaws! Who knew? They are influenced by their life experience, culture and social demographics and I quickly discovered they didn’t always share the page well with each other. When I tried to place my characters within the plot I’d outlined I ended up feeling like I was cooking a seven-course meal without a recipe or headcount.

How did I eventually succeed and write a novel? I stepped outside my comfort zone. I didn’t take a small side step into a similar genre, I dove head first into a genre that has previously never interested me and I’ve read very little of. Back to my earlier cooking analogy and you’re probably thinking that this move was a recipe for disaster but much to my amazement and now yours, it worked.

I moved over in to middle grade fantasy fiction. Why did I succeed? I removed the constraints I’d placed on myself in adult fiction. My target audience possesses unlimited imagination, so my characters do to. I found it liberating to create a fearless cast that are thrown into a once in lifetime adventure in brand new world.

The inspiration for my novel came from my eldest son, Sean. He asked me to tell him a story instead of reading one. I didn’t know where to start, so I asked him what it should be about. He said he wanted it to be set in Ireland because that’s where daddy, granny and granda are from.  Right, I thought, no pressure here. I’d half thrown something together in my head when he requested it be about a frog. As it goes, I managed to craft up a little something that has a taste of Ireland and a quirky frog with long legs and personality to spare.

I enjoyed the story so much that I created a cast of accompanying characters, a dash of humour, a lot of adventure and a large dose of imagination.

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