Joy Chappell is an eighteen-year-old self-published author with an interest in writing YA, adventure, sci-fi and dystopian stories. Her debut novel Farryn is already out and a second novel, Hero Up, is on the way. Her experiences editing both led her to want to share what she’s learnt with us today.
What’s the earlier story you can remember writing? Would you ever return to it?
The earliest story I can remember writing was about a girl and a dog. That was soooo long ago, I can’t remember the plot; I just remember writing it with markers and tying paper together with yarn. Haha! The first novel I tried to write was also long ago, but not as far back. It’s a little embarrassing, but I was writing the novel based on dreams I had about me being a superhero. I also had a super horse, ’cause I really loved horses. I never finished the story and I doubt I will ever go back to it.
How long did Farryn take, from the initial idea to publication? What challenges did you overcome?
I started plotting down ideas for Farryn in October 2015, right before writing it for NaNoWriMo, and I published it on August 10, 2017. It took me almost two years to complete it! There were so many challenges I had to overcome, but the biggest one was my fear of it being published with flaws. I wanted to publish it sooner, but I always felt it wasn’t good enough; it wasn’t perfect. The thing is, you are your worst critic. Perfectionism kept me from finishing Farryn. I let go of my fear and finished my novel once I realized that, sure, it may have flaws, but I was going to keep writing novels after this. The more you write, the better you get, and I knew I was going to write better after Farryn…and after my next novel and next! I love writing; I have a passion for writing, and I want to share my gift with the world.
What did you learn from writing Farryn that has helped with Hero Up?
A major thing I learned from Farryn that helped me with Hero Up was that detailed plotting helps a lot. I was stuck so many times while writing Farryn because I only plotted a couple notebook pages for the whole story and characters! For Hero Up, I had detailed character sheets including their looks, personality, wants, fears, etc…it was even color-coded! I wrote several pages of ideas for the plot and then I wrote the three-act structure on a tri-fold board and added sticky notes of scenes where they would end up. I also used a “W” plot. I highly suggest looking up the “W” plot; it’s amazing! During the actual writing part for Hero Up, I hardly had any hiccups or writer’s block.
How much do you edit your own work? What tips do you have for editing?
I self-edited Farryn the first time through, then I printed it out for my mom and she edited it. We did this about four or five times. Funny thing is, right as I was publishing Farryn, I noticed a couple simple mistakes that I had to fix. Welp! It’s hard when you read the same story over and over again. Maybe I need a third pair of eyes for Hero Up! One tip that I learned while editing Hero Up is once you start editing after at least a couple weeks break (your story will be fresher in your mind), start with how the story sounds while you read it. Notice the flow of the story. Is it going too fast? Is there enough characterization? Do you need more action scenes or resting scenes? Make notes on things you may need to change depending on what happens further in your story and, above all else, KEEP EVERYTHING. Before you edit, make a copy of your story and after every chapter you edit, make a copy. That way, if you change your mind and really want to keep that one part you deleted, you still have it!
Have you ever worked with a professional editor?
I haven’t, but that is a goal of mine! I would love a professional editor to help me with Hero Up, but we’ll see…it takes some chang-chang ($$) if you know what I mean. 😛
What goals do you have for the future? What would success look like for you?
My short-term writing goals are: have an actual cover designer create Hero Up’s cover, publish Hero Up this year (date TBD), and start a new novel. Two long-term goals I have are: have a best-selling novel and have a book turned into a movie with me helping write the script. That’d be amazing! Checking off all those goals would be a success, but there’s so much more. Success comes in all sizes. I felt successful when I published Farryn in August last year. I felt successful when I finished editing a scene for Hero Up the other day. Success is what you think, not what people think of you. Remember that when people say your book (or you as a writer) isn’t successful because you don’t have many sales, good reviews, etc.
What one piece of practical advice would you give to other young writers?
Maybe you’re reading through your writing and you hate it. Sometimes that’s going to happen. All writers go through it. You may hate it because your writing is in its draft stage and you think it’s bad. Knock those feelings aside and get to editing! Those books you love have gone through their draft stage as well. Or maybe you hate it even though you’re done editing. Well, you probably read through your book so much; you’re accustomed to your own writing, so it’s not new for you. It’s like reading the same book over and over again without a break! It would get dull and there would be no unexpected plot twists since you know what’s coming. Stick with your book! You can do it!
Joy Chappell is a high school home schooler who has been writing ever since she could pen a sentence together starting with markers and tying the papers together with yarn. Now, she has her first novel published, “Farryn”, with a second on the way. Joy also blogs and hopes to help other teen writers with what she has learned. Visit her on Instagram @ joychappellauthor, Facebook @ joychappellauthor, and on her blog @ joychappellauthor.com
Find Farryn at:
Joy would be happy to talk to you in the comments or answer any questions you might have so feel free to say hi.
Also, to celebrate doing this interview she’s offering the eBook of Farryn for only $0.99 this weekend! Don’t miss out on this incredible deal for a great book!
Our final post in this Teen Author Talks series will be an interview with the inspiring Taylor Bennett who not only wrote a novel but was able to secure a three book contract with a traditional publisher. We’ll be hearing more about her extraordinary journey tomorrow.