Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So You Wanna Write a Novel? PART ONE

I often have discussions with people who will say to me "Wow- that is so cool you actually have published novels. I wish I could be disciplined enough to write one. I have this great idea..."

Well, I will say...why not?

It is an ambitious task, no doubt, writing and finishing a novel. It takes weeks, or months of writing on a daily schedule. Even a few sentences a day. BUT- before you attempt it ask yourself these questions:

* Have I thought out the plot enough to be able to sustain a compelling story for 200-300 pages?
* Are the characters fleshed out to create a cast of interesting and unique individuals?
* Do you know your world well enough to describe it and make it a character in itself?
* Maybe you idea would make a better short story? Or a screenplay?

Lets assume the answer to the first three questions are a resounding YES. Now what? Well, that depends on your personality and style. If you are a detail oriented and obsessed with planning than use that strength. Write a chapter by chapter outline. This could be as simple as chapter names or as complex as detailed descriptions.

If you are more impetuous and like the freedom of spontaneous creation that go that route...(BUT if your are penning a complex thriller than I suggest a detailed outline noting all the twists and turns and red herrings. There is no such thing as a meandering page-turner. )

No matter what genre you are writing I would suggest one rule of thumb regarding planning: Know WHY your story ends. Not so much WHERE or WHEN but WHY are you writing it? You sent your hero (or anti hero) off on an advnture. Why? What is he or she to acomplish or learn? Every word you write pushes the main character towards that end. If you have your destination set firmly then you can stop at a few roadside attractions on the way as long as they offer a worthwhile view. The little tangents and character surprises (where the characters begin acting "on their own" is one of the greatest joys of writing.

You will find the first few chapters flow easily. You're excited and motivated. Then you hit a few speed bumps and this is where the champs are separated from the wannabes. Keep writing. Set a daily goal. Make it easy–one paragraph. That's it! If you promise yourself ten pages a day I will tell you exactly what will happen. The first two days you will meet your goal. YES! Then day three you'll stop at 5 pages. OH OH. Then 6 you'll write two. UGH. Then one. I SUCK. You will be discouraged and you'll stop and that stack of thirty or so pages will remain just that–an unfinished novel.

Trust me. If you write something per day, a page, a paragraph, a sentence BUT keep it going every day I promise that by the end of the year, max, you'll have your first draft.


Well ask yourself this: did you have a completed manuscript at the end of last year? If not, just think how nice it will be to have one at the end of next year.

Sart with the questions above. Answer them honestly. Then start your novel. One word at a time and watch the stack grow.

To be continued...

Michael DiCerto is the author of Milky Way Marmalade and recently his first middle grade novel Book One of The Adventures of Rupert Starbright: The Door to Far-Myst and Book Two: The Adventures of Rupert Starbright: The Secret of My-Myst.

1 comment:

  1. Good advice. I especially like the part about knowing WHY your story ends. I usually think HOW, but will try the WHY. Thanks.