What I’ve learned about novel writing, thus far   Leave a comment

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So, by working on it here and there, I’ve come up to about 16,000 words which, to me, is amazing and scary and just weird. I’ve never written this much in my life about one thing. Zombies. Who knew?

I’m not done by any means, but I’ve learned a thing or two thus far, and thought today I’d pass them along.

1. Outlining. It’s not for sissies.

I’ve always been a fly by the seat of her pants kind of girl, both in life and in writing. This works, sort of, for poems, flash fiction, and short stories. It doesn’t work at all in marriages, mortgages, and novel writing. Seat of my pants style, it was hard to get into any sort of routine going. If I wasn’t “Inspired”, or it had been a number of days, (weeks…months…) since I’d written, it was hard to get back into the flow of the story, I would spend all of my limited writing time trying to figure out where exactly I was going.

I don’t always stick to the outline, my writing still takes interesting turns on its own. Now, however, I can sit down, check on my outline where I left off and where I’d like to go, and actually spend my writing hour doing just that, writing.

2. Attempt to Set a Routine, but Accept that Life Happens

I have three children. Finding time to write where I’m not distracted is tough. In the summer, when I’m not working, it’s easier, I try to write during nap time. But we don’t always have nap time. Sometimes we’re at an event for the day, and no writing gets done. And that’s okay. Sometimes I need a break. Burning out is never good, for anyone.

Another great thing is using the gifts of time I sometimes get. Earlier this year, I had to attend a funeral sans children in another town. I brought my laptop and wrote in the hotel after attending the wake, and again in the morning before the funeral. This summer, I had the opportunity to use a friend’s cabin for a couple days, sans kids. Again, I took my laptop, and got a lot of work done. Speaking of laptops

3. Set aside an internet free computer/laptop just for writing.

It is hard, when the world is only a click away, to get any kind of work done, I don’t care what it is. I try to write on the main computer of the house, I get stuck digging for treasure, or chatting with friends, or refusing crap from Farmville. My laptop is ancient, it has very little battery life, and no built in modem. And that’s the way I like it. (OK, more battery life would be nice, but I digress.) If there’s something along the way I’d like to research, I make a note of it, or I grab my Droid real quick. Then I put the phone down and get back to work.

4. Love your characters. Even the unlovable ones.

This can be hard. In my novel, Divorcing the Corpse, there are some pretty ugly characters, and I’m not just talking about the zombies. You’ve got to find a way to like at least something about everyone you create. One thing I’ve done that has worked with the villain of the story, I asked a very “close personal friend” to help me name him. That way, when I write about the bad guy, I do it with a smile on my face, thinking of my “close personal friend”. The story gets written, someone gets added to the acknowledgments page, everyone’s happy.

5. Have Fun

No, writing a novel is not easy. No one is saying it is. It requires time, thought, and lots and lots of work. But if you don’t enjoy doing it, the work is going to suffer, and your story isn’t going to be as good. It’ll become as much of a drag for your readers as it has become for you. Put it aside, go write something else for awhile. Remember why you love to write in the first place.  Then come back to it. Maybe.

 

So ok, five things I’ve learned. I’m sure there’s many more, I’m sure I’ve got more to learn. But this is what I got so far, hopefully you can use a little bit of this in your own work. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments. Write on!

 

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