Welcome to the debut of Writers’ Wednesdays!
Each Wednesday, on my blog, I’ll be posting a brief article (and I mean brief: 300-600 words) on a “How To” aspect of the writing (and publishing) process. I’ve discovered, through much trial and error over the last few years, that I’ve gained a lot of experience that other writers might find valuable before they struggle through it themselves.
If you have a topic you’d like to see addressed in one of the “How To” blogs, let me know! Or even better, if you’d like to write one of the Writers’ Wednesday posts, contact me to be a guest blogger. Spread the word to your friends and fellow writers, too.
Without further ado, here’s Writers' Wednesdays #1: How To Write a Novel
Visit any library or search engine, and you’ll turn up hundreds (maybe even thousands) of resources that will give your advice on how to write a novel. Some of my favorites include Stephen King’s On Writing and Bob Mayer’s The Novel Writer’s Toolkit.
Definitely do your research; there's no substitute for solid advice from published pros. But to give you an idea of what's involved, before you read an entire book (or bookshelf) of guides, here in mini version are my top 5 tips for beginning a novel and working your way through from start to finish. Stay tuned for additional Writers’ Wednesdays blogs on all the details…
1. Devise your storyline. In one sentence, state what your story will be about. (This is also called a logline – a general statement that summarizes your entire story.)
An alliance of cowardly deer hunters searches for treasure in a dungeon.
The bohemian nephew of a timid politician’s ex-wife has only 1 hour to live.
Note: This sentence should excite you; it should be the one thing that will remind you why you loved the idea, when get frustrated halfway through the novel.
2. Brainstorm the details. Who are your main characters? What is their conflict? What are they searching for in the story, and how will they be different at the end than they were in the beginning? What are their names? Where is the story set? A fictional or factual location? What is the black moment in the story, and how does the story end? Some people like to outline all of this. Some write from scene to scene. You need to figure out what works for you, in putting all these pieces together. But you do need these pieces.
3. Set a schedule and workable goals. This is the most critical piece. Set a deadline for yourself. Really. Too many people start out strong and then lose steam as the weeks and months go by. Pull out a calendar and decide, realistically, how many words you can write in a day. Not sure? Start with 500 and go from there. How many days can you write in a week? Total up your days in a month, allowing a little bit of time for the unforeseen, and set a goal for yourself every month (I will have 5000 words written, or I will have finished three chapters).
4. Write everyday. Taking into account the demands of your daily life, commit yourself to writing X amount of days each week. Then do it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t find something else to do. Don’t say you’re too tired. Sit down at the keyboard (or the pad or paper, or the microphone), and compose. It’s too easy to lose focus when you take time off.
5. Reward yourself. Writing is hard work! Give yourself some incentive when you reach a milestone: that first 2000 words, or the halfway point, or the end (definitely the end!). Chocolate is good. Or a shopping spree. Or a Starbucks nonfat latte. Or a bubble bath. Or...you get the idea.
There’s more, of course, but this will get you started. You can write a complete novel, if you really want to. You can!