Working on a novel

novel11

I wrote a novella first, which was 20,000 words long. You can read the entire thing on my blog. It’s an idea that I want to expand one day. More importantly, it was the idea and the execution that lead me to believe that I was capable of writing something that was long and still coherent. Next came the first 20,000 words of my novel, which came thick and fast and without much planning. I had A, B and C set out. That’s it. Three simple events in an otherwise complex story. A, B and C held the whole thing together.

Thing is, C has changed three times, and B is stirring around too. Only A has remained the same, as it was the first thing I worked on, and thus remains the solid foundation for the entire piece. Writing a novel is a not straightforward process. This is only my first attempt. Much of it will be unreadable. I’d be lying to myself if I said I thought the novel was any good.

It’s not a writer’s job to say that their work is any good. As soon as that happens, they might as well stop writing.

I’ve left the book stewing now for a while. I just read it over today and it inspired me to write something about it. To share some thoughts I had.

  • Everything will change. Like I said, A has stayed static, whereas B and C have constantly changed. Today I cut out a scene I thought I loved six months ago but now realise it really holds absolutely no significance in the story.
  • Cut it out. Removing stuff from a story you’ve written is very hard. I really love this scene, wherein the main character meets with an old friend, and they’re joined by an even older friend, who spends most of the 2,000 word scene spouting a lot of nonsense that was intended to explain a little more about the current state of affairs in the fictional world they all inhabit. A lot of telling and not showing, basically. I’ve realised, after reading it over, that you can garner a lot of the information she tells the reader through simply reading the book.
  • Read it out loud. This is so important. Reading out a 70,000 word books seems insane. It does take a long time. I’ve got to read quietly sometimes, too, and it’s not something I can do in a cafe, or at the pub. This is something between me and the writing, one on one, just for me and it. So many times I’ve read something over and thought, wow, I thought that was great, but now I think it’s rubbish. Reading out loud helps you to imagine that you are in fact the reader on the other end of your story. If you think it sounds jumbled, it probably is.
  • Get lost in your own story. The only reason I ever finished writing the book is because I was totally lost in for days and days. I’d wake up and need to write, because I wanted to find out what happened next. This is something that extensive planning never quite does for me. It leaves out a lot of the mystery for me, the writer. I’m just as excited for what’s next as the hypothetical reader might be. My characters develop organically.
  • Fix it in editing. Organic growth of characters seems great, but it generally means that a lot of stuff doesn’t make much sense in the long run. Don’t get caught up in this when you’re writing. If you get too lost in the details, you’ll never want to write. The act of writing should be enjoyable.

 

That’s about it, really. There’s more, but if I told you everything I thought then I’d have nothing to post any other day.

12 thoughts on “Working on a novel

  1. Congratulations on your 70,000 words thus far. Yes, writing should be fun…the older I get, the more my mantra is “if it ain’t fun, I’m not doing it.”

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    • Thanks a lot, hopefully I can push it up a little more with the next draft, get it up to a more rounded sort of length! And that’s exactly right. It’s hopefully helped push me in the right direction, i.e look for a job in a field that I enjoy, rather than one that focuses solely on making as much money as I possibly can.

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      • Oops, sent too soon. It probably wasn’t long enough. I printed copies and gave to family and friends to read. Only one gave me feedback and it was pretty harsh. So it sits unedited and unelaborated. The next was a psychological autopsy of an ancestor. It was pretty good, but the elders of the family prevailed upon me not to share outside the family. But the urge to write fiction remains.

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