*I just want to write, thank you so much Stephanie, for your interest in Guest Posting on my site, just thank you. Now here you go :)
What Does it Take to Write a Novel and Finish It?
Part I: Getting Started - An Amusement
By Stephanie Carroll
In this three-part series, author Stephanie Carroll will break down what you can do to make sure that if you start writing a novel, you are going to finish it. This week will be all about starting the novel, next week is about not giving up after the first draft, and week three will be about finishing.
Photo Credit: Carlos Fenollosa via photopin cc
Winston Churchill summed up the process of writing a novel really well, “Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”
To start writing a novel, all it takes is an idea large enough to encompass 100,000 words and access to a computer, but starting is nowhere near finishing. The first time I decided to write a novel, I literally sat down at my computer and looked at the white screen and realized all I had was an idea and nothing to actually write. I spent the next six months researching my topic, a process that continued until the week before I sent it out for copyediting.
Photo Credit: Raymond Larose via photopin cc
I researched every detail, so that I knew exactly what my characters would be wearing, saying, eating, drinking, and doing on a regular basis. My novels are historical, so I needed to be extremely knowledgeable in the era, but all writers are delving into topics they are not familiar with, and in order to write about those topics, you have to get some insider-information. Most people think they will only need to research some finite details about a technical topic or surgical procedure, but the most important research you will do is about everyday experiences and moments that your characters will encounter.
Let’s say you are a single girl and you decide to write a novel about a single girl living as a model in New York City. You will have many experiences to relate to the story as single girls go, but if you have never been a model or lived in New York City, you are going to have to do some research to find out what that is like. How much does a cab cost? Do models have their own apartments or do the agencies put them up with other models? What do they eat – seriously, it’s not cheeseburgers. Do they dress fashionably all the time, or do they dress plain to show themselves as a human canvas?
Photo Credit: the bbp via photopin cc
Some may think, why do I need to research? It's fiction. I'll make it up. That's fine but if you make up a bunch of stuff that doesn't seem believable, people won't like your book. Experiencing the details and believing the world is what makes a novel an escape. The good news is, the more you learn, the more ideas you’ll get for your story. I started out with an idea and by the time I finished researching, I had ideas for every chapter.
Once you have content, you need to know how to get it onto the page. Although some writers detest the thought of an outline, this can be extremely helpful for figuring out how you are going to get a story going and where it’s going to go. It doesn’t have to be a crazy outline. It could just be a chronological list of chapters and what you expect each to contain. This is not only important for getting started, but also for later on during the editing process when you start moving chapters around.
Also during the outlining stage is when you should learn about plot arcs, those are the bullet points that every story must have and what makes a story feel complete. Start learning at the Digital Worlds Blog, which is for people who write the storylines of video games, very cool. Or if you prefer novel specific, check out this article on the Daily Writing Tips blog.
Photo Credit: hawkexpress via photopin cc
Learn How to Write Well
A lot of people think writing is as simple as spraying information on a blank page, but there are techniques, styles, and important things that have to happen in every story and that are not common knowledge. In order to get through a first draft, you have to learn about writing. You may think you know it all from your high school writing class, but there’s never an end to learning and just learning these techniques will keep you from hitting a roadblock.
Not everyone can drop everything and go back to school to take a creative writing class, but there are thousands of writing craft books you can find on Amazon or at your local library. I have never taken a single creative writing class, but I had the ability to teach a writing class at a community college because of how many technique books I have devoured over the years. These books exist for every step of the process from beginning to outlining to editing, and they’re available for free at your library, so start reading! For an online resource, check out K.M. Wieland’s blog for an index of online writing craft articles.
Photo Credit: Sashala via photopin cc
The above tips should help you stick it out at least to a finished first draft, but that’s not the end of the process. It’s just getting started. Check back next week for more.
Want more info now? Check out these books to help you get started: