You’re writing a novel. Your emotions change quickly. One day you love your novel; the next you hate it and everything about it.
We discussed 5 Things No One Tells You About Writing A Novel in a blog post.
No matter how much preparation and outlining you do, the story you write will be different from the story that you initially imagined.
Every day is a new day. You’ve learned something new from the writing you did yesterday. When the chapters pile up, you learn new skills, and your writing improves.
In our most recent writers’ group meeting, we talked about other things that people don’t tell you that you should keep in mind.
Writing a novel is a process: YOUR process
Each novel you write is different. One writer said that she wrote her first novel from go to whoa without stopping — it took her three weeks. Her second novel took her two years, and she’s annoyed that the three-week novel is her biggest seller.
Write at your own pace. With some novels you feel as if you’re taking dictation from your muse. Other novels are a constant struggle.
Let’s look at other things that no one tells you.
1. Your words are better than you think they are
Generally speaking, your feelings while you’re writing aren’t a guide to the quality. You’re not a good judge of your words, and they’re often better than you think.
2. Trust yourself while you’re writing
When you sit down to write, you trust that the words will be there. Writing is a creative process: it’s imaginative.
Unfortunately, you can’t harness your imagination — all you can do is trust it. Go where your imagination takes you.
3. Bored? Fix it immediately (see Tip 5)
Whenever you feel bored, or completely uninspired, do something to correct that immediately.
- Change the point of view (POV) character in a scene;
- Delete the scene;
- Bring on a completely new character;
- Go back. Read through previous scenes. Insert a scene: perhaps a character isn’t all he seems to be. He may have a secret…
When you go back, you’re looking for something which inspires you; build on that.
4. Love, hate, or indifference? Either love or hate your characters, indifference is fatal
Think about your characters. What made them the people they are? What secrets do they have?
You must love or hate your major characters. Indifference to a major character, like boredom while you’re writing, is a warning signal. Pay attention to it.
Beware of creating “perfect” characters. Give each character a flaw. From Characters in Fiction: Love Me, Love My Flaw:
While all characters are based on aspects of their creator, if you’re a new writer you’ll create characters who are Mary Sues or Marty Stus: idealized people, representations of yourself, and your counterpart of the opposite sex.
To avoid this, focus on a character’s flaw.
Here’s an easy way to find the flaw in a character: push the character’s best attribute to an extreme.
For example, if your heroine is kind, make her so kind that people take advantage of her. Perhaps she never has rent money because she gives her money away… or she’s a doormat who’s overlooked for promotion, because she does everyone else’s work, as well as her own.
5. FEEL the feelings: keep asking yourself what you FEEL while writing
When you’re writing a novel, you’re writing to entertain readers, so entertainment trumps everything else.
Look at how other authors entertain readers. When you finish reading a novel you love, ask yourself why you enjoyed reading. Perhaps you enjoyed the banter between two characters. Could you write some banter in your current novel?
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