..about writing as I do NaNoWriMo are just amazing. I mean, I decided to jump into nano to use it as a learning curve. I didn’t have long enough to plan, I’ve never been in love with my story, and writing something that disorganised in such a short amount of time is bound to be shit when you haven’t written anything resembling a novel before. I expected nano to get me into the groove of fiction writing, primarily, because that was what I really needed. It has. But along the way, I’ve learnt a lot. That and I’ve been reading various writing blogs and sites.
- PLAN. Plan. And plan again. Jot down as many ideas as you have for your story, worldbuilding, character design, anything that pops into your head that can be useful later on when you plan some more, and again when you write out your plan, and again, and again.. Basically, have a good grasp of what you want to say, who your characters are, and where they are. If the world and characters have no depth, the story will not rescue the novel. Create vast areas, colours, lands, HISTORY. There is nothing more important that history, otherwise, everything will just begin and end with the novel, and that is highly unrealistic.
- It’s not all roses. Okay, I had some idea that writing a novel would be hard. I’ve never managed one before, so it obviously can’t be easy. I didn’t realise that I’d have to actually wrestle with my novel. There seems to come a point in novel writing in which everything sucks, there’s no point, might as well give up because this piece of shit will never become anything. Wrong. Push past that, perhaps write a little less per day while you’re pushing, but push nonetheless. After a while, it will pass. If you have to cut huge chunks out of your novel during editing, then do it.
- Get the story down. I know this is something that seems to be said to all nanoers, but I believe it could be a highly useful way to write novels outside of such a strict timeline as well. Ignore the inner editor and just write. Of course, if you have more time, edit sentences, and correct typos as you go, but don’t listen to that inner voice telling you that your story and writing are crap. Once the story is written, you can edit to your heart’s content and THEN make it good. Otherwise, you’ll never finish. I remember reading something Roald Dahl said when I was a kid, that the main part of novel writing is writing, and then rewriting as many times as possible until you’re happy with it.
- Publishers are meaniefaces and don’t worry about agents to begin with. This came more from an article I read by Stephen King (located here if you’re interested in reading the whole thing) in which he said, in fact, part of it may have come from another article too now that I think of it.. Anyway. You’ve written a novel and you want to look into getting published. First of all, don’t even consider shipping off entire manuscripts to every publisher you can think of. I believe you start with a query letter. If they’re interested, send an excerpt, perhaps the prologue or a chapter. More interest, THEN you send the manuscript. A lot of publishers won’t bother, especially if you’re shipping off entire manuscripts. If you contact a few hundred publishers without much response or interest, then perhaps it’s time to write something else or stop. Agents? Apparently not so useful for newer novelists, according to Mr. King.
- Specified notebooks are useful. Whenever I’ve had an idea, I have jotted it down in the notebook I bought specifically for novel writing. This notebook is primarily for ideas and planning. This ensures that my ideas don’t mix with each other while I’m writing something else, and when I come to plotting for a different novel, I have plenty of ideas in one place to peruse. Good place to keep any interesting articles and suchlike things too.
The best way to learn how to write, really, is to write and see which methods suit you the best. Read blogs, articles, essays, listen to podcasts, whatever you like, but you won’t properly learn how your own writing process works until you actually sit down and do it.
I might hate my story, but I do not regret writing it one bit!