Hi hello happy Tuesday!
Today I want to talk about something I’m still figuring out — novel writing. I’ve wanted to write a novel since I was — honestly I don’t know how old I was. I’ve wanted to write a novel since I knew what a novel was. From the time I was ten or eleven, I started at least five different projects that I thought were going to be novels, and dropped every single one of them. It wasn’t until two years ago while I was in grad school and needed to come up with a thesis that I actually sat down and came up with an idea that led to a full length manuscript. It took me two years and the thing might be over 88,000 words but it’s a hot mess and it’s going to take a lot of work to get it where I want it to be.
Which brings me to my post today. There are a lot of things that I plan on doing differently for the next book that I write, and I want to write them down here so that a) I’ll remember this next time I start a book and b) someone else might come across this and save themselves a whole lot of time.
So here we go.
First, I wouldn’t write the ending before I wrote the middle, if I can get away with it. I just re-read my entire book, and I realized that the last 50 pages (which I wrote directly after I wrote the first 70 or so) are going to be scrapped altogether. Things changed so much when I actually sat down to write the bulk of the book (what came after those first 70 pages), and that means that the ending I wrote before is not really useful. I definitely don’t regret writing it and I’m not upset that I have to rewrite the ending, it’s just going to take longer to finish this thing than I would’ve liked.
Second, I would hand write everything. There’s just something really wonderful about sitting down with just me and a pen on paper, and writing whatever comes to mind. I can’t google things on the internet, I can’t look at Facebook, and I can’t edit the pages I wrote before if I’m working in a notebook. This is how I wrote a lot of my book, but I changed to writing on my computer for Nanowrimo this past November. I honestly felt that the pages I wrote by hand at the beginning were so much more polished, descriptive, and meaningful. For my next project, I want to go back to a handwritten first draft, not just for part of it but from beginning to end.
Third, when I type it out, I plan to put it into Scrivener broken up by chapters and summarize every chapter with the notecard feature as I go. If you don’t know what Scrivener is, you should definitely check it out. They have a 30-day free trial, which only counts days that you open the program, so it actually lasts longer than 30 days if you don’t use it every day. The greatest thing about Scrivener, in my opinion, is the corkboard feature. It allows me to summarize each chapter in a paragraph on a virtual notecard, and then look at these summaries together in the section I’m working on pinned up on a virtual corkboard. I can move them around this way — reorder chapters, move chapters to other sections. I wish I had utilized this program from the beginning…..it would’ve saved me a lot of time. Right now this is what I’m working on in my current project and frankly, if I had just done it this way as I was typing the chapters out in the first place I’d be a lot further along than I am.
Fourth, outlining? I don’t know if I’m actually someone who can outline a book before I write it or while I’m writing it, but I’m most definitely going to try next time. This time around, I didn’t even think about outlining the book until now, when I’m 350 pages or so in. Which means I’m going to have to do a lot of rewriting, reworking, and editing to make sure that everything lines up correctly. Especially because my book spans a huge period of time and has a lot of backstory, I’m going to have to make a timeline that features all the events of the book and everything that happened before it. If I had done this from the beginning or as I was going, I’d feel a lot less scatterbrained right now.
Overall, since this is the first real novel I’ve ever written in my life, I feel pretty good about where I stand, even if everything is out of order and there’s a lot of plot pieces missing. I think that novel writing, like anything, is something that you get better at over time, and I truly hope that I can finish my next novel a little faster than it’s taking me to finish this one.
Thanks for stopping by the blog today. Have a great week!