Monday, April 27, 2015

13 Week Novel—Week 9: The Middle

Yes, I know it's not the middle of 13 weeks, but it's probably the middle of your story right now. Or maybe a little past the middle. The part where focus diffuses, where the plot strays, where the story gets claustrophobic or entirely hijacked by something just introduced. The part where the writer begins to question herself. Thus, allergies kick in, stomach flu comes on, or migraines take over.

Here's the remedy. Now get back to work. Image: National Museum of American History Smithsonian

Monday, April 20, 2015

13 Week Novel—Week 8: The Chaos of Figuring Out a Novel

If you started this 13 week process with a new book project, you're probably still in the happy I'm gonna get this novel done! phase. For me, this lasts until, approximately, page 78. It's funny that this number has a hold on me. I started two novels before I was 12 years old and stopped writing them both on page 78. I still find this number to be one where everything comes easily—I don't know what it is, but it flows without much effort.
"Almost all interesting systems are chaotic..." says Martin Sharman. I'd include writing a novel in that. 
Image: Martin Sharman, "Quantum Ripples in Chaos"
Now, as I muddle through the last quarter, everything takes a lot longer. Parts of scenes flow, but I'm not sure where they fit. Am I introducing new stuff? I really can't care at this point. When I reread, the new ideas that I bring in may be just what is needed to help me cut out the first hundred pages. Who knows? It's just writing.

If you're writing a novel with a strong physical plot, or a character-based novel working primarily with one or two characters, I'm jealous. I want a plot-driven novel right about now.

Monday, April 13, 2015

13 Week Novel-—Week 7: Setting as Character

6 Ways to Develop Setting as Character

Setting is critical to your story. To any story. To feel like we really are someplace, whether that place is on the moon, in ancient Mesopotamia, the White House, or Tucson in 1965.
Is your setting overwhelmed by words? Image: din bcn

Monday, April 6, 2015

13 Week Novel—Week 6: Deeply Knowing Characters

For the novelist, the first draft is all about character and plot. Sure, setting, voice, dialogue, and all the other elements come into play because all of it is part of storytelling and without that we wouldn't be having much fun. But the reality is that if a writer pays too much attention to anything more than character and plot, he will slow down.
How well do you know your characters? How well do they know themselves? Image: Richard John Pozon