1. Annihilation
    Offline

    Annihilation Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Messages:
    175
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona

    Any tips on writing a novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Annihilation, May 8, 2015.

    Lately for the past few years I've been focused on writing short stories. Now, after I came up with ideas that are too complex to fit into a short story, I decided I may write a novel (200 page story)

    Last time I attempted to write a novel, I ran out of ideas and it stopped at 50 pages into it. I never finished, and now looking back at it. It was kind of mediocre.

    Any tips or cues from those of you who have experience writing novels?
     
  2. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,032
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    Just a nitpick, 200 pages sound about at 40,000 words.
    It'd be a bit short of a novel.
    More like a novella.
    ... I'm generally not an ass.

    For longer works, you have to remember that you are not saving space.
    In short works, everything has to happen fast, be snappy, and brief or you'll end up elongating it too much.

    So focus on subplots, character development, and description.
    You can create rich worlds and perspectives without worrying about word count.
    If done right, it increases the length considerably and adds a lot to a story.
     
    cutecat22 likes this.
  3. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Sounds like you may have been lacking the overall theme or story idea. I know where my story is going and what focus I'm going for.

    Then I sit around or walk in the park thinking how to execute the next scene. I just made my protagonist's boyfriend doubt her, get jealous of another guy and act more gender biased than he had been earlier because he's now spending a lot of time with the guys hunting and the women don't go. Earlier I had them madly in love, perfect and supportive of each other. It was too easy, no conflict.

    I love the changes I made. But the overall story is not changed because of this. The story arc is still the same, just more interesting.
     
  4. FrozenLady
    Offline

    FrozenLady Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    1
    Hi,

    Running out of ideas and being stuck at a point is a natural thing and can happen to anybody. You don't have to worry about it at all. All you need to do is to focus on the main outline or sketch i.e draw a rough sketch on paper like a timeline and stick to it. Make sure the events in your novel are going according to it. Make simple turns and twists in character's life and when you'll begin to start writing them in detail, more ideas will come into your mind. But the trick is not to give up. If you can't get an idea, post it under this forum's 'plot' thread and there will be many people to give you ideas.
     
  5. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,685
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I think the first thing you need to do is to understand why you want to write the story - what is it you are trying to say. A brief timeline also helps, providing a skeleton from which you can build out.

    I find that my worst projects have been the ones I've dashed into without much planning or forethought. They tend to be unwieldy and misshapen, requiring a great deal of editing and subject to blind alleys and dead ends. Consequently, I like to ponder an idea for a long while before I actually start writing it.
     
  6. Edward M. Grant
    Offline

    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    382
    Likes Received:
    66
    Location:
    Canada
    At the simplest level:

    1. Take two characters with conflicting goals.
    2. Put them together in a room.
    3. Lock the door.
    4. Write down what they do, until one of them achieves their goal.
    5. THE END

    You could also look at Michael Moorcock's advice on how to write a novel in three days:

    http://www.wetasphalt.com/?q=content/how-write-book-three-days-lessons-michael-moorcock

    That may not produce a good novel, but the hard part for many writers is writing the first one. After that, they know they can finish if they set their mind to it.
     
  7. Annihilation
    Offline

    Annihilation Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Messages:
    175
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    This isn't my first time. I'm a very experienced writer but just to make a brilliant story, I'd like to know cues.

    It's basically a very large complex plot that is similar to fantasy. It's like a big acid trip.

    I have no problem with the idea, I just wanna know how to go about it without messing up like the other stories I wrote in the past.
     
  8. sprirj
    Offline

    sprirj Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    159
    I found planning is key. Knowing what a character is thinking/doing at any point in time. what the world is doing at any given time too.

    For me, novel writing (apologies if this is lost in translation) is like overtaking on a motorway, you take a long sweeping curve to get around a vehicle. Shorter stories are move like overtaking on single lane roads, accelerate like hell, swing out and swing back in as quickly as possible.

    But the key thing I've learnt is don't be afraid to change things. I originally wanted by MC to be completely isolated from the world, and everything to be internal thoughts, but it was only when I introduced characters he could talk to and react to, that I realised my story was bigger and better removing the isolation idea.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Start with an outline. Experienced or not, why do you get stuck in the middle? If you know where the story is going, what specifically are you getting stuck on?
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2015
    Tesoro and cutecat22 like this.
  10. jodie_nye9663
    Offline

    jodie_nye9663 Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2015
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    uk - east-sussex
    I heard that the 15 beats method works well.

    It’s a method used in screen play writing, but can be adapted for novel writing.

    Basically, your story divides into three acts, each consisting of five beats. Each beat equalling two chapters, around 2-3 thousand words long. One for action and the other for reaction.

    You can find some good 15-beat novel outlines online. In general the beats are;

    Act 1

    • Opening conflict

    • Protagonist in daily life

    • Opportunity for change

    • Resistance to opportunity

    • Point of no return – opportunity accepted
    Act 2

    • Entering the new situation

    • Meeting friends, enemies, romance – transformative experience

    • Problem bringing them together

    • Problem dives them apart

    • Crisis hits
    Act 3

    • Terrible secret revealed or attack starts

    • All seems lost

    • Self-sacrifice or symbolic death

    • Final showdown

    • Conclusion, wedding or death ect…..
    You just adapt it to your story, hope this helps.
     
    sprirj likes this.
  11. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,669
    Likes Received:
    5,163
    Honestly, I think the most important step might be to acknowledge that novel writing is totally different than writing short stories. So if you think you're a "very experienced writer" based on having completed short stories, but have never completed a novel? I think the best tip will be to reassess yourself. You're not an experienced novel writer. You're going to need to start somewhere near the "beginner" level for novels.

    Which doesn't mean that your short story skills are useless, just that you need to learn some new skills as well. A novel isn't just a stretched out short story. It will often have sub-plots, secondary characters, and a much more complicated plot structure. If you're writing something with a large, complex plot and you've had trouble in the past with not finishing novels, I agree with those who are recommending that you spend some time outlining. There are loads of different techniques and you will probably need to experiment with a few to find what works for you, but don't skip this step.

    A story that seems like an acid trip was likely carefully planned and developed by its writer. A story that actually was an acid trip probably wouldn't make much sense to anyone.
     
  12. cutecat22
    Offline

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    1,063
    Location:
    England
    Being experienced and being good are two totally different things.

    I am very experienced at working in a kitchen but I wouldn't last an hour in the Masterchef kitchen.

    You need to sit down and re-assess the situation because it sounds like you are just a little angry with yourself, "This isn't my first time, I'm an experienced writer, I know what I'm doing but I need someone to give me a list of cues/rules ..."

    Whatever you decide to write, you need to come up with on your own and at a pace where you can work out every small nuance. It won't come all at once, you won't have all the answers and your story will undoubtedly change and grow as you learn new skills.

    @jodie_nye9663 has shown one good example of how you can start to think about the flow of your story but by all means, change this around or even dismiss it altogether. There are no hard and fast rules.

    My advice would be to just start writing and see where your story goes. If you come across a stumbling block, come in here and post a question or ask advice, you won't be the first and definitely not the last author to have a stumble. We all do it.

    Good Luck. x
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
  13. Annihilation
    Offline

    Annihilation Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Messages:
    175
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    This actually did help. Thanks!
     
    jodie_nye9663 likes this.
  14. Annihilation
    Offline

    Annihilation Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Messages:
    175
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Have you written a novel yet? If so, are you planning on publishing it?
     
  15. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,685
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    @BayView is a published novelist. If you go to the Applied Writing Section, under "Insights and Inspirations" you will find the interview that @Wreybies recently did with her.
     
  16. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,669
    Likes Received:
    5,163
    Yeah, I've written quite a few novels - I actually have more trouble writing short stories, which is why I'm pretty convinced that there's not too much overlap between the skills.

    When I HAVE written short stories, I find myself wanting to add way too much stuff, and they tend to stretch into novellas!

    I think some people are natural short story writers, and some are natural novelists. Which doesn't mean we can't learn to write the other lengths, it just means we have to LEARN it, not assume we already know how.
     
    cutecat22, jodie_nye9663 and EdFromNY like this.

Share This Page