1. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    First novel... any tips?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by lipton_lover, May 4, 2009.

    Hey everyone,

    I'm starting my first novel. It probably won't actually be that long, but it'll certainly be longer than the short stories I'm accustomed to writing. But I have to questions before I begin.

    First, does anyone have any tips, anything like that?
    Second, where can I post my plot to get specific help making it better? I read the sticky under plot creation and now I feel like it doesn't belong there.

    Thanks, Nate
     
  2. Lavarian
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    Lavarian Contributing Member Contributor

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    1 tip from me: Have an ending in mind. Know how you want the book to end, then find the journey there.

    Also, are you just writing this for yourself or for practice, or are you looking to get it published?
     
  3. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    Ok thanks :)

    I write for myself first and foremost, but I love sharing what I write so it'll definitely be put up on the Internet... making some money off of it as well would be nice, but it's not my goal.

    Nate
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just go for it. It's your first try, so relax and enjoy yourself. Don't think too much or you'll get stressed. Rarely if ever does anyone get anywhere with the first novel they write, so you might as well have fun with it, give yourself permission to write crap, and not worry.
     
  5. Lavarian
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    Lavarian Contributing Member Contributor

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    In that case, you can do whatever you want, really.
    I've never had anything of mine published (or have attempted to do so), so I'm not an expert on this.

    If you want to actually finish the book, my tip is to just keep writing, even if you don't know where to go. Write now, let your characters tell you what they would do in each situation, then worry about tieing everything together later. Usually forcing yourself to write can open up new ideas. Sure you'll probably erase it all and change it later, but you wouldn't have stumbled upon the new ideas that have taken over unless you had forced yourself to keep writing.

    Good luck!
     
  6. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Dedication. Determination. Discipline. Don't give up.
     
  7. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't lose momentum, but don't type for so long you end up rushing.
     
  8. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Combination of Self Discipline

    and

    Sowhere right in the middle ;)
     
  9. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    You need a good dramatic concept that hasn't been done before, plot, tension, conflict etc. Look over it for basic errors. If it really is a great novel, it should meet publishing standards anyway.
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have an idea where you want to start (where in the story do you pick up the action) and what the resolution is (how it will end). Although either of these may change in the course of writing...

    Have a few ideas (mile markers) along the way, events that will move the plot forward. This way you have something to write towards and will be less likely to go off on a tangent. Sure ideas will appear and be implemented and others will be dropped or altered, but it will save a lot of rewriting and help keep the action going and the word count on track.

    Don't get discouraged and don't fret over the first chapter (or three) continually revsing. You'll find that by the time you get the first draft writting, you'll be a much better writer than when you started. You'll get a chance to fix those little early problems and touch up the writing (dialogue, description etc)--you'll have to edit it at least once anyway--probably way more than once.

    Make sure you back-up your work. And don't delete scenes you think are crap or won't go in the final copy. Tuck them off somewhere, appropriately labled by filename, just in case.

    Keep a notebook of ideas you'll get to in the story, bits of dialogue or things seen or that happen.

    Also keep a note of things you'll have to change earlier in the story for consistency. It'll help in the revision process.

    Have fun and enjoy the process, but remember that it'll be hard at times--difficult, very difficult.

    Hang in there and good luck.

    Terry
     
  11. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    Thanks everyone. Can anyone please instruct me where exactly to post my plot though? I could just post it here, because like I said I wasn't so sure about posting it in plot creation after reading the stickied thread.
    Nate
     
  12. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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  13. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends on how you ask. If it's just going to be a "Do you like it?" kind of post, there is no point in posting it at all. If you're asking for thoughts on how to use the ideas or want help figuring out which ideas to use, then go ahead.
     
  14. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    Ok thanks! :)

    In response to other people, I want to take this more seriously than I probably should for a first attempt simply because I don't want to write something I'll be embarrassed by. I've done that enough times already :)

    Nate
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The storyline will probably not be your greatest hurdle. The plots that contribute to the storyline can be fine tuned as part of the writing process, and that will affect the level of tension from moment to moment. That isn't something that will benefit from showing people plot summaries and getting opinions.

    If you find yourself painted into a corner by a plot, maybe you can get ideas on ways to break it, although you are probably better off coming up with your own escape route. But the best approach is to build the escape route into your plot from the outset, and put the effort into camouflaging it so the reader doesn't see it too soon.

    That is skill that only experience will develop. Maybe you will have a knack for that kind of subterfuge, maybe not. If you don't, it isn't an essential skill. Many excellent stories have been written that don't depend on clever reversals.

    There are far more important elements. Plot is important for maintaining tension, and for providing logical purpose to the flow of the action. Characterization is an important element in nearly any good story - vague or anonymous characters don't hold interest well at all. Understanding and manipulating pace is important. Managing viewpoint is key in keeping the reader connscted to the scenes. Clarity of writing is essential.

    There aren't any truly unimportant elements. But you can get much further with a simple, unspectacular storyline than you can wirh other weak elemsts. And a fresh, innovative storyline will do little for you if you cannot make the other pieces work.
     
  16. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    So true! I once lost an entire chapter after a weekend of inspired writing and I had not backed up one word of it. Although, I accomplished that chapter over the next week, I never did re-discover the magic of that lost writing session.
     
  17. Aeroflot
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    Aeroflot Senior Member

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    Just do tons of prewriting. Make sure you can write forever on the idea being conveyed by your novel, so you know that the thoughts aren't going to run out half way down the road.

    I'm forcing myself to write as many pages of prewriting as the novel.

    Step One: About how long will the novel be according to the idea in my head? 200 pages. Okay, so write 200 pages of ideas and discussions about the philosophical side to the book.

    Step Two: Now that the ideas are down on paper, read what was just written and figure out what can stay or what needs to go according to how deep I want to delve into the idea. Then brainstorm for 200 pages how these ideas are going to transfer to characters, theme, plot, and setting.

    Step Three: Write the rough story, and then rewrite until clean.

    That's what I'm following right now. Gonna see if that works.
     
  18. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    I just finished my first draft and the biggest lesson for me was to relax.

    When I stopped stressing about the end result, and just started to enjoy my characters, my setting, and my overall story, then I was able to write. I misspelled word, I wrote horrific sentences, but I got the thoughts out of my head and down on paper. I manipulated the storyline for how I wanted it to go, and I just purged.

    I'll have a lot of editing, but I don't care. I got the story out, and that was my goal - once I stopped fretting over the small stuff. I feel like at any time words can be spell checked, sentences can be rewritten, and geographical details can be fine tuned.

    But the essence of what I'm trying to convey, the emotional aspect of why I wrote this particular story, can vanish in a heartbeat if I don't treat it carefully. This was the greater need, for me.
     
  19. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    in school, i was told to write a page on why you want to write the novel/story and where you want to go with is (enter it into comp's published ect.) i have tryed this a couple of times and have found it actually realy helps
     

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