1. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    First serious novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by skeloboy_97, Aug 16, 2011.

    Hi everyone,

    I'm just starting the planning stages of my first serious novel, and would like to know. Is there any tips or shortcuts to making a good novel? And by 'shortcuts' i dont mean im lazy and dont feel like doing mass amount of work. Nothing like that all.
     
  2. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just have fun with it and write what you want to see rather than what an imaginary reader might want to see. If you genuinely like it then others are bound to like it too.
     
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  3. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Write from the heart.
     
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  4. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    also. When it comes to character planning. Do you only write about the MC (if in first person) or write about the whole array of characters in the story.
     
  5. Chivalrous Tart
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    Chivalrous Tart Member

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    You know, I have no experience in writing a novel personally, but from what I hear is that each chapter of a novel should follow the format of a short story, with each chapter having rising and falling actions, climaxes, and a vagueish conclusion.

    Whenever I start writing longer pieces, my story stagnates because I'm thinking too large as opposed to multiple smaller stories.
     
  6. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Write the book you've always wanted to read,
     
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  7. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some of Harlan Coben's novels have the MC in first person and side-characters in third person. It could sound confusing, but it's really not. ;)
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Plan. Have an idea of where your novel is going before you start. It may save you a lot of wandering and struggles, and make the revision process run more smoothly.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I would disagree with this. There are many novels out there that build intensity over the course of the entire work. Chapters with cliffhanger endings are a long-time staple of writing.

    I would suggest a few ideas.

    1) Have a strong sense of the story you want to tell. Know where you're starting, where you're winding up, and have a pretty good idea of how you plan on getting there. This may involve an actual outline, but doesn't have to. That depends on your own work habits. If you do go with an outline, don't make it overly specific. Allow some room for your characters to take you where they want to go.

    2) Have a strong sense of who your main characters are (meaning the kind of people they are). Great stories, in my opinion, involve characters who are inherently interesting, people the reader comes to care about. The thing is, as writers, we get to know our characters by telling their stories, and so there is an interaction between the story and the characters, each developing more details in the other. Let that happen. Ideas occur as you write. This is why it's almost always a bad idea to skip ahead to write something that happens later in the story: when you come back to write your way up to that point in time, you'll find that something's not right, that it doesn't quite fit. The reason is that your characters have grown in the interim and your pre-written segment was written when you didn't know the characters as well.

    3) You may very well have an overwheming need to tell every little detail, and to cram them all in as early in the story as possible. Resist this urge. Tell the reader only what the reader needs to know when the reader needs to know it.

    4) Don't worry about what it's all going to look like when you're done. I know some folks like to proof-read as they go, but I strongly recommend not doing that for a first novel. Keep your forward momentum going, keep moving toward the finish line. Try to avoid distractions that take you away from telling your story. If you do get stuck, walk away for a while and then come back to write afresh.

    5) Enjoy the ride.

    Best of luck, and keep us posted from time to time on how you're doing.
     
  10. DBock
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    DBock Member

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    Not really any shortcuts in writing. What's important though is getting down your first crappy draft. Just write write write. If you need to fix something, write it down in bold and then come back to it later but don't stop writing until it's finished. This is key because otherwise you'll work on page one for about 20 months. Just write. Even if it's crap, write write write. You can always fix it later.
     
  11. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    Don't think so much about writing (whether it's good, whether the plot is perfect, etc etc) just write. Write write write write write.

    Also, write.
     
  12. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Right.
     
  13. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    not that i dont agree with this, but myself i often cant write from the beginning unless im very very lucky with one of my stories. id love to do it the way you suggest, but i often get a lot of blocks if i write from the start so i usually end up writing either a few chapters or scenes in. and then i get the inspiration for the start.
    also, if i dont write a scene which im feeling strongly about at that moment i tend to loose the magic of it. so if it was an end scene i wanted to write, but i was only at the start of the book, id be in trouble because by the time i got to the end of the book to write it, the magic would be lost and id end up writing something that was much much worse :p :(

    hmmm something i really need to learn! haha! :D

    wow i soo need to learn that! thats the answer to why i have so little written! and the curse of being a perfectionist! :p
     
  14. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    I understand the sentiment, but I tend to disagree about this being vital for all writers. I think the question of how much to tinker with the first draft while writing it is extremely subjective.

    I'm a musician, and when I record my music I rarely ever just track everything without doing a little bit of mixing/editing in between. It's just kinda what works for me. For some reason it makes sense for me to approach writing the same way. It also makes the second draft process way less daunting.
     
  15. proserpine
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    proserpine Member

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    Writers vary in their technique and preferences, as you can see from your answers so far.

    I think it's important to read as much as possible. The more you read, the more you will be exposed to different points of view, chapter layouts, etc.

    I like to write huge, messy first drafts. Just get it all out on the page, write wide and write deep. You can always take it out later. Sometimes your mind will wander somewhere wonderful, so I believe in leaving it off the leash. You're going to edit anyway, so I don't see the sense in keeping things restrained. Edit a bit as you go, but don't let it stop you from moving forward.

    Good luck with your writing.
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually write from the beginning to the end, and only in case I get stuck/blocked I use this method to "unblock" myself and start writing again, and it works fine in my case. I agree with who you quoted though, that the characters might have developed since and if you wait too long to come back and fill in the gaps it might prove difficult to get the right tone or whatever.
     
  17. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good points. I think that, with experience, first drafts will become much better of their own accord.

    I put effort into my first draft, but don't edit at great length at that point.
    Doesn't mean it's a complete mess. ;)
     
  18. DBock
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    DBock Member

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    Agreed for sure. I personally have a bad habit of rewriting for weeks and weeks and weeks on one paragraph. It helps though for a first novel to at least write SOMETHING that can be fixed later. As I mentioned, if ideas pop up, write them down and keep writing. :)
     

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