1. inkBottle
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    inkBottle New Member

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    Novel-writing Foibles

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by inkBottle, Aug 9, 2009.

    I am a new member of this forum and have been working on a novel off and on for several years now.

    I think I have developed a very interesting and original plot but I never seem to get very far out of the gates every time I sit down to write.

    My two main approaches (both tried a half-dozen times) have been 1) to just sit down behind my PC and try to write the novel from start to finish and 2) to start instead with detailed pre-writing, outlines, timelines, character sketches, etc.

    Approach 1 fails because I find serious holes in the plot as I write and Approach 2 fails because after a few weeks of pre-writing, by the time I sit down to actually write the novel, I have a new, major idea to incorporate or direction to take that throws a lot of my planning out the window and I feel like I should just start anew.

    Because of my full-time job, I can only dedicate a few hours to writing an evening and I can't really take any time off.

    I would appreciate any advice. :)
     
  2. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Plan out your plot before you sit behind your PC and write, that way less holes will form...
     
  3. Kacicake
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    Kacicake Member

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    Have you tried to find a balance in between the two? Like, instead of doing rigid planning that allows for no room for growth, you can pre-write in a way that allows for growth? Like instead of doing it very defined, do it very loosely?

    I really have no idea. D: I just wing it, haha.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like the reason the second method is failing is because you're taking too long or are letting your ideas run away with you. New ideas are always going to pop up. The key is to know when to focus on the first idea and when to let the new idea in. As for plot holes, relax. You can fill those in later.
     
  5. crashbang
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    crashbang Active Member

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    the one i finished a few months back, i did most of thanks to a NANOWRIMO challenge. tried to finish the novel in a month, threw myself at it. It went very well, although in the last week i ran out of gas and the book took another 2 months to complete. But that helped alot, I got 45000 words done in that months. Try that. I had a simple method.

    Each night, before the next day I would plan what would be in the next part. Then the next day, I would tear into it. Occasionally new bits would turn up, lots of errors and stuf like this, but I got loads done. Then when I had done my quota for that day (if you want to do 50000 words its about 1750 words a day) i would plans the next days bit.

    It was such a slog, but it was also a great satisfaction to see how much you could get done by doing that. the novel before that, I stopped a while ago, having gotten to 2 years and reached roughly the same amount as I did in a month. theres nothing like being challenged to make you work.

    So...yeah :)

    edit: just seen your work issues. well if you could manage 1000 words a day then you could write a reasonably sized novel in 3 months. not too shabby if your a quick writer that is
     
  6. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I cant give the best advice on novel writing because I cant remember ever finishing one, I've concentrated almost solely on short fiction for most of my life.

    But, I can totally relate because I have tried both the first and second method and they both failed for me.

    As somone else said you should probably try a combo of the two methods because they each have upshots and failings. You cannot finish a book without some kind of structure. I have noticed in myself certain habits that get in my way, maybe you have the same problems, and if so then this advice may strike a chord of resonance.

    1)I would recommend a layout of some kind, if super rigid outlines are not your taste than try a paragraph long synopsis or something similar. I think thats what Isaac Asimov used to do before he sat down to write a long novel, and his 'Foundation' series must be like the length of two Bibles.

    2)At first I had my suspicions about that NANOWRIMO thingie, cos it kind of sounded like a good challenge, but almost all of the people I talked to (who tried it) said it's nearly impossible. They go strong for a few weeks and then fall behind, I'm not a greedy capitalist by any means, but it should at least have a reward as an incentive. Plus, writing fast is not necessarily GOOD writing, if Michaelangelo was rushed he would not have finished the Cistine, he barely made his deadline. Take your TIME, do NOT rush yourself, that being said...

    3)It is good to set a goal and deadlines are natural and expected, all editors have them. So, give yourself a goal, but make it a reasonable goal, like one page a day, or several if you are a fast typer. The trick to it is that once you start, keep meeting that goal EVERY day, and that part is the tough part for me.

    4)Take it easy on the research. If you are relying almost solely on your research then you are probably writing a research paper and not fiction:p. I avoid doing research while I'm writing because it will slow you down, and you may spend hours in front of a screen or jotting down notes that may not even end up in your final draft. Whenever you reach a bump that requires hard data, like the length of a bridge, type 'TK', and that is your way of knowing later on when your proofread that you need research.

    5)Stop being a perfectionist. I tried really hard to fit an epic story into a short story length submission, I ended up cutting and pasting so much that I ruined the story, and now its gone:(. Respect your story, some need to be a certain length and told in a certain way. If you keep trying to force blood from a stone, yadda yadda. Dont assume every line you write needs to be Shakespeare, and then edit and rewrite the first paragraph while you havent reached your page goal. There is a time and place for everything, if you tweek out over the minor details all the time you wont get anything done.

    hope that helps, I try to practice what I preach, and I've found that when I do heed my own advice I accomplish much more than otherwise.:D
     
  7. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Stick to your theme. If your new ideas deviate from the general theme of your original concept, save them for your next book instead. New and fresh ideas will always seem more appealing than the ones you've planned ahead, but don't let this fool you into abandoning your original idea and theme. Those ideas were good enough to get you writing, and will seem fresh and new to the reader who hasn't seen your plannings.
     

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