Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Writing Your First Novel: The First 13 Tips

So I thought that as I hit what I hope to be halfway, I'd put down, in no particular order, some short, sweet tips. What I've learned from the journey so far. What may help you.

1. You must plot.

Unlike shorts or flash, without plotting you'll hit trouble. Make a decision on what it's going to be early. And for the love of God try and stick with it. Don't and you risk hitting a wall, I don't know, halfway?

2. Don't give up.

Don't: be a whiny snivelly little... 'I can't'. Do or do not. If it's still in progress, finish it. If it's been in progress for the last five years, it's not in progress. You're not really doing it, are you? Really?

3. Don't let your Antagonist and Protagonist be the same person.

Give your characters a voice. Make them unique.I found as I hit second draft that my Antagonist was too alike to my Protagonist. I wanted him to be darker, obviously, but also cooler, more than just evil, sinister maybe, but someone that you could root for. He wasn't. I had to change him. That in itself has changed the situations, which is causing more re-writes. It's an ever-decreasing circle.

4. Don't lose your way.

Your novel needs to be what you want it to be. Don't write it in someone elses voice. When you've finished you won't like it. And if you don't like it, no one will like it.

5. Look at things differently.

Literally. If you can't make something work, see where it's going, grab a laptop and go somewhere else. It doesn't matter where. (I found drinking wine in the garden works. It doesn't get any writing done. But it works.) Sit somewhere else. Feel a different ambiance.

6. Forget it.

When you've finished writing, editing, whatever, don't sit there in the theater scratching your head worrying about it. You'll resent the work. You won't want to go back to it later.You'll hate that thing.

7. Whatever you do, don't forget it.

Never let the work stroll too far from the mind. The mind is a beautiful thing. What? Sorry. Ad break in the movie? Great. How-ma-gonna-get Swathey McCool out of that jam?

8. Rest it.

Really important. Stick it in a draw when you've finished. (No. Not that.) Leave it a month. Let it rest like a expensive carve of beef. Decant it like a fine wine. Then cut it's heart out. Just... later. It allows you to be able to take a more refreshed approach.

9. Read this.

10. Read.

Don't let your self obsession with creating an artwork that will define the ages from stopping you from learning. Read. Read novels. Read blogs. Read articles. Read the Goddamn TV Guide. Read something.

11. Show, don't tell.

During the first draft I found a lot of tell. If you have rose tinted glasses, throw them away. First draft sucks donkey balls. In an effort to 'get it on the page' I found a lot of non-descriptive exposition that shouldn't have been there. Particularly in the second half.

12. Don't have a mental breakdown in the middle.

I did. Takes balls to start writing it again after six months of not writing.

13. Write.

You can't write a novel without writing. Straight up, balls to the walls, pen on paper. If you don't write, you can't finish anything, can you? Yes, you. You at the front. Pay attention. It won't write itself. No. That 1K of flash isn't the same thing. You wanna write flash? Write it in your own time.

Now drop and give me 1K of novel.

'Til next time...

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