Monday, April 1, 2013

A to Z Challenge: About Writing Your First Novel

Before I start, I just want to give a HUGE shout-out to Arlee. Thank you for creating this awesome blogfest! It's definitely one of the highlights of my blogging year. 

And now, back to the original posting.

Congratulations on choosing to write a novel. It will give you hours on hours of pleasure and you'll love every single moment of it.

Veteran novelists, STOP GUFFAWING.

It is truly the easiest art -

Novelists! Stop laughing this instant! It's rude.

Ahem. Easiest art to partake in. After all, you've written e-mails and memos for years.

Seriously, vets. How do you expect me to trap people if you make me sound ridiculous. Can you at least limit your response to chortling?

No?

Oh fine.

Writing a novel is an amazing passion. And I'm not calling it a hobby for a reason. Nothing you've ever done before will prepare you for writing 50+ thousand words of cohesive story.

It'll consume you. Sometimes, it'll treat you well. Those times are amazing. They're what makes writing worth the struggle.

But struggles there are many. I'm going to share some of them this month, so you know what you're up against. This isn't intended to scare you off, but to arm you with knowledge you'll require. Because a big part of what makes the struggle really difficult is thinking that you're the only one.

You're not.

So if you really want to write a novel, be prepared to feel the burn. If not, I think you should find something else to devote the majority of your free time to.

Who's sticking around?

You?

Welcome to the madhouse, ladies and gentlemen! I hope you enjoy your stay!

Okay novelists! Now you get to have your say. Any advice to the new recruits?

119 comments:

  1. I agree with Alex. You have to keep writing even if you know it's not great because when you're done... but I guess you'll be mentioning edit in E :-)

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    1. Nope. E is for another excruciating writerly torture. ;-)

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  2. 50+ thousand words...? Now, I'm hyperventilating...
    I can manage short bursts at a time... like 200 to 300 words... that's about it!

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    1. Hahaha yep. I spent so long writing novels that the thought of only writing 200 words gives me the heevie jeevies. :-D

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  3. Great idea for A-Z. My advice? Find like minded people and support each other while writing.

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  4. I began writing without a clue as to how it was done. Makes me wonder whether I would have undertaken the challenge knowingly. I'd like to think so because the rewards are definitely worth it.

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    1. Oh yeah the rewards are definitely worth it. And I don't think not knowing will kill you, but I think a lot of people give up too soon because they don't know what they let themselves in for. :-D

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  5. Madhouse, I love the madhouses. Some say I should be in one. And I was not the one who was laughing at your statements, I swear. :D

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    1. Hahaha that's most kind of you, Al. :-D

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  6. Since I laughed like a loon, I must crazy, so I guess it's the madhouse for me.

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  7. I had no idea what I was doing when I first got started, and maybe I should have waited longer before joining a writing group, because I lost some of the freshness for awhile on one story that in looking over my older notes, I'm trying to put back in. But the group improved my writing skills so much that my newer stories started off phenomenally better, so I can't say I regret it.

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    1. Yeah the big thing about learning how to write is knowing how to stay true to yourself while picking up new skills.

      Best of luck!

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  8. Some great advice..especially 'prepare to feel the burn'...how very true!

    Great topic :)

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    1. Thanks Mark. Glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

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  9. Not being a novelist, I will just nod and agree, and be impressed that you're getting published! That's awesome.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog--not sure what a minion is (in this context), but I imagine that means I'll see you again!

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    1. Already answered to my minion identity on your blog. Yep. I am that fast. ;-)

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  10. Cool topic choice :). Very well put. My advice to those just starting on their first novel, you don't have to write starting at the beginning and ending at the end if it doesn't work for you. Experiment with how you write and find out what is best for you.

    Also, never give up, never surrender! ;)

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    1. Those are so true. There are no hard and fast rules to writing. Someone could write backwards, if it worked for him/her.

      And also, not giving up is really the only thing standing between a writer and finishing a novel.

      :-)

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  11. Excellent theme, Misha!

    As for advice, I'm going to say something that might be contrary to what other novelists have said. Don't be afraid to give up - at least temporarily. If writing is your passion, don't give up entirely, but know when to take breaks. Know when to step away from a project. Know when it's okay to do something else, because you've just worked through the night writing thousands of words.

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    1. Oh yes. I'll be touching on this later on this month. Balance is so important.

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  12. It's a big project that should never be taken lightly...

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    1. Agreed. Before I named Doorways, it was called The Beast. Not because of anything but the fact that the story snarled and kicked my ass repeatedly in the many years it took me to write it.

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  13. LOL! Sorry, I was one of those laughing my way through the post...I really hope your day 2 is blood...for the blood you sweat every minute of writing. LMAO. ;) Love the theme, look forward to your posts this month!

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    1. Nope, not quite, but I do have a post called "Organ Damage" planned, if that counts. :-D

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  14. Fun post! Hmmmm, my advice would be to have a good stash of candy to bribe yourself with when you just really really don't want to sit down in front of the lap top and revise a scene for the 50th time.

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  15. I was definitely laughing.

    Okay, here it is, I'll give you the secret to writing a novel:


    Write one word. Then write the next word. Repeat.


    And simple advice is often the hardest to follow.

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    1. Hahahahaha now your comment had me laughing out loud. :-D

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  16. Madhouse is correct. And sleepless nights. Oh and you'll find you will talk to yourself (really your characters but from the outside view, you look like you need a straight jacket) LOL
    I wouldn't trade this for anything. Just don't ever give up.

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    1. Oh yeah!

      One time, I had my mother walk in on me while I was acting out a fight scene. Necessary in that I needed to know what went where and when.

      But I still looked like a major dork.

      Sadly, it's only one in a long line of such embarrassments.

      Delete
  17. Nice post!

    There is much pain and perseverance involved in writing a novel, and much wine, I find that helps ;) However, when you get in the groove, it is the best thing ever to be writing and I wouldn't give it up for a minute.

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    1. So true. There's nothing like the rush of knowing the story suddenly fell together right. Or when everything just goes right and you write write write without end until you come to a place you need to stop.

      And then you realize you'd written 10k in six hours.

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  18. I suppose in the back of their minds everyone wants to write a novel (or has aspirations of doing so). I've never reached the point where I've decided to actually do it, but I will offer some advice. Write. Write a lot. It doesn't have to be gold. It doesn't have to be relevant. The more you write the easier it is and the better you become at it. So when you're ready to begin your novel, start writing and keep writing.

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    1. Sound advice. Although nothing trains a person to write novels except for writing novels, writing a lot does go a long way towards helping.

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  19. This is a great post. I'm really looking forward to more of your wisdom :)

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    1. Thanks! Hope you enjoy whatever you catch of the rest of the series as well. :-)

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  20. Love your theme. I'd say, don't quit. Keep writing. Scream, kick, cry, throw a tantrum, just don't quit writing. Connect with other writers and read a lot. (:

    A-Z participant blogging from Elise Fallson

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    1. Great tips!

      Connecting with writers is so important.

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  21. Stop yelling at me!

    I swear I laughed out loud at this post!

    Great start! I'm all in!

    Heather

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    1. Hahaha I'm glad to hear I haven't lost my comedic chops.

      :-D

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  22. The key to writing is never stop and don't give up. I've struggled with my novel for a while now, but I'm not tossing it aside. Perseverance pays off.

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    1. Oh yeah definitely. Doorways took me almost 7 years from the first idea to signing the contract.

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  23. My advice -- trust your instincts and never be afraid to take a writing risk!

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  24. I was laughing, but only to do the faint-hearted a favor :D

    I've heard it said that if anyone can be discouraged from writing, they should be. I don't believe this is meant in a mean way, just that writing is full of discouragement, so be prepared!

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    1. Well, continuing on the not-being-mean theme, I think it's safe to say that if someone can be discouraged from writing, they will be.

      It's just that challenging on so many levels.

      I mean, I had to pick 26 topics for my series, but trust me, many more came up than what I had space for.

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  25. I love your theme. Writing is sooo time consuming but absorbing too. Keep writing. There is nothing like it, creatively draining but such a thrill.

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    1. So true. I take part in more than one artform, but nothing is quite as challenging nor as creative as writing.

      With writing, I get the chance to really create worlds, and people, and histories. I can make them live in my mind and in the minds of others.

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  26. That was amusing and helpful lol . I have published a short not a novel. The editing never seems to be done.... :D

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    1. Haha yes. Maybe next year my theme should be 26 Things You Should Know Before Editing Your First Novel. :-D

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  27. Thanks for visiting my blog. I enjoyed your post today. I'm really not a writer, but it's interesting what you had to say and I'm sure I'll be back.

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  28. "Veteran novelists, STOP GUFFAWING."

    How'd you know I was doing that?

    Love this post. It's a great introduction to your theme this year.

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  29. My advice? Don't keep going back and repolishing your first chapter. Often that first chapter ends up in the garbage, so it's better to just keep moving forward.

    I hate to admit how many first chapters I have buffed to a high shine only to realize they were little more than launchpads that I should have discarded at blast off!

    Happy A to Z to you!

    ~Tui

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    1. Oh yeah! That one I remember from when I started out too. I used to edit as much as write while drafting, but couldn't figure out why my stories kept losing soul.

      Nowadays I write by hand to keep myself from polishing crap.

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  30. Misha, I love the way you show any word can be used in your alphabetic creation. Clever A to Z post and thanks for the writing encouragement. God bless, Maria at Delight Directed Living

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Maria! I'm glad you enjoyed my post. :-)

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  31. My advice would be to write every day and read as much as you can.

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    1. Reading is so important, but it's one I admit I still struggle with.

      Not because I don't like reading. (Would be impossible to write if I didn't enjoy reading.) But rather because certain portions of my creative process require me being in edit mode.

      Which makes reading anything a pain in the neck.

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  32. Great post! It seems like I started writing with all of those misnomers in mind. Sometimes you just have to do it then learn from it, but the most important thing is to do it! <3

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    1. I think we all did. Which is the real reason why the novelists kept laughing.

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  33. Great post! Be prepared to write a first draft then rip it to shreds. Seek advice and critiques - surround yourself with as many like-minded people as possible because you'll need them!

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    1. Oh yeah. Those are great pieces of advice.

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  34. Just published and feeling strung out, so had great laugh when found your post. Keep it up!

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    1. Congrats on publishing! Glad you enjoyed my post.

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  35. Writing is not a race, it's a marathon. Be prepared to go the distance!

    Get everything on the page and then edit later. Allow the ideas to flow.

    Looking forward to seeing what you do all month.
    --
    Tim Brannan
    The Other Side and The Witch
    Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword
    The Freedom of Nonbelief

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    1. I agree with you with editing later. A lot of damage can be done by prematurely using the delete button.

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  36. I admit I was laughing more than a little bit. :D What a great idea for a theme. And a great way to celebrate your soon to be published first novel!!

    I think your advice is all spot-on. It's amazing how time-consuming the process can be but it sure is worth it to jump in that madhouse.

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    1. Yeah I definitely wouldn't have it any other way. Even if my book didn't get picked up.

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  37. You might be the perfect woman. You have the main requirement a sense of humor that can get everyone laughing. The replies show it. Thanks for stopping by my blog..

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    1. Awe shucks! Now you're making me blush. ;-)

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  38. Writing a novel is a long-term committment, and you really have to enjoy the novel--because you'll be thinking about it, re-reading it and revising it probably a dozen times.

    Most people feel they have a novel in them. Maybe they do, but very few ever get it out of them, successfully.

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    1. "because you'll be thinking about it, re-reading it and revising it probably a dozen times"

      And that's before you sell the story to an editor. Then you do it all over again.

      Delete
  39. Strap yourself to your chair. Not only is it a wild ride, but lots of times you won't want to be sitting there to write.

    I love being a writer - straps and all!

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    1. Oh so true. There are some days when I'd rather clean up my room before writing. And that says a lot.

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  40. Hey Misha,

    Indeed, keep the passion alive and with the inspiration within and the encouragement of others, it will be so.

    Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar is more than willing to give any author, established or aspiring, her 'pawsitive' advice!

    Have fun with the alphabet challenge. And I found out those involved with this, start with the letter "A". Very interesting! :)

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    1. Penny is more than welcome to leave some pawsitive advice. :-)

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  41. Yes, that novel is in there someplace, if I could just wrap up those ongoing article assignments! Ah, the writer's life. . . .

    Happy A to Z!
    (I'm doing EIGHT blogs. Whew.)
    Here's one:
    A is for Absent - Rhymed Acrostics from A to Z

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    1. EIGHT?! *fans self*

      I'd go even more nuts than I am right now.

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  42. Never give up. No matter what anyone tells you, don't give up.

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    1. So true. In fact, I'd say that it's better to get annoyed with non-writing people for saying stupid things about writing than taking their opinions to heart.

      They don't have a clue.

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  43. Ah, thank you. That was a delightful laugh. I nearly wept, I was laughing so hard.

    I'm going back to my writing now.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Best of luck with your writing. :-)

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  44. Feel the burn, is right! Breath it in and go with it. Most importantly: Do Not Quit!

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  45. In those times when I feel like I can't go on. I can't write another word, I have a little mantra. "Just keep writing, just keep writing."

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  46. I'm always amazed and impressed by those of you who have a story in you and can get it out to the rest of us!! Good luck!

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  47. LOL. Advice: Stockpile cheese for the bad moments, and best of luck!

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  48. Great post! My advice: Hang in there and don't let the doubts drown out the inspiration.

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    1. Definitely. I see this as so important that I'm doing a post about it.

      :-)

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  49. An encouraging post! Waiting to read your upcoming posts!

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  50. I'll be along for the ride.

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  51. It is a madhouse, but I'm glad to be part of it.

    Fantastic post.

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    1. Thanks Medeia! I'm thrilled to have you in the madhouse with me. :-)

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  52. Wonderful post, thank you!
    I guess for me, I'm in it for the fun, I'd go stark raving mad if I dont get those stories out!
    http://skaypisms.blogspot.com/

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    1. Oh yeah. I have too many voices in my head clamoring for attention when I don't write.

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  53. Hmmm...well, I reckon performing open heart surgery on yourself is probably easier than writing, but, you know, a challenge's a challenge... ;-)

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  54. This is one of the BEST posts I read so far today.
    I'm excited to read more!
    Connie
    I'm visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge
    Peanut Butter and Whine

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  55. Be prepared to spend years on a book, depending on how long it is, how much editing it needs, and what kind of time you have to work on it. And as a typography geek, I have to urge writers to find a font that speaks to them. You'll be typing in that font for hundreds of pages, so there's no reason to pick one you don't like or that doesn't have a personal resonance.

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    1. That's a great tip. I never thought about changing the font. :-)

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  56. thank you for the wonderful advice, and I love the way you wrote it up!! Fun and helpful all at the same time! www.sandysanderellasmusings.blogspot.com

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Thanks for commenting! I love to read what you think.