So, I decided to write another book.
I had the idea prior to Nanowrimo, but then decided it wouldn’t be prudent to start a new project then. At that point, I was about 85% through draft two of the first novel and really wanted to focus on getting that done. A new project would just be a distraction.
As it turned out, draft two was completed just before Christmas (the 22nd of December to be exact), which gave me a few days to think to relax before I jumped into the next novel on Boxing Day. To say I was excited was an understatement. A new book brewing in my mind was the ultimate Christmas present.
Of course setting about writing a novel the second time around is slightly different from the first. To begin with I’ve got no community cheering me on like last time, and I’ve given myself longer to write more.
My idea wasn’t quite as well formulated this time either. It’s more based on a theme than an event, and while I’m just over halfway through, and one of my major turning points has occurred, I’m not sure which of the possible three big events I have planned will actually be the one that takes. However, I have gleaned some excellent tips from the whole process and thought it only fair that I share them.
Be obsessive. B – E- E obsessive. If this was a sensible blog post, I would talk about the importance of balance but also using mundane activities to be planning your next writing move. But I rarely lean towards sensible (on the blog at least). Instead, I’m the kind of writer who spent last Tuesday moping because on Monday my two main characters had an argument, and because I was IBOTing (no guilt necessary), they couldn’t make up. It was ridiculous and wonderful. For almost 48 sordid hours they languished in a state of frustration until finally they sorted it all out last Wednesday night.
Not that they could actually admit their feelings at that point.
Crazy kids that they are.
It’s ok to talk about your characters like they are real people. They feel like real people. If you’re not laughing with the, crying with them, wanting to punch them in the face, then no one will. Real characters have a life of their own. Yes technically, they are at your mercy, but the minute you turn into a control freak and make them do your own thing, then no one is happy.
All these tips are useless.
It would probably make more sense to put this at the end, but you, know, the idea came to me here.
Everyone does things differently. Some plot and some don’t. Some write with inspirational soundtracks from epic films, some in silence, and then others of us find Ed Sheeran particularly uplifting at certain times. Some people need to know every single thing about each person in their stories, and others like to be surprised.
Basically, everyone is different so the tips cannot be one size fits all. (Insert musical rendition of ‘You can go your own way’ here.)
While I advocate having a loose plot and character information (because I think things just flow better that way), if you don’t write like that, then don’t. It’s just that simple.
Try something new. I have done significantly less plotting with this store than I did with my first one. Significantly less.
At times, I have found myself looking into the black abyss of plot holes, and like some mobile holding person in a receptionless wasteland with no Siri to guide me home, I have had no idea where I’m going next.
I don’t like that, but I didn’t know I didn’t like that until I tried it.
I’ve got two whole chapters that may be axed at some point because of this whole experiment. But nothing is wasted because I learned who my characters aren’t and what shouldn’t happen. Which brings me to tip five.
There are no wasted words. Novel one dropped 20 000 words between draft one and two. I’m sure draft three will be shorter again, and yet not one of them was wasted. If rambling on for three pages about the colour of the sun helps you get where you’re going, that’s all that matters. Don’t be discouraged at the thought of culling in the future. You should instead be encouraged that you’ve got the start of something that can only get better.
Just keep writing.
I had a brilliant week last week. 15k in three days where the scene I had been planning played out perfectly on the screen in front of me.
Then I got lost.
But I didn’t stop. Because I had that plot outline (that I had written about half way through), I know what direction we are heading in now. A few hours pushing through doubt and worry and what is probably rubbish writing, and everything is coming into focus again.
Because — and this is said at the risk of being one of those inspiring bloggers who shares life-affirming memes, at the end of everything — what matters most in book writing (and arguably life), is that you don’t get up. One word after the other. Sentences becoming paragraphs and paragraphs becoming pages. Until at some point you’re looking at a completed manuscript that you can enjoy until the time comes to tear it all apart and build it into something even better.
Never underestimate the power of a well-timed meme.
Writing doesn’t feel lonely while you’re doing it, on account of all those characters coming to life. It can feel lonely later on, when you’re talking to your friends who just don’t get it. Social media has many places where writers can find well-worded pictures that make our hearts sing. You are not alone.
Have you ever thought about writing a book?
Anything else you would add?