Thinking of Writing a Novel

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by thestrangequark, May 3, 2011.

  1. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    As the title says, I'm thinking of writing a novel. I've been told numerous times I should write a book about my life -- I have the experience, I have the skillz when it comes to prose -- but I think I could only do so if everyone I knew were dead, for fear of them ever reading it! This leaves me to fiction. As I said, I have the experience, I have the prose, and (finally) I think I have an idea.

    I know we have some writers here, and I'm eager for any advice or anecdotes that might enlighten or encourage me in my effort.
     
  2. Captain_Nick

    Captain_Nick Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Write the story of your life but change people's names. Then sell the book as 'fiction'.

    Lord of the Rings = my autobiography.


    (Be sure your life is really that interesting first)
     
  3. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Admiral

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    I have tried to write many novels. I can't usually make it past Chapter 1.

    Honestly, the best advice is that you need to force yourself to write whether you want to or not. It's the only way to power through writer's block.
     
  4. Kestra

    Kestra Admiral Premium Member

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    I know how you feel. I write things and don't show them to anyone. I have to write a short story for class and I know exactly what I want to write about, but I feel like I need to turn to fiction because I can't write about people that I know.
     
  5. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    Eh...it's interesting in an Oprah Show kind of way. You know, drugs, abuse, mentally ill mother, alcoholic father, grandfather was suspected of being the Green River Killer for a few years, little girl is born deaf but gets her hearing back through dozens of surgeries, grows up to be slightly insane but undeniably witty and prodigiously fashionable despite her troubled childhood and Trekkie tendencies. ;) Hell, for six months I lived in a 6x11 foot "apartment" in a crack house on St Marks Place with an obese vegan Rent fan who was arrested for stalking one of the stars -- That's enough for a chapter at least!

    In all seriousness, I really don't have much of a vested interest in writing about myself. Besides, I think my fictional idea is more fun. It also involves drugs, insanity, serial killers, and crazed stalkers but has the added benefit of possibly being interpreted as a science fiction adventure!
    Yeah, I found that what will either be the prologue or a brief first chapter just poured out of me in fewer than ten minutes, in all its perfection. Then the words stopped. And now, while I know everything that's going to happen in this story, the thought of getting it all down is both daunting and, well, I just don't know how to do it. I've only ever written children's books before, fewer than 300 words. The thought of getting 80,000 down...
    Exactly. One hears again and again that one should write what she knows, and I know even in fiction bits of myself will shine through. But at least I can use a pen name and chalk it up to coincidence.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  6. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Good luck. I'll definitely buy it if you decide to do it. I always support my online peeps. :bolian:

    I've never written a novel, although I have one in progress. One reason is time, of course, but another is that I seem to have a knack for very short stories. So what I decided to do is focus on one chapter at a time, viewing them as individual short stories; I figure that might make it more likely for me to finish the thing. :rommie:
     
  7. trekkiebaggio

    trekkiebaggio Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's good to have a plan.

    Usually with me I get an idea and the story pretty much writes itself in my head, then I write down a loose plan and bullet point the plots which helps give you some structure for when you run into a brick wall.

    Obviously the plan isn't set in stone because you think of different things as you write and you might want to change things around etc, but it's a good way to start.

    Also, if you do get stuck there's no harm in just skipping ahead a bit and coming back to the part you're stuck on.
     
  8. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Even if you already know what's going to happen in your head, you should write down the basic plot in an outline, first. Then as you go along you can flesh out the details.
     
  9. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The only advice I would give is, don't just think about it: do it.

    Robert A. Heinlein's first rule of writing was simply: "you must write."

    You can read the rest of his rules here, along with a sixth rule and discussion by Robert J. Sawyer.
     
  10. trekkiebaggio

    trekkiebaggio Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Unless you want to write in a stream of consciousness style (which I've never tried).
     
  11. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    That's exactly what I wanted to write: don't think, do it.

    You won't know if it's a good idea, until you try. If you try and succeed, but are still not sure if to publish it, you don't have to.

    Good luck! :bolian:
     
  12. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral In Memoriam

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    LOTS of people think about writing a novel.
     
  13. LitmusDragon

    LitmusDragon Commodore Commodore

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    Be sure to fact-check the names and places you use. I finished a novel but then found out that the name of the main character I'd used (which I thought was quite original) had already been taken and an entire novel named after it. Now I have to rename my main character (and have been putting a lot of thought towards that for several months now).

    Also, if you plan to sell your book, you might want to read up on the submission process and how things actually get published. Most publishers will only read the first three chapters of your book and then decide to pick it up or not based on that. If I had known that at the time, I would have put more work into making those chapters "hooky". My first three chapters were written with the idea that I would probably never finish the book, so they were written in a deliberately wonky way just to keep myself entertained. I wouldn't publish my own book based on it's first three chapters, but I think it got pretty good towards the end.

    I am planning a rewrite in the future but putting a lot of thought behind it before I even start.

    Anyway, if you do finish a novel, whether it's a success or not, you will be among a select few people who actually have written a complete novel in their lifetime. It is extremely rewarding and the proudest accomplishment of my life, even if the only person who has read the entire thing was my Mom.
     
  14. trekkiebaggio

    trekkiebaggio Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^Which also leads to something else, being able to let it go and let other people read it. If you do finish it and you're pretty satisfied it's always good to let someone else read it, to get a fresh perspective.

    Obviously writing a novel requires a lot of effort and you'll be spending a lot of time thinking about various character arcs etc and it can get to a point where you start to lose focus. So it's always good to find out what someone else thinks of it, and take advice if they have any (but it is your story so don't feel obliged to change everything if they say so ;)).

    Also if you do get stuck it's good to have a person who you can talk about it with and who you can share ideas with, talking about it might help you develop the story.
     
  15. Eyes

    Eyes Commodore Commodore

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    Well, like others have said, just go for it. I've been suffering with writer's block recently, before I put it off for exams, but I finally started writing down some notes, and now I have a much clearer idea of what to do when I come back.

    I'm not sure if this is good practice or not, but I try to work from chapter to chapter, having a clear idea of what to do with that chapter, and not thinking about anything else until it's done. Once that's done, I look at vague notes I made for the next chapter and add to them until I have a picture for the chapter, eventually repeating the process.

    That's how I managed with my short story/long fanfic for the first seven or so chapters, before I hit a chapter in the middle which I had absolutely no idea how to write my way out of, which is when I took up the note-taking. So in my experience, writing from your consciousness only works for the beginning of the story.
    It's when you hit the less well-defined 'filler' chapters in the middle that everything starts to fall apart.
    Eventually I managed to work my way through that, and finish it, only to lose all of my work through a USB stick malfunction (no backups, I know) and got stuck right back at the horrible chapter in the middle.
    I wanted to try and re-write it, but I got stuck, so I moved onto the next one, and now I've hit a wall in that one, I'm going to try and refinish the first one.
    Once that lot's done, I plan to write a proper novel, but given my speed of writing, that could be many years down the line.
     
  16. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Link
     
  17. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Seeking advice from Ernest Hemingway on "How do I get a famous writer without turning into a paranoid, bipolar alcoholic who eventually commits suicide?"

    Maybe they should write a novel about a man who thinks about writing a novel.
     
  18. Emher

    Emher Admiral Admiral

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    If you're thinking about it, just do it. Start writing now. Don't think anymore into it until you've got the main outline for the story. Then expand and trim what's unnecessary. rinse and repeat until done. Says I who's only just gotten past the outline bit :lol:
     
  19. mimic

    mimic Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd recommend that you subscribe to the vlogbrothers on youtube. One of the brothers is a writer (John Green) and the other (Hank Green) is a massive science nerd, so you'll like them.

    John did say that his first draft of his first book and the book that he published are almost 80% dissimilar.
     
  20. starrchild

    starrchild Captain Captain

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    I've read about this program in various places:

    http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

    It's originally a Mac Program but there's apparently a Windows beta as well. It looks like it would be helpful in planning and organizing any sort of large writing project. I don't write myself, but it looks pretty cool IMO. :)