All through college, and the many years thereafter, I’ve had a subscription to “Writer’s Digest” magazine. In a way, it is a monthly reminder of who I am and why I have to write despite all the professional distractions, personal obstacles, and a family that takes most of my time, love, and effort.
I’ve written in spurts: screenplays, romantic novels, articles, blogs, and a year as a columnist for a weekly publication. I’ve always thought of myself as a writer despite all the breaks, the ups and downs, and the successes as well as failures. And one thing that reminds me of who I am is “Writer’s Digest”.
In the January 2010 issue, the featured topic was, “Write that Novel”. I’ll borrow the lead on the splash page for that section: “For some, it’s an idea that never fades. For others, it’s a perpetual work-in-progress (or an annual New Year’s resolution). But your novel deserves to be more than a dream.”
This sounds like me. This sounds like every novelist that has yet to write his or her novel. The idea, well, it never fades! (But sometimes it goes away for a while! Here’s how to capture the moment: Novel Writing Tips on Starting Your Novel!)
The topics within this wonderful edition of Writer’s Digest” are:
- Give Shape to Your Story’s Premise
- Infuse Your Plot With Page-Turning Suspense
- Put Your Research to Good Use
- Rev-Up Your Revision With 4 Simple Strategies
- Unlock the Secrets of Bestselling Authors
- Submit Your Novel: A Special Edition of Writer’s Workbook
So what are you waiting for? The time is now to write that novel, start to finish.
If this doesn’t motivate you, you might as well throw away the pencil sharpener for good. As many say, if you wait for the right time, you will never finish the novel.
If you actually want to finally write your novel, read “Finding Time to Write”.
I’m going to touch upon a few things from some of the sections in the “Writer’s Digest – Write that Novel” section.
Give Shape to Your Story’s Premise
I’ve had conversations with new writers, or writers like me: taking breaks in between writing gigs who, desperate to get back on track, say they have a great idea – but it is all in their head. Your story’s premise will never take shape in your head. It takes shape on the page. If you want to get your novel off the ground, start writing down key ideas and let the story take shape by ‘taming the beast.’
Don’t worry about writing a disaster, or failing as N.M. Kelby states in the article, “Be fearless about taming your best ideas, and about tossing out those that don’t fit your model.”
You will only be able to tame your best ideas if you start writing then down.
Put Your Research to Good Use
Gayle Lynds shares how she puts her research to good use. “The secret to research is to be fascinated by your subject…” I completely understand what she means. When I was writing my novel I wanted to create a world that I was not familiar with – that world was the romantic city of New York.
I researched hot spots in New York, where all the Starbucks were located, looked at a map of New York on Google Maps, the museums, apartment costs, and needed a woman who had a career that would allow her to survive in the ‘big city. I imagined myself walking the streets, bundled up in a warm coat during the Christmas season: shopping, catching cabs, taking the subway, and running into a Starbucks for a hot cup of coffee.
The last time I was in New York was about 30 years prior to my research and I had to go back. I scheduled a short vacation with my family, and off we went. Unfortunately, or fortunately for me, it was in the summer and not the winter. But the ambiance of the city still romanced me, and I was more fascinated about New York after I left.
My lead female character became a character that moved to New York instead of being a New Yorker (which she was original). It added more depth, and more appeal, and the people she met, especially the men, were able to seduce (metaphorically) her with the city. To this day, I am still fascinated with New York.
Research is great – if it motivates you, as a writer, to incorporate it into your writing because you absolutely love what you are researching!
Unlock the Secrets of Bestselling Authors
I have favorite authors. And I’ve analyzed their work like I’ve analyzed screenplays and movies. Tip: break down their novels like you would outline your own novel. See how they transition from scene to scene, chapter to chapter, character to character, and as you outline your own novel, see if it can fit the same kind of mold.
The reason why they are bestselling authors is first that they can write a story that compels the reader to keep turning the page. But that’s not all – their style, voice, their structure feeds into the psychology of the reader much like a three-act structure – find that through-line and figure out why it works so well. Then get it to work for you!
The time may not be right for you to write your novel but here is my honest opinion. If you wait for the right time you will never finish it – so make the right time now and write that novel!