Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Novel Writing Step by Step - Part Four

Writing a book sounds like an immense project and it can be if it is not broken down into manageable sections. Last week we looked at how to plan a novel by dividing it into rough chapter outlines. This week, we look at how to actually start writing the book.

There is no set Method to Writing a Novel
Writers have individual preferences and may use a number of strategies when putting together a book. Experiment and see what works best for you or try a combination of techniques.

Writing the First Chapter
A good place to start is with the first chapter. This sets the tone for the story and should captivate the reader in the first few lines. Avoid writing a page of background and rather jump into an action scene that leaves questions lingering in the reader’s mind.

Writing Chapter by Chapter or Scene by Scene
Some writers find they have a few vivid scenes in their minds but are not sure how to join them together. It is quite acceptable to write these chapters first. Once they are down on paper, the inspiration often comes to write the chapters in between. Other people find it easier to start at chapter one and work methodically through to the last page of the book.

Researching the Content of a Book
There may be scenes in your book that require some research. Common areas include police, medical and legal procedures. It is tempting to do this before writing but some people get so into their research that they never actually write the book. It is fine to do some preliminary digging but finer details can be done during the writing process.

Don’t Force Characters into Unnatural Behavior
As characters develop and grow, you will get a greater feel for how they would behave. Be flexible with your outline and plot and if a character begins to display certain strengths or weaknesses, use these to further the story. Never make a character behave in an unnatural way as they will lose credibility with the reader.

How much to Write each Day
Writing a novel is a commitment and there will be many days when you won’t feel like writing. It can be fun to write dramatic scenes but tiring to fill in the story in between. Each person has different commitments and time constraints so work out what you can manage and try and stick to that. It is often better to set a target in numbers of words rather than time. I have found I can do 1000 words, polished and complete on an average day.

This is a brief overview of the writing process and there are many other factors to be considered such as where to write, what time of day to write and what equipment to use. Some of this is personal choice; other is forced on us by circumstances. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to get writing.

Next week we’ll look at doing a final polish and having your work edited.

Read Part One here
Read Part Two here
Read Part Three here


Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.


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