Wednesday, 14 September 2011

How to Write a Novel

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I was asked, today (again),  how a person goes about writing novels.  My reply of, "It depends" probably wasn't all that helpful.  In my defence, at the time I was busy attaching a rebellious strand of millet to the inside of a budgie cage while dear ol' Archie was trying to discover if my fingers were edible.  How's that for gratitude.  And I'd given him fresh water, too...

Over time, every writer develops their own way of working.  Otherwise, they tend to give up and do something else.  There's no right or wrong way; only the way which works for each individual.  Some people plan every chapter in great detail before they even consider starting work on the text.  Other people plan nothing at all; they just start writing and see where an idea takes them.  Others fall somewhere in between these two.  How do you find which way works for you?  Easy - get writing and discover the answer for yourself.

Some people pour over mountains of 'How To' books, expend small fortunes on courses and seminars, set themselves up with fancy office stationary, do endless research, talk to other writers about how they've been wrapped up in the planning stage and there's so much more still to do...  Other people simply get on with writing, researching only the bits they need as they need them.

Some people lock themselves away in a hermit's retreat, insisting upon solitary confinement, and absolute silence for weeks at a time until the first draft is complete.  Others type away happily while the kids are squabbling, the dog's trying to eat the postman, the washing machine's making an ominous grinding whine and music's blaring so loud the roof tiles are rattling.  Again, each to our own.

Some people comb over every page as they write it, trying to get it all perfect before moving on to the next bit.  This can result in abandoning the project entirely as true perfection is never reached.  Others storm through 100,000 words to the finale, and only then go back to edit.  This way tends to work best for most people, an enthusiasm isn't hampered by fussing over details, and at the end of it you've at least got a complete first draft.  But it's your choice to make.

But beyond all that there's really only one way to write a novel - get on with it.

Further reading on this subject: http://hubpages.com/hubtool/edit/1171202

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