T Nation

Writing a Novel

I noticed in another thread that there at least two other ppl on this board who are writing novels (I myself just started as well), and I just wanted to get a discussion going about why you are doing it, the difficulties, plot overview, formal writing experience etc…

When I say I just started I mean i have like 4-5 pages of actual story written down with about 60-70% of it mapped out in my head. As someone in another thread said it is very difficult to get the time to write and when I need prepare to “get in the zone” so to speak.

The problem is any minor distraction can take me out of the zone and I’ll have to start all over. I’d also like to echo the fact that I sometimes have creative moments at inconvenient times where a voice recorder may be handy. I find the hardest part though is the “in between” material.

For instance descriptions of environment take me an inordinate amount of time it seems as well as the non-action moments. I want to simply write down all of the meat of the story but at least a slight amount of filler seems necessary to prevent the novel from rushing at an unusual pace.

anyway I’d just like to hear from some others about their experiences and possibly any suggestions

I worked on a novel for 16 months once. Pretty much all I did for that time was work my job, come home and write for 3 or 4 hours. I eventually abandoned it because I hated my characters. You’ve got to like your characters, all of them, even the bad ones.

I think my mistake was I didn’t maintain a healthy well-rounded social life on the side. The characters were the only people I spent time with, and that’s not healthy.

Dialogue wins. Fuck everything else.

I have a storyline completely planned out in an excel document from last year, the prolem is getting down to writing it. I enjoy coming up with, characters, plot lines, and running through scenes in my head, but when I get down to writing, the story doesn’t seem to flow the way it did in my head.

[quote]HotCarl28 wrote:
I noticed in another thread that there at least two other ppl on this board who are writing novels (I myself just started as well), and I just wanted to get a discussion going about why you are doing it, the difficulties, plot overview, formal writing experience etc…

When I say I just started I mean i have like 4-5 pages of actual story written down with about 60-70% of it mapped out in my head. As someone in another thread said it is very difficult to get the time to write and when I need prepare to “get in the zone” so to speak.

The problem is any minor distraction can take me out of the zone and I’ll have to start all over. I’d also like to echo the fact that I sometimes have creative moments at inconvenient times where a voice recorder may be handy. I find the hardest part though is the “in between” material.

For instance descriptions of environment take me an inordinate amount of time it seems as well as the non-action moments. I want to simply write down all of the meat of the story but at least a slight amount of filler seems necessary to prevent the novel from rushing at an unusual pace.

anyway I’d just like to hear from some others about their experiences and possibly any suggestions[/quote]

I’ve written a handfull of short stories that have sold (minor and out-of-print SF and fantasy mags, for the most part), so I don’t know how much this will apply . . .

With regards to the “zone,” why do you feel the need to begin again after a distraction? I’ve found it helpful to, when I lose the thread I’m following, save the work to that point, walk away, and come back (to that story, not just writing) to it when I find the thread.

Also, I found having a set time and schedule, which was iron-clad, aided me in getting into the “zone.” Distractions, inability to concentrate, they go away. I once wrote three pages of the string “a, and, the, motherfucker” because I couldn’t get in the zone. However, the clacking of the keys eventually produced more words, and I got a story out of that hour.

With the scene descriptions, why do you feel they run to long? Is that in reference to the time it takes to produce them, or the relative length in the confines of the story?

[quote]Uncle Gabby wrote:
I worked on a novel for 16 months once. Pretty much all I did for that time was work my job, come home and write for 3 or 4 hours. I eventually abandoned it because I hated my characters. You’ve got to like your characters, all of them, even the bad ones.

I think my mistake was I didn’t maintain a healthy well-rounded social life on the side. The characters were the only people I spent time with, and that’s not healthy. [/quote]

That sucks. But I do not spend nearly that much time writing in a given day. How many pages had you typed out before deciding to quit? Sorry to hear it didn’t work out.

In regards to characters there is only one I am not crazy about, though there are really only four characters. The one I dislike is a detective just because I feel like it is such a cliche niche to be filled. I’m considering maybe changing it to a journalist? The character’s main purpose is to reveal other aspects of the story and the actions of other characters. So they need to be investigative.

[quote]JoeG254 wrote:
I have a storyline completely planned out in an excel document from last year, the prolem is getting down to writing it. I enjoy coming up with, characters, plot lines, and running through scenes in my head, but when I get down to writing, the story doesn’t seem to flow the way it did in my head.[/quote]

I agree completely. This is my main problem. I can see it happening as a movie and if I was with a producer and director I feel like I could put it together for them pretty well. But in the context of a written story it becomes more difficult.

[quote]Vash wrote:
I’ve written a handfull of short stories that have sold (minor and out-of-print SF and fantasy mags, for the most part), so I don’t know how much this will apply . . .
[/quote]
Anything one might recognize? Is this your career or more of a hobby/side-job?

I think I’ll try this

I do think I need to set out a specific time each day in which I write. I dont have that and its keeping me from writing as much as I’d like.

[quote]
With the scene descriptions, why do you feel they run to long? Is that in reference to the time it takes to produce them, or the relative length in the confines of the story?[/quote]

Well both actually. I think in it taking so long to produce them I lose a sense of how long they will seem to the reader. Even when I read them afterward, its like I can’t get back to the outside and look in objectively as the reader.

[quote]HotCarl28 wrote:
Uncle Gabby wrote:
I worked on a novel for 16 months once. Pretty much all I did for that time was work my job, come home and write for 3 or 4 hours. I eventually abandoned it because I hated my characters. You’ve got to like your characters, all of them, even the bad ones.

I think my mistake was I didn’t maintain a healthy well-rounded social life on the side. The characters were the only people I spent time with, and that’s not healthy.

That sucks. But I do not spend nearly that much time writing in a given day. How many pages had you typed out before deciding to quit? Sorry to hear it didn’t work out.

In regards to characters there is only one I am not crazy about, though there are really only four characters. The one I dislike is a detective just because I feel like it is such a cliche niche to be filled. I’m considering maybe changing it to a journalist? The character’s main purpose is to reveal other aspects of the story and the actions of other characters. So they need to be investigative.[/quote]

I write everything out by hand so it’s hard to say. My writing habits were really terrible and not designed for the long haul. I started writing in college creative writing and filmmaking classes, and when I had an inspiration for a short story or script I would sequester my self for a day or two and hammer out a solid 1st draft then after that it was just simple revision. That’s fine when the whole thing is just 10-15 pages. But when I took on the novel I never even got a complete 1st draft. Some chapters never got past a rough outline others I had re-worked dozens of times.