Monday, February 22, 2010

Idea? Check. Characters? Check. World? Check. Story?

After much work, planning, and brainstorming you’re finally ready to write your novel, right? The answer: almost. Some experienced writers say that some of their best work is the result of impulse writing or drafting without plans and allowing the characters to end up where they may. While this is definitely an admirable method of crafting a novel, for us first-timers it might prove to be a little trickier than that. Without a plan, writer’s block can set in pretty thoroughly, and for a first-time author it can be the barrier that keeps you from finishing your manuscript.

To combat what I like to call the “15,000 Word Wall,” or the point at which I had my first writing crisis: Chapter 4, Page 1, word 15,032, I suggest you at least create for yourself a brief outline based on the chapters you want to write, how long they should be, and the major plot-points  you want them to contain. You don’t have to stick to this, but it is definitely helpful to have something to go back to when you just don’t know what to say next.

A few outline basics are:

1. Number of Chapters.
This can really become a useful list of goals as you attempt to finish your novel, and telling yourself that you want to write at least 10 chapters acts as an excellent motivator.

2. Key moments.
Designating a few key moments  to happen in each of you chapters as well as making a list of back-up of events for moments of writer’s block is also a great idea.

3. Character Arcs .
You know where you want your story to end and where you characters will be when that end is reached, but you should be careful that you don’t lose some of your characters along the way just to have them reappear at their designated ending when your novel concludes. To achieve this, jot down individual storylines for each character. You should avoid introducing flat characters just to move your main character along. If they’re present, give them purpose and guidance, let them be a part of the story as it evolves.

With all of this mapped out, you really won’t ever feel lost as to what your next move should be, and avoiding that discouragement can go a long way towards seeing your novel through to the end! You should be excited about unveiling each key moment every time you sit down to write and deciding in advance what these moments will be and when they will occur can only help your progress along.

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