Archive for writing a novel

Simple Steps to Writing a Novel

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Typewriter for Writing a Story

So you have a story in your head and you suddenly feel inspired to write it. You sit down and you open a Word document. The story flashes through your head. The action, the heartache, the drama. But where do you start? How do you start? Suddenly you’re overwhelmed.

While some writers can simply start writing by the seat of their pants (called pantsers), some of us need a little more structure and guidance. If you are one of the later, here are some tips on where to begin.

Firefly Cast of Characters

Establish the Main Characters

If you’ve been thinking about your story for some time, you may already know who your characters are. You may also know things about them such as what they look like, where they work, their strengths and weaknesses, and so on. Either way, you need to create a character journal with all their information. The more important your character is to the story, the more thorough this journal should be.

Dwarves Bilbo and Gandalf in Rivendell Hobbit Movie

Establish the Setting

This is something else you might already have in mind. Creating a journal about it will help you fine tune it. A journal is also a great way to keep track of details later on as you write your story.

Set Up the Story Structure

If you’re having trouble just sitting and writing, having a story structure can help. The first structure you need to consider is the three acts basic acts that most good stories should have. The acts also help you determine your overall plot.

The first act establishes your setting and characters, and then brings about the inciting incident. The inciting incident is the event that rocks your character’s boat, the even that calls for his or her intervention. This incident can be something as simple as a death of a family member to something as cataclysmic as an explosion wiping out half a city. The second act consists of your character trying to resolve the situation only to find it’s not easy. Two steps forward, one step back. The third act contains the climax and the final wrap-up.

I have only given the basics of the three acts. If you’re having trouble with this, there are a ton of books and free online resources that can help.

Notecards for Writing a Story 001

Map Out the Outline

An outline is not the same thing as the story structure described above. The outline consists of the story structure, but it is much more detailed. It doesn’t just help you with your timeline, it also helps you establish important scenes, show you where gaps are, and gives you something to refer to as you write.

I have written an article previously on how using index cards helps me establish an outline – Outlining Your Novel with Index Cards. Make it fun with colored index cards!

Decide the Point of View

This can be a tricky one. Before you write, you really need to know how you plan on telling the story (or showing it, I should say). Here’s an article titled, Point of View Writing. It gives the basics and in an easy-to-understand way. The article states that Third Person, Limited is the most common point of view in fiction. I agree. And it is the point of view I use. I find it the easiest to use and the easiest for readers to fall into. But whichever you use, be sure you are consistent.

Decide the Tense

There are only two choices in writing tense: past tense or present tense. One would think that writing in present tense would be best because it establishes the immediacy of what’s happening. But past tense can work just as well. For some reason, I tend to do my outlines in present tense, but write my novel in past tense. Whichever you choose is fine, just be sure to be consistent. The Write Practice has another great article regarding writing in past tense versus present tense.

Book Time Clock Ticking

Write

This can still be the hardest part. But a friend and fellow writer posted something on her blog recently – Write Bravely. What does it mean? It means write and don’t worry too much about what others think. Don’t worry if your point of view or tense is off or whether you have enough descriptions in your scenes. Just write. You can worry about all that other stuff later.

If finding the time is a problem, make the time. Give up a television show or two. See if your significant other can help take up a chore or two. Even an hour a day is better than nothing. You’re story is never going to get written if you don’t make the time. Here are 10 Ways to Create More Time in Your Day.

Conclusion

Try not to look at novel as one big huge project. Big projects are easier to complete when you break them down into smaller projects. Use the headings I’ve used in this article as mini-projects. Even the heading Write can be broken down. Just take it one chapter at a time. One chapter at a time and you’ll get there. Good luck!

Writing a Book for NaNoWriMo

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on October 30, 2016 by Dawn Ross
NaNoWriMo 2016

November is National Novel Writing Month @NaNoWriMo, nanowrimo.org

Do you have an idea for a book in your head but just haven’t sat down and written yet? The prospect of writing a novel can certainly be daunting. Where do you start? How do you find the time? What if it’s bad? Here’s how NaNoWriMo can help.

What is NaNoWriMo?

November is National Novel Writing Month @NaNoWriMo, nanowrimo.org. It is a non-profit organization set up to encourage new writers to write. Signing up is easy. And it also helps you find writing groups in your area who can help give you encouragement.

Where to Start

There are two types of writers. There are planners and there are those who just write by the seat of their pants, aka pantsers. I am a planner. I have my book entire mapped out and know exactly where I’m going to start on November 1st. If you’re just now thinking about NaNoWriMo, then it may be a little late to plan. But that’s okay. Surprising things can happen with your characters when you wing it. And believe it or not, a lot of writers write this way. So don’t let the fact that you don’t have a plan stop you.

How to Find the Time

This can be a tough one, especially if you’re trying to juggle work, school, kids, home, and whatever else comes up in your life. Joining NaNoWriMo.org and finding a writing group in your area can help. They often meet for what is called write-ins where everyone sits together and writes. Having like-minded people around you can not only provide encouragement but can also make you feel accountable. Write during your lunch break. Get an app on your phone so you can write while waiting in lines. Ask your family to give you time. Find time after the kids are in bed. These are just a few ideas. You can do it! 50,000 words is 1,667 words a day, which is less than a chapter a day!

Don’t Worry About Quality

November is just about writing. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, prose, plot holes, boring parts, or anything else. Just write! Some NaNo writers have been known to get halfway through a story and realize they hate how it’s turning out so they start over. But they start over with another story. They don’t start over with their word count! Anything you write when writing your novel counts towards your 50,000 word count. Don’t cheat and write nonsense. But just write it and worry about fixing the story and editing it later. The most important thing in November is to write 50,000 words for your novel.

About Me

November 2015 was the first time I joined NaNoWriMo and it was the best thing I ever did. I wrote Book Two of the Kavakian Empire that month. No, it’s not published yet. I’m still working in fixing Book One so I can make it good enough for publishing. This November, I’ll be taking a break from fixing Book One so that I can write Book Three of the Kavakian Empire: Warrior Outcast. Find me on NaNoWriMo by searching author dawnross, all one word, all lower case.

To finish writing a novel is a very satisfying experience. Trust me. I know. So just sit down and write and you can finally get that story out of your head and on paper. Write it in November and then spend the rest of the year perfecting it for publishing. You never know, you just might be the next best-selling author!

p.s. I may or may not post what I write in November. But I will try to post something.

Setting Goals to Write, Edit, and Publish Your Novel

Posted in Publishing, Writing with tags , , on February 18, 2012 by Dawn Ross

 

Set Your Goals for Writing a Novel

I have to admit, that this is not something I have done to its fullest potential. As a result, it has been more than ten years since I first wrote then published my fantasy novel. How can you publish your novel within a much shorter period?

The most important thing you can do is set goals. I set good goals for editing and publishing my book, but when things fell through to a bad end, I put it all aside and did nothing for a very long time. To find out what this major pitfall was, visit this blog post – https://dawnrossauthor.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/difficulty-in-finding-a-literary-agent/.

Step One
First, set your long term and broad goals. Depending on how long your story is, give yourself a good year or two for writing your novel. The writing process for my 125,000 word fantasy novel took nearly two years. It took several more months for editing. How long to set your goal for publishing depends on how you plan to publish your novel. If you are going to go the self-publishing route like I did, you should probably only need a few months. But you will need to add several more months to that for marketing.

Step Two
Once you estimate how long your broad goals are, set smaller goals within each. Make your goals realistic and make allowances for unexpected life events. Be sure to include each and every step. For writing a novel, your first step would be the outline. Then research. Finally, you would progress to writing each chapter. For editing, you will probably want to go through your fantasy novel yourself about three times. You may also want to have friends and family review it. Then you will need to allow time for finding, then hiring a professional editor. For publishing, self-publishers will have a lot of steps. You have to put your book in various formats, review guidelines for each self-publisher, build websites for marketing, and so on. A great guide for many of the steps needed to self-publish your novel is “How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free” by Jason Matthews.

If you are going to go through a publishing company like Tor Fantasy or Bantam Books, give yourself a few months to write a good synopsis, proposal, and query letter. Then make plans to research agents and/or publishers. Finally, decide on how many you will submit your manuscript to and how often.

Step Three
Stick to your goals as much as possible. But remember that your goals to write, edit, and publish your fantasy novel are dynamic. Goals are guidelines to help keep you on track. If life gets in the way reset your goals without guilt. Don’t rush in writing your novel and risk its quality. You will also find your goals to be readjusted for new information. Perhaps in the editing process you realize that you had been using punctuation or grammar incorrectly. Or perhaps in your marketing, you found a new way to promote your book.

When you self-publish your novel today, it is much easier than it was a few years ago. Places like Amazon.com and Smashwords make it simple for anyone to self-publish a book. While publishing may be relatively easy, marketing is not. This is where I fell short in setting my goals. My fantasy novel is published, but I have not yet marketed it. Perhaps I will read “How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free” again and set my goals.