Let’s Write A Novel #7 How To Deal With A Writing Setback

I’m writing a new novel and blogging through the process so that you can learn along with me.

For those who want to dive right in, if you’re on the email list, you can head over to the google folder and check out the latest updates to the draft.

If you missed the most recent blog post about dealing with unsupportive loved ones, you can check it out here.

 Earlier posts in the series are all gathered here.

There is no weekly update this week because I’ve started hitting a snag in the storyline, and I’m kind of bored with how it’s going. Even though I’m not posting these updates in chronological order, I do have a rough chronology in my head of how it plays out, and I feel like the characters are making emotional growth leaps without my input or without the input of the plot to help them along. That’s great for them, but it makes the story feel inauthentic to me, so I’ve taken a step back to figure out what they really need to learn and to do next.

While I’m doing that, I thought it would make a post about coping with setbacks, because I’m pretty much an expert on that subject.

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Let’s Write A Novel #6: Dealing With Unsupportive Loved Ones

I’m writing a new novel and blogging through the process so that you can learn along with me.

 

Due to some unforseen circumstances, I’ve decided to limit access to the planning materials in the Google Folder after this week.  You can still head over there to check out the updates today, but in the future, if you want access to my planning and drafting materials, you’ll need to sign up for my email list.

If you missed the last post about using cheat sheets to quickly access and organize your notes, you can check it out here.

 

 Earlier posts in the series are all gathered here.

 

This week I want to talk about coping with unsupportive loved ones. I see questions about this come up a lot in writer’s groups, especially from new writers who are struggling to balance commitment to their loved ones with the desire to write.

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Let’s Write a Novel #5 — How I Organize My Novel Cheat Sheets

Image2I’m writing a new novel and blogging through the process so that you can learn along with me. This week I want to talk about organization and how I deal with changes and random ideas without derailing my progress.

 

If you’d rather jump right into my weekly update, you can check out the scenes that I’ve added to the Google folder here.

If you missed last week’s post about how to write your first draft without going insane, you can check it out here.

Earlier posts in the series are all gathered here.

 

When I first started trying to write novel length works, organization was my downfall.  I write speculative fiction, so I tend to have extensive notes, research, and worldbuilding documents.

I had everything in notebooks and three ring binders, and I tried several different organizational systems over the years it, but it never worked very well for me. I would lose pages or even whole notebooks, and I often found that my handwriting was not legible when I went back to read my drafts and notes.

 

I switched to using a computer, but I had no real organizational system except for a bunch of folders and subfolders. So, as the books went on, and I needed to check references or look back at something, I was always hunting around trying to remember where I had written such and such.

The search and find feature in Windows didn’t exist at the time, but even later when I started using Windows 7, I found that searches were often hit or miss because I couldn’t remember the exact wording that I had used.

 

Finally, when I started writing the Foxes of Synn, I came up with the idea of creating cheat sheets for myself.

 

So, while all of detailed notes, world building, etc. are kept in my story Bible, I have a set of simpler documents that I use to keep a running tab on the drafting process.  I’ve put copies of them up in the Google drive folder for you to take a look at. They’re all in a subfolder marked cheat sheets.

 

The titles of the documents are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll go over them anyway in case you don’t feel like poking around in my files.

 

Every file is prefaced with the title of my book, and then a descriptive label so that I always know which story the documents go with.

 

  • The Character List is just what it sounds like. A list of the characters who appear in the novel, roughly in the order that they appear. I tried to update this after every writing session, but sometimes I can go a day or two in between updates if I get in the zone. This will be updated with character descriptions or important details that get mentioned in the book as I go on.

 

  • Terms and Special Grammar are for made up fantasy words as well as any idiosyncratic sayings or colloquialisms that my characters use. This is for my own reference as well as for any beta readers or editors that I have in the future, so that we all know how things are supposed to be spelled and whether or not certain things are intentional. It’s a lot easier to make this up as you go than it is if you’ve sent a story off to be read and you have to keep explaining how you want your special grammar to work or what the colloquialisms in your story are.

 

  • Worldbuilding Concepts is for me to keep track of which concepts have been touched upon in the story and also to note down any changes in the world building from what my initial notes dictate to what the story ends up needing later on. When you’re in the first draft stage, your world building can change a lot, but you want to be careful that you keep track of these changes so that things stay consistent throughout the series.)

 

  • Questions and Ideas again is just what it sounds like. Sometimes as I’m writing, a question will come up, or I’ll get an idea that seems better than what I was originally going to do. I make note of it in his files so that I can look at it later and make decisions. That way I don’t get derailed every time an idea comes along. It’s in the folder where to look at it when I have time, and in the meanwhile, I can keep writing.

Every project ends up with a slightly different set of cheat sheets, and if you use this idea you’ll want to keep an eye on which ones you’re using most or if you might need a different set-up.

You can follow along with Let’s Write A Novel by subscribing to the blog or joining the Facebook Group.

If you find these posts useful, please leave a bit in my virtual tip jar.

 

Let’s Write a Novel #4 — How to Write Your First Draft Without Going Insane

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I’m writing a new novel and blogging through the process so that you can learn along with me. This week I want to talk about my previous experiences writing first drafts and what I’ve learned from them.

If you’d rather just jump right into my weekly writing update, you can check out the scenes that I added to the Google drive folder here.

 

If you missed last week’s post about where to start when you have an idea for a novel, you can get that right here.

 

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Let’s Write a Novel #3 — Help! I Have an Idea for a Book! Where Do I Start?

Image2I’m writing a new novel and blogging through the whole process so you can learn along with me.

For anybody who just wants to dive right in, you can head over to the Google drive folder and check out some of the planning documents and notes that I’ve uploaded.

 

New writers often ask me where to start when they have an idea for a book. Since I’m blogging through the process of writing a book and sharing what I learned with you along the way, I thought this would be a great place to address that question.

 

The answer to where to start with the book idea has as many varied answers as there are writers with ideas they’re struggling to get down. I can’t tell you exactly where to start, because my writing process may not work so well for you. What I can offer you are some tips and suggestions I’ve picked up over the course of writing my novels.

 

Get your ideas out of your head.

 

You can do this by opening a Word document or a notebook and freewriting about your story concept or character ideas for whatever it is that it’s pulling you to write this particular story.

 

If free writing doesn’t work for you, try index cards or Post-it notes. (Or, if you favor the computer over writing longhand, you can try a free-form free-form text editor called Scapple.)

 

If typing or writing longhand are both too slow for you, try a voice recorder or voice to text software on your computer.

 

Spend at least a few days getting your ideas down. Write or dictate everything you can think of, then put it aside and come back to it when you’ve had time to process the ideas some more.

 

Plan as much or as little as you need in order to feel confident and excited about beginning your story.

 

Some writers like to plan every detail an element of their story in advance. Others don’t plan at all and just sit down and start typing, then figure it out as they go. I happen to be somewhere in the middle, and how much  I plan a particular story can vary a lot depending on how solid my idea was to begin with.

 

Some things you might want to consider for planning your story include:

  • an outline or story map
  • a beat sheet
  • character profiles or character sketches
  • a timeline of the story and any additional events surrounding it
  • a cast list
  • world building or physical mapping and other types of research.

 

The order in which you do these things and the level of detail that you put in them during your pre-writing stage is entirely based on personal preference. Focus on how the planning makes you feel rather than on a list of things you are “supposed” to do.

 

If you feel excited and energized, you’re on the right track.

If you start to feel bored or overwhelmed by the level of detail and amount of work involved in your planning efforts, chances are that you’ve planned enough to get started.

 

It’s important to realize that writing a novel isn’t a linear process. You can always stop writing and plan out a little more or update your research as you go. More often than not, you’ll find that you need to stop and do that anyway as the story evolves.

 

Here’s how I got started with developing my current novel, Blood Union.

 

  1. I did a free write about my ideas for the series of this novel is part of. (Check that out here on Google drive.)
  2. I already have a cast of characters, so I decided which characters I wanted to focus on for the first entry in the series. Then I created character profiles for the two MCs. (My first versions of those files are here and here in the Google drive folder.)
  3. I started writing some preliminary scenes with the two main characters. I didn’t know where or if scenes would take place in the novel. They were mostly for me to get a feel for what was going on in the characters lives and reacquaint myself with them and their universe.)

 

That was enough for me to get started, and when I felt like I had enough scene snippets, I started to think about how I would structure a story and what the outline would look like. I’ll be getting into more of that next week, so if you’re interested, you can follow the blog the Facebook group for updates.

If you find Let’s Write a Novel helpful, please leave something in the virtual tip-jar

Let’s Write a Novel #2 — Who Am I and Why Am I Doing This?

Image2I’m writing a new novel and blogging through the whole process so you can learn along with me.

For anybody who just wants to dive right in, you can head over to the Google drive folder and check out some of the planning documents and notes that I’ve uploaded.

Last week’s post explained how the project was going to work and how you can get the most out of it.

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