Tag Archives: novel

Writing outside the outline

I planned my novel. I planned for a month, writing notes, character sketches, plotting the novel chapter by chapter and now I’ve found myself writing a whole chapter that I didn’t plan. Ok so, there was a secondary character, a friend of the protagonist, who I had previously sketched out to include in the novel. I didn’t know when she would appear, then I didn’t know if I would need her at all and now I’ve written a scene starting her and the protagonist.I know this secondary character is needed, but I feel a little uneasy that she took up a chapter…well 4 pages when I wasn’t expecting it or hadn’t planned her at this point. But I’m happy that she has made her entrance because she will come in handy later.

I’m still plugging away slowly at writing out the plot. I know that what I’ve written so far isn’t very deep. Its the surface level, the first draft of a plot. I will have a lot of work ahead of me for the next round of re-writing. Maybe I should hit the pause button and really think about how I can write more in depth with the protagonist and her conflict. I should print off a big sign that says “CONFLICT” and “ANTAGONIST” and “SETTING” as reminders to keep these things present in the story because for the moment they are quite scarce.

Progress so far:

  • 70 pages written (hoping to make up for my missed target last week)
  • wrote and unplanned chapter 8 and made some notes of scenes to write in chapter 9

I can’t think of any “Novel Writing Tip of the Day” because I haven’t thought of anything useful lately. I am feeling particularly novice in this whole novel writing business and I should start looking for a writers support group or something to keep my motivation up.

Cheers to all those writers who have finished their first draft!

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He said, She said

I took too many days off writing. I think I can definitely count 4 days where I did not add one word to my novel. This is bad. I didn’t even blog. The only thing I did was some research, which I don’t know if it can really count towards my novel.

But today, I sat down after dinner and I wrote until the sun went down. I finally introduced the hero! I’ve had the heroine going along the path to meet the hero. I struggled to wait until the right moment and it has finally come.

What I noticed today in my writing, is that its hard for me to describe the actions or body language of my characters. I can see them doing the motions, but I cant write them down. Its come out something like this “she placed her right hand next to the phone on her desk and picked up the receiver swiftly with her left hand”.

I don’t remember reading another author note which hand the character is using and exactly where it is going. I don’t think I even notice the body language descriptions because they are so well written that they are just part of the story. But when I write these descriptions, it sounds like painstaking detail with no life.

In addition to this description problem, I’m writing “he said” and “she said” a lot lately. I’ve been keeping my eye on this because I know this can be a trap. Either you write “he/she said” too much where it becomes distracting or you use too make verbs: “He barked/yelled/stammered…” you know what I mean. Or what might be worse “he asked” and “she replied.” My previous research showed that its better to use “he said/she said” instead of using other verbs because the body language should to the telling rather than the verbs. This is great, but these descriptions aren’t going so well for me at the moment.

I need to work on my supporting action for the dialogue. The body language and “she/he said” stuff doesn’t flow well.

Progress so far:

  • 65 pages
  • still working on chapter 7
  • hero has made his entrance

Novel writing tip of the day:

  • Keep your discipline!!!

This isn’t a new one. All professional writers say that you must write everyday and they generally agree that you need to make a certain time everyday to write. This wasn’t working for me so I created my own rule “write 10 pages per week”. I don’t yet know if I will make this goal by next monday, but I wrote 4 pages today which I hope makes up for the 4 days I took off. I feel guilty. So I need to be more disciplined! I need to be my own Drill Sargent and get myself and my characters into written action.

I will write 10 pages this week and the weeks thereafter!

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Plot, plot, plot

I was on a role. I had preplanned a few chapters in advance. As I started writing today, I realized that having one or two events planned per chapter isn’t enough to go off. Its hard to keep the plot going. How do you fill all the space between the scenes with engaging narrative? I need to entertain the reader while they read what’s going on in between the dialogue.

I guess the main problem comes down to the plot and character development. My characters have specific jobs and a good portion of the story takes place in an office. How exciting is that? Not. So what can the characters do that is interesting besides talk to each other? Reading about someone working is not entertaining, unless they are a sexy fashion editor, PR person or some other glamours job. And even then the writer has to be super creative in making the plot progress. I find myself writing similar things in each chapter because going to work is somewhat routine.

How do author’s write an interesting and entertaining story from beginning to end? There are a bunch of entertaining scenes, but how does the author move from one scene to the next while still keeping the readers attention?

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Milestone #1: 50 pages written

I did it! I wrote 50 pages. I’m now on chapter 6. The progress is moving forward. Not as fast as it could be going but, writing quickly isn’t the point. At the beginning of chapter 6, I found that I also want to jump a few weeks in time. For the moment I have noted 2 weeks of time, but I might increase it because 2 weeks seems to short to justify jumping over it.

One thing I will really have to work on when going over draft 1 will be the timeline. I want the book to take place over one full year, but I can’t possibly write every day of the protagonists’ life. So I have to figure out a systematic way to play with time.

Have you written a story or a novel that required an “unwritten” time lapse? If yes, how did you do it? It you write “two weeks later”? Any suggestions are very welcome.

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Jumping through Chapter 2

So I went back and re-read Chapter 2. I had an very scarce outline for Chapter 2. What I did know was that I had to cover a time gap of 3-4 weeks. What I didn’t know was how to do this smoothly. So what ended up happening was that I kept jumping back and forth between time and between characters. I didn’t know what to write because there was so much to write. I went back through what I had already written and I started writing in more scenes and narrative in the middle of two chunks of plot. I created some hurtles for myself throughout the chapter.

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I have tried to organize the events in some way, but its still not perfect. Although, I did write some more dialogue which I’m happy about. For some reason I feel like the dialogue is what I’m always leading up to or waiting for it to “come to me.” Chapter 2 has been improved a bit, but it will definitely need more work in the future when I come back to it later. Now that I have filled in some gaps, I ‘m trying to move forward from the bottom rather than filling in bits from the middle of the chapter. But I keep finding myself jumping back somewhere to try to find somewhere to take off from at the bottom.

Its days like this where I feel like there is a whole novel to be written. Other days, I just can’t get anything useful down. So I am glad that I can take a day off and come back stronger. Its a good thing I would say.

Progress so far:

  • 24 pages in
  • Chapter 2 is taking form

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