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Help with novel writing - Page 2

post #21 of 24

WARNING: amateur advice below

John Gardner spent 16-18 hours/day working on his novels and several of them took him years to write. He seemed to be a compulsive re-writer, going over each scene again and again until the perfectly birthed scene was born, each revision bringing him closer to the "true" meaning.

I didn't get the impression that it was an effort for Mr. Gardner to "bulk up" his own novels, they were often rejected for publication because of their bulk!

However, I would like to say that during my own revising process, most scenes (the ones that aren't cut entirely) actually GROW in length because I "see" the details that were there all along ---- so, perhaps, if you work this way too, your re-writes/edits will give your story the bulk it needs. I wouldn't even begin to think about the word count until you are done with your first revision. I am writing by hand and have no idea how many words I have (although I estimate it's currently at 45K).

Another thought --- you might have yourself a beautiful best-selling novella. These things do happen. I wouldn't add details irrelevant to your story.

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

On Becoming a Novelist

I think these are or were in the Public Library Catalog, so many public libraries will have at least one of them.
post #22 of 24
Just wanted to thank everyone on this thread! Just reading through it I learned a lot! I've been writing from page one, and got stuck on ch. 8. Did not even occur to me to flesh out a later scene then come back! Happy writing! :
post #23 of 24
I think it's all just a process. For me, and I"m no expert, the first draft, I told a story, no showing involved! I refined it as I took it from pen and paper to computer, but didn't even know about show vs tell until after a dozen or so publishers rejected it and I asked for some help.

At this point, it's being re-written, yet again, because while I might like the story the way it was, it's got to be more convincing. Suffering has to happen, difficulties overcome. I've made life too easy. So this is the rewrite that, I dearly hope, will turn a mediocre story into something special. Also, I need to go through chanting see-taste-smell-hear-feel.

Things that have helped me:

Having people who write read it for me. Having people who didn't write was useless, though good for my moral. (Your mother and sister are bound to love your work and tell you so. Not so the anonymous writing group you join.)

Reading and studying about writing. I learn soemthing new every time I read someone's advice.

I've stopped worrying about the length of my story. Maybe it's a novella. Maybe it's a short story. I write it and let it become the length it is. Adding a subplot however is an INCREDIBLE idea! I have no idea how to do this! I guess that is what I learned today, that a subplot could make my character more believable, her situation more real. If it isn't a romance, falling in love could be a subplot, right? Or not?

If you can't think of where to start, how to get going, open to any page, read three or four pages and see if you don't start writing, changing things, adding details. Pretty soon, you'll read the part you were stuck on and go right through it.

I'm feeling inspired again!
post #24 of 24
I've got some really great tips here for my own novel! This forum is great - I've not visited it for too long. I have about 100 very rough, mixed up (chronologically) pages and have felt so daunted by it I just haven't looked at it in months. But feeling the urge to get back to my novel now, and it's so encouraging to hear things like just keep writing and do the first draft, I keep thinking it has to make sense and be GOOD the first time! I found Stephen King's memoir - can't remember the name now - inspiring and helpful about writing and novels in particular, and in terms of plotting/structure, a book called 'The Weekend Novelist' gave me a lot of ideas, one of which is creating index cards for each scene, so that you don't get too 'lost'.
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