Thursday, April 09, 2009

Novel Writing Day #1

Today I started writing my novel. Well, not writing exactly but working on it. Most people tend to agree that novelists are divided into two types.

1. The kind who wing it, writing by the seat of their pants and hoping it will turn out ok. Those who follow this method feels it frees their creativity and any structure problems or inconsistencies can be fixed in the second, third and subsequent drafts.

2. The second type of novelist plans everything in great detail before starting to write their book. Every character, setting, plot point and scene is meticulously researched, planned and graphed. They find that by putting the ground work in before they start writing it makes the experience more enjoyable, the quality better and the number of rewrites fewer.

I have used both methods and found pros and cons for each. Writing with the sketchiest of ideas can be great fun. There is the thrill of making it up as you go along, of discovering characters and plot twists that you could never have foreseen and every day brings new discoveries. However, this is only when things are going well. It is very easy to write yourself into a corner and even when you finish on a high note, you can end up endlessly rewriting it to make it into something interesting.

I would naturally be the more prepared kind of author. I like to write out pages of plot outline, character profiles and sketches, genealogies, maps, graphs, chapter breakdowns and calendars detailing how much work should be done each day. This usually works quite well but writing the novel can become tedious and, if you haven't written your outline properly, it can become too restrictive.

I have recently discovered that my pre-novel preparation may not be helping me as much as I thought. Yes, I write pages of plot but it is actually mostly background rather than action. And those character profiles, complete with drawings and family trees? Well, they tell me a lot about where the characters come from but not that much about why they do the things they do.

I thought I would start this novel out on the write foot (heehee) and try not one but two different novel preparation techniques. Today I went with the snowflake method, more especially the snowflake method as outlined by Randy Ingermanson. This way you start with describing your novel in a sentence, than a paragraph and expand up from there. Tomorrow I will use the synopsis method as work shopped by Kathy Carmichael.

It'll be interesting to see if these methods help me produce a novel that is snapped up by a publisher in no time.

In case you are wondering, I've decided to go with the fantasy. Working title: Gift. Thanks for all the comments. :)


Shadowthorne said...

Make it a double pronged Gift. A good gift, but steeply cursed by great evil.

Make use of the characters moral dilemma and confusions when they know about that gift.

One of the reasons why people are so hooked with reality tv program is; they play with people emotions; grief, anger, greed etc.

I am a winger too. Give me a theme or title, and I can create worlds of it. :)

Anonymous said...

Anything really good takes a lot of hard work and planning and I think making plans etc is really good as it fleshes out the characters in the authors mind even if the reader only catches a glimpse. Also consistancey gives depth to any book.
But I can see how planning can tie you up a bit.
The snow flake things sounds interesting.
Gook Luck

DNOTY2007 said...

I like the Snowflake method, although I am more inclined to start writing on a slim thread of an idea (and so run out of stem after 5 or 6 chapters).

I think I'll give the planned approach a go!

Inkpot said...

Oh Shadowthorne, it is like you read my mind. There is plenty of moral dilemma, anger, greed, character flaws, sex, drugs, rock and roll (ok, not so much the last three) and hopefully excitement.

Thanks Anon. It will be interesting to see if the snowflake method helps when it comes to writing the book.

I think you should try DNOTY2007/2008