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Part three in "Writing and Publishing  Novel" is all about how to actually write your book. 

When last we left off, you had a killer idea, and you had your character(s) figured out. Now you just have to write it. Easy peasy, right?

I am SO amazed at how many people ask "how" to write a novel. They find out I'm a writer and they look right at me and they say, "How did you write a book?"

I mean, I sat down at the computer and started writing words and they became a story. But that's apparently too obvious. I think they'd be more impressed if I explained a complext system of spreadsheets and color-coded index cards.

I think what they are really asking is this: How do you get started and stay motivated when you know you have 200+ more pages to write?

I'm not gonna lie. It helps that I write quickly. If it took me a year+ to write a novel, maybe my tips would be different. Instead it takes me 8-12 weeks for a rough draft.

In the beginning, I'm in love, toatlly enamored by this fabulous idea, and the first 10,000-15,000 words pour out. But then it turns into a grind, and I push myself through to the middle.

But then I get to the middle and the enthusiasm wanes, and I can spend a few days opening the word document but not writing. Instead i play on twitter and refresh my email.

Maybe this is what writer's block is. I don't really understand writer's block. Is it supposed ot mean that you're just totally stuck and can't move forward?

When I feel myself losing interest, I just force through it. Basically, I just choose any scene that sounds interesting-- even if its the climax or the ending--and I start writin git. I can write five or six of those. But watching the word count grow gets the momentum back. Then I start filling in the blanks, teh stuff I skipped.

Usually, in the end, I delete most of those scenes I skipped ahead for. They generally don't fit anymore, sincne i"m not a big plotter and the story changes as I go. But the fact that I got moving again and the story began to flow makes it worth it.


The thing about rough drafts is they are meant to be rough. I can't stress this enough, but You can not fix a blank page. If you have words on it, then you have something to work with. Just write the freakin first draft and stop worrying about how much it sucks. Do you think when someone is making a scuplture-- let's say a bust-- that they start out perfecting the nose before they even have the rest of the head carved out? There is on reason for you to dawdle on one chapter or another.

Just sit down and type. Move your fingers on the keyboard. Fill the white space with words. If you have no idea where you are going, just type nonsense. Bad dialogue, long scenery descriptions, and mechanical day to day motions. Eventually you'll find your story.

So what does BICHOK mean?

BUTT IN CHAIR, HANDS ON KEYBOARD. It's the only way to get the thing written!

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
sbennettwealer
Sep. 18th, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
Amen, sistah! I've been asked a lot lately, by friends and relations who feel like they want to try their hands at writing, too, how to get published. When I tell them they first have to write a good book, they look disappointed. (LOL - Did you think I could just give you my agent's #, you could rattle off some idea you had, and she'd go "YES! I WILL NOW SELL THAT FOR JK ROWLING-STYLE MOOLAH!?!?)

So then, if they still aren't discouraged, they want to know how to write a book. Or most often they couch it like, "How did YOU write your book?"

Um... I sat down and wrote it. Yes, there's a lot more to it than that. Yes, a ton of skill and strategy goes into writing a good book, but it's the kind of thing that can only be done or learned or figured out after you've spent hours on your ass WRITING A BOOK.

And no, I don't have a "muse." I don't get "writer's block" either, because I CAN'T AFFORD TO HAVE THOSE THINGS. When I'm not writing novels, I'm writing other things for my day job and my clients don't care if I'm not feeling inspired that day. And after burning up all my brain cells on my day job, if I really want to write a novel, I can't wait around for the word of the Goddess or for a great idea or for extra energy. That sort of thing comes to people who FIRST PUT IN THE WORK! it's amazing the kind of inspiration and second wind that comes when you force yourself to work past all of the crap that's muddying up your brian. It's like digging for treasure - literally!

OK, Mandy, I didn't mean to vent here. Maybe I'll put this in my own LJ.

But I do want to say that I am totally in awe of your ability to write fast. I was reminded of that again this week when looking at your awesome new book!!!
annastan
Sep. 18th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
I absolutely needed to hear this today. Thanks for the post!
sammyjones57
Sep. 18th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
I was just having a conversation with a girl at work about an hour ago of why I cannot finish a story. So this post seems like it was directly aimed at me, lol And I needed it! I'm sticking with the BICHOK for now on! Thanks Mandy!!
katshakespeare
Sep. 18th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
My biggest problem comes between stories. Like, I just finished writing and revising a manuscript and now I'm turning my focus onto something new, but I just -- can't. It's like the last work drained everything out of me. And this happens every time I finish one thing and move on to another.
spiritworld25
Sep. 19th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
This makes sense, lol. Thankfully I don't have that problem. :) Great advice though.
shellijohannes
Sep. 21st, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
i think you have to push through a first draft. once you get that - it is easier to edit (to me). that's why nanowrimo is so good.
dinner_girl
Sep. 24th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
Heeeyyy. I sent a message through LJ but my comp froze and I dunno if it got through... I was just going to ask if you'd do me the pleasure of interviewing you for Literary Rambles, a blog that's getting a good amount of attention by agents and writers (who read a lot!) and it's YA centric.

The questions would be cute, stuff like this: "There's a rumor going around about a possible SEVENS & SENSIBILITY, in which Callie gets tagged in the head by a home run Mariners' ball and goes back for more. Confirm/deny?" and "How did you find out Abigail Breslin had blurbed P&P in TIME magazine?" We could talk about YOU WISH (or as much as you're allowed to say about it at this point) too, or at least drop the premise paragraphs at the bottom of the interview with the "Look for it in 2010!"

Casey (the blog owner) gets a serious amount of hits, it'd be great exposure!

This comment will self-destruct in 5 seconds
mandyhubbard
Sep. 24th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
hey! Yeah, totally sounds like fun! email the Qs to me at amandayawriter@yahoo.com! :-)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
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