Let’s be honest with ourselves, unless you are a full-time writer, English teacher, Professor, Student, or otherwise “paid-to-write,” you probably don’t have the time to write a novel in one month. Even if you are one of the above mentioned individuals, your time is still limited and your writing is usually limited to your area of expertise or skill in research. Let’s approach National Novel Writing Month for regular folk, people like you and me. I’m a librarian and I don’t even have time to write that much. We’ve all heard again and again that we need to write every day, and while that’s true, and I agree with that statement, it is easier said than done. You should exercise daily too and how many of us find an excuse every now and then to bow out? My point is, that if you expect yourself to do something like dieting, exercising, and even writing every day, you’re going to set yourself up for failure. Strive for that goal, for sure! Just understand that realistically it might not happen every day. Don’t let that discourage you. If the hype and internet fervor of NaNoWriMo gets you fired up to write your novel, GO FOR IT! It did for me. One of my recent posts was about my latest idea. I’m still researching and fleshing out details, but at least I’m working on it.
January’s issue of Writer’s Digest has “Write Your Novel in 2016!” plastered on its cover and that was a great motivator to me. There are several articles in it about basic novel writing that many people overlook. I recommend you read the whole issue but I will summarize the most important parts that I got from it.
- Dialogue- BE REALISTIC! Haven’t we all read the scenes in books where the words are mostly in the form of unrealistic or forced dialogue? After I write a scene with a lot of conversation, I immediately read it through, out loud, until I am satisfied with it. If I read it and get confused, or have to read something several times, I start over. Dialogue should be fluid and should read like an actual conversation. The author of the WD article says that dialogue does not have to stay on topic nor does it have to be short or concise, and it certainly doesn’t have to be grammatically correct. You want your readers to feel like they are actually a part of the conversation. Read it after you write it, and maybe even have a friend read it out loud and give you sound feedback.
- Arc and Pace- According to Elizabeth Sims who wrote the WD article titled “Power Tools,” story arc and pace are the two most important tools a writer can use. Every writer should shape their story to a readable plot while also having events occur in a timely matter. Don’t rush through your story, but don’t neglect to add some fast paced scenes to keep your readers interested.
- A to Z of Good Writing- This article is just plain helpful and I encourage you to look it up. Covering topics ranging from A is for Artistic Vision to R is for Revise etc., this article touches on several aspects of writing that many over us can easily overlook. Pick up a copy of the January issue of Writer’s Digest and see how motivated it can make you!
There is also a great post on Kristen Lamb’s blog written by Marcy Kennedy about POV (point of view) and the general dos and don’ts of writing really captivating and believable stories from different characters’ points of view. That blog post can be found here.
I guess my point in this blog post is this: don’t get discouraged. Writing takes time. While having a month to focus on writing a novel is a “novel” idea (pun intended), it can be stressful to have expectations that may be too high. I am (more or less) writing this post to convince myself that it’s ok if I don’t write a whole novel this month. But the WD article definitely inspired me to get my butt moving for 2016. So I encourage each and every one of you to do the same thing. Write. Constantly write. Don’t set unrealistic goals because when you don’t reach them, you just become discouraged. Be proud of what you do accomplish and use those accomplishments to build upon your next task as a writer.