This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
By Anna Bell
I’ve just finished the first draft of the eighth book I’ve completed. It has been the toughest one I’ve had to write – mainly because of the very lovely little Baby Bell – but also because it was the tricky third and final part of a series. Yet, in other ways, it was easy to write because I know my writing pattern so well now.
Initially, I wrote my first book (now languishing away in an old filing cabinet) and then struggled to write a second book. I think I started three or four more novels before finally starting and finishing one. There was nothing wrong with any of the concepts or plots for those unfinished books, but at the time, I couldn’t get over the tricky 20,000 word hump.
I, of course, hit the 20,000 word hump with this novel. This time, however, I only had very brief time slots to write (in between baby naps or feeds if my husband was babysitting), which meant I had no time to dwell on the dreaded hump. If I was at my computer to write, I was going to write something. The same went for every little doubt that crossed my mind, (including each time my brain told me I was writing the worst novel known to man). Doubts and insecurities were banished. I’m getting better at not listening to those voices and I now know that yes, it truly might be awful, but the editing process will soon polish it up.I now plan my novels before I start in a way that works for me, too. I use the three act structure – planning the basics before I start writing. When I hit each act, I sit down and plan what’s going to happen in that particular section in more detail. This allows me to tailor the plot and adapt it to where the story is taking me. When I get near the end, I bullet point the last six or seven chapters to make sure I really nail the final twists and turns and get all the revelations in the right order.
I’ve also started to get better at working out how much of the book each plot is going to take up. Have you ever started writing before realising you’re going to finish the novel and it’s actually only going to be novella length? That happened to me on this book and, instead of stressing, I went back to my plan and looked at how to weave an extra plot into the story. Usually, I would have panicked, but with a little head-scratching and brainstorming, an idea popped into my head, and now it’s probably the best plot in the book – one that really allowed me to show a range of emotions.
I’ve read before that to become a better writer you need to keep writing regularly and I think that is really true. It might be a disappointment when you’ve finished your first novel and nobody reads it, but you will have learned so much from writing it, you can be sure the next book your produce will be even better. You’ll find each book gets easier to write, too. Or at least you’ll get a better understanding of how you write a novel.
Do you have the same pattern while writing a book? How long did it take to learn what processes work best for you as a writer?