So, yesterday I took my first steps to trying to complete a novel. Regular readers of the blog will note that I’ve tried before (without much success) to try to write a novel, but this time I’m using my university’s Writing Center to help. I’ve worked in the Writing Center myself all last year and I have a friend and colleague who is working there now who has agreed to a “Writing Partnership” with me–a fancy term for a standing appointment to talk about writing over the course of the semester. Generally, they are used for long term projects (thesis, dissertations, etc.), but they can also be used for just improving one’s writing in general. We talked about what I wanted to do ultimately (short-stories or novels) and we decided that writing a novel would be a good way to “grow” as a writer. Then we discussed the idea I had for a novel and what the next steps should be going forward.
So, my homework is to complete at least one character sketch–the main character/protagonist–and have it ready by the next meeting. We talked about who the main character is (Skye–which longtime readers will remember from earlier blog posts) and what is her personality like. If possible, I’d like to write a character sketch for her father as that is her major familial relationship in the book, but based on school work and obligations, there may not be enough time for that. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the importance of characters and how they should act appropriately–something that I don’t think that I always do well because of my interest in the plot. Hopefully, I can really nail Skye’s personality and be able to create a convincing character arc for her.
I also need to produce a plot outline for the next meeting. Again, one mandatory, but two if possible. I have “story map” that I use that is a 1 page “synopsis” of the characters, setting, plot, climax, and resolution. However, I’d like to also provide a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the story as that is where I always seem to break down when writing the novel, but I may find that that might be better suited to do after we talk about the character sketch/synopsis of the novel. In any case, I do intend to do what Brandon Sanderson noted about how he writes novels on his podcast, Writing Excuses, where he notes that he writes down big tentpole scenes as he’s generating ideas for his novel. I think that the tentpole scenes, in addition to the synopsis, would be helpful to do before trying to tackle the larger, chapter-by-chapter breakdown.
November is National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve never really tried to do anything for the month because I always had school (or a ton of things to do in the month of November), but as I’m in the midst of trying to write a novel and as the Writing Center will be holding a “Write In” on November 17, I guess I’ll give it a try. I don’t know what the outcome of all this will be, but I’ll blog about the process here to hopefully inspire other writers (aspiring or practicing) and maybe provide, tangible techniques and tricks to my fellow writers out there as well.
Wish me luck! 🙂