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2 Tips For Writing A Novel
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2 Tips for Writing A Novel

I've been writing for eight years now, if I remember correctly. Started off in 9th grade jotting down storylines for video games I intended to make someday in my class notebooks, moved on to fleshing out full-length manuscripts with all ten fingers skating across the board somewhere around freshman year of college. Throughout this time, I must have started about two dozen brilliant novels.

I've never finished one.

Well, actually, I have completed a novel, though it's only fourteen chapters long. I got it published too--but as a serial, not as a novel. So much for the tradition route, eh?

In any case, what matters is how I completed this bad boy. I did two things very differently this time around, and I have to say, they're worth talking about. These are my two tips for writing a novel.

Tip #1: Look at the novel as a production.

Writing a novel is not something you just sit down and do. What's wrong with you? Do you just sit down and shovel frozen leftovers into your mouth?

No, there's a process to the craft, just as there's a process to the business. Producers know this process, and while I may not be an actual such, it's when I decided to start acting like one that the process of writing novels came to me.

Before, I sat down and wrote. Now, I sit down and think, then I write.

See, production happens in three stages. First is pre-production, where things are brainstormed, drafted, outlined, and finalized. This determines the budget, the cast, the story--the materials--for whatever media is about to be produced. Why should writing a novel be any different? Brainstorm, draft, outline, and finalize your work before starting. Then, switch from producer to director mode and direct yourself according to that script. This is the production stage. After that is post-production, where the work is edited and enhanced.

This brings me to my next tip for novel writing.

Tip #2: Know the difference between writing and editing.

Dear God, I was such a perfectionist prick back then. I would delete three sentences for every two that I wrote. Writer's block came again and again and again, like some irksome mosquito sucking on my incompetence, and I kept going back for more.

At some point I realized what I was doing wrong: I wasn't trying to learn how to write better, I was trying to learn how to edit better instead. There's a big difference there.

When you're writing, you're talking to your audience, showing them the story, relaying plot points and dialogue and doing all the things that you were inspired to do. But when you're editing, you're talking to the writer, pointing out his stylistic flaws, fixing plot holes, and doing all the things that will inevitably run your inspiration dry--and leave your story all the worse for it.

Stop it. Just stop it.

Follow King's Law like it brought you gravity; close the door and shorten your audience to none. The first time your metaphorical pen hits the metaphorical page, it should be flying. The delete key should collect dust. After three days, you should have almost no idea what in the hell you've just written, and feel glorious about it. When you've finished your novel, you should look it over and cringe both in disgust and admiration, because the writing should be a beast, and the story should be beautiful.

I tried to come up with three tips for writing novels, but there's really nothing else to it. Treat your work as a production, and treat yourself as a writer. That's all it takes to write any novel to completion.

Of course, writing the story is a different matter. You'll need a new list of advice for that one.


Street Talk

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firstburn  

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