Here are some of the issues, I had to resolve before I started, there are a few, and I only plan to touch on them here and hope to flesh them out as the blog grows.
The conventional wisdom in novel writing is quoted speech in first person, and the narrative voice in third person. We see speech patterns changing in the wild. ‘So I go to her and say.’ to describe a past event rather than ‘I went to her and said.’ After the initial shock, I have even enjoyed novels written in the present tense.
The narrative voice: Narrative voice (POV – Point of View) is the description of events other that direct quotes. The most popular narrative voice is Third Person Omniscient. This POV lets you act like god who knows everything. You can expand the story in ways that other POV’s do not allow. It lets you move freely through time and space, and is an efficient way of adding information even from multiple sources.
How many words?
For a new author the range is 75,000 – 90,000 words.
How many chapters?
Now we are really breaking it down, follow this plan and your writing goals are almost written. I decided 25 chapters at 3000 words would give me 75,000 words.
So for me the goal was one chapter or 3000 words per week. If you see me posting to this blog, it is because I have finished my 3000 word, chapter for the week.
I found that with the 3000 word target, the chapters ranged from 3100 to 3800 words giving me a 90,000 word novel, maybe I’ll have tighter control on the next book, but some of the characters were irrepressible.
I can write 3000 words in about 10 hours, with maybe 5 hours of research. So a book would take (10+5) x 25 = 375 hours or 47 x 8 hour days. You can see that you need drive in your goals to achieve this outcome.
Pantser or Plotter?
Pantser – Someone who writes from the seat of their pants, if you believe the press they let their characters write the book and theoretically are as surprised as their readers at the outcome.
Plotters – Someone who outlines each chapter and the interactions within the chapter. No surprises here the characters do as they are told.
Reality (for me)
I don’t believe either of the above is possible in practice. I know on a macro level, before writing, I plot points which need to be covered but not necessarily how I will cover them. I plan the outcome of each chapter ensuring it fits the overall master plan but even at this macro level I am still surprised that the characters sometimes rebel. So the only way to deal with rebellious characters is to re-write the macro to fit their shenanigans. More on planning to come.
We have heard from great writers who say that the book writes itself, well with great respect it doesn’t unless you are sitting in front of the computer hitting the keys. I did find that the characters developed a voice. (I suspect that my novel is not a great literary work so maybe you should ignore these points) For me if the characters wanted to go somewhere else I let them, for those of you who read ‘Pea Pod Murder’ I was up to about chapter 15 when Wesley, Donny’s friend turned into Von his female cousin. I am glad she insisted on the sex change I think the book is better because of it. I guess you could claim that it is all metaphysical bullshit, and maybe you are right, let me know what happens to you?
If I had a good chapter 10, I would write it, even though I hadn’t written chapter 2. There is great joy in getting a chapter written irrespective of where it lays in the chronology this is in part because I doubted my ability to create the fantastic chapter 10 after chapter 9.
The problem is that you need a good memory as you can be sure that when you get to your great chapter 10 (which probably ends up as chapter 12) your characters have walked and it will need serious review. I think that’s better than being orderly and missing out on your great writing.
Maintaining your Goal
I have religiously written a chapter a week for over a year. But over the last month, my focus has slipped to self-publishing ‘Pea Pod Murder’ and building this website. I have not written for over four weeks. I decided that I should try and maintain my writing but after that delay, I am finding it difficult to re-start. When these distractions are over I will get back into it.
This experience is very valuable as it demonstrates the value of momentum. For me, writing has only become hard when I left the plan.