My first novel is at the the final polishing stage. It has been one hell of a journey.
& I was thinking if I was starting out now, what would be the most useful information that I would need as a low-income wannabe novelist. So here are my seven tips for writing a novel.
Keep the rhythm going – treat it like an engine that needs starting everyday or it will seize up. I try and work on the novel most days even if it is only twenty minutes. I might have a few months break where I’m working on another writing project but I do this with the realization – it will take a few weeks to familiarizing myself with the plot. Remember starting school again after the long summer break? Yep!
Enjoy writing the first draft- that’s the fun part. Keep a daily diary – recording your progress, any potential problems, and where you are heading next.
Familiarize yourself with plot structures, learn how stories work. Even if you are an anarchist and you think you’d rather not plot your own novel – knowing the basic rules of structure is the difference between a rock and a hard place. Trust me.
Be wary of writing advice from successful famous writers as enjoyable as it is to read. If you want to write on yellow legal paper, in moleskin journals etc- fine but don’t think it will be a recipe for success.
Journal of a Novel; the East of Eden Letters – John Steinbeck
Read widely across genres – take note of the craft, the sentence structure, the plot, the characterization, the setting, the dialogue. If you watch a lot of television – do the same.
Apply for writing opportunities – such as the W&A Working-Class Writer’ Prize (free to enter) – send your work out to magazines (there are magazines to suit about every type of writing) . This is an important aspect of writing life that nobody tells you about. If your short story is published in a magazine or is placed in a competition it is validation of your work. The good news is that there are sponsored entries available for some short story competitions. Follow writing contests on twitter as you need to apply as soon as they are announced. Usually released on a first come, first served basis.
Apply to do a writing course – online or in the community. The virtual world has its limitations so I recommend connecting with real writers in the real world. This might be free at your local library/community centre or you might be feeling adventurous and try a residential with Arvon. There are grants available for low-income writers but you need to apply early.
General Recommended Reading
The Writer’s Journey – Christopher Vogler
Rewriting – A Creative Approach to Writing Fiction – David Michael Kaplan