It’s amazing how many writers you talk to who admit that they have at least one unfinished novel in their drawer. I currently have three, but I’m well on the way to finishing them after being forced into an arts festival project which called for a novel to be written in a day.
This is how it came about. Knowing that most novel writers never get beyond chapter three before their initial burst of creative enthusiasm fizzles out like a damp match I hit upon the idea of organizing a novelettathon which involved writing a novel in a day. This formed part of the literary events at my local arts festival who were delighted with the idea as they realized that this would be something the press would get excited about and which would generate some free publicity.Although the arts festival committee were thrilled, my local writers’ club were not! They actually thought I’d gone mad to attempt such a thing and so did I at times, but once the notion took root, I was oblivious to any problems!
It was only when the excitement died down and I was faced with turning the project into a practical reality did the sheer magnitude of what I’d started, hit me!
Necessity is the mother of invention so they say and I did get this scheme off the ground and very successful it turned out to be as well.
To write a novel in a day involved two key elements.
First a team of writers.
We had 14 including myself, each of us writing one or more chapters. These were all done during the Novelettathon day and edited by me at a later date. Here’s the team after our hard day’s work!
We called the book …The Killing Tree, a cozy who-dunnit with a supernatural twist and a good dash of humour. It was published through Lulu and with 14 writers selling we managed to shift a fair few copies amongst our family and friends. Plus the local library holds copies.
You are probably saying, that’s all well and good, but most authors do not want to work in a team or even have the opportunity to do so if they did! Well that’s O.K. because I’m not suggesting that collaboration is the answer to finishing your novel!
What I am saying is I learned a very valuable lesson from that Novelettathon project. Without knowing it, I realised that detailed planning is the key to writing any book and is the one sure way of making you finish it! This is the second element in writing and finishing a novel and when done properly will not only take you to the final stop, but will ensure you have a tight plot and well developed characters.
Now I can just hear the waves of shock horror reverberating around the ether at that little statement! Isn’t it a well known fact that planning destroys creativity … you have to let the characters tell their stories … writing is a stream of consciousness, you can’t plan what you don’t know is going to happen!
Well I beg to differ! If hacking away at a vague, half formed plot works for you then great, but I’m willing to bet that most authors who hold to those convictions rank amongst those stuck at chapter three! As for those that do limp along to the end, their plots are likely to have more holes than a tramp’s sock and their characters stiff as motorway bridge pillars!
In my opinion, creativity is like a fire, let it burn as it will and it destroys, control and harness its force and you have a very powerful tool of heat and passion which will unlock the undreamed realms of uncharted imagination!
I discovered the huge advantages of planning through necessity which is why most aspiring authors don’t do it and consequently suffer burn out. This is understandable really as most of us do not have deadlines for our books, no-one really cares whether we write them, we may even face hostility from our families who can’t see the point of it, so we just muddle along hoping that one day we will actually hit the keyboard or get past the chapter three block!
It doesn’t have to be like this! Planning, plotting and crafting characters are the essential ingredients of a good book. Taking time out to define these will pay huge dividends when it comes to the actual writing as I and the other writers found out when we wrote the Killing Tree.
I also use the exact same methods during my freelance writing career when I was often writing to very tight deadlines. It was the only way to knock out a detailed, last minute article without burning too much mid-night oil!
Good planning, plot and character creating isn’t rocket science. There are all kinds of tips and tricks you can use to get a unique angle or speed the process up. A good browse around the web will give you ideas, but if you want to know more about the methods I used to write the Killing Tree in just one day I’ve detailed them in a short Kindle eBook available on Amazon or direct from me. All the details are here:
HOW TO WRITE YOUR NOVEL AND FINISH IT!
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We've had some windy old weather lately so thought this poem might be worth an ... er airing!
Always the wind, mad and bad
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Boggart clawed curled to whip
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