Monday, April 15, 2013

YOUR FIRST NOVEL By Rita Karnopp

Your first novel.

I would venture to say that every author remembers their first book.  Some had that first book published – others, like myself, never did.  It was my learning curve and starting-point.  I could drag that old ‘typewriter-written’ novel, dust it off and rewrite . . . but I’m too excited about all the new ideas I have! After the horrid first critique I received on it – well, I had no inspiration to ever pick it up again.  Funny, as I’m writing this, I get a flashback of not more than three months ago a gal from my old writer’s group asked about that book.  She still remembered parts of it (that I have long forgotten) and wondered if I ever rewrote and published it.  Hmmm…. Perhaps I should take a look at it after all.

If only I knew then – what I know now.  That is the ‘krux’ of my writing this article. 
Here are some techniques that will help you go from aspiring to published novelist.

Before we get started – Ask yourself how many times you’ve heard someone say, “Someday I’m going to write a book.”  Yep, I’ll bet more than you care to admit.  I hear it all the time.  The reason I mention it is because there are those who write – and those who think about writing, but never do.  Unfortunately, it’s those who don’t that become the hardest and even somewhat cruel critics.  If you aspire to write – be the writer.
Writing takes time and dedication – First step to being a writer is setting goals and deadlines.  Get yourself a calendar and start scheduling your life.  Writing takes a lot of time and dedication and it won’t happen without self-discipline.  Scheduling your time is the only way to ‘make’ time to write.  By setting goals you’ll have a course of action that will lead to success. 
Sit your butt down in the chair – The key to typing ‘the end’ starts at the beginning.  Dedicate one, two, or more hours at the same time every night (day, morning, whatever fits your schedule) and stick to it.  You won’t type the same number of pages every-day, but you will write.  Eventually paragraphs add up to pages, chapters, and a finished novel.
Find your own path – There is no ‘one-way’ to write a novel.  We all find what works for us, some of this and some of that!  I’m not talking about the basics of plot, characterization, and timing.  Some writers create flashcard plotting systems (I tried that once – it was a great way to feel pacing . . . after the work it took – I never used it again … but it was a great experience.)  Some writers use a skeleton outline, other detailed outlines.  I use a story board and create a visual aid to keep me on track – or inspire me.  Let your characters guide you . . . they know what they want to happen.
Edit – edit – edit – Nothing reeks more of a novice writer than twelve words where one would do.  It’s painful to cut –cut-cut – but if you want a polished story, that’s what it takes.  Your book will be better for it.  If you can’t do the cutting, ask a reader-friend to go through it with a ‘red pen.’  She/he will have no scruples about pointing out places that need cutting.
Celebrate success - When you type ‘the end’ at the bottom of your manuscript – jump up-and-down, shout out ‘alleluia,’ cry, laugh, uncork a bottle of champagne (I prefer a good chardonnay).   You are no longer one of those people who say, “Someday I’m going to write a book.”  You are a writer!

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