by Jacob Airey, January 11, 2021
When it comes to finishing a novel, the road ahead can seem daunting.
Here are a few tips to help ease your writing experience.
1 - Read.
This might sound basic, but writers need to read. It's not about copying, but about researching the pros who have gone before us. An athlete studies his predecessors to learn his sport.
It is the same for novelists. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle read Edgar Allen Poe before he wrote Sherlock Holmes.
Do not just stick to one genre, try to get as many as you can. It teaches you techniques and broadens your horizons.
2 - Study Craft Books.
Read advice from authors who have been there and understand the endeavor you are engaging in. They can help with the finer points, drafting, editing, style, substance, and everything in between.
You get craft books online or at a book store. Stephen King's On Writing, C.S. Johnson's Good Writing Is Like Good Sex, and Brandilyn Collins' Getting Into Character are great ones for writing advice.
3 - Start With The Protagonist.
A lot of writers make the mistake of starting with the setting.
Sure, pick the genre, but when it comes to the story let your protagonist guide you. Is it a woman or a man? What is their ethnicity? If it is science fiction or fantasy are they even human? Victim or Rescuer? Hero or Villain? Are they shy and reserved or Bold and outspoken? Short or tall?
Whatever the case may be, let your protagonist draw you into the tale.
4 - Make A Plot Outline.
When I was younger, I was arrogant and thought I could keep it all in my head. Not so.
Outline your first draft and make edits to it as you write the story. This gives you something to refer to if you feel lost.
It provides much-needed structure for the process that you cannot get from anywhere else.
5 - Edit. Edit. Edit.
Did I mention edit? Constantly check for errors, plot-holes, or inconsistencies that could derail the story. If you spot a word or sentence that looks out of sorts, the reader will.
Editing can be tedious, but it will provide excellence for you as the author and your readers.
6 - Do Some Cutting.
You might write something you are proud of. You might think it is brilliant.
Tolstoy could not do better, but... it might not fit into the story. It may not be a scene. It could be a character, a subplot, a romance, or even just a sentence. Cut it. It hurts. Yes, it hurts a lot.
At the final draft and you will realize that it was worth it when you hold that final draft.
7 - Fight Writers Block.
Hit a wall? Do not worry. It happens to everyone.
You might have to walk away from that story. It is okay, but do not stop writing. Keep exercising your mind through bad poetry, short stories, observations, comedy bits, or journal. That is the best way to fight writer's block.
Through these writings, you might find what you need to move forward.
8 - Don't Take Advice From The Unpublished.
This might sound harsh, but it is true. You will find that “aspiring novelists” will come out of the woodwork to give you advice on how to get published.
If they have not done it or even made the effort, take what they say with a grain of salt.
9 - Make a playlist.
This is not true of everyone. Some folks write in silence. However, I find that when I have some of my favorite music on, it helps the creativity flow.
Personally, I like rock or pop, but you may like classical, Jazz, or indie.
Whatever it is, make sure it helps and does not distract.