Confessions of a budding novelist, or after nanowrimo

After 180 pages with no plan other than a basic plot outline, I have decided that I have written a culture, a bunch of characters that I adore (far too many) and I know which passages are in the flow.  My world is visual, alive, vibrant, and I just love lots of it.  If  I am pleased than hopefully my reader will be too.

I don’t know what I am doing, just that I am being written by my novel.   I began knowing I wanted it to be fantasy.  I had a whole year or so working with the many writing prompts in Soul Food, and I have learnt the discipline of daily writing.  I certainly don’t suffer from writer’s block, but I do need to work on my PLOTTING.

Now comes focus, and finding a way to work my way through that first novel.  I have decided that one way to encourage my journey to the finish of this project is to read.  Yes, stop writing occassionally and read any book in the genre that I love, and look at what keeps me reading, knowing where the characters are, and how fluent the writing I love actually is.

I am tempted to shelve the whole of my first novel, throw it in a drawer, and begin again, or press onto the end, and see what happens.  Then I will know where to go.  Alternatively I have written out all the strands of the novel and tried to think which threads do I need for book 1.  Yes, I have come to the realisation I have planned a series, a world, and a series of character that could keep me going for years, if I can just master this first novel, and have my novel behave itself enough for the reader to be hooked in.

I really don’t know if I could show it to a mentor writer without cringing, it needs more work than that – I do have a close friend reading it, egging me on, letting me know which bits are working for her.  I am being pushed around by my creation.  Characters keep saying -‘ no me I am your central character’.  It’s time to take them in hand and say, ‘No you are the next novel – honest I’ll get to you’, it is time to make some tough decisions.

I do know that I do have a vivid and varied imagination.  Now it’s time to apply the magic and just make the novel work.  So enough of the procrastination, time to make every moment count and maybe come at it like a puzzle.  The months after nanowrimo have been truly tough as the editorial haze nit picking kicked in and I just started to wonder where my story was going.  Now that haze is lifting and I am reading to do a more realistic outline and work with it to make it what it needs to be.
Sometimes to help me create the novel I let the characters speak on their behalf.   This is one of the potential candidates for the lead role.  She is still significantly like this, only she has an aunty, lost parents, a quest, and she is already at circus school.  I do like to remember where she came from and her auditions for the role though.

Image: From my Writer's Scrapbook

© June Perkins, all rights reserved.

9 thoughts on “Confessions of a budding novelist, or after nanowrimo

  1. Thanks Fran I am really trying to pick myself up and keep going until I get back into the flow… taking a few days to do some plotting work and then continue.


  2. The way you dissect the writing process is interesting. Like you I’m plugging away at mine – just over half way now. It’s interesting that you like it when the characters take over – I don’t really like when mine do – my main female character is a teenager and keeps going all emo on me!

    Interesting to read your thoughts – I agree stopping sometimes and pulling back is essential. I’ve just realised emo girl is emoting too much and spoiling what I hope is a good story.

    Good luck with your story – I hope you post more about the process.


  3. I find that in my novels, I invent the characters then allow them to tell me what to write. It works, for me anyway. And I find that when I am writing, I am living two lives, my own and that of my characters. I am in two worlds so-to-speak.



  4. Thanks for writing this piece June. It really is the most fascinating thing in the world to get to sit and listen to an author tell it like it is. What strikes me is how similar writing is to say, living a life. Sometimes we are so involved we can’t see the proverbial wood for the trees. Then other days we pull right way, look at it all through a wider focus lens and try to locate the meaning of it all.
    I hope you keep sharing your writing process with us.


  5. So true Edith, we all need to reflect on our actions and writing to find a sense of where we are going, it does help with the process of living the life we want, and writing the way we feel we are born to. I think much of the process of writing is about the delicate balance of being in the flow, and directing our boat in the river so we reach the outcome destination we wish for.


  6. Vi and Suzanne, thanks also for your comments, it really helps to be in touch with other writers – and especially those who went through the nanowrimo challenge last year – I am learning another challenge is to maintain focus and not find lots of other writing projects to distract me. I do agree that sometimes characters can be incredibly pesky!!! I have seen some brilliant self reflexive tv shows where fictional characters come alive, I’ll have to try and remember the shows more carefully -one was a detective show, where a crime writer, who turned out to be the criminal had a character she had written following her around all episode as her alter ego, ie she spoke aloud to that character about what she should do to cover her tracks, wish I could remember the title.


  7. Have you considered that your preferred genre may not be novel writing? I am not saying not to write one but what I am saying is that it is not a prerequisite to being able to name oneself writer. Your rich blogs are proof that your other work captures readers imaginations.


  8. Yes, this is true Heather, I think I like writing almost anything, I remember a poet sending me the most beautiful description of furniture advertising his sister had cut out, and saying hmm and we think we write poetry. I don’t stop blogging as such whilst I work on the novel, and love to write with images when I blog. Today I wrote an essay about digital photography and before I knew it it was to my word limit. Hmm a few posts in that I thought.

    Met the most interesting writer who has integrated a website and novel together and the two work together and feed off each other, I will be posting a bit more on his work when I get the chance, it was such an innovative approach, he had short films of settings in the novel and everything wow, lots of food for thought, a lot of books actually that my kids read have on site components like this and this is just so exciting, I can imagine doing something like that with the novel story I am working on. I will however continue to do both, I can’t imagine giving up blogging (:


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