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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

 

A Fictional Finale

I want to start this post out by saying that when I first began freelancing about 10 years ago, I never imagined myself seriously writing fiction, much less trying to sell any books. Sure, I’ve always had a dream of becoming a novelist, but I really didn’t allow myself to plot out how I would actually make that dream happen.

Fast forward to today, Nov. 27, and I am just a few thousand words away from completing my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month. I’ve always heard people talk about NaNoWriMo and I pretty much scoffed, saying to myself, That’s the worst time of year for me to possibly try to complete a novel! And while that might be true, I also know that I can’t finish a big project such as a novel without some kind of fanfare, so I signed up.

It has not been easy. I got behind on day one of NaNoWriMo because we went out of town to visit friends and I didn’t want to be sitting in their house with my laptop working when we only get to see them once or twice a year. I fell a little more behind because the magazine I edit was going into production, and I needed to write copy and proof the magazine before we went to the printer. Throw into that mix a few other freelance deadlines, and I began wondering around day fifteen if I should just throw in the towel. This past weekend I powered through and with the help of my family, locked myself in my office and almost got caught up on the word count.

As luck would have it, WOW! Put together a “Best of Fiction” issue just in time for this month! I was reading Novel Writing: Choosing a Method That Works Best for You by Margo Dill and it made me think about how I write novels. 

When I wrote my first novel several years ago, I used a method similar to NaNoWriMo where I completed 60,000 words in a month by focusing on a three-act structure. This time around, I’m rewriting that first novel into a YA, so I’ve used the first book as sort of an outline although quite a bit of it has either been cut out or scaled back.

Last November I did my own modified version of NaNoWriMo and completed a first, very rough draft of a middle-grade novel. I am now in the process of submitting it. For that book, I used the “Chapter Summaries” method where I wrote the synopsis and then a few paragraphs about what happened in each chapter and used that as my outline.

This has all been a learning process. I never studied creative writing in college and have participated in my fair share of trial and error. But honestly, I can’t think of a better way to learn. What methods do you use when writing nonfiction or novels?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who blogs at Renee’s Pages.

Drafts, drafts, and more drafts from my first attempt at a novel.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Julie Luek said...

Love when I find an article that really clicks and helps me. All the best to you with this book and congrats on NaNo.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Sioux said...

From a 2013 loser to a 2013 winner: Congratulations, Renee.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Renee Roberson said...

Julie and Sioux, thank you for your encouraging words. Sioux--there's still time! And I'm definitely not a winner yet. In fact, I took this morning off to read "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green (I know, I know), and half a box of tissues and several brownie cookies later, I think I'm ready to get back to writing. I don't get things done unless I'm truly under pressure!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Sioux: I'm a loser too. :) But I did manage to get over 27,000 words on a new WIP so that is actually a winner for me. :)

Renee: I find the NaNo process really works for me even if I don't finish in a month. What I mean is just writing with a general idea of my story and see where things take me without thinking too much--works. I get a rough draft and then I fix it and my critique group helps me. SO, that's my new method. WRite fast in a month or two and then fix the rest of the year. :)

3:10 PM  
Blogger brenda said...

I think every writer finds their own way to the page and through the process of trail and error, false stops, doubt, panic, etc, they develop their own method. I find this particular subject fascinating myself, but that's the geek in me. As for my way of writing... I am previous Nano winner and did draft my first novel the year I won. Since then, I more or less follow the Nano way. I just write. I tried the outline. I tried the index cards. I tried figuring everything out before my fingers tap-tap-tap on the key board. Those methods don't work from me regardless the length of whatever I am writing. The way that works the best for me is nano style...just write. I like it best after the first sentence is on the page and the idea is brewing.... but ideas are entirely different topic all tougher.

7:04 AM  

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