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.|