Monthly Archives: October 2014

Familiar blunders when writing a novel

There’s something about the first 10,000 words of a novel. I like them because (usually), nothing has gone wrong …

It’s after that the problems begin. And I’ve noticed that they’re the same problems in every book I write, so here they are:

  1. I’ve begun the book in the wrong place. I get a MUCH better idea for Chapter 1. And probably Chapters 2-4, also. There’s no point carrying on with the angle I’d first thought of so I rewrite what I’d written from the new angle. Much better.
  2. I haven’t been assiduous in keeping a cast list and I’m beginning to forget the names of minor characters. I update my cast list and find I have four characters whose names begin with J or two characters called Peter. I make the necessary adjustments to my castlist and to my manuscript.
  3. DSCF9002While I’m at it, I update my timeline (a long strip of paper created by stapling together A4 sheets from my scrap paper drawer). I find I’ve messed up my timeline and have to go back and sort it out. I make the necessary adjustments to my manuscript.
  4. I get involved with promo for the last book and return to my WIP in short bursts. I lose continuity and realise I have far too many ideas for one book. It will end up about 300,000 words long.
  5. I feel like one of those people who keep fifty plates spinning on thin sticks. I’m worried I’m not keeping them all going and I go back and read and edit what I have so far.
  6. Getting ready for our Heroine's Abroad workshop, which was good fun and well supported. Evonne Wareham (back to cam) in Welsh national dress, Lynne Connolly, helpful lady called Carolyn, Christina Courtenay.

    Getting ready for our Heroine’s Abroad workshop, which was good fun and well supported. Evonne Wareham (back to cam) in Welsh national dress, Lynne Connolly, helpful lady called Carolyn, Christina Courtenay.

    I go away to teach or attend a convention and swear to work every day on my book so I don’t lose momentum. I work on it on the plane there. On the plane back I stare at it and wonder whether this is actually my book at all. Once home, I go back and read and edit what I have so far. (If I’m really organised, I manage to make 5 and 6 one step, which saves a lot of time.)

  7. I realise that the dynamics between certain characters are not coming out as I thought they were. I make the necessary adjustments to my manuscript.
  8. At the bar in the Grand Union Station.

    I realise that I do NOT have too many ideas for one book. I have too few. I panic and feel sick and begin scribbling new plot ideas on post-its. I may turn to drink.

  9. I find a hole in my plot. For some reason, the knowledge comes to me when I’m either on a train or in the shower. I worry a lot. Sigh. Scribble on post-its. Make the necessary adjustments to my manuscript.
  • photo 1-1I stare at the 63,449 words of my manuscript and know that I’m going to sweat over unknotting my plot lines and bringing the book to a satisfying ending … so I write a blog entitled Familiar Blunders When Writing a Novel.
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