Help Writing Your Novel—Yes You Can Revise with Ease!

help writing novel-revision

Want to start and finish your first, fifth, or tenth novel in 2017? Read on! In my previous post, I wrote about 1st drafts, and I shared my best suggestions for finishing draft 1 of your novel within 3 to 6 months (without losing your mind). Your 1st draft is the one Anne Lamott aptly dubs the “shitty first draft.” Give yourself permission to work quickly with forward momentum. When your 1st draft is complete: Set it aside for days, weeks, maybe even a month or more. Give yourself time to let it go and separate yourself. When you come back to the …

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WRITER TO WRITER: 12 Possibly Relevant Tips at Year’s End

Do not take your moods too seriously (exclusions to this rule include clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and the like; if any of these apply, seek expert help and do not skip your meds!) because the dark hole you inhabit today may well presto-change-o to a snowy peak tomorrow, and either way, you still have to face the blank page and write the next paragraph/page/chapter/repeat. Do know what makes your skin crawl, your stomach turn to mush, and your brain freeze because chances are at least some of your characters share your fears and, writers, this is useful knowledge. Do know …

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The Loose Novelist

This advice from Alan Watt’s wise how-two, THE 90-DAY NOVEL: “I didn’t try to figure out the ending, but rather, imagined a sense of my hero at the end of the story. How was he relating differently to his father? What had he come to understand as a result of his journey? How was the dilemma resolved? What was the visual metaphor, the image that captured the essence of my story at the end? As I pondered these questions, ideas came to me, and I realized that they were a goldmine of images for what preceded the ending. Imagining our …

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WRITING RULES

One of my favorite writing rules comes from Dwight V. Swain from his wise and practical book TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER (University of Oklahoma Press): ” 1) Separate creative impulse from critical judgement. The first a most essential step is to recognize the human tendency to mix the two. Then, walk wise around it. To that end, adopt a working rule of “Create now….correct later.” Promise yourself the privilege of being as critical as you like, as soon as the first draft of a scene or story is completed. Until the draft is done, however, stick with impulse. Let …

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Life of Fiction

From Kenneth Atchity’s A WRITER’S TIME: Fiction isn’t identical with reality. Instead, dramatic fiction gives the impression of reality. Aristotle described it as an “imitation” of action. In many ways we prefer the imitation to reality. Fiction has a definable shape, a satisfying closure. When you read a good book or see a good play, you walk away with a feeling of having experienced something definite, something conclusive. Unfortunately, life itself doesn’t often provide such a well-rounded feeling. We go to the theater or the bookstore to find fictions that are philosophically, morally, or dramatically more meaningful than those we …

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PAGE BY PAGE

My daughter announced today that she’s making a 3,000-page book. The word count will be light but it will have scads of pictures. She’s five years old. She asked me to contribute a drawing. When I complied, she added finishing touches. And then she marked off three more pages. “I’m doing four pages a day,” she said, placing her palm firmly over the rest of her notebook. “Why four?” I asked. “Because that’s just enough,” she said. “You’re right,” I said. “When will it be done?”  “Soon,” she said.  I don’t doubt her for a moment. If you’re writing a 300-page book, …

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The End of Plague and Pestilence

I am pleased to announce victory over pinkeye and various other woes in my household! (See previous post.)  Because I’m in contact with many writers and quite a number of them are in the process of sharing their stories with select readers, agents, and editors, I am going to use the next few blog posts to focus on surviving and thriving through submission and beyond.  Have you ever thought about the fact that it’s called submission? Only in publishing…

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PLAY IT RISKY

I met Donald Maass last October when we were both among the presenters at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in Surrey, British Columbia. Not only is Maass a high-powered agent with great marketing advice for writers, he is also a writer who truly cares about other writers, their creative process, and their stories.  Read what he has to say about originality and fiction on his new blog at Writer Unboxed–and never play it safe again.

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MAKING HEADLINES!

I learned one my favorite writing “tricks” from Charles Dickens, who often published his novels in installments. He used chapter headings, or, what I call headlines. Open OLIVER TWIST to Chapter 6 and read: Oliver, Being Goaded by the Taunts of Noah, Rouses into Action, and Rather Astonishes Him. Or Chapter 32: Of the Happy Life Oliver Began to Lead with his Kind Friends. But page forward to Chapter 33: Wherein the Happiness of Oliver and his Friends, Experiences a Sudden Check. And near novel’s end: The Pursuit and Escape. When I’m writing my first draft, I aim for scene …

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