Not only am I a mother, I have a fiance that doesn’t currently reside with me (something we are working on) and I have a job at my daughters school as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant in Key Stage Two. I have two dogs – Rolo and Kinder – named after chocolate because, well, I love chocolate!
I’d be lying if I said my life was easy, but that’s the same for everyone, right? All these facets of my life have led me down a path that has sparked a desire to obtain a career in fiction writing, but it has often been a struggle with juggling all of the above. The path has been littered with obstacles. I have taken a few detours along the way. My journey is not over, in some ways it has just begun.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has given me time to focus on my writing and I would like to offer you an opportunity to join me through this hardship as I update the pros and cons of writing a novel in these difficult times.
Thinking I was clever, I started to write a novel without making a plan. How wrong I was! This was about eighteen months ago now and I’m on my third rewrite of the first draft. I wouldn’t recommend being in this frustrating situation. I almost want to quit, but I’m determined to continue and achieve my goal – to publish a novel.
My message is to plan, plan, plan!
Having read countless books in all types of genres, I figured I knew how to structure a novel. But I didn’t. I’d like to take some time to go over my ill processes of writing my first novel. Some of you can probably relate to my problems.
What did I do wrong?
Where do I begin? Firstly, I didn’t plan my characters properly. This prevented me from creating an internal conflict for my main protagonist. I had my external conflict in my head, but it was of no use if I couldn’t convey my characters needs and desires. The internal conflict is the story itself!
Secondly, I didn’t research how to outline a novel and just started writing, labeling chapters whenever I couldn’t think of anything else to add. Wrong! If I had outlined my novel properly prior to writing, I would have been able to set up my chapters with a clear guidance of my characters’ thoughts, emotions and reactions. This would have allowed me to match it with the main plot (external conflict).
Next, I didn’t research any writing software assuming I could do everything in Microsoft Word. I probably could have completed everything in Microsoft Word, but I would have had to start at the beginning of my story and work through it chronologically. I have recently discovered Scrivener and it has helped me in more ways than I could have imagined. It allows you to see your chapters, track your progress, separate and merge chapters, make notes, research etc. It is an incredible writing tool that has helped me see everything from an omniscient perspective which has high-lighted my errors allowing me to structure my story in the best possible way.
So, over the last few weeks I have downloaded several novel outlining books, been on YouTube to get advice on how to structure my scenes, read several writing blogs, joined Facebook writing groups, taken part in Zoom events with authors and literary agents, and am now rewriting my book for the third time.
My planning was easy enough because I had most of my story written down, however, I had written it in the wrong way. Outlining has assisted me with telling my story the correct way. My goal is to have a published novel in my hands, which means I need to follow a structure that allows readers to root for my characters and want to turn the page to discover how they face their fears and/or misconceptions of the world.
I have set up Scrivener with my acts, my chapters, my chapter plans, my notes, points of view and have colour coded everything. I have my notepad to hand with all my character notes and important events in my story in case I need a prompt or to to brainstorm further concepts.
If you are starting out as a writer yourself, I strongly urge you to read as many books as you can, research how to structure your story and get as much feedback as possible.
Please join me as I update you on the progress, hiccoughs and achievements, throughout my writing journey. One day soon, I hope you are holding my debut novel in your hands. You will understand the resilience and perseverance I have endured to make that happen. If not, then I have tried my best and will be proud to have written a novel, which is better than not attempting it at all.
Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog. I aim to write entries every Monday. Speak soon.