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Novel Writing # 1

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook or have read my bio, then you know I’m writing a novel at the moment.

I wrote an in-depth pitch at first – about ten pages, rather like a script treatment – so technically I know exactly how the plot is supposed to work out. I have a beginning, a middle and end. I have all the character bios. I have a “statement of intent” (or writers’ vision). So actually, I guess it’s more like a series bible. So I’ve done all the planning I usually do.

But that’s where the similarity between novel writing and screenwriting appears to end.

I am consistently surprised by the words appearing on the screen in front of me. Of course, that happens in screenwriting too – sometimes characters say or do stuff you didn’t expect and occasionally the bastards even go and DIE, completely screwing up your narrative as you try and dissect ***why*** that just happened, thinking all the while, “This is MY narrative bitches, what the hell did you just do that for????”

But I’ll start a chapter *knowing* what needs to go in plot-wise, yet unlike screenwriting – where every beat needs accounting for – I write that chapter with NO idea how exactly I’m going to achieve it. So the writing feels like a real voyage of discovery, with every word capable of freaking me out every chance it gets. The other day, I burst into tears writing something. Another day I wrote something that could be attributed to someone I know, so I erased it, then I wrote it again. Then I walked round the block and came back and erased it again. Then I went back out and did about seven circuits of the cycle track of the park, came back and wrote it again, but this time changed it so it was no longer about *that* person, but had more of a universal quality, ie. “that TYPE of people.” Phew.

If screenwriting is like one of those tile puzzles you have to move around until the picture appears, then it seems to me novel writing is rather like a Rubix Cube: infuriating, complicated and weird.

And yet I love it.

CURRENT WORD COUNT: 29, 775 of approximately 75, 000. I’m going back in…

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6 thoughts on “Novel Writing # 1”

  1. Welcome to the party, pal! Of course, haven't a novel for four years, so I don't know why I should be welcoming you. Hmph. I'll shut up now.

  2. Great post, Lucy. I finished my first novel December 31 and enjoyed the ride so much I'll be doing it again soon. Know exactly what you mean about not knowing where a scene will take you — isn't it wild? I'd get an idea and lose myself in it and wake up a while later to find another thousand words on the screen. Love it. Very best of luck with yours — what's it about? Keep upping that word count…

  3. David – you might not have written one in a while, but you're still a fitting party host, having written so many!!

    Hilary – it's a young adult novel, predominantly for the female market. It's about teenage pregnancy but in a way you've never seen before! (oooooooh)

  4. In a way we've never seen before?
    The werewolves are sparkly?

    My novel (well, chapters) went out towards the end of last year – did the rounds with Agents etc and got mostly form rejections, but one Agency gave me feedback notes after a full read and has said they'd welcome another look once it's been re-worked.

    Now I'm finding exactly the same thing that the characters aren't doing what I think they should.
    As if they have a say in it!

  5. Thanks for this post. I'm writing my first novel at the moment – it can be frustrating & surprising but I love it. Looking forward to your next post on this…

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