So, you’ve had an idea? You woke up in the middle of the night with a title that just screams to be the name of the next bestselling novel, or a plot line that is leaping around your head with such fervour that it just has to hit the bookshelves. You’ve already written short stories, but a novel- that’s a hell of a lot of words!
1) Think of short story writing as your novel writing apprenticeship
Short stories are a brilliant way for any writer to learn their craft. By learning to write to a word limit you can build your literary skill and finesse your writing. Too many people are in a rush to write a novel without taking the time to learn the skills needed. Creating short stories can teach you how to write in such a way that not a single word is wasted. Every word- every single one- has to count in a short story. The same applies to a novel- pages of waffle and repetition are boring to read and boring to write. MORE: Download a free novel pitch template (.doc)
2) Go for “instant impact”
In a short story all you have to grab your reader’s attention is the first one or two sentences. When writing their first novel, new writers often relax, thinking the lengthier word count means they have the luxury of spending pages to grab their reader’s interest- wrong!
When you write a novel the same instant impact rule applies as for short pieces. You have one to three paragraphs at the most to hook them. If a reader’s interest isn’t piqued by the end of the first page you’ve lost them- and then they are less likely to look at any further work you might produce. Once you have hooked them of course, then you can coax them into the story, and reel them along with your characters and hopefully keep them yours until they reach the last page, desperate to read more. MORE: 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Novel’s Description
3) Don’t push that plot
Once you’ve started writing your novel, if you suddenly find your dream plot isn’t looking like it will stretch to a whole novel (usually btw 75-120k), then pause. Take a step back. There is nothing worse than reading a story that’s had its plot watered down just so it’s the required length. Take a walk. Think it through- can the storyline take an extra twist to the plot? Can the interest in the characters in the story be sustained? If not- make it a novella. Novellas (generally accepted to be anything from 20-60K), are very popular, great fun to write, and wonderful writing practice. MORE: Why this story? You need to know, or your reader won’t
4) Climb that word count
Addressing a word count of c.90k after having previously only completed pieces that are 5-10k long can seem like a mammoth task. So why not build up slowly? Think of it like mountaineering. No one would tackle Everest without climbing a few lesser mountains first. So grab the crampons and the ropes and tackle a 15k story first- then add a crash helmet and a few rations, and go for a novella next. Then, as your confidence builds and you’ll soon be ready to strap on the oxygen tank, grab a pick, and go for that novel! MORE: All About Description & Characters
5) Still feel like heavy going?
A lot of issues connected with getting through a novel for the first time are psychological. Don’t be afraid to address each chapter like an individual short story- after all, you already know you can write those. Allow yourself rewards for every 1000 words- an extra cup of coffee, a chocolate bar, a ten minute walk. Take one word at a time. Remember – it’s supposed to be fun! MORE: I’ve Got 5 Rewriting Problems And A Script Ain’t One on @WendyStorer’s blog
BIO: Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance novels Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), and the Another Cup of Coffee series (Accent Press, 2013). Keep your eye on Jenny’s BLOG HERE for more details, plus follow her on Twitter as @JennyKaneAuthor.