The planning stage is over. You have settled on a fiction concept, laid out the basic structure of your plot, created your major characters, and completed any necessary initial research. You are ready to start putting words on paper. Or most likely, into your word processing program. We will discuss some of the finer points of writing later. First, I would like to make some general suggestions that will make your task easier.
Discipline is one of a writer’s most important tools of trade. Whenever I begin writing a book, I am flush with anticipation and can’t wait to start. It is great fun to give life to that dramatic narrative hook and begin introducing my characters. Words fly onto the page, and an emotional high keeps me coming back to the computer every chance I get. This initial wave of enthusiasm usually lasts through the first quarter or third of the book. Then I hit the wall of the central portion of the plot where I have to dig deeper into the characters and figure out what will happen next in order to keep the tension and suspense moving. This is where the big “D” comes into play.
Set a writing schedule that is reasonable for your lifestyle. Choose a place that allows for the fewest distractions. Then sit down and pull up your work whether you feel like it or not, even if it is only to stare at what you wrote the day before. If you feel at a loss, focus on the characters and their interrelationships. Think about where they are going and how you can make the journey more difficult for them. Sometimes it works to just write something, anything, in order to get the juices flowing. But one word of caution. Identify your point of diminishing returns and don’t try to push beyond it. Steadiness is the key.
Always write with a dictionary and thesaurus at your elbow. That said, I advise people not to get too hung up over niceties of style. Your first product is a rough draft and will require revision and polishing later. This is true for the seasoned writer as well as the beginner. Creation and critique are two separate mental processes, and doing both at once diminishes the effectiveness of each one. Just get the story out and leave the polishing for another time.
Above all, never give up. Novel writing is long hard work. When you reach the end of the road, you will experience a joy such as you have never known. Perhaps you will sell your work. Perhaps you will self-publish. Or perhaps you will simply file it away and begin on something new. Whatever happens, you will have left a mark on the world by creating something uniquely yours.
Click on the links below to read my specific tips on the art of writing.