On 6 Pieces of Advice on How to Write Your First Novel

Woohoo!  I managed to get a blog post out before the end of the week.  It was getting iffy there for a while.  I’m also going to have to submit something to my writers group soon—who knows how I will make that happen.  Buuut, we’ll deal with that later.

So I follow the “Writer’s Digest” on Twitter, and they actually post some interesting and useful articles about breaking into the industry, tips for those focused on certain genres, etc.  True, they almost lost me when I saw the tweet “Breaking Into Corporate Writing: Contracts & Rates,” but I let it slide.  I am aware that was/is my life both before law school (financial journalist) and after (corporate lawyer), but this blog and my following Writer’s Digest is all about pretending to be a creative, artsy person.  You know, my secret life as creative writer?  So I wasn’t cool with that tweet at all.  But back to the point.  Writer’s Digest recently posted a link to the article  “How to Write Your First Novel: 6 Pieces of Advice” by a novelist/former cookbook writer named Steven Raichlen.   Might as well check it out…

  1. The world has two sorts of writers: people who talk about writing a novel and people who actually do it.  Word. Talking about writing a novel is lame.
  2. Write a mission statement…and contract.  For reals? A contract? Sigh.  Fine, let’s consider this blog a contract.  The consequence for not meeting my goal will be to write a novel about failing to write a novel.
  3. The secret to writing a novel—or any book—is writing.  For all you aspiring writers out there, this is the one thing I’ve heard consistently.  If you want to finish a book, you need to write every day, period.  I’m thinking about starting that…next week? The week after?
  4. There’s no one right way to write a novel. I guess this counts as advice, although I don’t know how helpful it is.
  5. Write with your eraser (or delete button).  Unlike many writers, I actually love cutting out words.  I’m not married to my prose.  I can do this, no problem!
  6. Take the time to celebrate the milestones in your writing process.  I finished this blog post, yay!

The author elaborates on the advice here.  What do you guys think? Are you ready to write your first novel after reading this?

Networking, Bonding and Possibly Drinking

The title of the post includes the words “networking” and “drinking,” quick– will I be discussing lawyering or noveling??

If you guessed noveling, you’re correct!  If you guessed lawyering, it’s OK, I would have too.  Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was extremely flattered and delighted when some people in my writing class e-mailed to see if I wanted to get together monthly to critique each other’s work.  Essentially, the meetings would be a continuation of the class, except I suspect that alcohol may be involved this time.

With this invitation to the writing group, I had an epiphany: no matter what field you’re in, or what aspirations you have, networking is a key component.  It simply cannot be escaped.  I initially joined the creative writing class to hone my skills, but I’ve grown to realize that the most valuable thing I may take from it are the relationships I’ve made.  The last day of class our teacher told us that his writing group had been formed from the members of a class he had taken at the Writer’s Center, and that it was still going strong—that class was 8 years ago! Since then, he has published several short stories and is now working on his novel.

The people in my class/group range in age, gender, writing genre, and profession, and I really don’t know if I would have ever met most of them in another context; however, the reality is that we end up drawing on some very personal experiences when sharing our short stories.  For that reason, I think we all have learned a lot about each other in a short period of time.  For me, the  critique of one my  stories felt like a group therapy session! The personal aspect of it is good though because I believe that for the group to be successful, its members will have to be able to trust one another.  Is anyone out there in a writing group?  How does it work? Holllerrr

10 Things I Know About Creative Writing That I Didn’t Know 6 Weeks Ago

Hiatus is over!  I got super busy at work, and the thought of having to blog just added to my stress level.  So had to make sure to tell my 10 readers (love you guys!) that I wouldn’t be blogging that week.  However, I actually enjoy writing about this process, so I’m not giving up just yet!!

So…back to business.  Last week was the last day of my writing class.  It was actually very anti-climatic.  We more or less did the same thing as we do every week, with a little bit of discussion about publishing.  But, in honor of the class I thought I would list the tidbits about creative writing that I learned while reading and discussing other people’s work.  I’ll save the analysis of my own stories for a later blog post (probably when I sit down to actually revise the stories them).  Anyway, what I learned below…

10 Things I Learned In My Creative Writing Class:

  1. Verbs strengthen fiction, adjectives weaken it.  Try turning an adjective into a verb (e.g., the bracelet “snaked” around her wrist).
  2. Length of sentences is a good way to play with the voice of a story/character
  3. Be careful of dialogue, ask yourself: what is it accomplishing? Does it move the story forward? Does it reveal the character?
  4. Story v. plot: a story is a series of events, a transition, while a plot is about causality—what happened and why.
  5. On endings: they should probably provide closure, epiphany, change of character or reader’s perception, some growth or some death
  6. Ask yourself, who does the audience care about? Who does the character care about?
  7. Flawed characters are the best characters
  8. Preachy = bad. Tests of faith = good.
  9. Slow down important scenes (i.e., describe them in greater detail)
  10. Stick to a single point of view in short stories.