A few weeks ago we had the dust-up about J.K. Rowling’s new story on Pottermore, and it raises the question of how fiction writers should approach writing what they don’t know. As someone who wrote a still-in-the-drawer first novel about another culture (ironically, the Navajo, like Ms. Rowling’s story), I have some thoughts on cultural appropriation and fiction writing: Continue reading
I’ll never be able to experience reading my novel like I would experience reading any other novel, because I know everything, I’ve known the end since the beginning, I know the cut scenes, the way the characters breathe, what happens in each moment. There’s no discovery of a first-time reader, there is only omniscience.
We’ve all been there, on that website taking the Myers-Briggs personality test. Then you get an answer, and you’re like, “Oh my gosh YES! I am a ____! Life is solved!” and then you forget what you four letter acronym is two weeks later and all is lost. (Just me?)
Anyway, Myers-Briggs, or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a test used to pinpoint where people fall on the scale of personality characteristics and behavior asserted by Carl Jung in his research. According to the test’s website, “The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.” Continue reading
Having just finished a first draft of my novel, the thing that’s most on my brain right now is revision, and the question of how much. I don’t have a great answer for that, but let’s look at a few things:
1. Revision is necessary. It is often said that the best works are those that are written in revision. Early on in my writing, I was against it, and had the mindset that what I wrote was beautiful and glorious and perfect! I’ve learned my lesson. Revision is a great way to really focus in on the language, to stop and dwell with a passage or phrase and make it truly what you want it to be. Revision is also necessary for large plot consistencies and making a character’s arc what it needs to be.
What does your main character need to change? First you need to know what kind of change your character needs.
That’s where I was lacking a little bit. My ending was fuzzy – I figured I would figure it out when I got there – but it included a kind of intellectual awakening for my main character. The problem? He’s already an intellectual guy. Continue reading
Big day! I finished the first draft of my novel last night (though with the way I’ve been editing as I’ve gone along, it feels like maybe a second draft). Many folks have asked me what happens now, and here’s the answer:
- I get some people to read it and give me feedback
- I do a little more research to make sure things are set
- I continue to polish, polish, polish
- Once I feel like I’ve got something good, I start shopping for agents
I’ve always known that I wanted to go the traditional publishing route, for many reasons. I’m absolutely not sure of the timeline on this. I keep saying I’ll polish this winter and spring, and start looking for agents in spring/summer. Then we’ll go from there!
I’ll write about this in another post, but I managed to write this novel while working fulltime (40 hours) and doing a parttime master’s degree. Still not sure how I managed that. And this novel only took me 14 months to write, too. I started it last October while I was in Chicago at the STORY conference after having taken a whole year off from writing. This is what I jumped back in to, and I never looked back.
More news to come!
I came across this quote the other day from W. Somerset Maugham: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (To be clear, I came across this quote on Pinterest, so who knows if Mr. Maugham even said it…) First, there is truth to this. Writing a novel is a completely subjective experience, and every single person will do it differently: at a different time of day, at different speeds, with different prep work, etc. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t try to give you three rules for writing a novel. Here goes: Continue reading