Recently, I completed my second novel, Black Water Tales: The Unwanted, a follow up to Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers. While this is only my second novel and I hardly consider myself a writing expert, I understand that when you are struggling to get your first novel on paper you are willing to try anything; with that in mind I want to share with you the three most important things that helped me finally complete my first novel in hopes that it will help you complete yours.
- Summary: Write a solid sentence that summarizes your entire novel. As simple as it sounds most people struggling to organize their ideas have not completed this fundamental task.
Ex: Marie has become a fast-paced, city girl who has lost herself in her climb to success in NYC, but when she travels back to her small lakeside hometown in Texas to see her mother who has been injured in an accident she is reunited with a cast of friends who live less than fabulous lives yet she soon realizes that they all have something she is missing despite all of her fabulous things…love and happiness.
- Outline: The outline is crucial in order for you to transform the discombobulated plots, sub-plots, clever quotes and unforgettable characters into a story that other people can read, understand and enjoy. Write down everything that you have in your brain for the story; put it in some type of order similar to the way that you want it to unfold in the book. Details and exact timeline are not crucial at this point. The outline is imperfect in many ways, but you must have a solid beginning, middle and end.
Ex: We first see Marie doing something fabulous as part of her great NY lifestyle.
Marie gets a call that tells her that her mother has been in an accident.
Marie tells her agent, but he is hesitant as she has big upcoming show.
A reluctant Marie flies home.
- Free Write: Well…semi-free writing. You have your outline so get a cup of coffee (even if you don’t drink it, it will keep you awake), put a pencil behind your ear (this just makes you look smart), put your outline in front of you and begin to write. Start with your first point and let the words play out like a movie in your head. This draft will be very rough, but the key is to keep writing no matter what. Don’t get caught up on details like the names of characters, the way the house looks, etc. Get the main stuff on paper, you can make everything perfect later, that is what re-writes are for.
Ex: Marie Delano sat outside of the chic Sorrenta Café sipping the white mocha that she drank every morning, while she waited for her agent. She was confident that her personal trainer would be able to get her into her designer dress for her opening despite her less than healthy eating habits. Marie held out her freshly manicured finger nails and reviewed them when she was startled by her ringing phone. She looked down and gasped when she recognized the phone number that belonged to her mother. She had not spoken to her mother in years and she knew instantly that something terrible had happened, she could feel it in every inch of her petite frame. Marie reached out and grabbed the phone abruptly as if the sound offended her ears. She answered and was told that her premonition had been correct.
Do this for your entire outline and once you get to the end, you have a novel. Don’t get too excited there is much more to be done, but the first step is taken and the first step is always the hardest.