Writing My First Novel: Stage One (skip these posts if you’re not interested in writing a book)


Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

I’m in the process of writing my first fiction novel.  It’s scary.  Thinking about it is scary.

Clarity, I must have clarity.

What I mean by clarity is that I have to remain in the present moment.  I can’t think about my past, my future, or how crumby it will be to stay home on a Saturday night.

I need focus.

No Netflix, no spider solitaire, no texting, no facebook, no YouTube unless to educate myself.  No mindless shopping on Amazon and the like.  No bars…

No addictive habits.

Removal of all that serves the purpose in comforting my pattern-seeking ego.  The need to be accepted, the need to be loved, the need to distract myself from feeling like I’m not accepted or loved.

When you start a project, it’s fed purely on faith.  By believing in yourself.  Because what you’re about to embark on is the opposite of finding ways to fill the void where your faith should be.

You fill it yourself.  Anything “in part”, doesn’t matter.

(If you don’t read my blog, you won’t understand that last part.)

You can’t achieve focus and clarity by succumbing to addictive habits.  You obtain clarity by living in the moment.  By living from your heart.  It’s achieved by knowing your purpose.  And BOOM, instant clarity.  All else falls away.

This is true at least, for purposeful writers.  The writers who write because they love it, because they need to.  Because they’d rather sit in Starbucks and write rather than outlet shopping on their day off.

It’s a form of meditation.  That’s what writing is.  I guess shopping can be too….

Okay, so here’s a list of my process / progress thus far with added notes to help you get started:

First:  I found my protagonist.

Think of someone you’d love to meet or be.  It’s okay to use yourself as the hero.

See this person in three dimensions.  The story won’t work if you fail to love this person.

Second:  I found my story.

I did this by talking to people.  Anything that I found funny, interesting or imaginative, I took note of.  It started off as a very small idea, but by jumping in and fantasizing, the story taken shape mostly on its own.

You MUST jump in!  Even if it’s done solely in your head and not on paper.  Visualization is just as powerful (if not more so), than writing it down.  And don’t worry about forgetting it.  If it’s a gold nugget, it won’t siphon through.  If you forget it, than forget it.

Third:  Tilling the soil.

What I mean by this is that in order for you to be a brilliant novelist, you must think like one.  You have to believe that you already are one.  This is a good time to jump on YouTube and watch novelists getting interviewed.

My advice is to go on YouTube and watch your favorite authors so you can learn what motivates them.

Read books that are similar to the one you want to write.  Don’t just read them, but listen to them.

I’m an avid listener of audiobooks.  I can hear the flow, the style and overall expression better when I hear it being told orally.  I’ve noticed that since I started listening to audiobooks, I have a better grasp at visualizing the environment of my future book.

Forth:  Turning my story into 3D.

I’m trying to learn what makes a good book good.  To me, it starts with environment.  Environment can include anything from style, language, characters, setting…I’ll just say that environment includes everything.  Every component in your book should illustrates its environment.  If it doesn’t, cut it out.

It makes the book whole, you know what I mean?  When everything fits, it’s called “environment”.  Sort of an ecosystem, if you will.

I made that up myself.  I’ll use Harry Potter as an example.  The environment in Harry Potter is so vividly felt, that it can be visualized in 3D.  Any angle you view it from, the elements are unchanged.  They are fixed in place.

This adds depth and reality to the environment.  Your imagination has something tangible to hold onto – something that can be explored independently without the help of its author.

What I mean by “environment”, is to say that you don’t just see the story being played out in your head, but you feel it.  You feel the atmosphere of the environment.

To feel something (if you read my past entires), is to experience it.  You can imagine yourself being there.

Feeling the environment of your novel before you begin writing it, is a must.  For me it is anyway.  If you can feel it, you grant it life.  A separate life from the one you’re living here.

Maybe that’s why people call their creations babies.  “That’s my baby right there.”  They created it, and yet it remains separate.

Fifth:  Think BIG

When I first decided to write a book, I wanted it to be small, nothing special.  This is because I lacked belief in myself.  Now I’m beginning to understand that the success of my novel is proportionate to my beliefs.

This stage is actually part of the third stage, tilling the soil.  But should remain a steady upstream course the more you discover your story and bring it to life.  Your story will propel you forward with feverish belief and stating things like, “Yes!  I CAN write!”

And once you really get rolling, “Holy shit that’s good!”

Again, it’s pulling faith from within, and listening to the environment of your story that you brought to life.  You listen to it, and it tells itself.  You experience it.

Sixth:  Taking my time and planning

I’m a visual thinker, and because of this, I need to see the big picture all at once (3D).  I feel that detail happens in the second draft.  Focusing on detail now, will only derail me from feeling (experiencing) the big picture.

(I learned this by drawing.)

My first draft will focus on bringing the environment to life.

Environment is the heart, characters are the body, and story is a tool created from environment that defines the characters.

Maybe if you loop this together, it will make a figure 8?

Story is not the purpose, but the hero’s journey is.  What happens to the characters internally, reflects what happens in the story.  Always put your focus into the characters and the environment.  The story will tell itself.

Describe the characters by not describing them.  Let their individual reactions / interaction with the environment describe them (another reason why it’s so important).  Let the environment chisel their form, don’t do it manually.  Doing anything manually is lazy and without meaning.

“Yeah I know they’re happy, but why are they happy?”

In doing so, you will create yet another environment, a micro environment that revolves around each character – you feel them.  You can understand them.

Have I lost you yet?

Seventh:  Tools

You can write longhand, shorthand or with an old rusty typewriter, it don’t matter as long as you’re driven and have faith.  However for me, I grown to adopt the idea that your work is only as good as your tools.

First comes the idea, than the tools to create it.  But if you’re lucky, first comes the tools and then inspiration for an idea.

If you have the right tool for the job, the job will be easier if not better.

I spent the whole of my day learning about which tools to use.

I settled on Scrivener for my linear draft work, and Circus Ponies Notebook for creating my 3D environment.  These are only tools, not talent.

Yesterday I used Pages to write notes, idea’s, inspiration, and research material – it was a scattered mess.  Now I feel a little more at ease, you know?  More organized.

Okay so anyway, that’s where I am right now.

It’s not easy.  None of this is easy and my belief is shaky.  Tomorrow I’ll tackle the environment of my novel – once I get that down, hopefully I won’t be so shaky.


Filed under journal, Writing

12 responses to “Writing My First Novel: Stage One (skip these posts if you’re not interested in writing a book)

  1. I’d say you’re well on your way just by resolve alone! I wish you all the best with your project. Keep at it! 🙂

  2. prayingforoneday

    I like your ways…
    Dedication is key in anything. When I was doing my thing I was only there in person 20 hours a week, but it was in my mind every waking second and I came through to do well..
    If you keep this same dedication, you will be brilliant..
    The hardest thing to do with any project is to sacrifice things you enjoy and focus on your goal(s)

    I am proud of you…
    Shaun x

    • Thanks Shaun! Dedication gives me a headache lol. I have one right now. I stayed home after work today and spent hours and hours on my novel – it was intense. I can’t believe I did it without taking a tv break or getting insanely bored. Once I started, it sucked me right in.
      This is my first mini-break today and it’s already 9 p.m.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

      • prayingforoneday

        Don’t thank me, give yourself a pat on the back Melanie..I was just pointing out the obvious. I truly know what it takes to succeed and get the job done… You are an inspiration to many who want to say, write a book, know this…

  3. prayingforoneday

    PS: LOVE the pictures on the right, the top one made me laugh hard.. lol 😀

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