How do I ‘Write’ a Novel?

Camp NaNoWriMo began on April 1st and with it started my attempt to write a novel. I have no idea how it’s done. I’ve been writing for about 6 months now. I started with a few prompts from Writing101 and from there ventured in writing short pieces of fiction, among other genres. A few of my fiction (and humour) pieces were well received and BAM!! I declared myself to be the ‘Writer of the Year’. With the experience of only a short stories and a few non-ficton articles, I was still a novice. And yet, this March I decided to attempt a novel. Self-doubts, notwithstanding.

Currently, I’m up to 5000 Words. I’ve given myself a target of 10,000 words. And it’s just the 6th of April. I have ample time to complete the rest. That’s what anyone would think. Maybe, even me. But no! I don’t have ample time. Deduct the 4 days I’ll be out on a family vacation, remove a few days of travel fatigue, laziness, sickness and binge-watching TV shows and I have just a day or two over two weeks. Which scares me a lot. 

There’s still too much to be done. There’s a big chunk of my story that’s based in foreign land and requires a lot of research. Thankfully, I have my elder sister-cum-mentor Meg Sorick helping me with the research. But that’s just one part of it.

Sometimes the length of my novel (or rather the lack of it) scares me. Add to that, the fact that I am writing a soppy romance and that too of the most common storylines in the world: Boy meets Girl. Girl meets Boy. They fall in love. Conflicts arise. Happily ever after (or not?)

I am not even getting into the grammar and punctuation part of it right now. Of course, I will, eventually. During the umpteen re-writes and edits that will follow, once I am done writing the novel.

But how does one ‘write’ a novel at all? Is it just a series of incidents that happen in the protagonist’s life? Or is it more than that?

How eventful do those incidents have to be? Do I write about her going to the supermarket and chatting about the weather with the cashier? Do I write about a boring and uneventful dinner hosted by a work colleague? Do I bring in an ex-lover who wants her back? I don’t want to because I want fewer complications from other people. It’s my first attempt and I want to keep it simple and believable.

How much do I describe? Do I mention a chirping bird, somewhere in the distance, even if it has no impact on the story or the scene? Do I mention the colours of the flowers on the sidewalk she is walking on? Does she break the heel of her sandals and has to look for a cobbler? Does she meet a friend for lunch, but stops at an ATM on the way?
In short, do I describe the action as it happens every second?

All these thoughts plague me even as I attempt to take the story forward in its natural flow.

I think I understand my characters too. But there may be a contradiction in the characterisation. My character can’t go from being carefree and confident in the first part of the story to someone who is always anxious and needs re-assurance in the second part. As of now, that is what is happening. To be fair, she does take a major decision and that may explain her hesitation and fears but I still think it may not be believable enough. I shall be working on that during my re-writing phase.

For now, I am taking a break from all the writing and heading to the spa. (Hope to God that an idea does not strike me just when I am soaked in oil from head to toe.)

Have you ever attempted to write a novel? What were the struggles you faced? Any advice for me? Please leave your feedback and suggestions via the comment box below.

No Comments
  • Sharat Pathak
    Posted at 12:31h, 06 April Reply

    I wish I too write a novel one day. As of now I find my self short of courage to do that. Best wishes for your venture.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 18:07h, 06 April Reply

      Thank you so much! All the best for your writing! 🙂

  • Dr Meg Sorick
    Posted at 12:39h, 06 April Reply

    A certain amount of description is necessary to set the scene but it doesn’t have to be exhaustive. For example, if it’s a bright sunny day, have your character squint in the light and put on sunglasses. That might be enough. Interactions with accessory characters should be kept to a minimum, like talking to the shopkeeper, etc. If you MC goes from being carefree to be anxious thoughout the story, you have to show how that’s happening. Is she making mistakes? Decisions that aren’t working out as she hope? Seeing one disappointment after another? If those things are happening, then the reader can watch her confidence slip and her happy nature change to one of worry and doubt. Hope that’s helpful!

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 17:27h, 06 April Reply

      It does help a great deal. That’s awesome advice. Thank you. Shall actually write that in. Why didn’t I think of that. To think i didnt even give her sunglasses. 😀 See, I knew I was pathetic! 😀

      • Dr Meg Sorick
        Posted at 18:09h, 06 April Reply

        Haha! No not at all! It’s one of those tricks you pick up along the way!

        • Wandering Soul
          Posted at 18:16h, 06 April Reply

          You’re always too kind and encouraging. Lucky I found you. Muah!!!!

          • Dr Meg Sorick
            Posted at 18:52h, 06 April

            Aw, thank you! Glad to be found! Muah!!!

  • Hira
    Posted at 12:57h, 06 April Reply

    Hey ! All the best .. I know you will be great.
    Sorry – no tips. “Use a pen and paper” – Does that count? I suck. You know that !

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 17:22h, 06 April Reply

      Hahahahha…. you don’t suck at all and YOU know that!!! 😀 that’s actually a good tip. Sometimes writing with oen and paper, in the garden or at the mall could help wonders. Shall try that 😉

  • dvaal
    Posted at 14:26h, 06 April Reply

    The difficult part for me is the marketing. I know with camp you don’t have to market just work to win. For me, just publishing -marketing is very real. I am trying to go from no one to someone really fast. It won’t work the way I dream it -only the way the book offers to its readers -I pray there are some that will help promote.
    But, in the actual writing of your novel -for me writing comes easily. My grammer is the worst part. I have every grammer checking program I can find and still my sister-in-law finds my mistakes. Ugh!
    I think possibly you are to focused on the amount of words and you just need to sit down and write. It won’t get done at the spa or in the many hours of research. (although these are important) When you sit to write -just write and enjoy the love developing within your fingers striking the keys. If you feel it -it will happen. To write love you must love.
    Hope this helps.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 17:13h, 06 April Reply

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! I can’t be writing 24 hours 😀 have to balance it with meals, exercise etc.
      P.S. – I’ll be editing your comment to remove your blog link. I’m sure you know why 🙂

    • dvaal
      Posted at 18:31h, 06 April Reply

      Wow! I wasn’t trying to insult you -but I guess that is the way it was taken so I am sorry for that. If you remove me for responding or anger -I’m good with that. Obviously I have nothing to offer you.

      • Wandering Soul
        Posted at 18:57h, 06 April Reply

        I didn’t take any offense at all. What makes you say that. I didn’t see any insult in your comment. Are you talking about me editing your comment ? I only removed your blog url link. That’s about it. It shouldn’t have been there at all. 🙂 the rest is all great and more than welcome 🙂

        • dvaal
          Posted at 19:26h, 06 April Reply

          Ah… I thought you were saying you were going to remove my blog from a follow. I’m glad I didn’t offend you. THanks for making me understand. I am thick headed.

          • Wandering Soul
            Posted at 19:39h, 06 April

            Oh no!!! Not at all. Your visit and comments are very much valued. 🙂 🙂 Headed over to you now 🙂

  • gloverdeb
    Posted at 18:12h, 06 April Reply

    Hey honey, for one who has only a complete novella my opinion does not really count, but #shrugs# I’d tell you anyways.

    Outline, Write, Edit

    In the process of writing, your mind runs beautifully well and show you aspects you never saw or thought of. It flows from within and even after completing the book, you wonder how you ever produce something that beautiful.

    Go and write!

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 18:15h, 06 April Reply

      That’s one more than me 🙂 😀 Great advice, thank you! 🙂

  • Kay Mitchell
    Posted at 05:20h, 07 April Reply

    I don’t need to add anything, not that I could anyway because I have not written a novel before, but I am sure that you will do fine. Mainly, because you are asking all the right questions and have all the right concerns. Once you DO figure it out, you will be great!

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 05:21h, 07 April Reply

      😀 Thank you, Kay! That is reassuring and very encouraging in its own way 🙂

  • TheLastWord
    Posted at 21:57h, 07 April Reply

    I’m going to give you links to my own experiences. Bear with me, but I’ve spent most of last year learning some tough lessons. Link #1: and Link #2:

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    Posted at 15:33h, 08 April Reply

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  • Summerita Rhayne
    Posted at 15:37h, 08 April Reply

    Hi Piyusha, Congrats on taking the leap for Camp Nanowrimo. Thanks for tagging me to answer your queries. I have prepared a detailed text for you. Hope you find it helpful

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 16:18h, 08 April Reply

      WOW!!! Thanks so much. Headed over to read it now.:)

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  • leennascreativebox
    Posted at 06:37h, 09 April Reply

    Congrats on taking the challenge. I’ve never completed a NanowriMo on time. To add my two cents: tell the story you want to read, and have fun with it! Good luck with it:-D

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 13:23h, 09 April Reply

      Thank you Leenna. That certainly makes sense 🙂

  • mandibelle16
    Posted at 18:28h, 09 April Reply

    Keeping going. You can do it. Plan and research well 🙂

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