06 Apr 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.