Do you know how long it takes for someone to train for a marathon? Do you know what they have to do in order to be in shape to run that marathon?
As a novelist, I DO! We are marathon runners that not only train to write the novel, but bring others along with us. We have to keep our readers in mind when we train for our marathon.
Just like a marathon, there is NO sprint to the end when writing a novel. We have to have an endurance that will last for months. An endurance that will carry a reader all the way through. So in some way, the reader is also going the distance with you. You have to keep the readers engaged, in a pace that sometimes takes them up a hill and then down the hill with a few strides along the way.
This is not an easy feat! We have to take a story line and engage the reader from cover until THE END!
There are a few tips that can help get us trained for the marathon.
1) Write your novel all the way through with out stopping.
I can hear you groan now, but hear me out. This is hard for many of us. It's hard not to revise and edit as you write. I have been one of those that stop and go back to change something, only to throw me off track at where I had truly stopped in order to go back.
This stops your creative process and in turns puts a halt to your writing.
Try to write the entire novel and resist the urge to go back and revise. This allows your mind to keep the story line you had in your head to stay true to the story line.
You will have a better understanding of your novels beginning, middle, and end. You will not have wasted your time revising and polishing when you are going to be doing that when the novel is finished.
I didn't say write fast. I said write your novel all the way through. It takes me three months to get a complete first draft and that is not going back to edit or revise until THE END is written. If you try to write without going back to edit, you will surprise yourself on how quickly you will get your first draft completed.
2) Scene, scene, scene
Does your scenes tie into your complete novel? The reader is SMART! The reader will know when a scene doesn't advance the plot of your novel and they will put it down or write a bad review.
This is the next step after you write that first draft. You will want to go back and reread your first draft completely.
At the beginning of each chapter, I ask myself several questions: How does this chapter move the plot or story line? Is the scene dramatic enough to hold the readers attention? Does the chapter lead into the next chapter? Is the descriptions vivid enough for the reader to feel like they are placed in the scene? Is the emotions of my characters felt in the soul of my readers?
Not every single chapter is going to have those questions answered, but I do know that my chapter is going to propel the plot of the story.
Make a list of questions. If your scenes/chapters fail to answer your questions, you need to cut that scene.
3) Chapter beginnings
Go back to the beginning of each of your chapters. Do they start the same? Do they all sound alike? BORING!!!
Be sure that you are starting each chapter differently. This helps pique the readers mind, carrying them to the end of the marathon.
These are so much fun to write! I love looking for lulls in my first draft. It's the perfect place to add a little humor or mini-scene to your novel. Don't let there be any dead space on the pages for your reader's eyes.
This is where I beef up my quirky characters by making them just a little bit more quirky.
I hope that you really consider these tips when starting your next novel. I think you will be surprised on how effective it is when you can write your story all the way through without going back to revise or rewrite.
Writing a novel is hard work, just like training for a marathon. Some can go the distance and some can't. I know you can! And in the entire process, you need to keep your reader in mind. After all it's said and done, your novel becomes your readers. They claim it for their own and you are running along side them.