Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making it to the finish line!



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.

4) Mini-Scenes

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.


19 comments:

  1. Terrific Post!
    I tend to go back and fix things, endlessly. Which probably explains my difficulty in reaching the end.

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    1. Hahha! Roberta! Try to just write straight through:)

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  2. Another wonderful post. Keep it up, Tonya!

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  3. I write this way now although I do a bit of editing as I go - particularly to the first chapter so that I have it feeling right. After about chapter three I'm on a roll. But hey - my first is yet to be launched so here's hoping I've got it right :). A fab post! Thank you

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    1. Cheers! Darel I hope you have an amazing first release!

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  4. Great advice! It seems the more you write the harder it is to stay on track.

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  5. Wonderful words of wisdom! Writing all the way through is so important. Getting ung up and fixing things as you go stalls a novel indefinitely!

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    1. Hahhaa! I love that: Novel Indefinitely! Yes it is.

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  6. I needed this advice today, I have revised my last chapter three times this week instead of advancing my story, and I wonder why I am suddenly second guessing all my pre thought out plot lines :(

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    1. WOW! I'm so glad you are going to STOP editing and get to writing!

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  7. I used to edit while I wrote, and I never finished a book when I did that. They say that editing and writing engage separate sides of the brain, so if you're constantly going back and forth, you can never truly immerse yourself in one or the other. Now I write more-or-less start to finish, even if I know halfway through that I'm going to completely change course. In my current book, I got about 2/3 in and decided I wanted to take a part of the story in a completely different direction. I wrote from that point to the end in that direction, knowing that during edits I would have to go back through the beginning and change everything up. But now I finish novels instead of get myself pulled into a never-ending cycle of write-edit-write-edit without ever getting to the end.

    Great advice, as usual. :)

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    1. Wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  8. Here there, I absolutely love the write all the way through method. I'm even taking editing that way. Holly Lisle's class How To Revise Your Novel suggests planning your edits ahead of rewriting so you can try to do as much in a single pass as well. I wasn't getting anywhere the piecey way so I'm giving it a try! One really important tip I've gotten there is to watch how you introduce characters and objects--if it doesn't matter don't use two adjectives to describe it! Don't give a paragraph to intro a temporary character, that sort of thing.

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    1. Oh, Wren! I will have to check out Holly's class. Great advice!

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  9. A delightful post, Tanya! And yep, I'm a pantser from the word go!! LOL...great suggestions, all of these!!!

    Cindy

    Cindy Nord
    www.cindynord.com

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    1. Oh, Cindy. Yep....I'm a proud panster too!

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  10. Awesome post! It took me 3 yrs to write my first novel. Every time I finished a scene, I couldn't move on until I believed it was perfect - very frustrating way to write. I'm about to start a short story. This time, I'm taking your great advise.

    Thanks, Debra

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