By Dallas Beams, Electric Moon Team Member
I have written the first three chapters to eleven different books, which, I’d like to think, is quite an accomplishment. With all that hard work and effort, you’d think I could have a whole book and had it published by now, but alas, I tend to fizzle out.
For months, I have the perfect idea for a novel, I map out the characters, the plot, the words, and then I begin to write. It flows through my fingertips like the magic from Harry Potter’s wand. But three chapters in, something happens.
I get distracted.
I flip on some Netflix and grab a bowl of popcorn, forgetting all about my amazing novel idea.
However, I have just started my twelfth novel and I have made it to chapter five! I believe I have finally accumulated some tips and tricks to completing the big book idea.
1. Write what you know. Until recently, I never understood what my teachers were saying class after class. Write about what I know? My life is boring, I have nothing interesting to write about from my own life. Yet, in the last few months, I’ve found the middle ground.
Write what you know doesn’t necessarily mean “write your life story” (unless that’s what you want, then do that), it could mean take a small part of your life and incorporate it into your story. The setting, the characters, a small plot story all will provide your writing with a little stamp of you. This small detail of your life will keep your interest in the story alive, and simultaneously draw your readers to the passion in your writing.
2. Shi**y First Drafts (asterisks added). Anne Lammot, author of six novels, coined the term “shi**y first draft” in her 1994 book about writing Bird by Bird. She says that all great writers start with a horrible draft of writer’s creative vomit when writing their first draft. The power this idea can generate in young writers is unlimited. As a writer and editor, I know how hard it can be to get past a sentence that doesn’t sound just perfect. I want to fix every single period and semicolon as I write. Lammot suggests that writers ignore the urge to rein themselves in, and pull that backspace button right off your keyboard. This allows the writer to get out all of their thoughts, without distraction and without fear.
3. Show, don’t tell. I encourage all writers to visualize their storyline. As taboo as it is for a writer to acknowledge that someday your book may become a film, it might happen.
Gasp! What? Yes. I like to visualize my scenes actually happening on the big screen. Imagine the music you would want playing, the look on your characters face when his girlfriend slaps him across the cheek, the sound of the last balloon being popped at poor Timmy’s failed fifth birthday party that no one showed up to.
As a reader, I want to see these dramatic moments happening, I don’t want the writer to just tell me “Timmy was sad.” Show me the tears, show me the table with an untouched cake sitting atop it, candle still lit.
While these may not be the traditional tips and tricks to write a novel, they are the few phrases that have stuck in my head throughout my school and editing career. Try these tips out and let us know if these helped.
What trick do you use to keep yourself motivated?
What helps you keep your writing moving?
Dallas is an eMoon associate who specializes in editing and writing.