1.07.2006

A Novel in a Year

The estimable Kitty, she of the photos that really do require keyboard insurance before viewing, sent this link to an article about how to write a novel in a year.

I think it's a peachy idea for those of you starting out. This is a much more realistic way to get a good start than the Novel in a Month competition. And if it's daunting to think "year"...just think of where you'll be next year if you DON'T start now.

You might also check out Louise Doughty's books to see if what she writes appeals to you. You're less likely to give credence to her advice if you think she can't write. I haven't read any yet, but I will and report back.

There's also a book called something like writing a novel on the weekend by Robert Ray. I read it quite a few years back and it seemed like cogent advice, and I like his novels.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Robert Ray book was "The Weekend Novelist," and it is excellent for time-strapped writers who want to accomplish the task of finishing a novel in a year.

Not sure if it's in print any longer -- I got my copy on Half.com years ago.

The Gambino Crime Family said...

Cool column. It'll be interesting to see if she goes into the whole "should you write with an outline?" debate. And three years to finish your first novel? Sounds a little longish. (But then again, I've become one of those tedious gits with their outlines, flow charts and 3X5 notecards, so what do I know?...)

Anonymous said...

Cynthia writes:

Am I a mutant? I read with interest the link, and I can't believe it takes any serious writer 18 months to write a novel. Way too friggin' long, if you ask me.

My current WIP is proof of that: as of Jan. 9, I have six chapters done. Last year I wrote four (yes, I did say four) complete MS.

She did say something cogent: writers must write, or else they're not writers. I do ten pages a day, or else I feel lousy. Yes, I do on occasion take off an evening for family or emergencies (there better be blood!), but I give up my sleep at night after working a full-time day job and coming home to take care of my wee four-year old who (gasp!) has homework! (There oughta be a law.)

For those of you interested in another take on a BIAY, try eHarlequin.com's Learn-To-Write section. Yes, it is geared toward category romance, but it breaks down the process in a universal way that echoes that of many other books on writing.

Poohba said...

I'm still at work on my first novel. I started it in February of 2003. My first draft, however, was done in a little over two months. I've been revising (and sometimes just setting it aside to let ideas percolate) since then.

kitty said...

I've ordered her book An English Murder. I'm a sucker for the title and that cover, but I ordered it after reading the first page.

Anonymous said...

Cynthia, you aren't a mutant, any more than Doughty is. Many serious novelists take 18 months or four years or longer to write the book in the way it needs to be written.

Some people can write very fast, and some can't. Sometimes it depends on the book (as Doughty pointed out, a book with heavy research into a culture and time not her own took longer). Sometimes people start out slow, then as they improve, they get quicker. Others start out like lightning bugs, and then realize they've been rushing, slow down, and do better. Some always keep the same speed and do just fine.

On a somewhat connected note, my agent says the number one problem she sees with submissions is writers rushing.

Ray said...

The key is not whether one takes a year, a month, or 18-months to write a novel. The key is a deadline.

For example, I have promised my friends that they can read my novel when we go camping in July. Now I have to live up to that deadline even though it is arbitrary.

It is also good to have friends who will abuse you if you miss your deadline.

Bernita said...

Hey, I wrote one in 6 weeks.
I am still revising it almost a year later, however...

Feisty said...

Ok, I'd flunk with you guys. It took me 7 years to write, revise, and polish a novel. Most of the work was revision and that didn't come easily some of the time.

At this rate, I have about 3 more books in me before I die. My current book is almost 5 years old and I am still revising. It's getting better.

I admire the folks who can crank 'em out. I can't. I have to think, mull, plan, rethink, rewrite, tear up, and tape back together.

But, I have to wonder WHAT everyone is writing. I think that makes a difference.

Eden said...

Here's another way to complete a story (be it a short story, novel, whatever) in a year, a step at a time: 12 Baby Steps to a Complete Story. When I saw the Telegraph column, I thought of this immediately.

McKoala said...

Louise Doughty already has 432 messages! Methinks she will be busy. Some of the sentences are absolute tosh (I say, what); most are really quite interesting.

Anonymous said...

I want a book that tells me how to write a novel while in college. THAT would help me. Maybe I should look into "The Weekend Novelist." I tried NaNoWriMo and failed, but that was less a time issue than my lack of... well, plot. I realized in an epiphany that my plot didn't exist, and it all went downhill from there. I'm still learning how to write novels--I can only ever finish short stories now.