How do other people write novels? I’m at that point of the novel where I’m so deep in I must keep going as I have been, but I wonder: Am I doing it right?
Is there a “right” way?
This isn’t my first novel, but it feels like my first novel.
Novel #1 (adult): written in grad school, workshopped to oblivion
Novel #2 (adult): written after grad school, abandoned to oblivion
Novel #3 (YA): assignment = lotsa work but fun
Novel #4 (YA): assignment = lotsa work but even more fun
Novel #5 (YA): assignment = hard work, still fun
Novel #6 (middle-grade): assignment = hard work
This is Novel #7. But it feels fresher than the others. It feels real. It feels good. It feels, I don’t know how or why, like I’ve skipped back in time and started over and am writing what truly is Novel #1. Weird.
I had an outline. I’ve made changes that drastically challenge the outline, I’ve taken notes from my editor and altered a lot in the story to address them. So many changes to what had been the outline that it’s best now to not even look at the outline as I write. And anyway, I remember—I don’t seem to need the reminders. I’ll talk more about the outline later, much later, after I’ve finished this draft and my editor has seen it. Because at this point I don’t know if the outline was a help or a hindrance, a building block or a road block, a leaping-off point or— I’ll take stock later, see how it really went then.
The fun part of writing a novel is writing the novel, anyway, not outlining it.
Ahead of me is this sea of blank pages, I can see them, miles of them, expressionless, not giving me a hint of how it’ll be.
How do other writers find their way to “The End”? In the past, I’ve advocated actually leaping forward and writing the final chapter, so you know where you’ll end up. I’ve done that with this novel, almost, in my so-called outline, so I know the place, the room, the people, though adjustments have been made. I’m writing toward that spot. It just feels so far away.
The tourists taking flash photographs at the café table near me aren’t helping. *flash* where am I? *flash* who am I? *flash* novel… what’s that?
Anyway, back to work. A big scene to tackle today. I’ve given my first reader—what’s that called, a “beta reader”?—the first 120 pages to read. My beta, otherwise known as the love of my life, e, is an honest, tough, and smart critic. He knows what I want from the story, and knows me, and once he sees what I have so far I can talk to him about my ideas for plot adjustmets for the third and final act. In the meantime, I’m forging ahead. Big scene. Much work.
Am I doing this right? Any way to know for sure? Please say.