No matter what kind of novel writing you are doing, no matter the genre, there is no novel without trouble. Every story begins with conflict. What’s yours?Don’t be afraid to write a paragraph here, a page there. Not everything has to be a full-fledged chapter in the early stages of novel writing. If you have a scene in your head that you know you want to write, go for it.
One of the biggest mistakes beginning writers make is showing their early efforts to anyone who will look.
The old adage is, “Write what you know.” But you also need to be willing to write what you don’t know. In the spirit of discovery, allow one character to work in a field about which you know very little, or allow some element of the plot, or a subplot, to delve into something you find unusual.
- What is at risk in the story?
- Does your protagonist stand to lose or gain?
- What does he or she want, and why is it important?
The stakes must be clear if you want the reader to care. Often, there will be more than one thing at stake, more than one big risk.
Actually, there are always three versions to every story. The first is the implied story, the story as it was intended by the writer. This is the writer’s internalized version, the writer’s “vivid and continuous fictional dream.” The story conveyed onto paper changes due to the author’s own vocabulary, interpretation of word meanings and the words’ connotations — all of which can be fluid, continuously changing, at least in some degree, over the writer’s life.
How a particular author might write a story today could be very different from how that same author might write the same story tomorrow.
The second version of the story is the actual story, the written word in book form. It has no opinions, no hidden agendas. It is unbiased and all of the words have logical dictionary meanings — until it is picked up and read.
This leads us to the individual reader’s inferred story. The story then changes in at least a small degree in the translation of that original “vivid and continuous fictional dream” to the final interpreted one of the reader. This is due to that particular reader’s vocabulary, understanding of the words used and the connotations those words have to that individual. With the preceding in mind, does this illustrate the importance of authors’ word choices, their vocabulary and the necessity of terse writing? I hope so.
Writers cannot take for granted that all readers will be able to mentally see a scene just because it is clear in the head of the author. Correct, concise descriptors must be chosen. Being a wordsmith is not just about hammering out pretty words — writers should be concerned more with using their words in an economical fashion to craft something beautiful. Beauty is not in the words, but in the images, thoughts and senses the words create.
One of the biggest mistakes beginning writers make is showing their early efforts to anyone who will look. I know, it’s tempting. You’re writing a novel. Initially, You want feedback! Further, You want support! Finally, You want someone to tell you it’s awesome. But hold your horses. If you let too many people see your novel too early, they’re going to have all sorts of ideas about where it should go and what it should be about, what you should include and what you should leave out.