Some of you all know, who are loyal followers of my blog, that I have been very busy writing a book.
The idea formed when I was fresh out of college in 2007 and has not left my mind since. I wrote a few thousand words on it back in 2008 but had not returned to it due to a lack of computer, writing program, etc.
This year: Got a laptop.
This year: Got Scrivener.
And 2 months ago I was rockin and rollin!!
Now, some 84,000 words later and I am doing my first edit of the rough draft. And whew, what an emotional ride that was wrestling with all of the scenes in my head, fleshing out the characters that whisper to my brain cells and putting them into words, and preparing dynamic scenes. (Writing those intense scenes…was INTENSE.)
Now for the hard part. Editing. Searching for beta readers who will be generous with their time (for free, because, let’s face it…) and their input. Then querying agents.
So a brief introduction to what the book is all about, and if you’d comment please: Would love to read it. Would NEVER read it. Or something to those effects…I’d love to know 🙂 Thanks!
The book is a literary fiction novel (possibly general or mainstream fiction, women’s fiction, or literary-suspense…this depends on how an agent choses to market the book to the publishers. For the sake of ego, I have been calling it literary fiction as that was my original intent. Truthfully, literary fiction is difficult to market, to sell, and I am not convinced the writing measures up to being called “literary.” Hey, I am honest. I think mainstream fiction would suit me just fine. Just don’t call it YA, or my heart might break a little.)
On to the synopsis:
Book Title: Elephant Song
Cassandra Belle is a mess. Her good intentions as a mother have been swept away by haunting memories, trauma, and mental illness. Her parents and family disowning her. Angel’s father leaving her destitute, standing on the broken stoop, baby on her hip. And when her daughter Angel, now 15 and fiercely independent, falls prey to an online madman, Cassie has to call up strength she never knew she had, lean on people she never knew she had. When Angel disappears…everything changes. …click…click…click…click…
I am not
going to sugar-coat it; that first novel can kick your tail. But it
doesn’t have to be so incredibly daunting that the great idea for a
novel that you dreamed up one foggy afternoon six years ago, can’t be
brought to fruition. The idea is there. Perhaps the characters have been
mingling, getting to know each other, playing out various ways of
interacting…but it’s all between your ears. So how do you get them out
of your head and into print? Don’t they at least deserve that? Here is
some practical, useful advice to get that overwhelming rough draft
as best you can which genre your novel will be, and research how many
words that genre typically would be. This seems obvious, but there are
several sub-genres or your novel could fall within that gray area of “is
this literary or mainstream fiction?” You will want to do this because
A. It will affect the language you use, your target audience, how much
description or what “atmosphere” you choose to develop while writing
your novel. And B. It will give you an idea of how long your novel would
optimally be. Knowing the length of the novel gives you keener sense of
what pace to take your writing, when to add in crucial elements to your
plot, and where the arc of your story should be. It is easier to break
your novel into sections of words than starting and adding to the pile
with each word you type. Make a timeline of word counts and plot the
main parts of your novel…this is an excellent visual of knowing where
you are going. Having a plan you can change is better than no plan at
can do this, just let “one foot in front of the other” aka “one word at
a time” apply to your attitude and mental approach, not to your overall
plan to completion. A race is won, yes by this method…but what if you
don’t have a route?
Choose a program and/or method. Some love Word, some write on napkins, but consider the way you write and your personality. I like a structured program so I go with Scrivener
and could NOT write my novel without it. Research a few different
options and see what will work best for you. Take time to learn the
program, get the “For Dummies,” or like up some favorites of resources
on your browser. Just have the tools you need at the ready. This will
eliminate a huge roadblock that many first time novelists trip so hard
over they can’t hear their characters for the stars in their eyes. Don’t
be distracted by formatting and structure so much that you aren’t able
first draft is a “just get it written” draft. So DO NOT overthink so
much that you take the comma out, put the comma back, take it out again.
This draft is about getting the content out of your head and onto the
screen. You will do several reads-through and edits. Don’t get too tied
up in correcting plot holes or spelling or fleshing out your characters
perfectly because you will be doing this as you go through your edit(s.)
Your goal is plot and making sure the webbing of the book is in place.
That structure is crucial to having a novel that can stand up on it’s
Set a REALISTIC writing goal for yourself.
not pay a single bit of attention to the writing goals of others…set a
goal for yourself that is fairly easily attainable. Writing every day is
best, especially if you have trouble staying motivated. if motivation
is no problem for you, but the obsessive spirit in you makes you write
for six hours straight at a time with complete disregard to your hygiene
and important responsibilities, then perhaps your writing goal is a
reminder to pace yourself, avoid burnout, and avoid the terrible neck
aches or eye strain that accompany your all-nighters. You know yourself
and what you need to stay motivated. Make a plan to stick to, but make
your goals reachable.
the troops. You are going to need supportive people around you to keep
you motivated, but also to pick up the slack in other areas of your life
so that you can stay focused on your writing. If you have planned to
write certain hours of the day, you will need to be able to thwart
potential distractions such as Facebook messages or texts and phone
calls. Is your mom your best cheerleader? Then talk to her about your
plans and use her support as a way to keep motivated. You need to
isolate yourself to a certain degree to finish your work and to do this
you will need people to be understanding. Have a small team of people
you can count on to help you through. These people are not to be
confused with beta readers. These folks are your support staff, your
cheerleaders, your emotional supporters. They are also not your
therapists, but the people that help out with the laundry to give you
more time to work. The people that fix you a coffee or who respect your
need to hole-up for a few hours a day, undisturbed. Perhaps they are the
ones who are willing to kick in more financial support if you are
working fewer hours outside of the home. Prepare your troops because the
battle is a fierce emotional one and you may need back up on the
homefront to make it to the victorious first draft finish line. Let your
support people know what your commitments are so they can honor those.
In my home it is a s simple as “I’m working.” My family has been very
supportive and helpful when they hear me say those powerful words.
go of some things that are distractions. Turn off Netflix. Put your
phone on silent while you work. Opt for simpler dinners or smaller goals
in other areas of your life so that you have the time you need to work.
Facebook and Twitter can wait on a social level while you disengage,
unless, of course, you are researching for your novel. Find a place that
you can work that helps you to stay focused and puts you in the best
headspace for energy flow and creativity.
put — you can do this. Confidence is key. Novel-writing is not your
therapist. While you put your heart into your writing, your writing is
not your therapy. It does not define you as a person, although it is an
extension of you. You exist independently, confidently, wholly as an
individual with or without this novel being finished. It is a personal
goal. A journey you take. Not a way to work out your internal struggles.
Use therapy if you need to do that and let your novel be the story of
your characters. You are their catalyst, not the other way around.
JUST DO IT.
CAN DO IT.
WILL DO IT.
your goals into writing. Write yourself sticky notes of daily goals or
motivations. Map out your plan, share it with your cheerleaders, and get
to work. The finish line awaits. If you have other tips to share with
regards to fleshing out that first draft, I invite you to share them
here with others that may need them. I wish you the best on your