Watch for Ice

I know, I'll write a novel!

What the hell. I'll write a novel. That's what I told myself. I sat down and banged out a short 300 word opening hook and then realized I had forgotten a plot and I had no specific ideas about characterization. Shrug. That never stopped Tom Clancy. He's a jingoistic hack, but people buy his books.

I work long hours, my weekends are taken up by developing a logic programming system for Perl and now I want to start on a novel? What the hell is wrong with me?

Hmm ... I understand the back story. Now to work on the plot.
I get weird urges like that too, and at the totally wrong times. It's quite annoying.
  • Build a schema using xml-schema
  • Build an xml tree describing your characters and the plot.
  • Write a stylesheet to translate xml tree to a book template.
  • Write a script to implement aforementioned xml tree, schema and template and dump text to file
  • Fill in the blanks

  • It would still be better than at least twenty percent of the crap published.
    NaNoWriMo
    I did NaNoWriMo last year. I didn't finish :-( b/c of the Thanksgiving holiday. But I got 31,000 words written in 24 days. It isn't nearly as difficult as you would think, but structure (like other people participating and encouraging you) is helpful.

    Also helpful: I gave myself 10 days of prep time to tentatively decide on a message, a setting, some characters, some motivation.

    It practically wrote itself after that, to be quite honest. The thing is, the novel is there. The hard work is not so much writing it as revealing it. If you commit yourself to 1700 words a day, you'll get 1700 words, and though it is tiring, it is more like the exhaustion of physical labor than of crafting a poem. I didn't find myself wordsmithing at all -- the brain reveals the scene, the fingers type, the arms get tired.

    I'll get back to you later for a characterization of the difficulties of revision (which, I think, is where the real pain and suffering and wordsmithing begin).
    Re: NaNoWriMo
    Hey, thanks for the info. This is encouraging, though I understand about the pain of revision. I have finished a screenplay and I never did go back and revise it. Of course, the revisions would basically have been a complete rewrite.

    I want to do NaNoWriMo someday :/
    If you feel like doing it, do it. You're a good writer and you should go for it. Here are my thoughts on this kind of thing. I hope they're helpful in some way.

    Whatever you write, you're basically just telling a story. The form (novel, screenplay, short story) might vary to suit the size and type of the tale, but it's really all the same. The biggest single thing that makes it either worthwhile or a waste of time isn't how you tell it, but the story itself. If it's worth being told and if it resonates and has some meaning, you'll be successful.

    The second leg of this three-legged stool are your characters. People like to read about other people. They have to at least be interesting, and they also need to feel real. Some stories succeed on ideas alone, but not many. Inevitably, you'll probably wind up with one main character and a supporting cast, since that's the form most people expect. Unless you're writing an unusual piece, you're well advised to make that main character someone likable or even endearing, since your audience is going to be spending most of their time in their company. It's important, too, to make your characters change as the story unfolds and they react to events.

    The last main element is your own voice, the style you use to tell your story. I think this is overrated. Some extremely talented writers get by mostly on their style alone, but most of us don't have that kind of ability. But beginning writers, especially, think that if they just find clever ways to tell the story that's all that really matters. Personally, I think simplicity and clarity are the most important things. Only if your story or characters are weak do you need to conjure up alot of razzamatazz to cover this up.

    Just think of the things that matter to you, and the most interesting people you've known. Put those together. Tell a story that engages your passion, that means something to you. The result will probably surprise you. I call tell from your posting that you have all it takes, you just need to assemble it. That takes time. Know your story completely, and your characters pretty well, before starting to write, unless you're the type that likes to make lots of revisions.