Is there a best way to write a novel?
I’m sure there are at least as many ways to write a novel as authors writing. In fact, there are probably more, because authors could even write each book in a different way.
I don’t know if my way of writing is the best way, it probably isn’t, because I’m fairly new to this profession, having only written two novels so far, but what I do know is that it’s the way that works for me.
I call it the layered approach. First I ‘see’ the chapter or scene I’m about to write. I imagine the conversation, situation, place, and or action which will take place, and when I feel confident about it, I start writing.
The first draft is often an outline, just so I don’t forget, because I have another full-time job and a family, and sometimes I just don’t have the time to develop the idea fully when the idea comes.
During the next stage, I keep thinking about and seeing the scene. I call it ‘summoning’, as I walk, drive, cook, or even dream. If I can, I talk to someone about it, if not I talk to myself about it.
Then I expand the outline, and I continue expanding the outline, with various layers, on different occasions. Each layer focuses on a different aspect, character, or part of the scene. The layering is repeated until I’m satisfied. Then comes the editing, which I consider the final layer.
This process can take days, weeks, or even months, because sometimes I leave the first drafts and return much later, after writing other scenes. I never write chronologically, that is in the order the book finally appears.
I plan the whole novel before I start, but it’s a very loose plan, because I know the characters grow as I write, which sometimes affects the plot, and even the ending. I want to make sure I’m writing with a goal but without constraints.
I imagine it’s like filming. I’m sure no director starts filming scene one and carries through filming in the same sequence as the final film appears at the cinema. I’m also pretty sure painters don’t start at the top of the canvass and finish at the bottom when they paint! The creative process is far too anarchic, eclectic, and subconscious, to follow a strict routine, although the final product looks deceptively ‘neat and tidy’.
Are you an artist? How do you create your work of art? Do you also do it like this?
This post was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s #SoCS: Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday.
This week’s prompt is: Use the word “is” to begin your post – bonus points for using it (as a word on its own or at the end of your final word, i.e. “metamorphosis”) at the end of your post as well. Have fun!
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3 thoughts on “Is there a best way to write a novel? #SoCS”
At this point, I’m only a wannabe writer, but your process makes perfect sense. I love having the scene described in detail — dialogue, setting, actions — the complete package. 🙂
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You’re right about different methods. I know somebody who writes 4 stories at a time and he always times himself and writes for so long each story. Some of mine I’ve just written with only a germ of an idea, for some I’ve done some planning, but it depends. No, there might be a best way for each story to be written or for each person to write, but eve writing essays, although I would normally plan them, some I wrote differently. I tend to write chronologically, although I might change some things on rewrites, but at times when I get an idea about something that might happen later, I’ll take notes and go back to them later. All the best.
Interesting approach, Lucy. I do visualize scenes and work out the direction of the story, usually while doing laps in the pool, occasionally in bed before I go to sleep, but other than the main plot and an idea of subplots, I just sit down and write, Sometimes I surprise even myself with what comes out of the little gray cells. Once in a while a will write a scene ahead of time, if the mood strikes and I’m excited about it – almost always the end of the book! As you can imagine, there is a lot of rewriting the first time back through the book!
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