Monday, March 10, 2008

Novel 101


I'm going to try something new here. In my last post, I chatted about starting a new novel. And it occurred to me that it might be interesting to "track"the process every week. Not just word count but explore what I'm doing and why. It's also a distinct possibility that it will turn into sausage. You know, the whole idea of everybody likes it but no one wants to see how it's made. Time (and your comments!) will tell, I guess.

See, with All the Numbers, I had the whole story arc in mind before I even started writing it. I knew Ellen so well because she was quite alot like me. I stole people from my own life to use as characters. So, even though the first draft was only about 1/3 of what it would eventually become, I had all the bones.

I thought I knew how to write a book. Ha.

Then I sat down to write Unexpected Grace. I had a general idea. Told as almost two narratives, through two different voices, one worked from the start, the other was much tougher for me to discover. I finally realized why--with one, I felt like I was bubbling up out of her soul. The other one, I knew what happened to her, but I was always outside of her. That one didn't work. It wasn't until I'd crawled inside of not only her world, but her skin, that her story became compelling.

So, with each book I'm learning.

With Spinning (the working title for my WIP), as I mentioned in my last post, one of the characters nagged at me until I started writing her story down. But before I dove in any more, I've spent the last few days thinking not only about Rosie, but her mom, and Jim and Maggie. I've thought about how I want to tell their stories. I've identified the focal point, the pivotal event that sets their stories in motion. This week, I'm going to try to write out a very loose outline or synopsis. I find that if I know what I'm writing toward, it's much easier for me to get in the zone. The characters seem to let me in more if they know I'm listening.

So, that's my plan for the book. We'll see.

13 comments:

kristenspina said...

I love this idea, and I can't wait to come along for the ride!

Larramie said...

To quote Amy: "We shall see." Much good writing.

Carleen Brice said...

I'll be very interested in seeing how this progresses! (And learning from it!)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Kristen, Thanks for your enthusiasm. We'll see how it goes.

Larramie, Yes we shall. And let's hope for that good writing!

Carleen, Thanks--it's all new for me, too.

Sustenance Scout said...

Judy, I love plotting...and your attitude toward it. You know where you're going but there's plenty of room for surprises along the way. Looking forward to following along! K.

Lisa said...

*squealing and clapping hands*

I can't wait. I imagine that each novel is probably an entirely new experience because you're a different novelist each time. I can't wait to see how this evolves!

April said...

I think this is great!!! I really like reading about how a published author gets things done. I wonder at times if I do things at all the way anyone does them. I really am so excited for Unexpected Grace to come out - and I love the title.

Julie Layne said...

I love this kind of post. Probably my favorite kind on author blogs.

Enquiring minds want to know:
"How you get up there?" ;-)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

K, Yes, I think the trick is to have a very rough sense of purpose, but not too buttoned down. I have to let my characters become who they are going to be.

Lisa, I sure hope you're still clapping a few more posts in! And you're exactly right, I'm not the same writer I was with the first book.

April and Julie, I'm so tickled that you're excited.

The Writers' Group said...

Judy, it's sooooo hard starting a new book, I think you're wise to get your bearings and frame your structure first. How do others do it?

It takes me months and months to write that first chapter (6 mos for TETHERED and 3 for WIP) because in it we need to set the tone, voice, place, conflict. We need to plant the seeds of our subplots and we need to know the theme and characters thoroughly. It is such a leap of faith to start a book and I wish you clarity. Then send a little my way, would you?

Amy MacKinnon

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Amy, you may regret your offer . . . but you're on, baby!

Daisy said...

When I'm teaching reading, we identify point of view as thrid- personal singular or third-person omniscient. It sounds like a novelist needs to be omniscient, even if the evnetual product is singular!
Fascinating idea. Of course, I like sausage, too. :)

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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