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Things A Novice Learns

Lately I've been on a bit of a time crunch. I'm trying to finish writing a current novel while preparing for NaNoWriMo, which is only two days away. EEP! But I must take a moment to mention some things that I am STILL learning about writing. These are things no one really tells you how to do but tell you to when you start out being a Writer.

It takes a lot of time and effort to get your true voice, and to polish that raggedy Work In Progress into a shiny Manuscript. People will tell you to just write the first draft and worry about the rest later, yet most of the time they don't really mention how. I'm going to let you in on some sekrits I learned that should help. I'm still learning these things, but once you get the hang of them, you'll fly through the first draft and be on your way to revisions and edits in no time.

#1.) PUT DOWN THAT THESAURUS. If you can't find the word you're thinking of, but you know it starts with a 'p' and sorta means symbolize, its personify. Other than that, put a placeholder. You probably won't notice the difference when you're going through edits.

#Blue.) WRITE EVERYTHING THAT COMES TO MIND. Even if you know it won't make it to the end. Useless scenes may be your muses way of stalling you while she figures out the next one. If you're still wringing your hands when the scene you need isn't coming, go to Write or Die. The web edition or the awesome new desktop edition can push you when you're stumped, and it helps immensely with the next tip.

#S.) LISTEN TO YOUR CHARACTERS. They know more about the story than you do. If that villain wants to give a few coins to a beggar, let him. There may be an underlying reason for his evilness you don't yet know, and could very well be connected to that beggar.

#Llama.) WRITE EVERY DAY. If you're a busy busy person, take a pen and notebook everywhere. Text yourself notes, leave a voicemail, ANYTHING. If you've got the time, set aside an hour or so on your schedule every day. Unplug the internet, close all your games, and write.

#Celery.) DON'T YOU DARE BACKTRACK. If you've come upon a twist that works but needs to be implemented earlier on, make a note and write like it's already apart of the story. If you backtrack and add, you'll be tempted to edit or revise when you aren't ready.

#Dirigible.) FIND WRITING BUDDIES. It can be online or in person, just someone who gets the writing process, and gets you. Note: Posting on the internet is considered publishing something, so make sure any website is secure, and don't give out too much information on blogs, etc.

And the most important thing I can tell you: THE FIRST DRAFT IS SUPPOSED TO BE AN UGLY BABY. You're just getting the idea down, fleshing it out and seeing what works and what doesn't. When the first draft is done, go through for the most minor of edits, like spelling and punctuation. Put it in a drawer for a month to six weeks. You need distance for when its time to revise and polish, to see if the plot is still strong or the characters well rounded.

And when its time, buff and polish that ugly, crying baby until its a beautiful, cheerful one. Do its hair, dress it up and send it out on its own to literary agents that may be interested in finding it a home.


  1. Jean says:

    Good summary! Here from Twitter.

    Good Luck with the current novel and the NaNoWriMo.


  2. Thank you for turning me onto NaNoWriMo. Sounds interesting. I am primarily into screenwriting, but NaNoWriMo sounds like something I might give a show just for kicks one of these years.

    Happy writing!!!

  3. Good advice. One thing I do is before I start, I'll read over what I'd written before to get myself back into the "mood". Its only a matter of reading the last couple of pages and then I'm ready and rarin' to continue. This helps to ground me.

    Also, if I cannot find the right word, I'll just run a line and come back to it later.

  4. iwrite92 says:

    I couldn't have said it better myself.
    Good advice to all new authors.

    already waiting for your next blog post ;D

  5. Thanks for the tips. I've been losing sight of some of these and it's always good to have a reminder. I really hope I can finish NaNo this year. It will be a great boost to my confidence. I'm sure you will, what with your ability to churn out 3-5k words in a day.

  6. @Jean and @iwrite92 - Thanks! These are some things I'm still trying to remind myself, particularly the Thesaurus, lol.

    @Jason Dal Bianco - The Office of Letters and Light, the ones who started and run NaNoWriMo, also run April Script Frenzy! You can find out more info here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/scriptfrenzy

    @Robert McKay - Yeah, I'm still having to remind myself of quite a few of those tips myself lol. I haven't been hitting my targets of 3.5K lately, but I'm sure NaNoWriMo will motivate the BOTH of us to really start churning out those words!

    Good luck to everyone during NaNoWriMo! *throws glittery word confetti*


  7. Trish says:

    Hey Britt,

    Great list. And you're making incredible progress. It won't be long now and you'll be typing THE END!.

    Good luck in NaNo--we'll be rooting for you!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Love that list. Great post, thanks for the read. Best of luck for NaNo and see you at the finish line!

  9. Great list for the initial draft - I liked the idea of throwing away the thesaurus! Sometihng I find useful is to makea soundtrack for each WIP - either for listening to in the car when the muse could be usefully occupied, or for playing on headphones when I need to stay at the keyboard!

  10. @Trish & @moderndaystoryteller - Thanks! I'm chugging along as best I can, and I can see the ending close!

    @dirtywhitecandy - I do that too! I have a muse playlist and it really helps me get into my writing groove, the characters are much more into telling me their story when its playing.


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