Friday, 26 April 2019

The 3 Biggest Challenges Of Novel-Writing

Anyone who has ever written a novel will tell you that it is hard work, but not nearly so difficult as it seems before you have ever done it. When you are just starting out to write a novel, you might find yourself feeling as though you are about to embark on the impossible. It is helpful to remember that a first draft is just that - a draft - and to bear in mind Hemingway’s assertion that the first draft of anything is meant to be terrible. Giving yourself that space and freedom to just write, as bad as whatever comes out might be, is a hugely valuable thing to do, and ultimately the only way that anyone ever manages to get a first draft down in the first place. You can edit later, and make it as good as it needs to be at that point. For now, it is worth paying attention to a few key challenges which you are going to have to overcome. The better you understand how to approach the following, the better your results will be.


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Character Development

There is an old debate about whether plot or character is more important, but the truth is that there is no good answer to that. It is best to think of the two of equally relevant intertwining things, for that is exactly what they are, and you can’t work on one without at least having a basic glimmer of the other. However, it’s often best to start with character, as in many ways it is character which drives the plot, and which sits at the centre of the whole web. When you start out to develop a character, how do you begin? Sometimes a character comes fully formed, but not often. Usually you will have to work at it piecemeal, and that means spending time with the character so that you can get to know them as you would a person. Over time, the character develops of their own accord, especially if you help them along with the kind of exercises you can see in this Jericho Writers Guide. Remember that not all characters need to be thickly developed; in fact, you want some to remain fairly flat, so that they serve a function and don’t distract from the protagonist.


Plotting

For some writers, plotting is the hardest part of the whole process, while for others it is the part that comes most easily. Whatever it is for you, there is no doubt that you need to work on it if you are to write that novel, and you will need to know how to put a plot together in a way that makes sense and serves your characters. The plot is influenced and dictated by what your characters want, so that is something to be clear on first. Then you need to make sure that you arc out the story in a way that makes sense logically and which is thrilling to read. It’s helpful to start with an overarching story - beginning, middle and end - and then fine tune it more and more until you have a series of ups and downs which follow a character’s development closely. You want each scene to add something to the story and move it along, so in this way each scene should hold a purpose of some kind. It is hugely valuable to spend a long time on plotting, so that you know exactly what is going to happen and when - and, even more importantly, why.


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Themes & Motifs

If you are to create a truly compelling story, you need to make sure that you are aware of the driving motifs and themes behind it. There is something that has drawn you to tell this specific story, so looking into that deeply should help you to discover this more finely. By developing themes and motifs, you can understand how to draw them out and make them appear in the novel itself, and that is something that lifts your story out of the ordinary and makes it something truly special, and something which people are likely to remember long after they put it down. In order to make sure you are clear on these, write them down in the most stripped-back and ordinary way you can. Doing so will solidify it in your mind, and you will be able to ensure that you are actually writing the novel you meant to write.

Get these right, and you are well on your way to crafting your own novel.

4 comments:

  1. Good advice! I think character is more important as they're wants and fears are what drives the plot. I like reading books that make the characters feel read.

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    1. I totally agree. When the characters don't feel realistic it can really ruin a book for me.

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  2. One of the hardest parts when sitting down to write a novel is the self-doubt, thinking would anyone want to read this? What if it's too close to what someone else already wrote?

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    1. Definitely! I think everyone feels like that but if you don't start you'll never know!

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