Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Advice For the Writer


If you have a finger or two, access to Internet and a little time, you can stumble onto myriads of tips, tricks and bits of advice on how to organize your novel writing. There's a ton of great sources out there, many of them right here in the blog-o-sphere, which can set you in the right direction to make sure you efficiently and enjoyably write the best novel you can without taking years to do it. (Some novels do in fact take years to develop, even with efficient writing tools and schedules, but that's another beast for another day)

Anyway.

One thing that most people know is that achieving success is relative. Completion of a chapter may be success to me, while completion of a novel may be success to you, yet another person may have written a few novels, but doesn't feel successful until they receive a dignified award of some kind from the literary community. Success IS relative and subjective, but, setting up reasonable goals and reaching those goals can give most of us a feeling of success, which in turn will fuel our desire to continue. So, here's a little suggestion to help you reach those moments of success.

Try breaking your novel down into "acts."

For example:

Let's say that you are attempting to write a fiction novel with an approximate word count of 80,000 words. Try breaking that up into four acts.

Act 1 - 20,000 words
Act 2 - 20,000 words
Act 3 - 20,000 words
Act 4 - 20,000 words

Give each act a specific purpose.

For example:

Act 1 - Lay foundation and conflict
Act 2 - Develop characters and intensify conflict
Act 3 - Bring conflict to a climax
Act 4 - End climax and close the story, or tie up loose ends

This is obviously very generic advice and in your own way, you can determine how many acts you need to fully tell your story and how much of a word count each act will be given... Breaking it up like this and labeling the need of the act will empower you to truly use the appropriate words you've allotted for that act to get done what needs getting done. This can help you eliminate unnecessary information, can help you prioritize how much time you'd like to spend on each act. Ultimately, the best part is that, as you complete an act, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment and success. This should help fuel your desire to move forward and makes the whole novel seem less daunting. Rather than worrying about writing your 80,000 words, all you have to do is write your 20k word act at a time. Try it out. See if it helps you. I know it helps me.

6 comments:

David J. West said...

Great advice Void. I am currently using a similar formula but with only 3 acts.

Donna Hole said...

Lately, all my acts have involved just sitting down at the computer and opening the novel; making at least a few words of change in the revisions I'd like to accomplish; and feeling proud of my self for the few moments I've given my creation.

Your advice is good though. And I have to agree; there are so many wonderful sites for writers info in the net - especially on blogs.

Now, if I could only spend more time implementing the advice and less time reading and nodding.

.........dhole

Stephanie Thornton said...

Could success be winning the Nobel Peace Prize for literature?

Just kidding!

I feel great knowing I have an awesome, polished novel under my belt. I'll feel even more successful when I have an agent though.

Elana Johnson said...

Great advice! :)

Susan Quinn said...

You must have read my blogging mind, today! I blogged about Setting Goals as well.

I've been that intentional about plotting out a novel before, but never alloted a word count to it - interesting idea.

Voidwalker said...

Thanks for the kind remarks. I'm not the first person to suggest these things, but it's still worth talking about, if you ask me.