LEARNING TO WRITE: MY FIRST NOVEL: PART I
Beyond The Blogs
I had been blogging for a year and decided to write my first book. It is a fiction novel and represents a completely different genre in writing for me. Since all my blogs engage the reader with non-fiction material, this exploit is way beyond the landscape that I am familiar with.
I started my story about eight years ago and abandoned the effort because I thought it was a waste of my time. Back them, I wondered who would want to read a novel written by me and buy my book. So the preliminary draft sat deserted in an archived file on my computer and forgotten for all those years gone by.
What changed since then is that I finally worked up the nerve to start a website and share my life experiences with anyone who wanted something different to read. Since thousands of you have already responded and told me you liked my stories, I have gained new confidence in my writing capabilities. Hence, I pulled the forlorn novel out of electronic storage bin and decided to dust it off for another look.
Something I Have Learned
Writing a novel, or any book for that matter, is a challenging quest that requires passion and dedication to get it done. You have to create real characters and make then come alive within the depths of your mind. You feel what they feel and make them thrust your story forward as it emulates events that seem like they actually happened. If you don’t accomplish that feat, you will fail.
I decided to intertwine three love stories within the cobweb of life and death struggles that tie everything together within the pages of one book. The whole thing came alive as I went forward without an outline or definitive plan of action.
To get to the point, I learned and created as I wrote. Writing a blog is one thing. Creating a full blown novel is another. You must adhere to its own set of rules as you move forward. Yes, rules for both styles do overlap, but the novel’s are much more demanding. Developing a plot out of thin air is a daunting task and you need all the help you can get.
When You Get The First Draft Done
I finished my first draft which included some 60,000 words, 270 pages, and 31 chapters. After making the decision to wash it through a program called Grammarly, I used the free version and got little from it because it didn’t provide what I needed. The premium version is about $30. per month, so I nixed that idea altogether.
ProWritingAid came to my attention as the next option. The free version allows the use of its grammar checker, spelling, style of writing, repeated words checker, cliche checker, and overall report. Since I was limited to 500 words at a time, I just did a single page and ran all the features through the strainer before moving on to the next one.
The website itself also gave me free writing tips and eBook downloads that helped me focus on the correct procedures to follow. Using all the features available will saved me unbelievable amounts of time with that first work, and subsequent efforts thereafter.
Critical Errors I Got The Most Help With
Punctuation was my first hurdle. I wanted to know the correct placement of quotation marks in relation to periods, commas, question marks, exclamation marks, and asterisks. Periods and commas are pretty straight forward, as they almost always fall inside the quotation marks. On the other hand, the positioning of question and exclamation marks have confusing opinions dictating their placement. Some rules say inside and others out. I have chosen to go inside as referenced by some of the novels I have read.
Adverbs are the bane of all writers, or so I have heard. The general accepted rule is to avoid them whenever possible. Words like really, very, than, and was, all play havoc with the reader and cause him or her to plow laboriously (adverb) towards the point the writer is making. It is easy for the reader to lose track of the storyline if the sentences are long and drawn out. I have learned to make most of my points as quickly as possible and move on.
Clichés are another evil that confront me. I loaded my novel with them and eventually went back and made a lot of them them disappear. They do not enhance a creative writing style and I will learn to live without overusing them. I could create my own, I suppose, which would help my sentences have a unique feel about them and ProWritingAid helps me do that.
There is much more involved with the whole process than what I have brought to light here. This is just the start of my journey. I finished my 3rd edit not too long ago and jumped right into my fourth. I feel that the manuscript has reached the 80% percent completion level and I am readying my output for beta testing soon.
My designated reviewers will read it and pick out grammar errors, boring passages, and conflicts. I plan to engage other beta readers to do the same. I want to get as much done right the first time out and not go back with repetitive edits.
I am so into this novel that I get emotional when I read certain parts of it. Sounds silly for a hard core person like myself, but that’s the way I am. I have come this far and don’t want to rush it into print with faulty mistakes that can be fixed now. It will be worth all the effort when it is done.
Next: Finding A Title
I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!