Your first novel and other stuff

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
User avatar
dios4vida
Posts: 1119
Joined: February 22nd, 2010, 4:08 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: Your first novel and other stuff

Post by dios4vida » August 24th, 2012, 11:39 pm

breathe wrote:I think the thing that frightens me most is that I still don't know my true voice or real writing style or genre. So I have all these characters and ideas and I just want to go from project to project to keep getting them all out and then discover what is really me. But then I keep thinking "there's no time. so many ideas and i just want to leap from project to project" and theres so much to learn and so much other crap in life to deal with. I need to chill out :(
Finding your voice is one of the hardest things for a writer to do. Many of us who are on our fourth or fifth novels are still looking for it. And many people write in several different genres. The key is to find something that is real and works for the novel you're writing right now and run with it. Your voice may change from story to story, but if that's what works for those stories then that's okay.

There is a lot to learn, but don't try to rush it. If you try to learn everything right this moment, you'll end up not really learning anything at all. Take your time, realize this is a process that takes years, and enjoy every step. (Or at least endure through every step, it goes in phases like that.)
breathe wrote:Did you ever have your very first novel critiqued? Or did you move along to a new improved project? The thing that worries me is potentially revising a first novel and showing it to CP's and it being really really bad. It seems that most people look back at their first novel and cringe. So I'm wondering would I make myself look like a fool to potential CP's that I seek out? (and that's a whole other basket there , trying to find CP's that I trust and that would want to be my CP, I'm not on social media, but I do follow a lot of people I totally would like to engage more with).
True critique partners? No. My parents and my husband read my first novel. They're great at giving hard critiques (not everything is fantastic and wonderful just because I wrote it - they've told me on more than one occasion that this or that stink), but still, they're family and they love me. The only novel I've had critiqued by another writer is my latest. It was my third and still, he had a lot of advice that's making me plan rewrites. It happens.

Would you make yourself look like a fool? Probably not. It all depends. If you're confident that your first novel really is worth it, then go for it. Otherwise, put it aside and move on. I do think that this is something you shouldn't worry about until you're at that stage, though. Worrying about critique partners when you're still working on your first draft is getting a little ahead of yourself. Just focus on your writing right now and make the book the best you can make it - understand it probably won't be as good as you want it to be, since you're just starting out - and jump over the critique partner bridge when it's time for that. You'll know when you get there if you're ready to show it to someone else.
breathe wrote:Have your CP's changed over time? How many CP's do you have per project? Show them just the first chapter (for example , your first novel) or the whole thing?
I have a critique circle of three other writers, and we exchange 1,000 words every week. I have one true critique partner with whom I exchange full novels and short stories (on his part, I obviously talk way too much to write short stories ;) ). All of these folks I met through the Bransforums here and they're all fantastic, awesome writers and great people. Whatever kind of setups you get with other writers depends on how you write and what kind of feedback you're looking for. My circle is about seeing how projects are coming together and getting advice for rough WIPs. Matt, my critique partner, and I exchange novels that have been extensively edited and are in mid to late stages toward submission or publication. These are much more intensive, nitpicky, and getting down to details to get everything as perfect as can be. These all serve different purposes but they're both invaluable to me. Others feel differently, but again, that all depends on the kind of writer you are.

Mainly, what I want to say is don't worry so much about critiques and submissions and all that stuff right now. You have to prove to yourself that you can write a novel first, and make it a good enough one to move on to the next step. Everyone has to reach that hurdle first. It's great to plan ahead, but make sure you keep your true focus on what's most important - getting that book finished in the first place. :D
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

breathe
Posts: 18
Joined: August 11th, 2012, 10:05 pm
Contact:

Re: Your first novel and other stuff

Post by breathe » August 25th, 2012, 9:26 am

Thanks for the FB. I have written in the past, but I consider this to be my first for some reason (maybe because I plan to sit and revise it afterward rather than just save it and never look at it again).

I found a good quote on writing that I think must be really true:
"To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard"
- Allen Ginsberg, WD

trixie
Posts: 311
Joined: January 4th, 2011, 12:35 pm
Contact:

Re: Your first novel and other stuff

Post by trixie » August 26th, 2012, 11:40 am

So many thoughts running through my head after reading this thread.

First of all, group hug for the Branforumers. I love hearing how everyone approaches the writing process.

I have a secret fear that I'm not really a "writer", but more of a "pretender" because I have a VERY difficult time finishing my stories. On the other hand, each one of my stories have been part of an amazing educational process where I can tell my writing is getting stronger and my voice is starting to come out. So, while it sucks some of them aren't done, I'm still proud with how far I've come.

1. YA fantasy, first and only complete book I've written. I tried sharing it with my writing group, but it was filled with so many mistakes that I couldn't keep giving them sections. And by mistakes, I don't mean typos. I mean head hopping between characters and lapses in world building (magic in this chapter, but not in that one?), just to name a few. But it was my first story, so I learned how to write, how to tell a tale, how to create a world and a mythology, and how to be A WRITER.

2. My 2010 MG novel. I thought was I close to being done, and then... well, then I wasn't. There's SO MUCH to do and I've spent SO MUCH TIME on this story that I have to take a break from it or else I'll just burn out. But this story was where I really cut my teeth on story arcs, theme, and pacing. It's FAR from perfect, but my writing is already so much stronger here than in the 1st book.

3. My 2011 YA sci-fi novel. I haven't opened this since I finished NaNo last year. I miss this story. I remember writing some of the scenes and giving myself goosebumps, and crying in another. I like to think I learned a bit about writing action scenes in this one, but maybe that's in my head. I also kept working on world building and creating a sympathetic antagonist, someone who is still the "bad guy", but has some depth.

4. I'm ready to hop into this YA "thriller" that I've been outlining for the past week. I should hang on to it until Nov 1, but I might bang it out before then and use a different story idea for November. Between this outline and the previous 3 stories, I can see that my story is more streamlined. Each scene serves a purpose. If the story turns out anything like the story in my head, this one will be tighter than the rest, trimmed of the excess fat and unnecessary scenes/characters/plot lines.

Why am I tell you all of this? Because I never really thought my writing was getting better. I thought I was simply banging out the words, creating conflict, and tinkering with my story. But when I "zoomed out" and looked at my overall writing journey, I am SO PROUD of how far I've come in a few years. My goal now is to break out of the "one book a year" mentality, compliments of NaNoWriMo. I might push out two stories this year just to prove to myself that I can. And, God forbid, I might actually finish one of them. :)

This is a giant mess of unorganized information, but I wanted to show that the process truly is different for everyone. I know I should/can do things differently, but for now, I'm at least seeing actual improvement, so my process is okay.

LizV
Posts: 82
Joined: July 6th, 2012, 11:35 am
Contact:

Re: Your first novel and other stuff

Post by LizV » August 27th, 2012, 10:51 am

On the subject of voice, you might find this useful: http://pcwrede.com/blog/the-question-of-voice/

breathe
Posts: 18
Joined: August 11th, 2012, 10:05 pm
Contact:

Re: Your first novel and other stuff

Post by breathe » August 29th, 2012, 10:35 pm

trixie wrote:So many thoughts running through my head after reading this thread.

First of all, group hug for the Branforumers. I love hearing how everyone approaches the writing process.

I have a secret fear that I'm not really a "writer", but more of a "pretender" because I have a VERY difficult time finishing my stories. On the other hand, each one of my stories have been part of an amazing educational process where I can tell my writing is getting stronger and my voice is starting to come out. So, while it sucks some of them aren't done, I'm still proud with how far I've come.

1. YA fantasy, first and only complete book I've written. I tried sharing it with my writing group, but it was filled with so many mistakes that I couldn't keep giving them sections. And by mistakes, I don't mean typos. I mean head hopping between characters and lapses in world building (magic in this chapter, but not in that one?), just to name a few. But it was my first story, so I learned how to write, how to tell a tale, how to create a world and a mythology, and how to be A WRITER.

2. My 2010 MG novel. I thought was I close to being done, and then... well, then I wasn't. There's SO MUCH to do and I've spent SO MUCH TIME on this story that I have to take a break from it or else I'll just burn out. But this story was where I really cut my teeth on story arcs, theme, and pacing. It's FAR from perfect, but my writing is already so much stronger here than in the 1st book.

3. My 2011 YA sci-fi novel. I haven't opened this since I finished NaNo last year. I miss this story. I remember writing some of the scenes and giving myself goosebumps, and crying in another. I like to think I learned a bit about writing action scenes in this one, but maybe that's in my head. I also kept working on world building and creating a sympathetic antagonist, someone who is still the "bad guy", but has some depth.

4. I'm ready to hop into this YA "thriller" that I've been outlining for the past week. I should hang on to it until Nov 1, but I might bang it out before then and use a different story idea for November. Between this outline and the previous 3 stories, I can see that my story is more streamlined. Each scene serves a purpose. If the story turns out anything like the story in my head, this one will be tighter than the rest, trimmed of the excess fat and unnecessary scenes/characters/plot lines.

Why am I tell you all of this? Because I never really thought my writing was getting better. I thought I was simply banging out the words, creating conflict, and tinkering with my story. But when I "zoomed out" and looked at my overall writing journey, I am SO PROUD of how far I've come in a few years. My goal now is to break out of the "one book a year" mentality, compliments of NaNoWriMo. I might push out two stories this year just to prove to myself that I can. And, God forbid, I might actually finish one of them. :)

This is a giant mess of unorganized information, but I wanted to show that the process truly is different for everyone. I know I should/can do things differently, but for now, I'm at least seeing actual improvement, so my process is okay.

Trixie, what a great post. I really appreciate you sharing this really! There's a lot I could comment on, but its already way past bedtime :)
I am a total insomniac (and then I wonder why I am a zombie all day). I need something to get me to zonk out at night (this is totally off topic, obviously my brain is hyperactive this late at night).

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests