Writing a Novel   8 comments

November is National Novel Writing Month–NaNoWriMo.  In 2007 I particpated in the novel-writing frenzy, and I produced Griffin Feathers.  Check it out on Amazon.com.  I’m really proud of it.

This year I’m doing it again.  My working title is simply Rose, and my main character is someone who’s an idealized version of someone very special to me. 

It will be a Tunnels and Trolls novel, and there are good reasons for that.  I know Trollworld.  I made it, with a lot of help from my friends.  I know where the monsters live, and I know how, and I know why.  I know where strange things can pop up.  And they will pop up–what’s the fun of creating a new story if you don’t put new things into it?

And, it has to be a fantasy.  I obsess over fantasy. Trapped in a world of relentless science, I crave fantasy–wizards, monsters, and magic.  Here on 21st century Earth I can have a fantasy of fantasy, but not the real thing.  Law and Science rule our world.  Those who think otherwise delude themselves.

I prepared  myself for this literary sprint. I made a long drive out to Tempe, Arizona last month to attend a free talk about writing fast and writing well given by my friend Michael Stackpole.  Michael is an enormously prolific author.  He’s smart, and he’s good, and it burns my soul that I haven’t accomplished what he’s accomplished as a writer. 

It’s not that I haven’t heard his advice before.  It’s more like I need to hear it again.

Mike told me, and 30 other would-be writers, to let the characters drive the story.  That’s one of my goals this month.  Spend more time on character.  That’s hard.  It’s especially hard if you try to avoid caricature.  I don’t want the reader to say, oh, he’s a typical fighting dwarf.  So, I’ve changed that character to a fighting dwarf female.  And she’s getting kind of old, grumpy, and forgetful.  How will that affect my story?  I don’t know. 

Another thing Mike told me is don’t go back and revise until you’re done.  Your goal is 1700 words a day.  If you spend much time editing yourself as you go–and that is something I normally do–you won’t get your 1700 words done.  Fix it later.  Make notes.  Change things later.  Elaborate later if you have to.  But don’t stop.  Don’t go back.  Let the words flow and devil take the editing.  That’s hard.

A third thing he mentioned was to print out what you’ve written every day and put it in a binder.  I work on a computer–in a sense I’m online whenever I’m on a computer, and when you’re online you can be interrupted.  Print it out.  When you want to edit, edit offline.  Mark up your manuscript.  When November is over I can go back and use that marked up draft to improve my computer files version of the novel.  I have 8 pages printed out so far, and even though I know they’re full of errors, they look good to me.  I can hardly wait to have 40 or 100 pages printed out.

I’m off to a good start.  I’ve done two chapters, about 3100 words in the first two days.  I’m barely starting to introduce my characters and my world.  Two days down, twenty-eight to go.  Wish me will power.  Egg me on!  Challenge me to finish.

I have challenged myself this year by telling everyone I’m going to do this thing.  I’ll feel pretty stupid if I don’t do it.  But you guys can also crack the whip.  God keep me from distractions until I’ve done my 1500 words or more per day.

And, if you’re also writing for NaNoWriMo, then take this as encouragement.  I’m really a very lazy guy.  If I can do it, you can do it.  Let’s encourage each other, and see who has the longer, stronger, better manuscript when the month is over.


Posted November 2, 2009 by atroll in Uncategorized

8 responses to “Writing a Novel

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  1. You can do it Ken! You’ve got the talent and the imagination, if you just can keep yourself at it it will be great!

  2. I’m doing it again this year, even with the new baby. Good luck to you, and to me as well!

  3. Looking forward to this one, too.

    I think I know of who you speak.
    –If I am correct, I’d agree with your choice.

  4. Stick with it Ken – you really are a good writer.
    One of things I enjoyed about the T&T rulebook when I read it all those years ago was how readable and entertaining it was.

  5. Strike ‘who’
    Add ‘whom’

    It was late.

  6. Keep writing Ken! My wife is writing as well, every day and she just said “Yes!” beside me as I type this. 1700 words can’t be that hard, can it?

    I liked Griffin Feathers so I look forward to this one.

  7. Thanks for all the encouragement, friends. I’m still gung ho on this, especially since I am overturning my stereotypes and wandering far afield of my source material. 1400 plus words today, but that was the natural length of the chapter. And it looks like everyone will have to wait until at least next year to see it.

    Korraq, high five your wife for me and tell her right on. 1700 words–she’d doing great. I’ve done 2000 words today, but 500 of them were for the Gristlegrim dungeon project.

  8. High fived. 🙂

    She liked the encouragement…

    Here’s to many words written today, for all!

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