About a year ago my daughter and I decided it was high time we each wrote a novel. We both had lots of ideas running around in our heads, and both of us are fairly decent writers. We were inspired by my father who writes daily on his blog Chiriqui Chatter, and he highly encouraged us to begin our own writing.
We each took pen to paper (fingers to keys, actually) and began our own individual books. After a few weeks the “fun” wore off and procrastination set in, in a big way. I gave up before Lindsay (my daughter). She continued on, writing and re-writing her story, then scrapping it and going to an entirely new idea. I read a lot of her work and was really impressed at the way she was able to express her thoughts into, what I thought, was a pretty good story! She inspired me to get back into it, but I still found it difficult to stay motivated.
That’s when she and I had the idea to combine our imaginations and our stories into one. Brilliant, right? At first the story was just a “good” idea. But as we met at the coffee shop and discussed it over a hot mocha, the story began to evolve. It got to the point where she would start a sentence and, having the exact thought at the exact time, I would finish it. It was like our minds were becoming one and the story really began to come together.
So having a solid outline of a three book series— yes, we jumped in feet first and decided our first attempt at a published novel would also be the first of a trilogy— we began our writing. Actually, Lindsay began the writing because I felt like she had a uniqueness in thinking up the little extra parts that make the story fun and exciting, and I would follow behind her and edit and tweak the story.
While waiting for Lindsay to email me the next chapter, I would read, read, read other writers books. I read mostly self-published ebooks as that is the route we will go this first time around. I read great books from very successful self-published authors like Hugh Howey’s Wool series. I highly recommend these books, a very well-written and thought provoking story of a civilization living beneath the earth after a cataclysmic event forced them underground.
I also read many books in the same genre as our book, that were not well written at all. For the author’s benefit I will not list those books here, but reading them and making notes of my own reactions as I read them really helped me in my own writing. For instance, one book I read showed the protagonist meeting another character and although they barely spoke, they were suddenly in love. I felt no connection between the characters at all and the whole time I was reading I was wishing they would say something or do something that proved their connection. In another book, the story built you up until the last final moment and then completely rushed through the ending as if the author was tired of this book and ready to move on to his next project.
The next thing I did was join a NaNo group. Usually they are in November, but my father introduced me to an author that lives in Panama where he also lives. She is a fabulous author and just published her first novel, Message from Panama, which I highly recommend if you are into suspenseful murder mysteries. This author invited me to join a NaNo group that she was hosting during the month of March. The goal is to have written 50,000 or more new words by the end of the month. To give you an idea of what that looks like, this blog you’re reading is approximately 775 words. While I will probably only reach about 30,000 words by the end of the month, I feel like the process itself of daily writing and the accountability and encouragement of the group made it a completely successful month for me.
I’m finding there is a lot to learn in the writing world, but I am certainly up for the challenge. My hope is to start sharing what I learn as I go along here on my blog. I don’t have a great track record of blogging consistently but am going to make an honest effort to start doing more. Should anyone happen across my blog, I welcome any tips or advice you may have for this newbie novelist!