I Always Wanted to Write a Novel
Mission Impossible. No, not the movie, but possibly how you feel about your dream. Last night you had that recurring dream that you were going to tackle the list of ten things to do before you can’t. Travel, cook, read, dance, hike, get married, get divorced, go to a play at the Fox Theatre, or maybe check out the symphony. The first item on the list is write a novel. You say to yourself, “I’ll start the day after I retire,” which is next month.
A coworker tells you about the Atlanta Writers Club. And here you are at their monthly meeting. The president tells the audience that everyone has a beginning and you find yourself nodding in agreement. You smile, sit back and take some notes. At the break you find yourself wandering around feeling mighty green, until you meet someone and it is their first time also. Well, at least you’re here working on that bucket list before time runs out. Ready. Set. Go.
Next up is a firsthand account of how to write a novel by a member who did just that. Please welcome Caroline Clemens to the stage. (She thanks everyone for being here and tells us to take out our notebooks and write fast!) “This is for the 18-99 year old first timer, any other profession besides an MFA, and someone with a story to tell. Follow this and you can write a book over the next 6-12 months. Purchase or gather up pens, notebooks, a thesaurus, and a computer. Use your name or a pen name and stick with it, start a WordPress blog, keep passwords handy, and figure out what type of book you want to write. Is there a story inside you, or do you just like a particular genre? Purchase a book or two of your favorite author, genre, or general interest. This will help with details when you get to the end of the road.
If you have never written anything and feel very green, then join a poetry group online. I joined d-Verse Poets Pub and stayed with them for over a year eventually having enough material for a collection of poems. Writing poetry gets the language moving, the words are enticing and your brain responds creatively. Join a writing group if you like, I was unable to do this with three kids to escort around town, school, cooking and homework, and later a job. I followed other writing blogs and derived my critique and inspiration from them. If you have a title, great, if not don’t worry it will come. You are going to learn along the way. You are going to Atlanta Writers Club meetings, starting a blog, following a poetry and/or other writing blogs, purchased your writing items, lit a candle, turned on some inspirational music, or silence, and hence the next step is it.
Don’t be scared, this is where I help. On the first few pages of the notebook write the title, plot, places, character names, genre, and any notes you want to remember about the story. On a single page write the title, plot, first sentence, last sentence and desired word count. This will keep you motivated and on task towards the goal. The next four pages, leave pages in between for when you change something and rip it out, will be the outline. According to how many words construct an appropriate amount of chapters. Do you like long chapters, or short? Once you know the amount of words per chapter then set down the chapters with headings or a story flow. Now you have something to refer to when you get all mixed up or forgetful. I wrote out in notebooks by hand my first four or five novels this way, then typed them to the computer. This is the very fun part because you’ve done an extraordinary amount of work and now you can add or delete at will. Have fun!
Read a paragraph out loud to see if it flows. Edit yourself-then find an editor who may be a friend or from a group, even a professional one for hire. When you have completed typing it to the computer, and edited the manuscript, find yourself a cover! I use Self-Pub Covers online and the cost is about $75-$125. You will want to write a back cover and this can be very tricky. Get out that favorite author of yours and read their back cover-look at the insides, etc. Teach yourself. I eventually found an editor who makes my manuscript look perfect on the page, but you can use someone like XLibris to format your book. These two costs are around $100-$400. My books are now with Ingram Spark who is a book distributor. They distribute everywhere around the globe in print or digital. Mine are available on Amazon/Barnes & Noble and other venues. I have just started the marketing process so I’ll be working on that part of bookselling.
Finally, it sounds like so much to do but it isn’t-it works right from you. You are master of your fate, maybe for once in your life you write the details and tell people what to say. After I wrote four or five books I turned the page and just like that improved upon my own process. What did I have to lose? I now use yellow tablets, putting the title, plot, characters, word count, genre, places, and a full six page outline with headings, storyline, etc. and type to the computer from this. This was a magnificent accomplishment of mine. I’ve heard Scrivener has a tool and I may try that next time. I’ve been writing for nine years now, and hopefully my marketing will help me to sell and make a few bucks. Readers, reviews, and a positive query are the prizes and I wish that for all of us. I Always Wanted to Write a Novel.”
Thank you. Best,
Photography by Kim Troike
#1 photo from Chagrin Falls, Ohio-also her nickname from a long time ago.
#2 Digital Chocolate for Lilly/Historical fiction 1920’s
#3 Digital Three King Mackerel and a Mahi-Mahi/Thriller Surveillance
#4 What will she do with all these books? Market Market Market
Published via Atlanta Writers Club Newsletter for April/George Weinstein