It’s tempting to think that a novel might take years to write. I think that’s why so many people are, if not afraid then nervous, to begin this kind of work. People look to the many famous examples out there – before you get your hopes up, I’m not going to mention George R. R. Martin – the man writes huge house-brick sized fantasies with a cast of hundreds, you can’t rattle that stuff out in a matter of weeks.
However, I think everyone can recall how long the gap between To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman was. 55 years, in case in comes up in a pub quiz when the quarantine is over.
It is, however, perfectly possible to write a novel quickly. The trouble comes when a novel is written too quickly as runs the risk of being badly-written dreck. So, how to avoid dreck?
There are two schools of thought regarding How To Write.
Plotting and Pantsing.
They will never agree with each other. Different people (obviously) use different disciplines and, if you are accustomed to learning the story along with your reader, you’re not going to be overly keen on writing out a big old timeline for the story. On the other side of it, if you like the certainty of where the story is going, you might struggle to just let it flow and see what happens.
I have some recommended reading for you but, to be entirely clear here, as the author of the book is: no one is saying plotting is better. However, it can be said that, with a loose storyline in mind, with a few set characters, plot points and a lesson to be learned, it is possible to write to a deadline.
This is pretty important if you want writing to be your life.
I’m going to give this method a go when I come to finish my series. It will happen. I’m just in short story-town at the moment.
Book Review – Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker
First published, 2015
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Great little guide on how to succinctly plot out your novel. As much as the author seems to understand the pantser-style of writing (that being, writing by the seat of your pants, no plan, just seeing where the story takes you), in this guidebook, she explains how to outline the key events of your story to make it easier to write, not only faster, but better. With a clear destination, solid story beats and theme in mind, Ms Hawker suggests that a work in progress can feel assured and well-written before the author has written the words ‘Chapter One’.
Where other guides of this ilk have felt, to me, rather formulaic, disheartening and maths-orientated (for example, having particular plot points at certain percentages through the novel), this one feels a little looser and more open to interpretation. I really enjoyed this piece and will be using the advice when I plot out my next novel length work.