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biglime

Writing Novels

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That's the way I like to write I think... Book 1 I started with the end chapter which I wrote as a sort of 'this is how I'd like to see it happen', then started from the beginning and wrote my way up to the end, rwriting the last chapter to fit in with the ahnges that had evolved as I wrote... It was as unplanned as that basically which people never believe when they ask me questions about the content, especially about one of the characters.

Book 2 and 3 have had to be more planned and formalised so again I started with the endings but this time did the map type thing with key events and worked my way through them, although in addition I wrote out a long list of the chapters and placed the events in something like the order they would happen in. I've still got a couple of pieces to fit in somewhere along the line as I do the second draft but mostly everything is now where I want it. Whether book 2 is any good or not... well I'll see how I feel after the second draft sesh. At the moment I feel pretty positive about it, but am aware that bearing in mind it took all of four months or so to write top to tail I may have bitten off a little more than I maybe should've... We'll see.

Finished the first draft late last night. The last three chapters flowed like a dream, although I did crash and burn on the epliogue/final word chapter but had written for at least 6 hours straight so was just a bit typed out by that point... The last page is pretty cool though and I think it sets up book 3 nicely. Yay me, etc.

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I write short stories rather than fiction, but in my writing I've come across a few useful websites that either have article related to writing or good research -

The Snowflake novel-writing method-

http://www.rsingermanson.com/html/the_snowflake.html

Internet Resources for Writers (shed loads of links) -

http://www.internet-resources.com/writers/

Scribe's Forum - A forum for authors -

http://com1.runboard.com/bthescribesmessageboard

Science Fiction and Fantasy World - Good for SF & Fantasy writers, also has a forum -

http://www.sffworld.com/

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Slight veer off topic somewhat but while I was in the middle of crunching my way through Sylver 2 I had an idea that pretty much jumped in my mind fully planned beginning to end. It's not a novel per se but is a book.. Anyhow it's an illustrated kids book for 3-6 year olds that vaguely deals with the cheerful old subject of being bullied when you start a new school (I'm a bucket of laughs, me). Have specced it out, sketched out all of the pages and written up a synopsis/book purpose and marketing page and drawn out the front cover + a started on a couple of inner pages:

cover001-sm2.jpg

...but after that it's pretty much sat on the shelf while I try and finish off the 116,000 word moster also lurking on the hard disk. Anyhow.. Does anyone have any experience of having books like this published? Or know of any agents that work on that sort of thing specifically? Ideally I'd like to pass it on to someone else, let them do the legwork and just sit and draw out the last pages once someone's sorted out a deal but if anyone's got any suggestions as to how to get it done with minimal effort on my behalf I'd love to hear them, by PM of course, wouldn't want to court the Wrath of the Lime here or anything.

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Great thread Biglime. I have just returned from holiday and decided while I was away that I really must finish the novel I started in September 2000. Ideas like this always seem good on holiday when you are relaxed and the realities of job, baby etc seem manageable. Anyway, I am serious about this so:

Author: Andy Shearer

Title: Dalliance

Deadline: December 2005

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I think it's generally best to write/draw the whole lot first, so that they know you can see a project through and that it's good all the way through. I mostly know about novel-y stuff though, so ignore that if you like. It could be a little different for picture books. Also, with picture books you may find it easier to approach publishers direct than with a novel - more children's book publishers accept unagented manuscripts.

I've read plenty of manuscript submissions that've started off great and floundered into an enormous mess. Some people are under the impression that you can just write three chapters and sell a book based on that. It *has* happened, usually under very exceptional circumstances, but it's very rare. Celebs can do it - and non-fiction books are usually sold on proposal. When it comes to fiction, however, most books won't get bought until the publisher has the entire lot in their sweaty hands. It might be easier to grab an agent that way - most only want three chapters in the first instance - but again, they'll usually want to know you can carry a book to completion first. Many people want to write, many people start to write - but few ever finish a book.

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First post updated, everyone in there now.

And remember, we can all see those deadlines, so on the months stated, we'll be popping up and asking if we can have a read....

I'm pretty much starting from scratch on this novel I'm doing (I'm just scribbling notes and walking around it in my head just now) so I might do a commentary thing in here as I write it, so that those people who want to write something but don't know how to start maybe get a suggestion of the way in.

If that's at all helpful, I'd be glad to do it.

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And c-cat, why haven't you just submitted your thing to an agent?

Mainly because the novel I'm doing takes up pretty much most of my time and all the little jobs I pick up on the way get in the way of anything else. I did pick up a copy of the writers and artists yearbook last year and flicked through it but haven't gotten further than that really. Must get myself far more organised than I am all told.

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I've read plenty of manuscript submissions that've started off great and floundered into an enormous mess. Some people are under the impression that you can just write three chapters and sell a book based on that. It *has* happened, usually under very exceptional circumstances, but it's very rare. Celebs can do it - and non-fiction books are usually sold on proposal. When it comes to fiction, however, most books won't get bought until the publisher has the entire lot in their sweaty hands. It might be easier to grab an agent that way - most only want three chapters in the first instance - but again, they'll usually want to know you can carry a book to completion first. Many people want to write, many people start to write - but few ever finish a book.

Which raises an interesting question: How many potentially great works of fiction have never been finished? How many potentially amazing authors have never had a career? How many mediocre writers have succeeded simply by virtue of their stuff actually being finished?

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Which raises an interesting question: How many potentially great works of fiction have never been finished? How many potentially amazing authors have never had a career? How many mediocre writers have succeeded simply by virtue of their stuff actually being finished?

Thats what "amazing" writers get for being such lazy fucks

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Right, time to get back into this. About 10-ish years ago I started work on a book, that if I wrote now would sound like a really bad Matrix rip off... not that I'm suggesting I thought of it first, but it would read like a bad copy.

So, having lost the original disks that the work was on, perhaps starting again would send me in a new direction.

Question though for you guys that are half way through or have finished books. Last time I spent quite a bit of time writing character bio's and doing a chapter by chapter synopsis in way of planning what was going to happen. As far as the planning stage goes has anyone got any other suggestions - as I don't know if I go into overkill in this stage ?

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Right, time to get back into this.  About 10-ish years ago I started work on a book, that if I wrote now would sound like a really bad Matrix rip off... not that I'm suggesting I thought of it first, but it would read like a bad copy.

So, having lost the original disks that the work was on, perhaps starting again would send me in a new direction.

Question though for you guys that are half way through or have finished books.  Last time I spent quite a bit of time writing character bio's and doing a chapter by chapter synopsis in way of planning what was going to happen.  As far as the planning stage goes has anyone got any other suggestions - as I don't know if I go into overkill in this stage ?

You should try planning as little as possible.

I really think it restricts the possibility of anything organic happening in your book if you set out with a definite idea of what's going to go on.

I always make sure I know what the book is about. I mean what it's really about, beyond the story. Then I get loose images of the characters sorted out, and a rough idea of where it begins and ends.

But as for who lives, who dies, who betrays who, who just ups and leaves halfway - I don't know until it happens.

I think anything as intensive as a synopsis for every chapter can be potentially troublesome. You'll end up feeling like you're writing to some kind of remit, and it'll feel like work. That's a big danger.

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I really think it restricts the possibility of anything organic happening in your book if you set out with a definite idea of what's going to go on.

I always make sure I know what the book is about. I mean what it's really about, beyond the story. Then I get loose images of the characters sorted out, and a rough idea of where it begins and ends.

That sounds good to me.

I've had the rough ideas of mine (my new one, not the old one I never finished) for a little while now, and I'm now just trying to plow into it and see where it'll get me. I think I might do 4-5 chapters, just to introduce things, and then maybe just a bit of a head's up with a single piece of paper just plotting a bit of progress.

2.5K words so far btw.

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I've gussied up my chapter notes by deciding what I want to have happened by the end, and I think that's as far as I'm going to go prior to the writing itself. So by the end of chapter one I want the main characters to have met, by the end of chapter 12 I want the monster to have kicked its feet away to stumps, and so on. I suppose this is just treating each chapter as an A-B journey rather than the novel as a whole, which is fine; hopefully something interesting happens along the way.

What was interesting was deciding I was going to do the whole thing in first-person and having to revise certain chapter details to fit in with this - I can't show X because the narrator is unconscious, and so on. It led to some positive changes in the story flow, without a doubt.

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You should try planning as little as possible.

I really think it restricts the possibility of anything organic happening in your book if you set out with a definite idea of what's going to go on.

I always make sure I know what the book is about. I mean what it's really about, beyond the story. Then I get loose images of the characters sorted out, and a rough idea of where it begins and ends.

But as for who lives, who dies, who betrays who, who just ups and leaves halfway - I don't know until it happens.

I think anything as intensive as a synopsis for every chapter can be potentially troublesome. You'll end up feeling like you're writing to some kind of remit, and it'll feel like work. That's a big danger.

I'm somewhere in the middle between you and Currykitten. Too little direction and you risk your work being shite, too much and you risk it being too rigid.

But, as I said earlier, it's different for everyone. Experiment, see what works and stick to it. At the end of the day, a good novel's a good novel, no matter how you get there.

Btw, my subconcious is definitely doing funny things to me. Rereading my work so far, there are a load of powerful themes in there that I in no way planned, nor knew I was writing when I produced them. There's some really good stuff going on underneath for second-time-through readers!! And yet, if you're so inclined, you can still get through the narrative and think it's a relatively straightforward (with a barrel-load of twists) thriller. At present, considering my own reactions and other people's reactions, it's going better than I could have hoped.

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Exactly, it is different for everyone. If I don't plan, I feel like I'm floundering, but I'd never suggest that everyone works in the same way as me, because it just wouldn't...work. I just write a paragraph or so (sometimes more, sometimes less) for each chapter, and change it as it needs changing. I write quite complicated fantasy stories, and find it's useful to keep track of all the subplots etc, so that I don't forget about them.

There are definitely good stories that don't get finished, but that doesn't mean they're by 'great' writers. If they were so great, they'd finish the book. When I worked at Mills & Boon (as an editorial assistant), I requested plenty of manuscripts that never came in, never got finished.

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2nd draft finished; 116,000 words (which is over the limit imposed by the publisher but my most recent bout of editing has managed to lose a couple of thousand ands, ofs and thats so far and I don't think I'll have any probs hitting the 112-115,000 limit).

Currently re-reading through it, which is painful because for some bizarre reason I've decided to give contact lenses a try out as well so my eyes are madly tired, and that's throwing up mainly small grammatical issues or sentences that remain a little clumsy. But the previews I've had in have been good and, apart from one issue that needs to be fixed, still it seems to be hanging together better than I could have hoped for all told bearing in mind the whole thing came about in three or four months (as opposed to the 18 months for the first one) and life has been a bit hectic in c-catsville.

Next couple of weeks need to have the last couple of readings sorted, a slight confusion in chapter 30 ironed out, lose another thousand words or so and then resubmit the near final work to the publisher. If he agrees the text then it's back on the treadmill of contacting magazines/papers and the like begging for a review (should be easier this time because a lot of the reviews of book 1 said they were looking forward to book 2, although will be beginning to hit the Christmas crush maybe) and then, hopefully, I'll be able to have a couple of days off at Christmas. Then it's straight onto the treadmill for book 3 which the publisher wants for Christmas 2006 and maybe I'll have the chance for a decent nights sleep.

In between all of this I've been hired to organise the opening festival for the Guildford book festival (in my role as an artist, ironically enough, they want a day to tie in with the Big Draw doo dah) and also to do 6 activity slots during the week, start up as a relational youth arts worker soon and have two projects that have been off and on for a while that I want to see picked up... sigh...Good to be busy I guess.

On the unfinished stories thread I think I vaguely heard someone on the radio talking about a book called the 'library of unfinished works'? Something like that. It's a book about the books by famous authors that were never finished and the like. It was on Radio 4 I think and Waterstone's and other bookshops have a list of titles being discussed during the week on the major radio stations so if it was an interest to anyone that sounds like a title to check up on.

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I haven't got any further trying to sell mine, but I do definitely know what the next one is going to be about now. I briefly considered doing Nanowrimo again this year, but I'm also getting married in November so I doubt my fiancee would be too thrilled if I set up my laptop in the honeymoon suite and started writing :P

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Ah well, mine was a bizarre route in to be honest.. Basically I wrote the book for me and a number of teens in a youth group that I run. Job done I lent it out and they liked it and started nagging for me to send it to publishers. After a year or so of weekly nagging I gave up, printed six or seven samplers and said if you want to get it done, get it done. They sent some out, I sent some out, one publisher said yes and then it all carried on from there...

As for agents; no idea, because I signed up the first three books in the series to the first publisher who made me an offer (which in retrospect was trusting at best, but has worked out well in many ways) and the one time I spoke to an agent about the follow on projects he looked blankly at me and said 'I have no idea who you would contact about that,' so we shook hands and ended the meeting. I do have to get something sorted at some point, especially as American interest comes in following book 1's success, but I'm so deep into something akin to crunch time (and there was me thinking I'd left all of that behind) to really think about it for the next month at the least. Some point soon I'll start to think about it but until then you guess is as good as mine really.

Somethings that did help were getting libraries and local school groups on board to give opinion and comment, that seems to go down well. Nabbing the opinion of relevant age group readers also helped but I guess that's pretty obvious really. Getting the writers and artists yearbook seems to be a prerequisite and after that it seems to be down to luck and blessing as much as anything else.

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I was thinking about doing some writing, and this thread popped up when I did a search. A nice idea I thought. So, one year on, who wrote their book?

I wrote 70,000 words of one, but it ain't finished yet.

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Thats bizarre...I searched for the thread a while ago and got nothing... Assumed it had found itself lost in one of the server moves or something. must've been searching with the wrong words... ;)

Odd year for me, writing wise. Book 2 released in May and books 3 and 4 commisioned straight away, one , the completion of a series through a small publisher and another the start of a new one by a much larger one. Not bad for a doodling youthworker I thought.

Then the larger publisher was bought by another company and that book got caught in all sorts of wranglings and then the publisher bought an American publishing house and it got caught in more sorts of hassles (see also completed graphic novel that occasionally gets bursts of interest then gets caught at one hurdle or another). In the end it was released back to me to start touting around but, generally, the time isn't there for me to put the effort into that just yet but I'm hoping to have a chat with an agent on it in a couple of weeks time. It's pretty much fully written so can just be passed onto someone else with no probs and with a bit of luck they can do all the legwork.

So mainly I'm concentrating on finishing the book that's due out next oct (which unfortunatley means it need to be done by around June time and I'm only a third of the way through a pretty complex story) and, when that doesn't work I'm writing a different thing to vent a little cynicism and touting around a different series that's been bouncing around my brain. When I'm not working at college (1.5/2 days a week, 1 day prep) and managing an arts centre (1.5 days with what feels like 5 days prep) and doing all the family stuff and all that.

Nicely though I was asked to be a part of the Guildford Book Festival, which was cool and almost made me feel like a real writer. Less nicely ticket sales are sluggish at best (I'm by far the smallest name on the credits list so hardly surprising even with the local connection). So sort of a swings and roundabouts year.

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Thats bizarre...I searched for the thread a while ago and got nothing... Assumed it had found itself lost in one of the server moves or something. must've been searching with the wrong words... :lol:

Odd year for me, writing wise. Book 2 released in May and books 3 and 4 commisioned straight away, one , the completion of a series through a small publisher and another the start of a new one by a much larger one. Not bad for a doodling youthworker I thought.

Then the larger publisher was bought by another company and that book got caught in all sorts of wranglings and then the publisher bought an American publishing house and it got caught in more sorts of hassles (see also completed graphic novel that occasionally gets bursts of interest then gets caught at one hurdle or another). In the end it was released back to me to start touting around but, generally, the time isn't there for me to put the effort into that just yet but I'm hoping to have a chat with an agent on it in a couple of weeks time. It's pretty much fully written so can just be passed onto someone else with no probs and with a bit of luck they can do all the legwork.

So mainly I'm concentrating on finishing the book that's due out next oct (which unfortunatley means it need to be done by around June time and I'm only a third of the way through a pretty complex story) and, when that doesn't work I'm writing a different thing to vent a little cynicism and touting around a different series that's been bouncing around my brain. When I'm not working at college (1.5/2 days a week, 1 day prep) and managing an arts centre (1.5 days with what feels like 5 days prep) and doing all the family stuff and all that.

Nicely though I was asked to be a part of the Guildford Book Festival, which was cool and almost made me feel like a real writer. Less nicely ticket sales are sluggish at best (I'm by far the smallest name on the credits list so hardly surprising even with the local connection). So sort of a swings and roundabouts year.

Out of interest, are you able to make a living out of this yet, or do you supplement your income elsewhere?

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