Writing a novel has proved to be more challenging, rewarding, and frustrating than I ever thought possible and I still haven’t finished the first draft yet.
I’m aiming to have this draft done by the end of September, or if I can manage it (although probably not) by mid September.
Of course, once the first draft is done does not mean it will be anywhere near ready for publication. I’ve got 2nd drafts, 3rd drafts, editing, cover design, formatting and goodness knows what else.
I’m committed to making the novel the best it can be. I’m not even sure it’ll be up for sale yet this year (although if I can get it finished before Christmas I’ll be a very happy girl).
What am I learning about the differences between short stories and novels?
Probably the biggest thing is that you need to slow things down. In the shorts (and I’m mainly talking about the urban stories), everything happens at lightening speed. You set up the conflict quickly and spend the rest of the story having your protagonist solve it. But with a novel, you need to slow things down so that you can explain some backstory if it’s needed, and build your characters to make them more rounded.
Also, in a novel you often have a whole cast of characters (I have seven main characters in this novel – even though there is only one true protagonist – and one baddie that’s going to make their lives very unhappy). In the shorts, even if there was more than one character, the story really only focused on one of them.
You also need some time to set the scene and get into the characters heads, so that you can show what they are thinking, feeling, seeing.
It’s quite new to me.
Another thing I’ve found as I’ve been writing this book is that the characters don’t always do what you want them to. My main character is a good example – I wanted her to be this kick-ass chick who wielded a pair of knives as her weapon of choice. As I’m writing her, she’s a lot more vulnerable and naive. She keeps doing things that makes me want to slap her and tell her to wake up to herself. But she’s right – she needs to be this way so that she can grow through the story and come out a different person the other side. After all, all good novels are about transformation.
The other characters all have dark sides (which is necessary for the story), but are surprisingly complicated as well. I didn’t realise when I started that one of my characters, who is a drug addict, is this way because of things he’s done in his past.
I also didn’t know the reason that my protag uses knives instead of guns was also because of something that happened in her past. It’s weird how the characters tell you who they are. Weird in a good way though. Weird in a surprisingly delightful way. Weird in a, who’s really in control, way.
I’m really blessed to be able to take this journey with my characters and see how the story ends (I think I know how it ends, but my protag may just surprise me again).
And I’m excited to finally get it up for sale. Eventually. :)