New Year’s resolutions can be great and sometimes they can be daunting. Did you know that (according to Google!) 97% of people who set out to write a novel never actually finish it? Isn’t that shocking?! But, never fear, if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to spend 2022 writing that novel you’ve always wanted, then I’ve got the top 5 questions to ask yourself before you get going to set you up for success!
1. What genres do I like to read?
You may choose to write in a totally different genre, but the chances are you’re going to want to write something you’d actually like to read. For example, whilst I read commercial fiction and crime fiction, what I really love to snuggle up with is cozy crime or contemporary romance.
These are my favourites. The genres I’m most familiar with and the ones I know most about.
Whilst you may not realise it, while you’re reading a genre, even if you’re not actively studying structure etc. will help some of the information on how novels work sink into your brain. This means that when it comes to writing you’ll have a greater of understanding of how to write because you’ll have an idea of how others in that genre do it.
2. What types of plot do I enjoy?
To give you an example of what I mean, I love romances that focus on community, female friendships and main characters finding something within themselves. I don’t read a lot of stories that involve secret princes. I also love slow-burn romance and don’t read a lot of steamy stuff. That’s just me, and we each have our personal choices.
I’ve recently been reading a lot of escapist romances where the main character visits fabulous locations. I think Covid curtailing my travel plans is making me live vicariously! And these books have a totally different feel to other types of romance.
Thinking about what types of plots you enjoy will you decide where you want your novel to go, what type of tone it should have and this could also effect the pacing and events of your novel.
Making a list of the type of plots you enjoy will help you when it comes to shaping your story. And it’ll mean that should you decide to publish (either traditionally or as an indie), you’ll still be meeting the expectations of that market.
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3. Is my plot big enough?
This is a bit of a tougher one and may involve a little bit of trial and error, but don’t worry, it happens to us all.
Sometimes we think of a plot with all number of twists and turns and halfway through writing we realise it’s really more of a short story or novella than a novel. There is a solution if this does happen. It generally involves weaving in some other story threads and re-writing, but to save yourself that hassle, I’d definitely recommend sitting down and thinking about how your plot will unfold over the course of 60-80,000 words.
You don’t have to have a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, but it’ll definitely help you decide if your story idea has legs or if you need to come up with something else.
4. Do I need to plot or just get writing?
I’m a plotter through and through. I’ve always been very organised in my work and study and much prefer to have an outline of what I want to achieve before I start writing. If I don’t have a plan, I panic and it effects my creativity because I’m too worried I’m going to write myself into a massive plot hole I can’t get out of.
You might be different. You might be a discovery who has a vague idea of the beginning, middle and end, but prefers to just sit and write and see where the story takes them.
Both ways are fine and it’s totally personal which you prefer.
Over writing ten novels, I’ve learned I prefer something in the middle. I have a list of plot points I want to hit and sometimes the characters change them and other times they don’t. The only way to learn what works for you is to actually sit down and write. As you go, you’ll refine your process and at any time you can switch from one to the other!
Just do what feels natural.
5. How do I actually get started (and keep going!)?
The answer to this is really simple! Just sit down and write. No one can write the book for you and the words won’t appear on the page by magic.
You will probably think it’s crap. Every writer does. But all you can do is take it word by word, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter.
And set small goals. If you’re fitting your writing around a full-time job, childcare, housework…the list goes on, don’t put more pressure on yourself by setting unreasonable expectations. You wouldn’t expect yourself to decorate an entire house in a single weekend, or train for a marathon in one session, so don’t expect to write 60-80k in one go.
Be reasonable and give yourself rewards for the targets you hit. Keeping yourself motivated is the key.
I hope you’ve found this helpful and if you’d like to receive some more tips, for the next month or so I’m offering a free Top Tips sheet when you sign up to my mailing list! You can get yours here: https://bit.ly/3gbqMS0
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash
Still fancy a bit of festive fiction?
The Perfect Christmas Gift, is available now!
Can neighbours become more than just good friends this Christmas?
Bella Moore is excitedly counting down the days to Christmas. That is until she arrives home one evening to find her boyfriend leaving her for another woman. Completely heartbroken, Bella is left wondering if Christmas can still be the same this year.
Next door, Bella’s neighbour Nick is facing his first Christmas as a single dad and doubting whether he can make it the magical time his son Freddie deserves.
Determined to fix both Christmas and their broken hearts, Bella comes up with an idea: a Christmas giving tree for the whole village, where the community can unite and secretly give each other the Christmas presents they truly need.
As Bella becomes chief elf, taking donations and delivering gifts with much-needed help from Nick and Freddie, the two neighbours grow closer and start seeing each other in a whole new light.
But when Nick’s estranged wife returns just before Christmas, is their budding romance over before it’s begun? Or will love be Nick and Bella’s perfect gift this Christmas?
A heart-warming hug in a novel – this is the romcom you want to curl up with this Christmas! Perfect for fans of Heidi Swain, Trisha Ashley and Sarah Morgan.
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