- Recap your mid-year progress.
Breaking it down
Back to basics
As we approach the mid-point of our journey to write a novel in a year, it’s a good time to take a week to pause and take stock of our progress. Let’s recap the basic elements you should be working with.
- Do you have your genre and theme as crisp and clear as possible?
- Do you have a working synopsis or outline of your novel?
- Do you have character cards or sheets for your main characters?
- Do you have your primary research done?
- Do you have a clear idea of your settings and a timeline for the events in the novel?
When I look at my novel, I can see that I’ve stayed on track in terms of genre. It’s still very much a psychological thriller. However, my theme has changed a bit. I can see that the theme is more about trust and jealousy in a relationship between my two main characters, the lovers Matt and Jenna.
At this point, I think it would worth my while to re-write or edit my synopsis. Having a short 3-5 page document will help me to see the whole story arc and see if it’s still making sense. I’ve been doing some extra research as I go alone but I’m not spending too much time on this – the idea is to keep on writing the draft.
For me, my setting is really nailed down because it plays such an important part in the story. I know that the story will take place over no more than two or three months – but I guess I could be crisper in my timeline.
The palette – plot, character, and setting
By now you should have broken your plot down into individual scenes, chapters, or a group of sequences. You should have your main plotline sorted out and perhaps your subplots.
What I’ve done in my novel is focused on writing the key scenes in my novel – those that I know definitely have to be in the final manuscript. There are still gaps in places but I’m not stressing about these too much.
It’s been exciting to see my characters come alive in my imagination and on the page.
My main character is well formed in my mind. I really understand Jenna. However, I’m still struggling with the other characters. They simply won’t behave the way I want them to behave. This is something I’ll have to look at.
In terms of setting, this is the easiest part of the story architecture for me. It’s also been the fun part of writing – maybe because descriptive writing is one of the less demanding elements of writing. I suspect it is for most writers.
You, the writer
One thing we overlook in this process is ourselves. We tend to get lost in the writing. But a writer is also a human being – that has to eat, sleep, and have some sort of life outside of writing.
In one of my favourite novels, Valley of the Dolls, the author Jackie Susann explains the internecine tensions creative people sometimes experience as it applies to her unstable but brilliant character, Neely: ‘It’s like a civil war, with her emotions against her talent and physical strength.’
Writers tend to get depressed or fatigued more than other people – and that can be a stumbling block. What I’m saying is that you have to look after yourself. Don’t get overwhelmed.
One way to manage yourself is to make sure you have a realistic writing schedule. Also, try to schedule social activities and exercise. Celebrate your achievements. Keep in mind what we said right at the beginning of this journey: We’re going for progress and not perfection.
Timelock — 1 to 2 hours
1-2 hours to recap your mid-year progress.
5 Quick Hacks
- Take a break from your novel. Go for a short holiday. Get a manicure. Visit friends and families.
- Create a shelf or drawer to keep all your writing notes and research material.
- Print out what you’ve written or do a word count of your scenes. Remind yourself how far you’ve come. Celebrate your achievements.
- Do something that requires physical work as a distraction. Clean the windows. Wash the dog. Paint a room. Tidy your writing room.
- Reward yourself with a great novel, biography, or a trip to the cinema. Don’t feel guilty about taking a break.
Pin it, quote it, believe it:
‘People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.’ — Harlan Ellison
Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!
If you enjoyed this post, read:
- Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 24: How Important Is Style In A Story?
- Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 23: Reality Bites
- Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 22: Making Your Scenes Work for You
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