Michille: Write Your Novel in a Year

medium_Writers_WriteWriters Write is one of my favorite writer blogs. They are running a series right now called Write Your Novel in a Year (Anthony Ehlers is the blogger of this series). There is a new post every week and they are up to week 14. It’s set up with goals, breaking it down, time lock, quick hacks, and finishes with a quote. Each week, the post has information and suggestions under each of these topics. I am looking forward to the next in the series.

The week one goals involve coming up with raw ideas, choosing the one you want, and then committing to it for 52 weeks. Week two goals get into a working synopsis, character thumbnails, and setting. As you move through the 14 weeks (that are up so far), it continues with research, plotting, the mess in the middle, turning points, the showdown, etc. So by week 14, if you have a target of 80,000 words, you should have, according to this method:

  • 160 scene outlines for scenes that will be 500-words each, or —
  • 80 scene outlines that will be 100-words each, or —
  • 32 chapter outlines that will be 2,500-words each, or —
  • 22 chapter outlines that will be 3,500-words each.

The breaking it down section takes the goals and breaks them into manageable chunks. In week one, the goals relate to the idea for the book so the steps to getting there include brainstorming the story idea, figuring out the kind of characters you want, and creating the thread of the story. In week eight, there is a section on identifying the “big showdowns” versus the “bumps.” For pacing, it gives suggested word counts for scenes, and suggestions for creating a calendar to schedule your work.

The time lock flows into the quick hacks section. The time lock is a suggested amount of time to commit and the hacks give prompts for things to do to accomplish the goals. For example, when dealing with the middle, the time lock is 1-2 hours and here are the hacks for it:

  1. Try to isolate the midpoints in the last three novels you’ve read.
  2. Throw a party right in the middle of your book – or a wedding, a funeral, or a gallery opening. These ‘set pieces’ can give you something to write towards.
  3. Think about all the things that interrupt your daily life – paying bills, writing blogs, taking the dog for a walk. Can you use these for your characters?

The quote part is obvious. Here are some of them:

  • ‘Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul — and you answer.’ ~Terry Guillemets
  • ‘You are much more likely to depict a character who is a recognizable human being, with his own individuality, if you have a living model. The imagination can create nothing out of the void.’ ~Somerset Maugham.
  • And this one for Jeanne: ‘Genre is a powerful but dangerous lens. It both clarifies and limits. The writer must be careful not to see life in the stereotyped form — but to look at life with all the possibilities of genre in mind.’ — Donald Murray

Of course, some of this stuff works and some of it doesn’t, but I am looking forward to the next installment. This is helping me to stay focused. What do you use to keep your focus?

11 thoughts on “Michille: Write Your Novel in a Year

  1. I’m taking that as a compliment that I pushed the boundaries for the paranormal genre. If it was words of warning instead, you’re going to have to be a lot more direct!

    • Absolutely a compliment and a dig at the publishing industry that can’t see outside of its establishment to cross-genre stories. I think it shows a great deal of creativity that you have a story that doesn’t fit neatly into a single category.

    • I think if we write for the genre as it is the moment we are writing, we are behind the curve when we are finished and publishing. So much better to do like you did, Jeanne, and write what you want to write. The genre could do with a little broadening!

  2. Week 14? Does that mean that you invest three months creating character sketches and developing a detailed outline before you start the story? Do you know how long the method allows for you to actually write the book – say 1,000 words per day for 80-90 days or something?

    I like the sound of some of the goals and hacks, but I can’t imagine following the method. I usually have a very top-level idea of my characters, some big scenes and the ending, but I find it takes me a draft to get to know my characters properly, and most of my best ideas come after I develop that understanding.

    • In weeks 7 and 8, you’re looking at the mess in the middle and week 14 is called “Final Fixes.” so it’s not spending 3 months creating characters. It does look like it’s targeted toward an inexperienced writer. I’m not sure what his remaining weekly posts will be about. 38 more weeks and how many topics are there?

      And, like you, it’s the little nuggets I am getting the most out of.

  3. One of the points that most resonates me is the management of word count. I work that way, too—chapters are three scenes of 1,000 words each (ish), and then I try to rotate the lead characters of each scene. I’m trying a different approach with the current WIP, writing the turning points first and then and working toward those, and that’s not working all that well. Alas, at the time I couldn’t get started and I needed a place to dig in. But I like the idea of working toward a set piece. The trick for me would be making that interesting and a meaningful place to go to. I’m going to check into this blog, though. Sounds like good ideas worth trying.

    • I do a lot of writing by writing a later scene because it came to me and then I have to back track and figure out how the characters got there. I also alternate POV back and forth by scene (not in the same one). It’s a great blog.

  4. This seems interesting Michille. I’m going to check out the blog and see what additional information I can pick up. My current process is working okay for me now, so I don’t want to mess with it, but I’m always looking for ways to address stumbling blocks and the like. The quick hacks could be very helpful.

  5. It sounds like a cool idea, but I’ve given up on novels this year. I’m writing shorter pieces. So far, it seems like I have a few weeks of gestation, then two or three days of furious writing, and then I have a first draft.

    Quick hacks sounds extremely enticing, though!

    • The hacks are fun. And there are tidbits on character, and story arcs, and lot of other writing craft stuff that applies to writing in general, not specifically to an 80,000 word novel. Have fun with your shorter stories.

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