Today (yesterday to readers of this post), I was noodling around looking for ideas for this blog post. I stumbled on a blog post from two years ago based on a series from one of my favorite blogs: Writers Write. Back in 2016, they were running a series called Write Your Novel in a Year (Anthony Ehlers is the blogger of this series, the link is for the 1st post – this is the last). He had a new post every week and at this time in 2015, they were 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 tuned in every week in the series. The week one goals involved coming up with raw ideas, choosing the one you want, and then committing to it for 52 weeks. Week two goals got into a working synopsis (too early for me), character thumbnails, and setting. As one moves through the process, 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 1 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 8, 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:
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 for me, you, everyone; and some of it doesn’t work for me, you, everyone. Since I’m still looking for that kick in the pants to get me back to doing what I love, I may re-visit more of this series. What are you doing to “Write Your Novel” in whatever time frame?