Sunday, July 19, 2015

Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Stgructure by Janice Hardy

When I first started writing my work in progress, I had an idea, a beginning and ending.
Do you see anything missing here, like the middle?
That is why it took me years to finish the first draft!
I liked to write but other than poems that I would not dare share with anyone and a few short stories, I had never written a novel from beginning to end.
Then came the NaNoWriMo.
And I wrote garbage and it felt good. No one will ever see that mess! But it proved to me I could write and finish a novel. So the next year came around and I did NaNoWriMo again, and this time I finished my WIK. It wasn't too bad either. There are a few structural flaws and a lot editing yes, but I have the backbone down. The elusive middle has been filled.
So what does this "Planning Your Novel" have to do with this post,if I figured it out on my own?
For one thing, I could have saved myself years of going round and round in circles trying to figure out how to make the middle stand up and not lose track of where I wanted to go.
Why didn't I just outline and be done with it? You think I didn't try that? Ha!
At the Florida SCBWI Mid Year Workshop, Sara Pennypacker said that she writes her stories and then goes back to check to make sure it is structured correctly. That made me feel somewhat better, and that is how I will be using this book, this time. Hopefully the next novel won't take nearly as long as I will have found my writing/planning process.
In her book, "Planning Your Novel,"Janice Hardy says there is no right way or wrong way to plan your novel. Some writers use a mix of outlining, freestyle and panster. That was good news to me!
Now that the novel is written there is this thing called "theme". I was having trouble figuring out what my theme is for this novel, a mystery. In workshop number four, she gives clear instructions on how to define your theme, and yes you can do this after the story is written, and yes it would be easier to do before your story is written (hint for next novel).
Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure is written in workshops, so you can go directly to the workshop you need to work on. Each has an exercise for you to do.
Janice Hardy also has a website in which she interviews authors on their writing process at Fiction University. I have found this book so helpful I'm keeping this one but have another one ordered and on the way for some lucky reader!
What is your writing process?
What are some of the problems you have or have resolved?
Please leave a comment to be eligible to win this book.

Next week Janice will be doing a guest blog here.
See you next week,


Vicki Rawding said...

My critique group has been wonderful about keeping me focused. My MG novel is historical fiction and based on a true story, so I assumed my structure was set for me. WRONG! My writing friends asked questions like "What does your character want?" "What is your story arc?" So I set out to outline my story. And, I have to admit, it is much stronger now. Thank you, writing friends!

Sheila Renfro said...

Thank you for the great comment! Can't wait to read your MG historical fiction.

Jessica said...

It is so great the Nanowrimo worked for you. It never worked for me. I could not finish a novel. I don't do well with marathon writing. I also don't do well with outlines. I kind of have to do a plot summary for my self. I don't have problems with beginnings and middles, I have trouble with the ending. It takes me forever to get something written! I will go through several different scenarios before I find an ending that satisfies me.

Chris Bailey said...

Looking forward to hearing more from Janice next week. Thanks for the blog!

Sheila Renfro said...

Jessica, be sure to come back next week, Janice is going to be talking about finding your process.