Writing A Novel Part I: My New Year’s Resolution

As the title indicates, I’m going to write a novel this year. To be fair, I decided to write this novel sometime in early December of 2010. A lot of the planning and deliberation happened over that month, before I decided I was fully committed.  There were a lot of factors influencing this decision, but I’ll highlight the most relevant reasons here:

For the past few years I’ve been writing short stories; all of which consistently sucked. It could be my inability to write a decent story in under 10,000 words or it could be the fact that I’m not cut out for writing short stories. It took me a while to realize that the short story, when compared to the novel form, requires an entirely different set of writing muscles. Brevity is key. The story arcs I built in my short stories could easily be spun out into a novel length.

Not too long ago a critiquer at one of my online writing groups mentioned this in his critique of one of my short stories:

There is a LOT going on in this story.Three time periods,
an invasion, an infectious outbreak…drug addicts, a wedding and a love triangle, two ambushes, a king’s death and funeral procession…something to do with magic trees, banishment, and betrayal. Add to that 18 named characters… That’s more than one new character every 500 words.

Clearly, I still have a lot to learn. I’m hoping to grow as a writer by writing this novel. For instance, I can finish a short story in under a month if I work fast. I’m projecting that this novel will keep me busy till the end of 2011 (research, writing, revision, and multiple drafts are all included in this estimate.) It’ll be the longest work I’ll write to date, provided I can keep up the momentum through the year. I remember reading once that the novel that’s hardest to write is the one you’re writing right now. The first one: doubly so. I’m literally in uncharted territory here, books on plot and writing notwithstanding.

For everyone who wants to check up on how I’m doing or to follow me on this journey, I’ll post regular updates to this blog. I’ll set up a word count by week and maybe talk about some lessons I’ve learned from novel writing. I don’t expect to make a dent in the word count over the next month or so, as I’ve compiled an extensive list of research material to get familiar with some of the ideas I’m developing for the novel. (See Part II for more info. on that!)

And that’s about it. I look forward to the entire journey, and all of its uncertainties, that await.

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