Remedial Novel Writing, Lesson 2

Or How to Write a Novel When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

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Lesson 2 covers what you should be doing while you are not reading the novel you just finished writing, also known as “the marinating stage.” If you need to go back to the beginning, you’ll find Lesson 1 here.

Step 3: Read

This lesson is not hard either. Just do not read your own novel. There are two parts to this step.

Part 1: Read about writing.

Forget that you aced every grammar test back in 6th grade. That was a long time ago. Brush up on your grammar. You know what gave you headaches when you were writing. Was it punctuating dialogue? Lay vs. lie? When to use a semi-colon?

For grammar help, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) and Grammar Girl are two of my favorites, but there is lots of help out there. This is the internet.

For other writing help, this list of the top 99 creative writing blogs can get you going. Don’t have time to sift through that many blogs to find the one that you can relate to, hop over to pinterest.

My “write” board is a great example of things you might find when you search for writing help. I haven’t looked at all of these pinned links yet, but I know where to find them when I’m ready and I often add new “pins” to be read later. In Lesson 3, I’ll share some of the sites that I’m using.

Much of this information you may just want to squirrel away in whatever folder, pinterest board, writing software thing you use for future reference.

If you find you still need more information, or prefer it in book form, Amazon offers 12,820 books that pop up in a search for writing skills, and that’s just in the kindle store. Prices range from 99 cents on up.

You can practically get a Master’s in Creative Writing* just by using the shared information on the internet, most of it free or practically free. Just remember that sometimes you get what you pay for.

Part 2: Read books like the one you wrote.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but just like those 6th grade grammar lessons you’ve forgotten, all things literary may also be a little rusty. Remember, before you wrote your best seller, you probably read a lot for fun, but didn’t pay any attention to character development, point of view, world building, etc.

I discovered after writing my novel, that reading other writers brought all of those elements into sharper focus, and I paid attention to little character quirks, foreshadowing, inciting events and moving the story forward like I never did in any literature class.

If there was a particular element that you struggled with, finding a book that has something similar can be very useful, a template of sorts.

Point of view was my bugbear (definition 2b), and I’m still not 100% settled on the one that I chose. I know that I don’t want to write in 1st person, and unfortunately for me, everything I chose to read in December was written that way. I’m onto the next phase of novel writing, let’s call it revising, but there is still plenty of time for more reading research.

That’s it for Lesson 2. Let me know if you have a favorite grammar/writing skill tool, and follow me for more lessons.

*(but not really)

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