In 2003 (or there abouts), I attempted to write a novel; Fly By Night. I’d never written fiction before in my life. I was struck with an idea and I just knew I had to try. I developed a conclusion, a basic outline, and some insane ground rules:
- I would write a chapter a week
- I would be boldly honest
- I would sit down to write with absolutely no idea what I was going to write other than what the conclusion of the novel would be.
- I would let the writing take me wherever it would take me. It would be organic. In the moment
- There are no mistakes. If I took a wrong turn in my storytelling, I would stick with it and make it work
It was an ambitious idea. And it went well for about fifty thousand words until it broke down. The idea that I had proposed was beyond my reach as a writer. I flat out quit.
I adapted this technique from Stephen King’s On Writing (an excellent book). It’s not too late for this novel. With some modifications, I know I could write it, but I’m certain it would take an entire rewrite. And some day I will do it.
And now, I’m attempting another novel. It’s based on my web series, The Smell Collector. I’m on the home stretch of The Smell Collector web series, and I feel like there’s a novel in it. The plot of the web series version is more like a soap opera…like a series. It’s not a novel. I take it one episode at a time, throwing in twists and turns along the way. I have an outline, but it’s just not the kind of outline that makes a novel.
So I’ve enlisted the help of an experienced novelist and editor to get me started. She blogs her ideas about writing at http://bkwritersblock.blogspot.com/. I’m hoping that I can learn something from her process. The steps are outlined in her post Novel Writing 101
So, I’m taking a much more structured approach this time around. But I still believe in my original technique. When I go back and read my first failed attempt, I see wonderful writing. It’s packed with emotional depth, original storytelling, and vivid, honest characters. I don’t want to lose any of this when applying structure. I don’t just want to finish a novel, I want to finish a novel that people can’t put down.
Wish me luck!