November is over. Already a hectic month–besides Thanksgiving, I have a hundred million leaves in my yard and a small sailboat that has got to get out of the water before the winter winds blow in.
So what do I do? Spend plenty of waking hours attempting to write 50,000 words as part of a global month of writing furiously.
I have to say without National Novel Writing Month, I don’t know if I ever would have attempted writing a novel. Now, after nine attempts, plus camps in April and July that are more informal, I’ve written four published novels, plus a number of novels still in the works. One historical romance is ready to see its way to publication. Another sweet modern romance is nearly so. A third, also modern and sweet, is in the hands of beta readers. Others, well, let’s just say one day they’ll be ready soon. I start revisions on one today, in fact.
So. That’s my story. How did you do? Did you write those 50,000 words? If you did, did you love crafting plots, dreaming up characters and then ruining their lives? Did you find you love dialogue or maybe description? Did you find yourself thinking about whether first person or third is the better point of view?
Even if you wrote an entire story, I hope you know you aren’t finished. That was my mistake some nine nanowrimos ago. I finished a story, fell in love with my characters, thought there was nothing as perfect as the descriptions, turns of phrase, scintillating dialogue in my book.
So I submitted it to a contest. I was sure I was going to win, find an agent and go on to publishing glory.
A kind and honest judge shot that dream to bits. I say kind because I needed to hear what she had to say. Although she liked my main character, she complained the story had no plot. My girl wandered all over the countryside, with no real goal, motivation or conflict. All she wanted to do was help the soldiers in the Civil War.
Maybe you have a story you love and want to see published. If you’re like most of us, you need to revise your and probably finish your novel. For one thing, 50,000 words isn’t nearly enough. Maybe 65,000 or 120,000 words are necessary to tell your story.
What do you do next? May I make a few suggestions.
Join a writing group. Since I live in Maryland, I belong to Maryland Romance Writers, the Historical Novel Society and Maryland Writers Association. All of them are devoted to craft, to seeing writers reach their potential and publish their work. MRW and MWA have meetings every month–virtually since the pandemic struck. While I miss seeing people in person, the virtual platforms have made it possible to invite speakers from all over the country and to invite people to join us from their own living rooms or writing caves. Let me know if you’d like to join us. We’d love to have you.
The Historical Novel Society is a bit different, with a bi-annual conference chockfull of great presentations specifically for those who write about other time periods. Besides discussions on plot and dual timelines, there have been presentations on clothing, weapons and ballroom dancing—essentials for making these stories come to life.
On line there are lots of options. Here are a few I like to read–
—Savvy Authors, which offers lots of great inexpensive classes,
–Mary K. Tod’s A writer of history blog.
Of course, there are plenty of craft books. I’ve read plenty. These are ones I particularly like–
—Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass, a literary agent,
—Save the Cat Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody,
—Take Off Your Pants, by Libbie Hawker,
—Romancing the Beat, by Gwen Hayes,
–Lisa Cron’s Story Genius.
There are plenty of others, but these are the ones I read again and again.
Savvy Authors and groups like Maryland Romance Writers offer lots of tips to help you figure out how to get your book out into the world, whether it’s self-publishing, finding an agent and publishing big, or choosing a small, no-agent-needed publisher.
Nanowrimo is over for another year. I hope you did well. If you caught the writing bug, good for you. Let me know how you’re doing. The world needs your story. And you’ll find writers are glad to support you.