Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

A lofty writing goal... (opinions welcomed) (1 Viewer)

Status
Not open for further replies.

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
Basically, every year I set myself writing goals that I wish to achieve and possibly surpass. In the last few years,
I've been able to surpass my annual goals, and have been thinking about a very lofty goal (which might take a
lot longer than a year).

For those who don't know much about my writing, I usually stick to short stories (either standalones, or set in
one of my many series) and novellas. Back in 1997 when I was in my last couple years in high school, I started
writing a novel. I spent two years working on it, but ended up losing the plot and a lot of the ideas, and put it
aside. It only saw the light of day again in the last couple of years as I adapted it as a novella in one of my main
series, as the plot worked well with my established characters.

I have recently been playing with the idea of adding a new writing goal, and that would be to actually write a
novel from start to finish. Problem is, I'm not sure if I should attempt it again after what happened last time, and
whether or not I can make it work. It would take a lot of planning and ideas, and it's a lot bigger than what I'm
used to writing.

I don't think this is a comfort zone issue, nor do I think it's something that will happen quickly. Is this a good
idea for me, or should I just stick to short stories and novellas? Strengths verses weaknesses, I suppose.

-JJB
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
If you're ready, you're ready and there's only one way of finding out if you're ready. DO IT!

I'm working towards writing a novel myself and pretty much going through the same process you have. Short stories for a year and then DO IT!
 

druid12000

Senior Member
I am in what I refer to as the 'wading' phase of my writing. Short stories, small projects to get my feet wet again. With every project comes more experience and, more importantly, confidence.

It sounds like you have long passed the wading stage. If it's not a confidence issue, then I see no reason to delay.

I started formulating an idea for a story last night while brushing my teeth (it has nothing to do with brushing of teeth). It was supposed to be a quick 1000 word story which has now snowballed in my fevered brain to a series of short stories around a common theme. It's going to be a lot more work than I've been doing but the idea has so much potential, I have to write it. I have no choice now, the Muse has struck and said 'So mote it be'.

Kinda scared, though.
 

Irwin

Senior Member
I'm currently in the planning and research stage for my novel. I have the story worked out in my mind, but to turn it into a 75,000 word novel will be a major undertaking and is a bit overwhelming. It's going to be about 75 chapters, each with about 1000 words.

Keeping the chapters short should make it more manageable. It seems like that's how a lot of writers write novels... Stephen King, for example.

I think I'll be able to start writing early next month. I guess by the time I reach the end, I'll have my writer's voice established, and then I'll need to rewrite the entire thing using that voice, but that's okay.
 

Riptide

WF Veterans
What happened with your last one? You lost it? You say you write novella series... so like more than one book on a single topic/characters/setting? To me, that sounds like you're almost there already.

I believe in you, though really, how much is my belief worth, anyway? Do what you want to do, and if that's attempt a novel, attempt that novel and try to make it the best you can. In the end, you're writing it for yourself.
 

Doodah

Senior Member
Writing my novel for me didn't come from desire, truthfully. One morning I awoke and there was a single image in my mind. I couldn't shake it. A simple image of a person on a bed and it was morning...that's it. And from that one image, my novel began.

What I'm saying is that my mind was yearning to tell a story; I wanted to tell a story. I didn't ask myself to, I didn't force it, it just came. As I am sure you are well aware, liking the idea of doing something isn't the same as wanting to.

Here is my suggestion. Take a common theme, maybe a civilization, invention, relationship, whatever, and draw from that a few short story ideas. Maybe you can take your nack for short stories and build a few of them into a novel. Isn't that what a chapter is really? Just a bunch of short stories strung together into a common narrative?

I think you are closer to writing a novel than you think, you might just want to look at it from a different angle. Use your strengths.
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
Perhaps a story hasn’t gripped you tight enough yet.

I believe this to be the case. When a lot of story ideas start to permeate in my brain, I usually get them out as short stories,
with the occasional one having enough there for a novella, or a multiple-part mini-series. I had an idea for a novel several years
back, but when I started hashing out the details, I found that there wasn't enough for me to carry it to that length.

-JJB
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
What happened with your last one? You lost it? You say you write novella series... so like more than one book on a
single topic/characters/setting? To me, that sounds like you're almost there already.

After two years of on-and-off writing in regards to said novel (and about 50+ pages in notebooks), I found that the plot and character arcs
that I was trying to achieve were starting to fade. You have to understand that I was 17-18 at the time, and had never even attempted to
write anything that long and complicated. I undertook the project because I wanted a challenge, but bit off more than I could chew.

While I do feel a lot more confident now both in my quality of writing and storytelling, it's still a daunting task. I'm not exactly sure why I've
been entertaining the idea once again, or where it will take me. I just don't want to have the same problem as I did years ago and end up
with an unfinished novel that sits for years on end before something happens with it.

I would need a very good idea for a story, and one that's detailed enough for me to see the big picture and sustain a novel-length adventure.

Much to ponder.

-JJB
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
After two years of on-and-off writing in regards to said novel (and about 50+ pages in notebooks), I found that the plot and character arcs
that I was trying to achieve were starting to fade. You have to understand that I was 17-18 at the time, and had never even attempted to
write anything that long and complicated. I undertook the project because I wanted a challenge, but bit off more than I could chew.

While I do feel a lot more confident now both in my quality of writing and storytelling, it's still a daunting task. I'm not exactly sure why I've
been entertaining the idea once again, or where it will take me. I just don't want to have the same problem as I did years ago and end up
with an unfinished novel that sits for years on end before something happens with it.

I would need a very good idea for a story, and one that's detailed enough for me to see the big picture and sustain a novel-length adventure.

Much to ponder.

-JJB

I don't think you have got anything to ponder. You said it yourself, you was young and inexperienced back then. You're looking at past failures and projecting that into the future, but you're not the same person who made those mistakes, you're a more experienced writer.

You have a simple choice: either you attempt it or the don't. Failure isn't the lack of success, it's the lack of trying to succeed. You owe it to yourself to give it a go so just DO IT. The only reason I'm taking time out to write short stories is because I'm rusty and the novels I started in the past were unplanned. I didn't even have an overview of where the stories where going, and my habit of layering in subtext and overly complicated sub plots, left me completely at sea. This time I'll plan it more carefully. I'm not going to plan like some do, and I'm not going to use many of the 'templates' you see online, because, quite frankly, I find that boring as hell. But I will have an overview and a few themes I want to touch on. Enough to keep me anchored and focused, anyway.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
When it comes to writing, I think you have to go with your heart. Sounds like you have had a great deal of success with your short stories and novellas. So the question that comes to mind is why do you feel the urge to write a novel? You speak of strengths and weaknesses, so are you feeling the need to grow as an author?

I have no doubt that you could write one, and the last one was just a warmup. You were pretty young and you learned a lot especially how to approach it. As far as an annual goal, there is no reason it must be finished in a year. Your first annual goal could be to do the research, work out the plotlines and develop the characters. And then set whatever you're comfortable with, say 10 chapters, or 20,000 words.

But if you are thinking of it now, are you capturing your ideas already? Perhaps before you make your decision, come up with your approach. I am probably not in a position to provide much support, since I haven't finished mine yet and I have already missed my first goal of finishing in one year, however, I started with a good old pegboard and a bunch of sticky notes. Different colours for each, setting, MCs, sub-MCs, scenes, actions, chapters, lessons, outcomes, etc. Then, I just started grouping them off. From a bird's eye view, I could see where there were holes and strengths. And if I had an idea while say sitting in a restaurant, I pulled out a sticky and scribbled it down and pegged it when I got home. And nothing gets lost. (I am assuming when you say "lost" you don't mean literally, but that you couldn't remember them.) When I could see the basis for a novel, I entered it all into an Excel spreadsheet with a filter, so I could filter a character, a setting, a plotline, etc., and see how often they appear. There are a lot of different ways to capture and organize ideas, but finding something that works for you is the first step. It's just like an exercise program, you will only do it if it works for you.

But as I'm writing this, it occurs to me that when you speak of ‘weakness’, you could just be speaking of your ability to have patience with this process. It does take a while. And there is very little recognition along the way to keep you motivated, which is my problem right now, but that's another story. If you are writing short stories as well, then you can get short-term recognition. I know Margaret Atwood says it's important for novelists to write short stories to get some instant recognition. So you already have everything it takes to be a novelist! If you decide to do it, I would be interested to hear about your journey...

 
Last edited:

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I'm currently in the planning and research stage for my novel. I have the story worked out in my mind, but to turn it into a 75,000 word novel will be a major undertaking and is a bit overwhelming. It's going to be about 75 chapters, each with about 1000 words.

Keeping the chapters short should make it more manageable. It seems like that's how a lot of writers write novels... Stephen King, for example.

I think I'll be able to start writing early next month. I guess by the time I reach the end, I'll have my writer's voice established, and then I'll need to rewrite the entire thing using that voice, but that's okay.

That's interesting about King. I wonder if that is part of his success formula. Busy people can pick it up and not feel the urge to read for too long. Something to think about!

But, I'm curious about your voice changing. I'm new to fiction, so bear with me, but don't you just write it as it comes into your head? Why would it sound different by the end? Isn't voice something that you already have as an author. For example, do you think Stephen King has multiple voices?

 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I don't think this is a comfort zone issue, nor do I think it's something that will happen quickly. Is this a good
idea for me, or should I just stick to short stories and novellas? Strengths verses weaknesses, I suppose.

-JJB

I sort of have the opposite problem. It's hard for me to come up with a story that isn't novel length. LOL (Although I'm now in the middle of what will be a 20K novella).

A novel is more or less the writing equivalent of running a marathon. It takes endurance and dedication, and you may hit the wall somewhere in the process. From my own experience, life gets in the way. With family and business obligations, I only found time now and again to write on my first novel, and I only hit my stride in productivity on subsequent novels after business calmed down to the point where I have more discretionary free time.

However, once I finished the first one, I had confidence I COULD finish. Now I've finished seven, I can write a first line knowing I'm also going to be writing a last line in the predictable future. It IS a personal journey. I think the only advice which does any good is to say keep at it in your free time until you finish. When you run into creative snags, don't put it out of mind, think your way out of them. If you have to back out a bit of story and replace it, do that sooner than later. An experience with that cost me years on the first one, and taught me a lesson on making sure anything I put in the story was something I know how to continue from!

Don't regret getting stuck when you were a kid. Whatever you write now is going to be exponentially better than it would have been then. :)
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
When it comes to writing, I think you have to go with your heart. Sounds like you have had a great deal of
success with your short stories and novellas. So the question that comes to mind is why do you feel the urge to write a novel? You
speak of strengths and weaknesses, so are you feeling the need to grow as an author?

I gave some thought to that, and I've come up with several reasons as to why this idea to start a novel popped up:

- The challenge alone of writing a novel-length adventure, and finish it this time
- Stepping very far out of the comfort zone as far as my writing is concerned
- The fact that the first attempt went unfinished all those years ago, and was turned into a novella (not that it didn't work out)

Growing as a writer might be a part of it as well, but I think a lot of this is due to the fact that for many years, I have always
been looking for/thinking about a huge adventure of epic proportions. I feel as if I've been on the cusp of something really big
for some time now. It's hard to put into words, but I just have this feeling....

I have no doubt that you could write one, and the last one was just a warmup. You were pretty young and
you learned a lot especially how to approach it. As far as an annual goal, there is no reason it must be finished in a year. Your first
annual goal could be to do the research, work out the plotlines and develop the characters. And then set whatever you're comfortable
with, say 10 chapters, or 20,000 words.

I agree that the previous attempt was a warm up. I was only 17-18 and never attempted anything of that magnitude up to that
point. I really was in over my head, as my writing wasn't nearly as good as it is today. I know that if I make a second attempt of
this, it's going to take at least a couple of years as well as a lot of patience and careful planning.

Research will be key, and I'll need to jot down a whole notebook worth of ideas and points, if not more. I also had the thought that
1000 word chapters should be more than sufficient when all is said and done.

If you are writing short stories as well, then you can get short-term recognition. I know Margaret Atwood says
it's important for novelists to write short stories to get some instant recognition. So you already have everything it takes to be a novelist!
If you decide to do it, I would be interested to hear about your journey...

I will definitely keep you updated as to what I do in regards to a novel. I'm going to spend some time soon and brainstorm some ideas
and jot a few things down. This is all in-between my normal writing projects, of course.

Cheers!

-JJB
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I gave some thought to that, and I've come up with several reasons as to why this idea to start a novel popped up:

- The challenge alone of writing a novel-length adventure, and finish it this time
- Stepping very far out of the comfort zone as far as my writing is concerned
- The fact that the first attempt went unfinished all those years ago, and was turned into a novella (not that it didn't work out)

Growing as a writer might be a part of it as well, but I think a lot of this is due to the fact that for many years, I have always
been looking for/thinking about a huge adventure of epic proportions. I feel as if I've been on the cusp of something really big
for some time now. It's hard to put into words, but I just have this feeling....



I agree that the previous attempt was a warm up. I was only 17-18 and never attempted anything of that magnitude up to that
point. I really was in over my head, as my writing wasn't nearly as good as it is today. I know that if I make a second attempt of
this, it's going to take at least a couple of years as well as a lot of patience and careful planning.

Research will be key, and I'll need to jot down a whole notebook worth of ideas and points, if not more. I also had the thought that
1000 word chapters should be more than sufficient when all is said and done.



I will definitely keep you updated as to what I do in regards to a novel. I'm going to spend some time soon and brainstorm some ideas
and jot a few things down. This is all in-between my normal writing projects, of course.

Cheers!

-JJB

I think that's wonderful! I still do recommend, that in addition to your notebook you try a schematic. Even JK Rowling used one. There are a few good examples here...including my sticky note one...lol!

https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/149674387596176898/
 
Last edited:

Irwin

Senior Member
That's interesting about King. I wonder if that is part of his success formula. Busy people can pick it up and not feel the urge to read for too long. Something to think about!

But, I'm curious about your voice changing. I'm new to fiction, so bear with me, but don't you just write it as it comes into your head? Why would it sound different by the end? Isn't voice something that you already have as an author. For example, do you think Stephen King has multiple voices?

Your writer's voice could be your natural voice, or it could be something you develop. If you read a Stephen King books and then listen to him talk during an interview, you'd hear two distinct voices. His writing voice is somber and ominous because that's what the story calls for, but in real life, he's not that way at all. Obviously, if he used his real voice in his horror stories, they wouldn't have nearly the impact of his writing voice.

As a writer, you can be pretty much whatever you want to be. You can be a 70 year old washed up cowboy from Oklahoma or you can be a teenage girl from California. You can be a scientist or a construction worker.

Or you can just have a neutral voice, which is a voice unto itself.

That said, as a personal disclaimer, I've never actually completed a novel, so I may not be the greatest source for information on writing. :)
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
Novellas are an excellent size. Big enough to breath and small enough not to get bored. A novel will insist that it has to be written.
If you don't go there you will never know...
Basically, every year I set myself writing goals that I wish to achieve and possibly surpass. In the last few years,
I've been able to surpass my annual goals, and have been thinking about a very lofty goal (which might take a
lot longer than a year).

For those who don't know much about my writing, I usually stick to short stories (either standalones, or set in
one of my many series) and novellas. Back in 1997 when I was in my last couple years in high school, I started
writing a novel. I spent two years working on it, but ended up losing the plot and a lot of the ideas, and put it
aside. It only saw the light of day again in the last couple of years as I adapted it as a novella in one of my main
series, as the plot worked well with my established characters.

I have recently been playing with the idea of adding a new writing goal, and that would be to actually write a
novel from start to finish. Problem is, I'm not sure if I should attempt it again after what happened last time, and
whether or not I can make it work. It would take a lot of planning and ideas, and it's a lot bigger than what I'm
used to writing.

I don't think this is a comfort zone issue, nor do I think it's something that will happen quickly. Is this a good
idea for me, or should I just stick to short stories and novellas? Strengths verses weaknesses, I suppose.

-JJB
 

PSFoster

Senior Member
I have had the same problem. I've been writing short stories and flash fiction. I tried to write a novel before but it went nowhere. Just 50,000 words of crap. I think the idea was good but I just couldn't flesh it out and couldn't find the right ending. I hope you can do better.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Basically, every year I set myself writing goals that I wish to achieve and possibly surpass. In the last few years,
I've been able to surpass my annual goals, and have been thinking about a very lofty goal (which might take a
lot longer than a year).

For those who don't know much about my writing, I usually stick to short stories (either standalones, or set in
one of my many series) and novellas. Back in 1997 when I was in my last couple years in high school, I started
writing a novel. I spent two years working on it, but ended up losing the plot and a lot of the ideas, and put it
aside. It only saw the light of day again in the last couple of years as I adapted it as a novella in one of my main
series, as the plot worked well with my established characters.

I have recently been playing with the idea of adding a new writing goal, and that would be to actually write a
novel from start to finish. Problem is, I'm not sure if I should attempt it again after what happened last time, and
whether or not I can make it work. It would take a lot of planning and ideas, and it's a lot bigger than what I'm
used to writing.

I don't think this is a comfort zone issue, nor do I think it's something that will happen quickly. Is this a good
idea for me, or should I just stick to short stories and novellas? Strengths verses weaknesses, I suppose.

-JJB

I've written short stories for a biker blog and a series of novels, and believe the two are different disciplines. Sure, they share more similarities than differences, but the process of creation and the level of endurance required for completion are not the same.

First, obviously a novel tells a longer story, so the plot will take more work.
Second, the characters will have to be more complex and defined because the reader will stay with them longer.
Third, both the plot and the characters will have more of an arc than is evident in shorter works.
Fourth, and finally, a novel takes A LOT more endurance and commitment.

So, you might ask questions here regarding the process of writing novels, or find a local writers guild and find a mentor. You'll probably toss most of the answers out, but bring seeds of them into your unique process. Be methodical in how your approach it, and know that most people who start writing a novel never finish.

A short story is a 100 meter sprint. A novella is an 800 meter race. A novel is a marathon. Athletes that compete in these events train and prepare differently.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top