Tuesday 12 July 2011

Fledgling Novelist: Advise Me.

I love the short form, short stories, tweets, poems, I could write them all day.  And, yet, this week I'm attempting another novel. Why? I hear you ask. You've found something you love, just keep on doing it. Yes, but:
  1. It's tough to make a living with short stories. Sad fact. Some way, far into the future, I'd like to make a living wage with this writing lark. I think that novels are the way to go.
  2. And it's a mountain. I want to do it for the challenge. Perhaps  I am a fine novelist, I just need to push through the barrier.

So, what I'm looking for is advice. What are the best sites for fledgling novelists? Have you gone through the transition from short to long? Do I just need to stop whining and go for it?


  1. You don't have to give up writing shorts to also work on a novel. (Who needs sleep?) If you're think of writing an MG or a YA, then the Verla Kay Children's Board is brilliant. Lots of support over there.

    Have you attempted a novel before? I noticed you typed 'attempting another novel'. I love both forms (and am particularly found of novellas)

  2. I think you should trust yourself to try it first because you already know how to write a story. A novel is just more details and plots etc. But if you are uncomfortable with trying it, I would suggest books like Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. They teach you how to make your story fuller, bigger and make everything count. I love those books. Or maybe a workshop at writersonlineworkshops.com. Hope this helps.

  3. Thanks, Cate,

    My plan is to keep on knocking out a short story a week, and to get on with a novel. I'm forunate that I've got about 5 hours a day to write, and I know my output, so that's do-able for me.

    Yep, I've managed to write a first draft 60K before. That's a short novel, yes? After all, it's only one word after another. I couldn't face editting it. Heck, this is going to get real whiney, real quick.

    I was wondering about working my way up to novella first.

    Thanks for the tip about Verla Kay, boards, I'll check it out.

  4. Hi, Shelley,

    I'm really interested in plot. I'm looking at my favourite novels to try and find out what actaualy happens in them. I'm going to get that the Bell book.

    I've got the Maas book, got about half way through it. What he said seemed to make a lot of sense, but I wasn't sure how to apply it. And I'll take a peek at the workshop, too.

    Thanks so much. I think you're right, I've just got to trust myself. And get used to the timeframe, after all, a novel is a very different beast from a short work.

  5. I've completed 2 novels give or take a draft or two. I wouldn't, myself, recommend any particular site. I'd just jolly well get on and write. That's not much help is it?

  6. Go for it! I couldn't write novels to save my life until I participated in National Novel Writing Month. Now it's all I do! Sometimes a big goal is all you need to push yourself. I love this site - http://hiveword.com/wkb/search It's like Google for writers, everything you need to know about novels is at your fingertips. :) Best of luck!

  7. Madeline, that's what I hope's going to start happening wtih me. Hiveworld, eh? Thanks so much.

  8. Simon, it is helpful. Thanks for posting. There's no denying it, at some point I've got to sit down and write the thing.

    I even know the problem. My beloved shorts are almsot instant gratification. I remember one sale I made was done and dusted in one day. That is probaly not going to happen with a novel.

  9. Go for it. I've made the transition from novels to short stories to novels and back to short stories with a novel WiP glaring at me from the corner, and I've enjoyed ALL of it. But currently, only the short stories are earning me anything...

    And I just read "Trash Cat" -- nice work on that one; well done.

  10. I've read your work, and I have no doubt that you'd have success a novelist. I can't speak to the transition from short fiction to novels (except to say that it seems there IS a transition, as most people don't have the time to do both), but I can say as a fan, genuinely, I think you're absolutely cut out for it. Writing short stories is like an apprenticeship for writers, I think, and you've graduated to master.

  11. Hey, Milo. Thanks, it's encouraging to think that it can be done. I'm glad you liked 'Trash Cat', now I want to get a story into Chizine.

    Joe, wow, thanks so much for your kind words. I woke up to them, and now I feel so encouraged. Onwards.

  12. New site design! Very nice. Almost has a Maori look to it :)

    For me, the biggest difference between writing short stories and novels is attention span. I get bored too easily writing longer stuff.

    There's also plotting differences, too. While short stories often appear to have simple plots, it's more a case (imo) of making the complex appear simple, often by focusing on only one or two plot aspects, while still building a believable universe around them. With a novel you have the space and time to explore lots of different arcs, as well as building the base plot.

    Hmm--not really sure that makes sense. Heheh.

    Sam, who enjoys tangents and waffling, sometimes together :)

  13. Thanks for noticing my new dress, Sam.

    I'm a pure panster when it comes to short stories. So I'm grappling with this new thing called outlining. I've tried to pantster a novel-- it wasn't pretty.

    Interesting point about making the plot seem simple in short stories. I think I do this instinctively, throw in a few hints here and there, while in novels, as you say you need a different technique.

    Fascinating stuff.

  14. what kind of novel do you want to write ? or is just you want to write one?

    I think it is more just write one and see - you know how to structure you write sucessful shorts, poetry - you know how to plot - for a novel you need an idea that can eith er expand or have layers upon layers

    you need the idea - then off you go girl

    (I'm finishing off the 3rd in a series now - that started as a short story - I was trying to get the hang of that form of writing!! it just kept on growing - always was too verbose!)

    you'll be fine - go for it

  15. Hi, Albeta,

    I would like to do a SF novel. And I've been encouraged. I've started already. 2K a day. I've been writing a fight scence today. Yikes. Between my MC wielding some type of ill-defined energy whip, and the hunter dogs, nano-steel autmatons ridden by human hunters.

  16. I'm not going to point you to any articles. Get yourself a couple deep study books and write as you study. Go for it. Novel writing is a beast, but it's something that only gets easier with practice. One book I highly suggest is Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, or there's this web series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ESfT2Lh1cWo The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maas is also great. Oh, and definitely participate in NANOWRIMO. Kicking your rear into getting 50K words out in a single month does wonders for unearthing the inner novelist. Best of luck!

  17. I'm also going to say: go for it. :)

    I don't really use that many writing sites--the only one I check with any regularity is the one for NaNoWriMo, since the OLL updates it often. So I'm not much help there . . .

  18. Thanks, Golden. Thanks Crystal. I'm goin to check out those resources.

    I've cobbled together 6K very rough draft of my new novel, 'The Artifical Heart of Tilda Skerritt'. So far so good,

  19. Hi Deborah! All the best on your novel! I don't think you should give up the short stories :) I'm writing both.

  20. Hi, Len. I'll never stop with the short. I love them. I am, however, vaguely concerned that if I get into novels, then I'll loose my knack for the short.

    *worry* *worry*

    Got to get a grip.

  21. Short fiction is a mystery to me. I hate that I can't seem to write anything under 10k words. I envy you. I think if you Google 'learn to write with uncle Jim' you'll get a link to a nice discussion on the topic.

  22. I write both kinds--short and long. It keeps the writing skills honed. When it comes to writing a novel... just do it.

  23. I still do both! I write a short story per week, and I have many novels that are works in progress (they're finished but in draft form). I recommend doing both.

  24. Trisha and Lynda, I find it very encouraging that you're both doing both. Hoorah, if you can do it then so can I.

    Rusty, the short story writers envy the novelists, and the novelists envy the short story writers. Ain't that the truth. Thanks for the Uncle Jim tip.

  25. I went from short stories to novels, but in between, I read tons of articles on novel writing. I learned as I went along. If I had to learn again, I'd take the route of reading before I start out writing. Makes for a lot less editing.