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Writing a novel: things that surprised you

(15 Posts)
FloatingObject Sun 13-Oct-19 10:12:39

One thing that surprised me is how little time I actually spent writing compared to thinking. I'm a pretty fast writer, and I'd say about 80% of my "creative process", in terms of actual time spent, has been staring into space and figuring out dynamics, twists, structure. Then I would sit down and bash out the scene, and go back to staring into space again.

RuffleCrow Sun 13-Oct-19 10:18:40

This is interesting. I've been writing quite a lot since the new year. I have notebooks full of observations, poems, bits of novel and now i see the process as weaving them into some kind of shape and editing with a huge pair of shears. I suppose i'm not very conventional when it comes to my favourite books and i doubt my book will be either. I'm surprised at how crap my original writing sounds when i read it back tbh!

Fiacla Sun 13-Oct-19 10:35:43

Good question! How many drafts there would be, and how different the version my agent is sending out is from the very first one — there isn’t a single sentence the same in the two. How often a problem was solved when I was out for a walk, or half-asleep or fully engaged in something else. That I would turn out to be someone who wrote unusually short novels.

everythingcrossed Sun 13-Oct-19 10:43:14

I guess I thought that once I had the story and the basic characters in my head, it would , well, not exactly write itself but would come together however, it was a real slog, partly because it isn't all about telling the story <well, duh> I needed to add lots of relatively uninteresting nuts and bolts eg, explain how a character got from one part of the house to another - the doorbell rings, she goes to answer it, it's her friend, they go to the living room rather than her friend just being there and getting to the point of the scene.

Although I was fairly confident about the main narrative arc, it threw up several side-dilemmas along the way which all had to be thought about and tidied up in order to make the characters credible. I was amazed that, even when I didn't do any writing for several months because I had another big (non-writing) project to complete, how much head-space the book took up.

everythingcrossed Sun 13-Oct-19 10:45:19

Yes, Fiacia! I kept a notebook by my bed to scribble things down when I was falling asleep or when I woke up in the early hours and it seemed huge parts were resolved by tapping out a few sentences on my phone while I was exercising grin.

everythingcrossed Sun 13-Oct-19 10:45:46

Congratulations on finding an agent!

Fiacla Sun 13-Oct-19 10:56:59

Thank you@everything! Yes, I never thought I would find myself using the ‘notes’ facility on my ancient phone in the middle of a field.

Witchend Sun 13-Oct-19 20:59:03

I think my biggest surprise was the first time I did NaNoWriMo.
That I could write a children's book, a chapter a day, coming to just over 50k words with no planning at all except what I did during the day.
I'd plan the next chapter during the day and write it that night.

FloatingObject Mon 14-Oct-19 17:17:40

I'm going to give NaNoWriMo a go this year!

darkriver19886 Mon 14-Oct-19 17:32:07

How hard it is. I am obviously not motivated enough. I just find it so hard to do it.
How the ideas come at the most random of places.

TrafalgarSquare Mon 14-Oct-19 17:34:12

Agree with both, dark!

Witchend Mon 14-Oct-19 17:57:26

Do give it a go. It feels very satisfying as you see the word count come up.

RuffleCrow Tue 15-Oct-19 19:56:13

Do any of you write on paper? I feel words flow more readily if i'm not staring at a screen. But then i'm basically doubling the work of my first draft, aren't I? Then again i do edit massively as i type it up.

Heronry Wed 16-Oct-19 00:11:29

Never, @RuffleCrow -- it feels way too personal in an unhelpful way. Also, these days, I handwrite far more slowly than I type!

morningmarigold Sun 22-Dec-19 21:06:33

How cathartic it would be, how much of my subconscious has been reflected back to me when I sat and thought about what I'd written (how real life issues were dealt with except they were happening to someone else).
Currently dealing with a fair bit of upheaval, interesting what I want to do the characters (it's a sequel), again I think it is reflecting back again. Due to start counselling shortly and I think this is going to be invaluable. Writing has become like a friend to me and it feels like a constant if that makes sense even though I am nearing completion of it, I know that I can pick up a pen and write some more. It has filled a gap in my life and probably actually maintained my sanity at times (mental stimulation, given me a creative/expressive outlet). I have met some interesting people, I otherwise would not have met. It's probably done loads more too if I sit and think about it some more.

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