I've been working on my novel a lot the past month or so and in that time I went from about 15,000 words to 30,000. A novel is generally between about 50,000 and 90,000 words, so I still have at least 20,000 more to go!
It can be tough to work on a novel consistently, especially when you have paid work to do, but here are some ways to ensure that the creative juices keep flowing:
1) Set a timer and word limit. I find that if I decide to myself that I'll spend two hours working on my novel today, and that I'll write 2,000 words, I can actually get that done. The amount of words you get written depends on the amount of research you need to do and such - but if you set yourself some solid deadlines, it can work well. This is also a good technique when you live with others, since you can tell them that you're working so you are not to be disturbed.
2) Read out loud. This is very helpful for dialogue especially. If dialogue isn't your strong suit, read the lines out loud (if a friend is willing, ask them to read the other character's lines). You'll be able to figure out right away if the sentences sound natural. For descriptive sections, this is also useful for checking that everything flows smoothly.
3) Take a break. There's no sense in staring at the computer for hours without writing anything (or, worse, with writing crappy lines). Instead get away from the computer - read a book, take a walk, grab a coffee with a friend or do research for your book. It will help you feel refreshed for when you do go back to the novel.
4) Edit. If you're stuck, begin reading the entire story (what you have already written, anyway) from start to finish. You might catch a few errors, and you also might get new ideas for where the story should go next.
5) Ask for help. Get a friend to read your story and then discuss it with them afterward (or after they've read each chapter, depending how long each one is). Find out what they liked, what they didn't like, what sections confused them, what they'd like to read more about, and if they have any suggestions for where the story could go.
Share your tips for working on a manuscript in the comments section below!
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I've read this book countless times and every time I read it, it's still as wonderful as the first time. I love this book. It's one of my favourites. Kostova is my hero. She writes all about Dracula and incorporates really interesting tidbits of history... it can be a creepy book, but it's just so thrilling! Do read it.
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Wow! I was impressed by this book. It was another one that I wasn't super interested in reading, but others urged me to, and I am so glad they did. On the front cover, there's a quote saying that "This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird." I couldn't put it much better myself. Which reminds me, I need to read To Kill a Mockingbird again. I read it when I was a little kid and loved it, but it's been years since I last flipped through those pages.
- Ella Enchanted by Gail Garson Levine. This used to be one of my favourite books, and it's another one I've read a million times. My copy is tattered to bits. Since it's for 10-year-olds, I haven't read it in years. But I still loved it reading it this time around. It's not complex writing, but the story is very sweet, and the author is an excellent writer. A very good choice for little girls to read, and I think adults can enjoy it too
- The Twilight saga (all four books) by Stephanie Meyer. I've already openly admitted that I read the Shopaholic books, so I guess this is prime time to admit my love for the Twilight series, too. Teenage girl at heart, right here. One day I spent five hours straight reading one of the Twilight books. They're kind of addictive.
What books did you read this month??