First week blahs — how to fix them

I’ve been seeing a few posts and nanomails from folks who find themselves slowing down or blocked from proceeding further with their novels. I think that some of this may be due to inexperience with the novel form. It is not uncommon for people who have written short stories to run into this phenomenon even if they have read widely. For example, Orson Scott Card himself hit this problem with his first novel; and he was an award-winning short story writer at the time.

Here is an online article that does a fair job of contrasting the two story forms. Kristi Patrice Carter writes (in that article): Remember that the novel affords you plenty of room to work with. Slow down and take the time to really work with and fill that space. The short story writer in you might balk at the idea of “wasting” so many words, but ignore her. This is the time to allow your inner writer free rein, some time to play. Also see this article she wrote with tips on novel writing.

Another good online reference for novelists is this collection of writing articles on writing.com with content based on books by Dwight Swain. Swain, the author of Techniques of the Selling Writer, breaks novel writing down into a very workable model of scene and sequel that are comprised of motivation reaction units. With these building blocks and the bigger picture framework, you can write an engaging novel.

Fine, you say, but the first week in November is drawing to a close and my novel is in trouble! Well, what may help you is a good dose of Plot Doctoring (this link is to the NaNoWriMo forum of the same name). In essence, Plot Doctoring is about other people listening to you talk/write about your novel and your perceived problems with it and offering their thoughts on how to fix it. You can also receive this help in our jabber chatroom (NaNoMail NewMexicoKid if you want a jabber account).

I strongly believe that there are no problems that are insurmountable; all it takes are the right resources, a bit of time to reset/reflect and maybe some helpful advice.

–Tim (NMK)

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