How to choose which is the first novel you write?
I want to give you three tips to face the writing of this first book, about how your first novel has to be so that the result is as helpful as possible.
1. Take it as a practice
Suppose it goes well, great. No one says it has to go wrong; but if you accept that there is a much greater chance that it will not go well, that it can be improved, than that it will be a work of art, you will approach the process, and the result, in a different way.
Writing a novel is a process that involves different functions of the brain and other techniques or tools. It is not a matter of having an idea. Start writing until you finish, and that’s it.
A novel needs structure. Does it require a good narrator, good use of narrative techniques: descriptions, dialogues, characterization of characters?
As I said, management of the structure helps you create tension to get you hooked?
It’s true that, as readers, we have all that information inside, organically. But the fact that you have read a thousand times the result of using those techniques and resources (in a thousand different novels) does not qualify you to repeat it.
What’s more, the simple fact of having it all inside can lead you to want to get it all out. Because you think you can. And that in itself is a mistake because you will always have to select what you use and what you don’t use.
It’s like when you see people who show up at singing contest castings, they want to show everything they can do with their voice in 10 seconds. And they become unbearable, don’t they?
You need to practice to check what you know and what you need to improve.
Ultimately, a first novel has to be practice so you can test how you execute what you think you already know how to do. And how you manage it. Because it is not the same to imagine a story as to start writing it, and it is during the process that you discover your shortcomings or the shortcomings of the story.
And what I was saying, if in the end, it’s good, great, you publish it, you become a millionaire, and everyone is happy. But if it is not, nothing happens. It was training. You will learn from this process, and the next time you will do it better.
The good thing, if you will, about novels is that they don’t have to be train wrecks. Maybe you can fix it later when you have more experience.
Leaving it in a drawer and re-evaluating it when you’ve written more will help you see if it’s worth it or not. Generally, these first novels, seen with the passage of time and added experience… don’t pass your quality control and remain in the drawer. But it could be, why not, that it was a great novel waiting to be polished just a little.
2. Choose the story you want to tell wisely
Maybe you’re like me, you’ve known for as long as you can remember that you wanted to write. And it’s not that you have a dream novel, but that you have many. But some people start writing because they feel the great need to tell a story, one story in particular.
I think we all have that great story inside or several. Stories that matter to us need to tell well, and that is complex, complicated; that, in short, overwhelms us.
It happens to me. And from the experience I have in my courses and workshops, it happens to almost all of us. You come up with a great idea that is very difficult to turn into a novel.
Sometimes the problem is that there are too many stories or that, as I said, it is a subject that overflows.
My recommendation, taking into account that this novel is a practice, is not to write that great story you have in your head. But another one. More accessible, simpler, more manageable.
It is a story that allows you to test your writing process and your skill, and that doesn’t overwhelm you in other ways.
It doesn’t have to be a silly story or one that has no interest. I’m just saying choose a project you’re excited about, but that doesn’t complicate your life.
Let it be complicated because it’s the first time you write a novel and not the story itself.
In time you will be able to write it better.
You will learn from this process and acquire a practical technique that will help you face this BIG story with a much better chance of getting it right and with more resources to get the most out of the story.
If it’s important to you, and it’s complicated to write, leave it for later. That’s my advice.
3. Write a short novel
To the second point: choose a story that is easy to write, I would add, and not too long.
If you take it as an apprenticeship, once you finish it, you will need someone to read it and evaluate it, to give you advice on how to improve or what you need to reinforce to write better or build your stories better.
The longer your novel is, the more the reading report will cost you.
If the novel is good and you want to self-publish it… the longer it is, the more it will cost you proofreading and layout.
The words a novel has mark the investment you’re going to have to make in it to publish it. And I don’t recommend in any way, whether it’s your first or tenth novel, to post anything without a good proofreader.
So, if you take it as an investment, don’t make the first one too high.
Now it’s your turn. Tell me if you have already written that first novel if you are about to finish it or have not yet taken the step of starting it.