Friday, July 26, 2013

Four Steps to Writing a Novel

There are four major steps to writing a novel, the first being inspiration. If you have to ask, ‘how do you get your ideas?’ you are probably not a writer at heart, you may be in love with the illusion of writing. The reality is—days and days and days of f…g hard work, not hard like a construction worker but hard in the invisible place between your two ears which is often more exhausting.

This is #wanafriday when I join with other writer friends to write on the same theme, today’s theme is quotes that inspire us.

I have chosen some quotes from well known writers to express these four steps:  

1. Inspiration: Anything and everything around you is fodder for a story.

“Plot is people. Human emotions and desires founded on the realities of life, working at cross purposes, getting hotter and fiercer as they strike against each other until finally there’s an explosion—that’s Plot.”
—Leigh Brackett, WD

“The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.”
—Eudora Welty, WD

“I think the deeper you go into questions, the deeper or more interesting the questions get. And I think that’s the job of art.”
—Andre Dubus III, WD (this quote is from 
an interview with Dubus in our July/August 2012 issue)

2. Getting it down: Write:

“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”
—Lawrence Block, WD

3. Refining it: Show – Don’t tell:

“If you tell the reader that Bull Beezley is a brutal-faced, loose-lipped bully, with snake’s blood in his veins, the reader’s reaction may be, ‘Oh, yeah!’ But if you show the reader Bull Beezley raking the bloodied flanks of his weary, sweat-encrusted pony, and flogging the tottering, red-eyed animal with a quirt, or have him booting in the protruding ribs of a starved mongrel and, boy, the reader believes!”
—Fred East, WD

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
—Stephen King, WD

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
—Elmore Leonard

You do not have to explain every single drop of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop—H2O, The reader will get it."
—George Singleton

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
—Mark Twain

4. Letting it go: Your writing will never be perfect. You can spend the rest of your life on perfecting it, for there will always be another improvement to make—but then you will have written only one book—and probably unpublished, still waiting for perfection.

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
--Ernest Hemingway

Which step are you on? (or stuck on)

Join other writers who are writing on the theme of inspirational quotes and see what subjects they have chosen. Different strokes for different writer folks.

Ellen Gregory--Your Stories Matter

(more bloggers will be added as they post today & tomorrow)

(Quotes above were found at:  72 of the Best Quotes About Writing)


Unknown said...

This was some excellent advice. I read and re-read all
Of them several times. I'm at the Stephen King phase of my latest novel....cutting the fat. Thanks for sharing Cora.

elizabethfais said...

So many great quotes with such sage advice. Thank you for this post, Cora. I'm a big Mark Twain fan, but I'd never heard the quote you posted here:

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
—Mark Twain

So funny ... and so true!

Ellen Gregory said...

Great insights here from everybody. Right now I'm stuck on the "getting it down" phase and your quote from Lawrence Block is particularly appropriate - heh.

Kim Griffin said...

I'm stuck on 'getting it down' and I'm going to try to take the quote you have for it to heart. Hey, it's worth a try!

Lots of inspiration here :)

jrlindermuth said...

Definitely good advice in these quotes. We read them and nod our heads sagely. Then promptly forget and make the same mistakes again. Eventually some of it sinks in if we're really meant to be writers.

Cora said...

Stephen King always has excellent writing advice. Get his book on Writing if you haven't gotten it already.

Cora said...

The more I critique people, the more I find this is true. When the meaning is slightly off, it throws me. I spend a lot of time with a Thesaurus. I think it is very important.

Cora said...

Me too. And this quote was a good reminder for me to get it down. Can't edit what you don't have.

Cora said...

It helps quiet that perfectionist bug we have-if we haven't 'figured it out' we don't want to put it down. I have to write today on one particularly feisty scene I have been putting off and that quote will help me get it out.

Cora said...

Ha.Ha. Ain't that the truth.