How to Write a Novel on Newstalk with Ivan Yates
Everybody has a book in them. There has never been a better time to write that book than this unusual time of self isolation that we find ourselves living in. I’ve put down some notes about my process for writing a novel and with some tips and hints to help you to get started. If you’d like to take a look at some of my novels and buy in ebook format click here Michelle Jackson on Amazon
Can anybody write a novel?
I believe that everybody has a book in them. And to be a writer you need to be able to tell stories that’s far more important than understanding grammar and syntax. Nowadays you don’t even have to be able to type because you can use voice recognition on a tablet or phone to record your thoughts and words. Everybody has a different process of writing But I have found some key elements make writing easier.
Ask yourself – what is the main gist of your story write down your main characters and describe them by age profession relationships and go from there
For me setting is very important and all my novels are set in different locations with the place being important to the story.
How do you get started?
If you have never written before a short story is a good way to get started. It can range from 1000 to 5000 words and is less daunting than tackling full-size novel straight away. So next decide what you want to say in your story
I am a great believer in following advice from successful authors and the great Maeve Binchy always said right about what you know. If you have a friend or family member who is a policeman and you know how their day works and you’ve heard them talk about real life experiences it’s much easier to have a policeman in your story and something like a pilot if you don’t know anyone in that profession and it cuts out the need for research. Too many people spend time on research and this can stop the flow that is needed in writing a story.
What other things can stall the writing of a story?
We are all are own worst critics and reading over and correcting and editing what you have written is another way of stopping the flow. Another great writer Cathy Kelly said the greatest asset you need when writing a novel is bum gum. We all need to sit down and write and even if what you’ve written isn’t up to scratch or is going off on a tangent just the very act of writing will help you to improve. Some writers use morning pages as a way to get into the habit of writing and with this extra time we all have people working from home longer have the commuting to work and some people aren’t working with a really can just get up in the morning and give time to the writing and this can be in diary format or I can be with any voice you chose
What is the voice?
One of the most important assets a writer can have is an authentic different voice and you must always use your own voice and not try to copy anyone else. If you’re an avid reader of crime and you particularly like the way someone writes crime books don’t automatically copy them- think about how you would express the story. If you try to be too clever or contrived a reader can pick this up and it won’t be pleasant to read. Finding your voice you need to clear your head and this is why morning pages work very well and discovering how your work reads.
Do you stick to a particular genre?
If you want to get your work published, and let’s face it everyone who writes a book is writing it to be heard and read by somebody, yes you need to know what genre your work fitting but this can be done after it was written. There is plenty of scope for different styles within particular genres so be authentic to yourself, your story and your voice and then packets your book for an agent so it’ll be easier for them to decide what genre your book fits into.
Is there any help online?
www.writing.ie website is writer Vanessa OLoughlin brainchild and a wonderful resource for aspiring writers with thousands of articles and links to videos.
They are also running a writing challenge starting May 4 that is a week of prompts to kick start people’s creativity and masses of coaching and critiquing by Vanessa. They do facebook live motivational sessions every evening (Maria McHale – is an NLP and business coach) and give tons of feedback
The thing is that it’s really hard to concentrate and with the challenge etc but their emphasis is that you can’t fail, even showing up and reading other peoples work is succeeding – and it’s inspiring – its all about community and creating support from a group.
How to get published?
Don’t be put off by rejections every author has countless rejection letters before getting published * some people self publish and are discovered after their book has made it online such as fifty shades of grey..
The team at writing.ie are running a facebook live chat series with literary agent Simon Trewin called Everything Your Ever Wanted to Know About Publishing But Never Dared Ask – it’s on Fridays at 12 noon and people can ask questions – they try to get to as many as we can, and we’ve a load of resources to go with each session in the Writing.ie newsletter with links to each week (week 5 next week is Inside the Deal) – This is one of the weeks
Surround yourself with writers
When I started writing I made a writing group with three other friends and we would meet weekly and read each other’s work and make constructive criticisms
It really pushed us all to produce work each week and we’d meet over a bottle of wine. This can be done easily in the current climate with a zoom meeting and you can have a glass of wine and discussion make it a social event because writing is a very solitary activity and you need to be prepare to spend plenty of time concentrating on your work so making a time of day or night to write helps
Virginia Wolfe declared every woman needed a room of her but that more often is a luxury rather than a reality. I always wrote my novels in bed on my laptop and I know several other people who do so but this isn’t ideal for your back! If you can ideally make a spot in the corner of your kitchen or sitting room a,d stock up Amy notes or photos that you need to help you compose your thoughts. A mood board is a great way to formulate your characters or jot down ideas that come to you for your plot whether in a dream or I used to often find solutions to my plot dilemmas while peeling the vegetables at dinner time.
A supportive family really helps who understand that the creative process can sometimes go on until the small hours of the morning when you’re in a flow and go with this flow – as the saying goes if it doesn’t come naturally leave it! Writing must be enjoyable or satisfying to write if it’s going to have the same effect on the reader.
The Irish Writers Center in Parnell Square in Dublin is a terrific place to attend for courses and workshops and good for meeting like minded people. I went to a terrific course by Conor Kostick and it really helped me to get focused and finish my novel. https://irishwriterscentre.ie/