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Writing Tips: Breaking Your Novel Down Into Chunks

One of the most difficult things about writing a novel for the first time is the sheer size and magnitude of the project. Even a shorter novel, one between 40 and 60 thousand words can seem daunting to the beginner writer.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about her work-in-progress and she explained that she had stalled out after a few thousand words because she just couldn’t see her way through to the end of the book. “I have scenes and dialogues in my head, but it’s hard to write the whole thing down from the first chapter to the last chapter.”

If you think of your completed novel as a series of shorter, but linked stories based on a group of characters, it is much easier to write and complete your book. Every time you hear your characters talking or envision them in the middle of a conflict or just living their everyday lives, write it down.

Too often, writers make the mistake of not writing down their ideas as soon as they come. As my friend said, “Sometimes I get the most amazing ideas, so good that I’m sure I can’t possibly forget them, but then, when I go to write them down, they have somehow evaporated.”

Sometimes these great ideas arrive in the form of an overheard conversation, or something you’ve read in a newspaper or online. Write them down immediately, before it is too late.

Set a realistic word count and write every day. This accomplishes several things:

1. You will begin to really know your characters; their goals, their motivations, their fears and their beliefs
2. As you get to understand your characters, the story arc and continuity becomes much clearer
3. A good novel is character driven, and if you want to put your characters in the driver’s seat, you have to give them the room to show you who they are
4. Even if you only write 200 words a day, by the end of a month you will have 6000 words and by the end of a year, you will have 73,00 words!

Even if your goal is only 500 words, make sure that you reach it. Some days will be more challenging than others. Often those first couple of hundred words are all that you need to get your creativity flowing.

Don’t be afraid to use the delete button. A good writer views this tool as a best friend.

Don’t worry at first if your chunks of writing don’t seem to flow together. Just write it down. The time to look for continuity is after the ideas are on the page and the first draft is complete.

Break your novel into chunks – try it for a month and you will be happily surprised at the results.

As long as you can see a few feet ahead of you, you will get to the end of the journey

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