View Full Version : Week 1: Getting Started

Amber Grosjean
March 1st, 2010, 01:57 PM
So you want to write a novel? First of all, congrats on making this decision! I wish you the best of luck and hope you achieve your goals!

Before you begin writing, there is something you should know. Well, there's a lot you should know lol. A novel is 60,000 words or more. We can talk about what goes into the story a little later on but first, you need to prepare yourself for the writing journey to begin.

First of all, you should decide when and where you want to write. It should fit who you are and your schedule. If you already write a little you know that answer. When do you write the best? During the day when the kids are at school? At night when others are sleeping? Every writer is different. One writer writes in the bathroom while another uses the top of the refrigerator. I can't remember who that author is but I do know he is very tall lol. When you figure out the best place and time, if you live with others in your family, you should make it known that you are not disturbed when you're in that area and during that time. That way you can devote yourself to your writing.

Now that you have established the time and place, you need to make sure you stock your space with all your supplies you will need. It really depends on how you're going to write. I use a laptop computer which means I would need a printer. I used to write long hand which meant I needed a lot of paper, pens/pencils, and erasers lol. The same goes for you. Included with that, make sure you have an accurate dictionary and thesaurus close by because it will be used often. Besides the actual tools for writing, you should also keep snacks, drinks, and other tools with you in your space. If you listen to music while you write, keep plenty of CDs or cassettes nearby. If you listen to CDs, have it wrap around so you don't have to change CDs at the end so you can keep writing. Schedule breaks where you can re-stock supplies and use the bathroom.

So are you ready to begin writing?

Before sitting down, stretch a little because you will be sitting in the same position for a little while. Try to keep notes while you write so you don't forget who your characters are and the locations you use for settings so you may need a notebook by your computer or writing tablet depending on what you choose as your tools.

Now you may begin. What are you writing? You should consider the genre before you write. And who your audience will be as well. That will help you choose the words you'll be using. From there, you can break it all down. Now, what is the story about? Is it a love story? Is it a story about you or someone you know? Fact or fiction?

The beginning of the story is very important because it needs to keep the reader wanting more. If the reader doesn't want to turn the page, you've just lost him/her. Intice the reader to want to know more and keep reading. Each story has a "story question". The beginning is where the question is made known. You don't ask this question as the writer. Instead, the reader should be asking as he/she reads the story. Will the girl get the boy? Will good conquer evil?

One way to intice the reader is to make the main character real. The MC should be larger than life. All the characters should be. Remember, just like in real life, all characters will have strengths and weaknesses. All characters have good and bad traits. More about that next week. A good way to learn how to make characters real is by watching real people.

So if you have a little time on your hands, here's an assignment or you can call it research if you'd like. Go where you would find your MC. Make a character sheet list to determine the kind of personality this character would have. Where would he/she hang out? That's where you need to go. Take a pen and paper with you and just watch people. Write down how people act while interacting with each other. How they talk, hold their bodies, etc. Eavesdrop. You have permission. Now you can use that in your story!

We can go a little more about this tomorrow if you'd like. There's so much to discuss so let's continue then. Until then, try it out. Eavesdrop and see if you can learn how to make your characters real.


Gwyn Lacy
March 1st, 2010, 03:12 PM
I've been plotting out a romantic suspense on FreeMind. But it is the plot arc and I need to get more character traits and clarify the question. I have a hero and heroine, a villian and a victim-witness (possible villian), other victims, time travel...This would be my first full-length novel. Do you do a full character profile on every character in your novels?

Amber Grosjean
March 1st, 2010, 03:26 PM
On the character Profiling. You don't really have to have a profile for all characters but you should for all the main ones in the story.

You should ask yourself,

What drives the character? (This is for good or bad characters)

What are the likes and dislikes?

What is the personality at the beginning of the story? Now how about the end of the story? All characters will change throughout the story so the personality may change as well. This shows growth as a person.

What is the family life of the characters? Is he/she an only child, mother, father, grandparent? This may affect how he/she acts.

What are the favorites?

Plus there's more to ask yourself about your characters. Anyone who plays a major roll in the story should have a profile either in your mind or on paper so you don't stray from the story. Get inside their head and let them inside yours as well. Become one with that person and make them real inside you.


March 2nd, 2010, 12:02 AM
I have plenty of ideas I just never think the stuff I write sounds any good. LOL

Amber Grosjean
March 2nd, 2010, 12:08 AM
Stop listening to the logical side of your brain. We write using both sides of the brain. On one side is our creative side where all the ideas come from, the opposite side is the side of reason, the realistic thoughts. Write fast enough so your right side of the brain doesn't catch on that it doesn't sound right. I believe that's the side of reason lol. I can't remember lol.

Just remember this. Dr. Suess was rejected hundreds of times before his first book was published and now look at him. His ideas were crazy but yet he some how pulled it off. I think he's the best example for any age we write for because he never listened to the side of reason. I think they should've made a movie or written a book about this man because he set forth this idea of making interesting ideas work in stories. He's the King of Fantasy or should be deemed that title.


March 2nd, 2010, 12:10 AM
I'm left handed. A lot of people tell me I use my creative side way too much but I think the opposite. LOL

Amber Grosjean
March 2nd, 2010, 11:23 AM
Yeah, that's right. Left hand people are the only ones in their right mind lol. I'm left handed too lol. Its just a matter of training yourself. You can do it. I think anyone can really.

Anyone can write a book. Whether its good or not is up to the editing and perfecting which some writers have trouble with. I know I do at times lol. It takes those who want to do it that get passed that process and get published. That's something I don't think everyone can do because it takes a lot of patience and a whole lot of know-how which I'm hoping to bring to the table.

Its funny because I'm not a very patient person but when it comes to writing, I'm a totally different person. I love it. Its always been that way. It chose me for some reason. Just living the dream for me is enough. To have at least a few books published is enough for me although, I'm not quitting because this is all I've ever known. This is the one thing I'm good at lol.

I hope everyone believes that in themselves as well. Of course, I believe everyone has more than one talent. We're just dealing with this one right now.

As someone who has written short stories and novels, I know there is a really big difference. You can write a short story in one day, one hour even. Novels take at least 30 days, some shorter time and some longer time but it depends on your creative flow. And its true for writing non-fiction as well.

With novels, you have more things to add to the story. There's more ways to add plot, more scenes, more characters, more trial and errors, and just more. But it means there's more adventure as the writer as well. You have more time to spend with your favorite characters, more time to build a relationship with them. More time to forget where you are and live in their world. More time to forget about your problems. Writing a novel can be like medicine, its very therapeutic. I say that because writing has saved my life! So it is very true. You just have to be positive about it.

Don't focus on how long it takes to write the story. Don't focus on whether someone is going to like it or not. If you like it, that's all that counts. Because there are others out there like you who enjoy the same things as you do. So write for yourself at this point.

Ok, I'm jabbering too much now lol. Let's get back to writing!!


March 2nd, 2010, 06:01 PM
How much time a day do you spend writing? Because if I sit down at the computer, I can only last as long as my eyes will let me. Which is when the words start to jumble. LOL

Amber Grosjean
March 2nd, 2010, 08:11 PM
Everyone is different. Some days I can write for hours, sometimes its just 3 or 4 and sometimes its just a few minutes. I always try to keep writing until something pulls me away or until I lose my muse, which ever comes first lol. I never use a time limit because if I did, I would keep my eyes on the clock instead of where it should be, on my writing. Unless you need to be somewhere, don't worry about the time. Let your muse guide you. The rest will follow.


Gwyn Lacy
March 3rd, 2010, 05:52 PM
Thanks for the feed back on character profiling. There is an appendix in a writing book I love on how to write villians--but the profile questions took me two days to complete for my hero (even though my hero is not a villian: good questions), and I still have my heroine, my victim(s) and my villian. I usually write by the seat of my pants-so it's kind of taking the fun out of it. Although, I realized I knew my hero and my villian better than my heroine. So I'm going to profile her and my victim--or toss the whole thing and write "panster" on another story--getting a little tired here. LOL

Amber Grosjean
March 4th, 2010, 01:12 AM
Yeah, I hear ya on that one. I write on the seat of my pants too. I didn't do my profile until after Peterson Estate was written a few years earlier. I decided since I was rewriting the book from memory, I would get to know my characters a little more even though I already felt like I knew them lol. So it came to be a lot easier for me at that time.

The profile I used came from a website on characters. I can't remember the site's name now because its been so long--mid 90s lol. I ended up making my own profile based on that original one which helped me better because some of the questions that were listed didn't really work for my book. I think each writer should create their own as well so that they work with their own books. And sometimes, they can be filled out while you're writing that book which works too.

And profiling doesn't have to be done all the time. It is a simple excercise that teaches writers how to be self aware of our characters. If you can do it mentally, all the power to you as a writer because it means you're growing as a writer!