I didn’t quite finish my 3-Day novel (more on that later), but I definitely learned a lot about the fiction writing process. Here are the highlights:
1. Start With a Simple Genre
Organizing would have been way easier had I not tried to write the mermaid equivalent of Lord of the Rings. If I had it to do over, I would write a chick lit novel, rather than dabbling in sci-fi/fantasy. Fabricating a believable mythology, and then making sure my narrative stayed consistent with it, was definitely beyond the scope of this first-time, 3-Day novel writer.
2. A Good Organization Strategy is Essential…
And you need to have it in place BEFORE you start writing. It was really hard to find a balance between getting a solid structure and putting too many details in my outline. I ended up including WAY too many of my research notes, character bios, timeline and bits of clever dialogue in my outline. Next time I will definitely explore mind-mapping software and online tools to organize my information more effectively; categorize and tag content; and ideally, make it all searchable. Even if I opt for a low-tech approach, I will definitely create multiple, separate outlines. Admittedly, all this would be far easier were I had chosen an less complex genre.
3. Don’t Edit While You Write
Whether I’m writing an article or marketing copy, my habit of editing-while-writing always slows me down. Not that big a deal when I’m writing a blog post; big problem while attempting to write a substantial piece of fiction. I spent so much time on details like word choice and sytax, that I kept losing my place in the larger narrative.
All in all, the 3-Day Novel Writing Contest was sufficiently positive that I’m considering doing NaNoWriMo this November. A month is going to feel positively luxurious after 3DNC. I’ll keep you posted…
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from other novelists. What do you wish you’d done differently your first time?
Photo by Diana Thorold