Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Start of Na No Wri Mo

Pink Heart Society and Harlequin Historical author Michelle Styles offers a few tips on writing a novel in a month.

1 November marks the start of the National Novel Writing Month.

Many people attempt to write the FIRST draft of a novel in this month and some of them succeed.  Some of them, such as my fellow editor Jenna Bayley-Burke, even  eventually sell that novel.

The key word here is First. First drafts are always that drafts and things can dramatically change as you go through the process of refining and defining your story, but it is easier to work with words than to fill a blank page. You at least know one way that it doesn't quite work. Some times I have been known to find many ways that a story doesn't work. It is far better to discover this BEFORE you send the work out.

As I have written novels quickly in the past, I want to offer a few tips.

1. Set a daily goal -- either pages or word count. Leave yourself some wriggle room. But don't worry over much if you don't make your monthly goal. What you want is a book you can sell, rather than a fast book. Everyone writes at a different pace.

2. Block out the time you are going to write and start. Don't wait for inspiration, just get words down on the page.

3. Have a basic outline but really allow your imagination and your characters to take over. Don't try to fit the characters to the plot, allow the characters to influence the plot. Always ask why and think about ways to deepen.

4. Keep it Simple and go deep.

5. Make your characters engaging. People like to read about characters which they fall in love with.

6. Turn the internet off. This is big for me. I am more focussed on my work when the internet is off.

7. Never beat yourself up. The key thing is to finish the novel and some novels take longer than others.

8. Decide whatever happens you will finish that story and make it the strongest possible story as you owe it to the characters.

I look forward to hearing about any and everyone who is attempting this exercise. I wish you all well.

Me? Right now I am doing revisions on a novel and so can't take part. Great novels are not just written, but rewritten and refined.  Thankfully my editor has given me some suggestions that are going to make this manuscript be much stronger.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty, and intimate historical romance in a wide variety of time periods. Her latest Hattie Wilkinson Meets Her Match is out now. Her next novel An Ideal Husband? was a 75k novel where the first draft was basically written in 3 weeks and will be published in April 2013. You can read more about Michelle's books on her website

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