I sigh heavily and begin nervously picking my lips as I’m reading the last few sentences of the book, 90 Days to Your Novel, by Sarah Domet. I’m annoyed with myself because I’ve surpassed 90 days since I bought the book and I have not written one sentence yet of my upcoming novel. Where has the time gone?
In all honesty, I’ve just completed 90 days of procrastination, while reading the book 90 days to Your Novel. That’s the truth. Whoops!
However, despite screwing up on this project initially, I did learn a lot and I intend to see this task through to the end. Therefore, my new plan is 90 weeks to my novel. Now this, I can do. 🙂
There is a lot of very helpful, concise, detailed advice on how to write a first novel—and how to write better overall. The book made me feel more hopeful, confident, and informed about getting started.
I’d like to share some useful tips that I learned from reading Domet’s book. These tips are in no particular order—They’re just general ideas that stuck with me after reading this very useful guide.
Tip # 1 – Use the Senses When Writing
What do you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel? That’s what you should write. Instead of telling the reader, “The tree was beautiful,” it’s more helpful to describe what the tree looked like exactly, as well as smelled like, felt like, sounded like, etc. Using the senses in writing helps bring the reader into the story, so that they can feel like they are there with you in the story, experiencing it as well.
Tip # 2 – Begin with Some Action
Try to hook the reader in the first paragraph by beginning in the middle of the action. Domet is a writing teacher, and she says that most of her students start their stories with too much introductory information at the beginning, and as a result, risk losing the reader due to boredom. The idea is to begin in the middle of the action so that the reader is immediately curious about what’s happening and wants to read more.
Tip # 3 – There Must be Conflict and Yearning
The protagonist of the story cannot get what she wants, until nearly the end (if at all). In order to keep a reader interested, there needs to be unresolved conflict and yearning throughout the story. Otherwise, again, the reader will be too bored.
Tip # 4 – Use an Outline
Domet says that writers need to have an outline to write a good book. That means, instead of sitting down and just writing what comes to mind, you should map out act-by-act, scene by scene, what is going to take place throughout the story. Picture an index card with information for each act. Develop characters in advance, have an overall theme, a point of view, and narrator —before you sit down to write the bulk of the novel. Otherwise, it’s too easy to drift off course and end up writing a bunch of gobbledygook.
Tip # 5 – Practice Writing Every Day
Domet explains that an aspiring novelist should practice writing every day. There is no way to get better at your craft unless you do this. Writing is not just an art. Writing is a skill that needs tending to. Practice writing, learn about writing, edit, revise, and proofread to become better. Unless you’re extraordinarily gifted, this is usually the only way to find success as a published writer.
For tons of more handy tips on writing, you can buy Sarah Domet’s excellent book here.
I hope these strategies help aspiring novelists as much as they did me! Now I just need to read a book on how to tackle procrastination, and I’ll be set.
PS: Our Bend, Oregon, trip is finally scheduled and I’ll be writing a post on that next month. Stay tuned for more travel posts coming up next.