So, you had an idea. You want to write a novel. The story line is already in your head, and you are itching to get your hands on that keyboard.
In your mind, you have already sold thousands of copies, and you are thinking about who will play the lead role in the movie version. Been there, done that, and still like it…
The harsh reality is that most aspiring authors never finish the first draft of their novel, and some start a second before the first one is not even close to completion. I personally managed to finish my first novel and publish it, but I also started writing my third novel after the second was only half finished. The major problem is that we all have too many good ideas, and it is hard to focus on one story, especially when writing it turns out to take more time than we estimated. I once calculated that, due to abundance of ideas, I could (theoretically) write four novels per year… if only I could write eight hours per day. In reality, I do have a daytime job and a family. The thought of quitting my job and leaving my wife and son didn’t appeal.
Before I explain a solution to the problem, let me add more obstacles to this Mission Impossible:
First, a good novel should have at least 60,000 words, and that will take time. When your work is finished, you need to hire an editing service to review and improve your work. Otherwise you won’t have the hint of a chance of being accepted by agents or publishers. Editing will cost you $800+.
I have written numerous posts about the daunting task of finding an agent or publisher, or, in case you self-publish, market and sell your first novel.
Promoting and selling your first novel is the most difficult task in the business world. Even traditional publishers won’t help you there, unless you have a definite Dan-Brown-Potential. So, writing should not be your only talent.
The solution to the problem is first of all perseverance, focus, and a major investment of time. And don’t ignore the much-needed blood, sweat, and tears. You may notice that I did not add talent to the formula. Talent does definitely help, but all aspiring writers believe they have it, and I won’t judge who has and who does not.
From my personal experience I can say that writing my first novel was nothing short of exciting. It was a trip into a different dimension, a different life and time. I had a good outline of my story, but it also took some surprising turns that I did not expect. A story develops while you write it, and that simple fact is absolutely fascinating. For that experience alone it was worth writing it.
So, here, based on my personal experience, are some tips:
- Don’t expect your first novel to be a bestseller. I always say that the best marketing tool for your first novel is the release of the second.
- Write for yourself, not for commercial success. Have fun!
- Write plenty! The more you write the better your style will be in the end. You don’t necessarily need to write on your novel all the time. Watch people or events and write a story about it. Post it on your blog.
- That being said, run a blog!
- Read plenty! Read online versions of the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. Read from Hemingway to Sarah Palin (Yikes!). Reading will help improving your style.
- Pace yourself to 3,000 to 5,000 words a week (some do better, some do worse).
- Don’t edit your own writing over and over. You’re losing too much time. Keep the editing for the time after your first draft is done.
- Find a place and time to do your writing on a regular basis.
- Last, but not least, download my document "Let's Write Novel"!
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Igor Feldman kills student Hillary Pinton
Scene in a basement. Hillary is tied to a chair, blind-folded. Igor uses 20-inch knife to pierce her heart.
The Monty Python Code – Chapter One
The full moon of a bitterly cold January night shed its eerie glow on the scenery in the smelly basement of the 19th century villa on Elm Street in Grand Fenwick’s most noble neighborhood. A blindfolded girl, still dressed in her cheerleader uniform, the pom-poms lying next to her on the dirty floor, was tied to an old, wooden chair, and she started crying. If they, whoever they were, would not release her like within the next two hours, she would like miss the party at Margaret Hatcher’s house, and that was just not fair. She could lose her status as the coolest girl in college. After all, she was Hillary Pinton, daughter of Horatio Pinton, owner and editor of the Grand Fenwick Observer.
She listened to the noise around her, the groaning of the old house, the howling wind from outside, the barely noticeable tapping feet of rats looking for food, but there was nothing that would reveal a clue of what was going to happen. Then, suddenly, she felt the presence of another person in the room.
“Hello?” she called out. “Can I like go home, please? I don’t wanna play anymore.”
The short, ugly creature, dressed in a filthy black robe with a large hood hiding his blemished face, shrugged his shoulders and skillfully wiped his runny nose with his long tongue, but he did not respond to his victim’s plead. Igor Feldman was not in the mood for a conversation.
The master will be pleased, he thought. I will do what he asked me for, and he will grant me my wish.
The sweat running from his back had caused his hump to slide, and, angry about the inconvenience, he groaned and started adjusting it.
“I really need to go home, like soon,” he heard Hillary again. “It’s like late, you know.”
“In time,” he calmed her with his raspy voice. “In time, my dear.”
He weighed the twenty-inch blade, an ordinary kitchen knife he had stolen from the house, in his hands, and, dragging the black shoes over the worn basement floor, he limped toward the chair.
Pretty she is, he thought as he cocked his head and curiously watched the young woman for a few seconds. He took a deep breath as his right hand went under Hillary’s sweater, and he started counting the ribs until he found the perfect spot.
“What are you doing?” Hillary giggled.
Feldman’s pulse accelerated in anticipation as he positioned the head of the knife, maintaining an accurate ninety-degree angle to her chest.
“Ooh,” she swooned. “You pervert! I guess, we have like time for a quick…”
Using swift and powerful force Feldman thrust the cold steel into her heart. Hillary’s body surged for a fleeting moment within the restraints of the tight ropes, and then it slumped back into the chair. The killing had been fast and effective, and, besides the hissing of air leaving her body, not a single sound had left her mouth. The eyes under the blindfold were open wide, filled with terror as if she were still alive
Feldman felt her blood streaming down his wrist, warm, red, rich, and tasty. He pulled the knife as swift as he had during the killing, and he held it close in front of his face. His long tongue caressed the cold steel, and he moaned with pleasure. Then he looked at the dead body
Maybe I could, he thought, but he mastered the growing desire, suspiciously scanning the surroundings. The master’s eyes are everywhere. He knows everything.
Igor had accomplished the task as he was asked, and he was confident the master would reward him generously.
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