Book Learning

Posted on January 26, 2009


So, after a somewhat intense last few weeks, I finally finished the rewrite of TMK. It’s been a long and much-interrupted process, and one which I’ve found massively frustrating, but from the point of view at least of professional development, it’s been pretty useful. Actually, scratch that: it’s been kinda fucking necessary on account of my never having written a novel before.

So, hopefully I’ve learned some things that will make the next one (Queen Of Clouds, coming to a netbook near me imminently) an easier and quicker process, and a better product.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

1/ A novel is not a short story. This may sound sort of obvious, but…it’s really not, you know?

2/ Plan better. Work out the mechanics of your world fully before you get into the story. No, seriously, do this. Because rippling fundamental world changes through a completed manuscript is a colossal pain.

3/ Your book is never as bad as you think it is. Nor as good.

4/ Not being a full time writer makes life difficult when you feel that you are under time pressure. Not being able to write when you want to. Not having the energy to write when you’re able. Not being able to keep track of your thoughts from one session to the next because of the elapsed time between them. Not being able to keep track of…oh, I wrote that already.

5/ Did I mention planning better?

6/ Match your ambition to your ability. For the first time out it’s probably better to start with a single character viewpoint, as opposed to, say, trying and tell the story of a city through the interleaved viewpoints of three characters who almost never interact with each other.

7/ Know your market. Yes. Well, that goes hand in hand with 2/ and 5/.

8/ Find different ways of reading the book so you can see what’s on the page, not what’s in your head.

9/ Chopping out swathes of text is cathartic, but possibly also dangerously addictive.

10/ Perserverence pays off, eventually.

Posted in: Books, Writing