What the hell?


How to write a novel in 10 minutes flat

I don’t know how to write a novel. I am learning, or trying to learn, on a course along with about half a dozen other would-be writers. It’s a great course. But it’s not enough.

So I’m hoping that if I start this blog, it will help me reflect on the process of writing and structuring a novel. My other hope is that other writers will add their comments/take pity on me, but just thinking about this stuff out loud can’t hurt. So even if I write it and no one reads it, I will still get something out of it.

My story so far: I’ve been a journalist (about a hundred years ago) and a copywriter. So I’ve been making money from writing for 20 years, which I am holding on to as some kind of leg up in this project. During this time I’ve also married and had children.

My aim is to make enough money so my husband can give up commuting and spend more time with our children and me. Or just with our children. Once I have free childcare 24/7, I can go and wiggle my toes in town.

Money is the only motivation that works for me. It gives me focus. I want people – lots of people – to want to buy my stuff. That’s why I’m aiming for women’s commercial fiction, or perhaps commercial literary if I am good enough or work hard enough or hypnotise enough agents/publishers. Delete as (in)appropriate.

Mostly I enjoy writing so the worst that can happen is just that. Should my pleasure remain its own reward I’ll have had fun to sweeten the pill of failure. But writing is my most developed skill so this is honestly my best shot to make some cash, remote as the target may be.

So here I am at my pc with an idea hot off the synapses. I think it’s a good idea. I’m not going to say what it is, not because I want to tease, but because I am frightened of somehow diluting it, or spreading it too thin, until it no longer seems interesting or viable.

What I can say is that it does deal with an individual at odds with society and that, I believe, is a good thing. We are learning practical criticism of literary texts on the course and I have read that novels are almost always about individuals at odds with society or sometimes nature. Phew.

If, by the way, you have formed the impression that I am flailing around wildly in confusion and panic, then you’ve read this right.

I have attempted a time-line and looked at Freytag’s five point plot structure. I know how the story begins, what happens at the midpoint and at the end (two possible endings at the moment) but I’m not sure how to get from exposition through rising action to the climax or crisis.

One of my best ‘breakthroughs’ was simply writing down a few lines on a piece of paper for each chapter. I really am that much of a novice.

10 minutes flat? Like many people I don’t have a lot of time to pursue my dreams, the kids, the husband, the job, the dog blah blah blah – not to mention my friends most of who must think I’m in witness protection. So even if I do have a bit longer than that most days it doesn’t feel that way. There are always other things I could and possibly should be doing. I suppose that’s one reason 10 minutes is an appealing portion of time. It’s not really enough time to do anything except play with words.

It’s only 10 minutes so, what the hell?

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22 comments on “What the hell?
  1. Ooh I love that you are doing this, and so honestly. And I recognise the procrastination going on here! You know you have it in you to write novels (yes, that’s a plural); believe in yourself and your ability to communicate. You’re good at it. Aim for the Ben Elton production line of bestsellers, he’s knocking them out at a rate of 1 a year! Loadsa money. Do you use Twitter? There’s an amazing amount of useful stuff here and lots of people willing to have brains picked and provide feedback and advice/inspiration. This one might be worth a follow: http://twitter.com/#!/tiffanyreisz/status/41956249473916928. 🙂

    Good luck, will be following your progress and expecting a signed first edition. xx

  2. Sarah Chaplin-Lee says:

    I really like the way you write and that you make me laugh and because I think you’re great I can only imagine you’ll make it happen. It is inspiring that you are both doing this and putting it out there so honestly. I’m looking forward to reading your future bloggings and trust that you’ll remember us when you’re rich and famous.
    Really good luck

  3. Lovely tone, plus you “get” that nobody wants long paragraphs when reading on line….and funny funny funny.

    Ohohoh! I have a blog about my horses. In it, I pretend to be totally and completely incompetent to a near dangerous degree! Or maybe I really AM totally incompetent to a near dangerous degree. It is mostly only useful to those who study Parelli Natural Horsemanship, but here’s the link if you want to see it: http://horsewhispererwannabe.blogspot.com/

    Meanwhile, looking forward to more of your work on this blog or elsewhere!

  4. Tom Bradby says:

    Well, get on with it, then. We’re waiting.

    It sounds like you’re on the right track so far…

    Get on Twitter, then we’ll know when it is worth logging onto your blog.

  5. oooh, someone in your comments section spells their name the same as me! (Sadly the older I get the more capable I am of getting excited about very small things.)

    I’m also getting the itching to write – well – start – a novel. Currently itching to start a children’s novel – kinda historical fiction/history of science themed – thing. But everyone knows how notoriously difficult it is to write good kids stuff…or is that simply a great excuse not to do anything but eat chocolate and complain about ‘how crap kids’ books are these days’?

    Anyway. You’ll know me as the only other classmate known to have written a limerick about topiary and reproductive organs.



  6. What I want to know is how you got so many comments on your blog already when my blog’s been going since 1997 and I am decidedly impoverished in the comments section.

    Obviously I have no friends. (Or enemies).

  7. Ok, lying. It was 2007. But 1997 sounds better.

  8. Tori says:

    LOVE the blog and a brilliant insight into what you’ve been up too and better than applying for info from the witness protection programme…..

  9. cesa says:

    fresh and funny . love it .

  10. cesamilton@yahoo.co.uk says:

    fresh and funny . what a winner . lov it

  11. cesamilton@yahoo.co.uk says:

    fresh and funny . winning combination . lov it

  12. cesamilto says:

    fresh and funny . winning combination . love it

  13. cesamilton says:

    fresh and funny . winning combination and i quite understand about not talking but writing . love it .

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