Givoanni was gracious enough to allow me to guest blog today on any topic regarding Fiction. I have chosen to discuss my methodology and procedures for publishing my novel, Time Couriers. I hope that you might learn from some of my mistakes if you are ever inclined to undertake a similar challenge.
The novel began as an idea between a friend and me in August of 2004. It was then that I began to research the plot concept and the themes we wanted to explore with the narrative. I suggest that at this stage you carry a notebook with you at all times to capture any thought, quote, fact or anecdote you might like to include in your work. I borrowed from as many people as I could to complete my novel and I am proud to say that I took 100% of the suggestions given me, there is no shame in that, as long as the suggestions are good ones! I chose the genre of Suspense/Thriller and began a year of collecting data, historical facts, settings, and characterizations.
During this time, I penned a short 500 word synopsis of the novel. This was critical for crystallizing the plot and eliminating extraneous information, characters and plot complications. It was a very good tool for streamlining the narrative.
Next, I began an outline from the synopsis. Each line item would form the basis for an extended outline to be created after the research for the novel was nearing completion. Next, I devised a flow chart with my primary, secondary, and tertiary characters with lines drawn to indicate conflict, romance, special characterizations and descriptions. Using this tool, I was able to create the characters and better understand their motivations and agendas prior to writing their dialogue. This is very important because when the time comes for writing the dialogue the characters will speak to one another in your head according to what you have placed on this flow chart.
The outline is then expanded to include a paragraph for each line item. Each paragraph will form the basis for the chapters. I chose to write in three acts, for simplicity sake, (a beginning, a middle and an end, that is nothing like the beginning.) I also chose as my voice, Third Person Omniscient. This is God’s view according to Alfred Hitchcock and enables you to explore all characters activities even simultaneously. It is the best voice for a suspense narrative, but it can lead to continuity errors in your story, so beware of what I call “Safety belts in the ‘45 Packard.” You must ensure that actions happen in sequential order and not before they should. Also it is vital that every question posed in the first chapters are all answered and fully explained by novel’s end.
A novel is typically between 60,000 words and 100,000 words. Less is considered a novela and more an epic novel. Time Couriers is 78,000 words. I deliberately chose to quicken the pace by writing shorter chapters toward the novel’s climax. I also attempted to provide a totally unexpected ending to the novel, which people either love or hate...either way, I feel I have done my job as an author.
I attempted to complete five pages of text per day and within three months, I had a completed novel. I then revised the novel six times with my mother who is the greatest bibliophile that I know and then four more times with the publishing house in the U.K. I had to adapt to the British Housestyle that is used there and that precipitated additional grammatical changes, which each had to be approved individually, very time-consuming.
Remember to format and number your pages as you go. Attempting to go back an re-format your manuscript or change the page numbers can be extremely frustrating and next to impossible on certain days. When I get into my “zone” it literally feels as if I am dictation from the characters’ mouths. I can’t describe it any other way.
Thanks again to Giovanni for kindly allowing me to share my process for writing a novel with you today and I wish you all wild success with all of your writing endeavors.
Your friend in New Orleans,