It occurs to me that many of you are wondering why I am sharing so many details about the process of writing this novel. After all, it spoils the plot details for anyone that wishes to read it and it exposes a great deal of my own hard work to the world at large with no particular benefit to me. Permit me to explain.
Now that I have two lead characters, I need to settle on some details of the setting. We know it will be on a prison planet called Mal, but that is not enough to actually write anything. So let’s start fleshing out the details about Mal.
I decided early that I wanted two main characters who would follow separate paths for some portion of the story before coming together. I also decided that the second character should be a strong female character and would serve as a potential love interest for the male lead (and vice versa). This idea is not original by any stretch but it often works well.
Character development is one of the often overlooked facets of story planning. This applies equally to short works and long works. So many stories lack depth and realism because the author simply does not know his characters. Knowing your characters is critical to avoid such pitfalls as backstory contradictions and actions out of character. To this end, even before I have developed the plot in more than broad strokes, I am spending time developing my characters.
The first step in any writing project is to select something to actually write about. After all, if there is nothing to write about, what is the point of writing in the first place? Even a lowly blog post must have a topic of some kind, or at least some sort of purpose. While that purpose need not be particularly clever or relevant, it nevertheless must exist.
Like a great many people, I have been toying with writing a novel for a long time. Unlike many people, I have also actually attempted to write a novel several times. As anyone who has attempted to write anything of any length can attest, it is much harder than it looks. The plethora of books and other references on the various aspects of writing a novel are clear evidence that it is not simply a process of applying a pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and letting words flow.
If I have learned anything from my various aborted attempts to write a novel, it is that failure to plan your story will almost certainly lead to failure in completing your story. It is a very rare story that presents itself to the writer fully formed and ready to be committed to paper. The longer the story, the less likely this event will be. There are far too many pitfalls that can open up beneath the intrepid would-be novelist for the approach of simply writing and seeing what happens to be generally productive of anything other than reams of words that are semi-coherent.
I have decided that it is time to actually plan a story and then try to write it. This is, however, not the most exciting process in the world for it involves a great deal of thought about details far beyond those that will ever appear in the finished work. Of course, if you truly desire to write a good story, this planning stage is critical
To alleviate the boredom of this process and also to contribute an additional motivation, I have decided to chronicle my adventures in writing a novel on my blog. By doing so, I ensure that I have, at least, written something that will permit me to experience that feeling of satisfaction, even if the novel itself is never completed. Indeed, many aspiring writers may find my chronicle interesting, if only as a case study in what not to do. Perhaps even experienced writers will find a chronicle of me flailing around trying to write amusing.
Interested parties should watch this space, and the “Novel Project” category in particular for each new entry in this saga. It is also important to note that these entries do not reflect the process realtime but are spread out in easier to digest chunks. Here’s hoping that it proves interesting.