Novel Writing Advice
What They Don’t Tell You About Writing a Novel
by guest blogger C. Hope Clark
Most writers don’t give novel writing advice on the long, drawn-out battle, countless rejections, and the shed tears over rewrites that didn’t work. They don’t tell you that releasing a book that’s been vetted, edited, and wrapped in the most beautiful cover in the world is enough to move you to tears. Yep, I cried when Lowcountry Bribe, the first of the Carolina Slade Mysteries, hit Amazon, Bell Bridge Books, and Barnes & Noble. Bookstores are buying it, readers are ordering it, and yes, my mother bought ten copies.
Carolina Slade is all I am and wish I could be. My characters could waltz into my study and without a spoken word, I’d know who they were. They’ve been to bed with me hundreds of times as they came into being and learned how to behave.
Novel writing was a huge bucket list item. I ticked it off with a fat, black Sharpie, drew a circle around it, and decorated it with stars, hearts, and a big exclamation mark. Is it a story that will change the world? Probably not. It’s an entertaining mystery.
If you have a novel in you, write it. Don’t rush it. Take your sweet time. Pushing any step of the process has the potential of tainting the quality. Become your character. Reach a point where you can’t remember what is real and what you made up. Invest in your story until you’re too far in to back out – and when it comes time to sell and self promote – you’ll wonder why you ever started it.
Here’s good novel writing advice: promote yourself. The buck stops with you, and there is bound to be a certain level of chaos. For instance, I’m waiting for paperwork in Barnes & Noble heaven to approve my novel for placement on their shelves, waiting for someone to approve my Kindle version, and in yet another locale, waiting for the Nook format to get ready.
I’ve set up my book tour (with many out-of-pocket expenses for travel, promotional material, and copies of the book). It’s time to plead with bloggers to feature Lowcountry Bribe and sometimes I’m wrapped in moments that feel like brick walls at the end of a long alley, but it’s part of the novel writing process.
You’ve heard that writing is the easy part? Right? It is. But take your time doing it. Dedicate yourself to it heart and soul. You must edit, solicit serious cutthroat beta readers to rip your work to shred, let the tale ferment for a while, and pursue publishing with all your fervor and energy.
Afraid to publish now? Good. Because that story needs to stick in you, grow stronger, and become part of your psyche and sinew. Open that book every other day and tweak it again, cast aside whole chapters, and delete characters. Dare to slice, dice, change, and think through dozens of “what-if” moments in each scene. When you think it’s ready, give it to someone with a critical eye to make sure. Then market it, knowing this is your legacy to the world, and above all… be proud.
C. Hope Clark is author of Lowcountry Bribe – A Carolina Slade Mystery, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Bell Bridge Books (www.bellbridgebooks.com). See her author site at www.chopeclark.com . Hope is also editor and founder of FundsforWriters.com (www.fundsforwriters.com) – a writer’s resource recognized by Writer’s Digest Magazine for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past eleven years.
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