Have you always dreamed of writing a novel? Then today is the day to start!
I’ve taught novel revision since 1999, when I started a Novel Revision Retreat. (Email me for information on hosting a retreat in your area.) To attend the retreat, writers must have a completed novel; we spend the weekend talking about how to improve the novel. Many writers have had break throughs and gotten their first novel published.
A retreat for intermediate writers is fun. But I also wanted to do something for beginning writers.
Start Your Novel: Six Winning Steps Toward a Compelling Opening Line, Scene and Chapter
After years of reading and critiquing manuscripts from beginners, I started to see some areas where I could help. First and most important, is to focus your idea. Often storytellers just begin writing and the story wanders hither and thither. Drifting around a story is a sure way to get lost.
I know–some of you are panicking because you think I’m going to ask you to outline. Well, sorta. You don’t have to have a full-blown outline (though it really helps beginners); but you do need something to focus the story. You need a plumb line that say, “No, that doesn’t belong in THIS story.”
Let’s take Cinderella as an example. Will the story focus on Cinderella’s poverty, her status as an orphan, the step-daughter/step-mother relationship or her relationship with her sisters?
Poverty: This is the story of how a young woman struggles to rise above her circumstances.
Orphan: A young woman struggles with an overwhelming grief and finds a measure of peace in her work, until a party invitation pulls her back to life.
Step-mother: A young woman longs for the mother she never had and allows an abusive relationship in the hope of someday earning love.
Step-sister: A young woman fights with her cruel step-sisters until she’s forced to abandon her childhood home in search of a better life.
If you take the time to think through a story, your first draft will be more focused–and more compelling. Any of these would make for an interesting retelling of the Cinderella story with a modern twist. Planning the story before you start to write will save you hours–and many tears!
Learn five more steps toward a great novel by reading this book.