Post Reply When & How Should I Write A Novel?
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Posted 1/1/15 , edited 1/1/15
I've been planning a light novel series for roughly three years now. I've decided to title it Overpowered. Synopsis will be below.

Synopsis: "Living in the year 2054 and a futuristic San Diego trying to become a writer, Miranda Reinhart is one of, if not the most, powerful electromasters in the world. However, she has little to no control of her powers. Because of this, she puts all of her friends and brother in danger by having severe headaches and discharge of electricity called "outbursts." On top of the outbursts, she is constantly fighting with one of former friends, whom hate each other now, her parents are rarely home because they work on the world's first space elevator's construction. And a mysterious teenage boy with the power of telekinesis, a power said to be impossible to obtain, shows up and everything is turned upside down as Miranda and her friends are, accidentally, introduced to some of the dark side of San Diego's science. All of this while trying to get through high school."

It's still a work in progress, but I'm leaving it at that for now.


So, onto the questions.

1. I know chapters can be anywhere between a page or twenty pages in length, but how do much do I put into a chapter? Do I end it after one conversation if it's a long one or an entire scene full of multiple conversations and maybe even action? Should a only cover an entire day or can it cover an entire week if it's long enough?

2. How long should a scene be? Is is okay to just have it be one paragraph if I feel does it's job?

3. What's the easiest way to describe movement? I've gotten better at it but it's still a tricky thing to handle and a very important part of writing.

4. How do I describe a character without having to spend entire paragraphs on it? It feels like a waste of a paragraph or two, especially with a story that has a lot of characters like this one.

5. Would looking at other light novel's structures and writing help me with my light novel's structure and writing?

6. How do I handle semicolons and commas? Commas I think I have down, but some people have said I could use improvement, but the semicolon was never properly taught to me in school, so I have no idea what it's suppose to do and how to use it!


I'm only fifteen, will be sixteen in March, and I've also taken up a Creative Writing class in school, but it turned into a poetry class rather than the writing I was hoping we would focus on.... I've been writing stuff since seventh grade and now I'm a sophomore in high school, so I've been writing for awhile. I really want to become a writer and this series has stuck with me for so long that I simply can't get rid of it. If I'm going to write any light novel series, it's going to be this one.
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Posted 1/1/15

MonkeysxMoo35 wrote:

1. I know chapters can be anywhere between a page or twenty pages in length, but how do much do I put into a chapter? Do I end it after one conversation if it's a long one or an entire scene full of multiple conversations and maybe even action? Should a only cover an entire day or can it cover an entire week if it's long enough?

2. How long should a scene be? Is is okay to just have it be one paragraph if I feel does it's job?


This ultimately comes down to planning. You need to put together the events in your narrative in a logical order and make a decision as to where you feel the cutoff point between each most logically lies. Do this as a reader, not a writer. When you begin to feel overwhelmed with trying to keep everything that's happened straight, when you feel the author is beginning to drone on, that's where you should consider putting a cutoff. Don't worry about length, worry about flow and logic. If everything flows neatly, remains engaging, and keeps the reader's interest you're doing it right.


3. What's the easiest way to describe movement? I've gotten better at it but it's still a tricky thing to handle and a very important part of writing.


The easiest way of all is to describe everything literally. Over time you'll figure out what you can eschew while still conveying a clear meaning. It's something that just comes with experience.


4. How do I describe a character without having to spend entire paragraphs on it? It feels like a waste of a paragraph or two, especially with a story that has a lot of characters like this one.


Let's try this: look up a picture of Riza Hawkeye and describe her to me. Make it so I don't have to look up a picture of her to know what she looks like if you can. We'll go from there.


5. Would looking at other light novel's structures and writing help me with my light novel's structure and writing?


Yes. This is essential research on your part. You need to have read multiple novels to see what people have done, what has worked, what hasn't worked, what you liked, what you disliked, and so on. It's vital research if you want to write professionally.


6. How do I handle semicolons and commas? Commas I think I have down, but some people have said I could use improvement, but the semicolon was never properly taught to me in school, so I have no idea what it's suppose to do and how to use it!


http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/semicolon.htm

A plain language explanation of the semicolon's purpose and manner of use.
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Posted 1/1/15 , edited 1/1/15
First of all, your synopsis sounds very imaginative, I'm sure you can go somewhere interesting with that. Your situation is very relateable, since I have an idea for a novel I've had for years and it won't leave my mind. I only write fan fiction for now, but I will try and help you as much as I can.

I think the keywords to most of your questions is simply, that there is no set way anything must be. You need to free yourself of any conceptions of how it should be and instead just play with all your ideas. Try out different things and see if they feel good or not. Your gut will always tell you if you are on the right track, if you need to change something or if there's paragraphs you'll need to delete because they don't work. At least in my experience that's how it goes.

I'll try and answer your questions below.

1. An important thing to remember when writing chapters is to cut away anything superfluous. Paragraphs that has no importance to anything whatsoever needs to be deleted. Keep it simple and to the point. As to where you should end a chapter there really are no rules. I normally end chapters where it feels right to end them. I think the chapters can be any length and end at any section as long as the chapter contains at least one event or conversation that progresses the story.

2. Yes, it can definitely be just one paragraph if it does its job. Some of the best writers I have seen online really have the hang of quality over quantity and they know how to write simply and eloquently so that their point gets across, but then they also try and use words in interesting ways so that the reader wants to keep on reading. It matters nothing how long your paragraphs are as long as they describe and explain what's important.

3. Very true, I myself find describing movement difficult as well, because how much movement do you include? I take it you mean if your protagonist moves to sit down at a table, you don't describe every single movement of the arm and leg as she sits down, but rather just that she sits down. This is a tough questions to answer since there a so many ways to describe movement. It's even tough to give an example because movement can be many things, but all I can say is that as long as your reader knows what your character is doing and it makes sense, then you should be good. Again, keep it simple. I think most of the time you pair movement, explaining that the character is walking down a hall for example with what the character might be thinking or the character notices something as she walks down the hallway. I know it's a bit of a vague answer, but I'm not sure how to answer it otherwise.

4. I think what you can do here is to describe a character, with for example only highlighting a certain trait or feature they have. You will tell the reader who the character is through what they say as well, but for example you could write: the boy appears very short, but his intelligent face and sharp way with words more than makes up for his height. That's an example of how to describe a character without using paragraph after paragraph on it.

5. The short answer here is yes! Looking at other peoples' work is always a helpful tool to develop your own skills. It can give you loads of ideas of how to structure your own work.

6. I persoanlly think commas are so lovely, because there are no rules as a writer as where exactly to use them! You can use them wherever you want, wherever it feels right and wherever there's a natural pause in speech or describing text.
As for the semicolon; you use it like I just used it. It's delightfully similar to the comma, only you use it when the pause in the text is a little longer than that of the comma and when what comes after the comma is like a "sidenote" to your sentence. For example: today I saw a dove; it cooed on its branch. I could just as well have said today I saw a dove and it cooed on its branch, but because I wanted that slightly longer pause I used a semicolon. I hope this clears up your question.

It's a shame your writing class turned into a poetry class, but like you said you've been writing for a while so that shouldn't topple the glass. I hope what I answered can be of some help to you. All that matters is that you keep writing and developing your skills and that you keep working on your idea.
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Posted 1/1/15
I will say it now, Crunchyroll's community can answer more stuff than the entire internet can. Thanks!
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Posted 1/1/15
Wing it.
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Posted 1/1/15
One more question, that really should have been in there in the first place since it's in the title, when should I start working on the novel? Would starting with early drafts now help or should I wait until I finish high school to start officially working on the novel and not just planning it out?
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Posted 1/2/15

MonkeysxMoo35 wrote:

One more question, that really should have been in there in the first place since it's in the title, when should I start working on the novel? Would starting with early drafts now help or should I wait until I finish high school to start officially working on the novel and not just planning it out?


You should finish your plan while keeping it flexible enough to change if needed, then start piecing the novel together. Sometimes it's easier to start at the end and work backwards, repeatedly asking yourself how you got where you are now. As for whether you should finish school or not first, that's really up to you and your needs.
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Posted 1/5/15
Do it immediately and spit any ideas out. It doesn't matter how rough it is if this is your first.
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Posted 1/7/15
Not to say that I'm an expert on writing but you might want to track down a copy of Jack Chalker's "Dance Band On The Titantic". Even if you aren't a sci-fi fan the forwards to his short stories talk a lot about his creative style. One thing that sticks in mine mind was he was given advice early on to write the ending first. If you want inspiration you can read on how his "fan fiction" grew into his first novel that sold for real money. http://www.amazon.com/Dance-Band-Titanic-Jack-Chalker/dp/0345348583/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420661220&sr=1-1&keywords=dance+band+on+the+titanic
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Posted 1/9/15 , edited 1/9/15

MonkeysxMoo35 wrote:

One more question, that really should have been in there in the first place since it's in the title, when should I start working on the novel? Would starting with early drafts now help or should I wait until I finish high school to start officially working on the novel and not just planning it out?


I think this is the most important question you've asked, and addressing this one will help you address all your initial questions over time. But I'll nonetheless address the topic of writing overall.

First of all, writing comes from the heart. When you feel like it, write. I've been working on a series for several years now and it's still far from coming together, but I don't regret the back and forth I've done.

You need to develop your writing style, and this will only happen over time, with practice. It's normal to be really critical of your own work, so drafts are a must - but don't let a draft hold you down. Whether you've drafted a paragraph or an entire chapter is irrelevant. You can omit or rework stuff later. Just trust in yourself.

Since you already have an idea, you're already on the right track. Ultimately, you'll need to plan carefully how you want your plot to develop. A key component to a good plot development is character growth. I find developing characters has helped me a lot with perfecting the writing style I'm looking for. Sometimes, I draft a general [physical] description of a character, other times, I try to write them into a scene where they interact with other characters. Writing such scenes inspires me. I have some scenes with characters that I haven't fully developed yet (like my so far nameless, faceless, mysterious character who helps my heroine - but why, what's in it for him? Geez, even I don't know yet). But these incomplete characters, I think they truly belong in my story, so I just need to work them into my plot.

Study, study, study. It's great that you're taking a creative writing class! Pay attention well. Literary devices can go a long way to improve your writing. But writing isn't the only thing you'll want to study - know your topic in depth! For example, I write fantasy-based stories. There is often war and magic involved. I continuously research things such as weapons, war tactics, myths and legends, folklore, religions, etc. You don't need to have everything based on solid fact (especially sci fi/future stories), but having a good background knowledge will improve not only your vocabulary, but your ability to describe things within context. I have always preferred an author who uses words I don't understand to one who uses the same words over and over.

I'm saying all this like it's common knowledge, but I should probably take a moment to clarify that what I'm explaining to you is my personal style when it comes to writing (actually, I also draw maps and such to follow my questers and make sure my timeline works out). I'm aware that I have a relatively disorganized way of writing and planning, but this is what works for me.

I guess the most important and useful advice I can give you is the following: GET IT ON PAPER.
Even if you make mistakes!! For that matter, make mistakes! It's all about trial and error. Don't rush it, take your time. Trust yourself. But get it on paper. It'll never write itself if you let it do nothing but float around your head. Remember the importance of the story you want to share.

Ah, and one last thing I'd like to add: always remember to keep reading. You'll definitely encounter writer's block along the way - and if you don't, all my respects to you!! I've always found that going back to the source of inspiration helps me. For me, this inspiration is all the countless, wonderful stories I've come across over the years. Through the books I've read, I've lived countless lives. And through the books you and I will write... I hope we will live countless more.
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Posted 1/9/15
Oh, and an afterthought. Based on your synopsis... I would recommend you read Anne McCaffrey's Rowan. She covers telekinesis and other such abilities. Perhaps it'll serve as a source of reference and inspiration to you. :)
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Posted 1/10/15
I'd give you a cookie but I can't since this is over the internet and I don't have any
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Posted 1/10/15

MonkeysxMoo35 wrote:

I'd give you a cookie but I can't since this is over the internet and I don't have any


I conveniently have a box of cookies in the cupboard. I shall have one since you made me crave it. :P
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