Unashamed Writing

Authentic writing from the gut - the studio of a self-taught writer

From zero to novel – Solid advice

advice for aspiring writersTwelve days ago I started writing down a story called “No Goodbyes.” Based on how far I’ve gotten so far, I believe this will be my first novel.


The paragraph above clearly establishes two things:

  1. I’ve never written a novel;
  2. I have twelve full days of novel writing experience.

So far, so good, right? Here comes the best part: I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned about writing novels. This is valuable, tried and true, time tested advice. Before you get a chance to strip that last sentence of all its irony and move on to a different blog, here’s my wisdom … condensed, and somehow cryptic.

  1. Screw daily word counts …. at first.
  2. Move fast … most of the time.
  3. Don’t look back.
  4. Forget linear: you’re not building a tower, you’re solving a jigsaw puzzle.

I will write a blog post for each of these four bullet points. Until then, this one should be enough to get you moving along with your own novel. After all, it’s helping me. :-)

growing up to be an author


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  1. Yep, I find myself in strange agreement with you. Never thought that would happen but there we are: truth is stranger than … ummm … truth.

    1. Word count is irrelevant until you need to know whether the story is a short, a novella, a novel, an epic, or an opus.

    2. Move fast and take good notes as side ideas come up.

    3. Looking back is either for refreshing memory or editing when the rough draft is done.

    4. Linear stories have a name: textbooks.

    Go get ’em, Miss Manners.

    1. Whenever you agree with me I re-read my posts and look for anything that sounds crazy. 😉 This time, I couldn’t find anything wrong so, strangely enough, I agree that you were right to agree with me. You’re welcome.

      As far as your comments go, you’re right. (Darn! I had to admit it in public!) Not only did you decode my so called cryptic advice, but you gave away the key, and added some short but smart feedback.

      Actually, you were a little off on what I had in mind for bullet points 1 and 4, but what you said was well-thought also. I’ll explain soon, and then you can agree with me again. 😀

  2. I wouldn’t expect too much agreement if I were you. You’re a star, but I’m a whole galaxy. :) Modest with it.

    Oh, and because I try to help you out of the black holes of illogic you love inhabiting, cryptic advice is somewhat oxymoronic.

    You’re the Gordian Knot of the advice world.

    1. Oxymoron or not, cryptic advice is alive and well. I’ve seen it many times. Yoda did it, Zen masters did/do it, and … ahem … I do it sometimes. It’s fun, except for when I’m the one asking for advice and people talk back to me in riddles. Then it’s quite annoying. :-)

      Actually, I did a little bit of reading on cryptic advice before replying to your comment and one of the things I found made me laugh. It was smart so I’ll copy it here (with some minor edits):

      [Cryptic advice] is the favorite pastime of zen masters, prophets, eccentric mentors or any other person with even a smidgen of knowledge on the back story or plots that are happening that the hero knows nothing about.

      Just like a villain can’t resist evil gloating, these mentors will often hold entire conversations (one sided or not) using only vague, cryptic, ominous, and frequently double entendre laden terms and phrases to confuse the readers/listeners. Why don’t they spill the beans quickly? Well, usually the mentor in question either wants to protect or manipulate the hero, other times they want to hide the truth. Sometimes they do want to spill their guts but can’t, due to a promise or binding oath, and even the little they do dish out can get them in trouble. And of course, there’s always doing it just to look cool and mysterious regardless of reasons.

      Often, these cryptic bits of wisdom will only frustrate the hero’s attempts at solving the most recent dilemma, eventually riling them (and us) enough to tell the offending mentors to shove your vagueness someplace painful.

      I know the parts about “looking cool and mysterious”, and about shoving vagueness someplace place painful will make even you smile!

      BTW: Last week I started a post about brightest stars and biggest galaxies. You knew that because you can read my mind and also see into my future, that’s why you made that comment. Now please stop spilling the beans before I’m ready for it. :-)

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