Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Basics for Beginner Writers

I've got a new challenge. I'm teaching a course "Getting Started Writing Your Novel" for stark beginners.  My class is full of folks who have never written a novel before -- not even the adolescent attempts I was famous for as a teen (I wrote six "books" back then, all so bad that they're not even gathering dust under the bed.) 

This got me thinking: what does a beginning writer need to know?  It's one thing for an experienced writer to talk about GMC or layering a scene.  But for a stark beginner, it's easy to get the forest confused with the trees.

In the next few posts I'm going to be sharing what I think beginners need to know to get started writing a book.  (Welcome, beginners!)

In the meantime, you more experienced writers, what is it that you wish you had known when starting out?


  1. Vicki
    These are the three things I wish I'd known as a beginner.

    I wish I'd known the importance of POV and a beginner won't know that means Point Of View. I merrily danced in and out of my characters' heads with no definition.

    I wish I knew to avoid repetition. I didn't know how easy it was to say the same thing over and over in different words.

    My third wish? I wish I'd known how to use emotion sparingly for greater impact. To not use a whole series of strong words and create an overkill of emotion. Emotion should be the seasoning not the main course.

  2. Thanks, Shirley. POV was a real challenge for me, too. Like you, I thought changing POV was cool -- show the scene from different angles. Fortunately, patient critique partners clued me in on how confusing it is.

    I also had another variation on that theme: I wrote exactly the same scene from my heroine's POV in chapter 1 and then from my hero's in Ch 2. While that could have been neat, it ended up with too much repetiton. The result: I learned to be disciminating in my choice of POV.

  3. Good question, Vicky, it made me think.

    I wish I had known how to show, instead of tell: an emotion, a mood, etc.

    Mostly, though, I wish I had known how to structure the novel. I began it blissfully, but once I was in its midst it was daunting. Learning what needed to happen, in a structural sense, helped me find my way.