Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Writing A Novel

For All Those Folks Who Thought They Could Never Finish a Novel…

I’ve written one novel and you can have a free copy

I had an extremely strong burning desire to write it so I had no particular problems finishing it; yet, many folks who deeply desire finishing a novel discover it a year later, stuck in a drawer…

I don’t know if I’ll write another novel—busy now with short tales—but, if I decided to, I’d heed the advice in a particular article in the The GuardianHow to finish a novel: tracking a book’s progress from idea to completion.

If you’re new to this blog, realize I’m mostly a “tricky” reporter—I give you just enough info to make you {hopefully} take the link I provide :-)


“When Wyl Menmuir sat down to write his first book, he was well aware it was something many aspire to but few achieve. ‘I knew I needed help to avoid it being just a stack of paper that sat in my bedside drawer. I know too many people who have written half a novel’, he says.”

The best laid plans………

“Menmuir realised early on that he would need every tool at his disposal to finish his first novel. Having trained as a journalist he decided he would work better with a deadline and set himself a goal of writing 500 words a day, five days a week.”

“Had Menmuir stuck to his self-imposed deadlines the 44,242-word novel he eventually wrote could technically have been written in just 124 days…”

“Within just nine days of setting out to write, he had his first realisation that his 500-words-a-day goal might not work out. Although he didn’t know it at the time, it would actually be one year, 10 months and two days before the novel was complete.”

And, here are the topics covered about what he learned:

Embracing the feel-good moments

Procrastinating (well)

Downing tools

Celebrating milestones

This is a very comprehensive article; plus, when you see the graphs with the author’s image, pause, because they have his comments about various stages in the writing show up; and, it takes a few seconds to see all the comments

I hope you read (or, encourage a writer friend to read) the full article

Do you feel like there’s a novel inside you?
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How Long Does It Take to Write A Novel?

I’d done a re-blog from Roz Morris about “writing at speed”; so, I thought it would be proper to share a video of Roz talking (rather poetically…) about the Long and Short of novel writing…

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Ever Wondered How An Author Actually Writes A Novel?

Many will think today’s post is only for writers; or, those who wish they were… Nail Your Novel

I think many readers could profit from this post—especially if they’re avid readers—people like that often turn into writers

This post could also be valuable for publishers who really don’t understand what writers do

And, since writers are readers and many readers turn into writers and self-publishing is so popular, many people wear all three hats.

So, I think most anyone should keep reading :-)

Yesterday, I re-blogged a post from Roz Morris.

Today, I’m going to plug one of her booksNail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence.

This is a book I wish I’d read 50 years ago

My development as a writer followed the arc fleshed-out in Francine Prose‘s book, Reading Like A Writer.

I’ve read omnivorously—absorbed what I needed to learn from discovering what a good book was and reading tons of them.

I think, before discovering Roz Morris, I’d only read one how-to-write book (along with a bunch of writings tips…); and, I’ve posted here, often, that most books about writing aren’t worth reading

Nail Your Novel is vastly different.

In fact, I suspect many other authors have co-opted her ideas and sold them as their own.

Perhaps they’ve been fair and credited her—she certainly isn’t shy about giving other folks credit

Here’s Roz about her credentials:

“I’ve written about a dozen novels. Spines and covers must remain hidden because they were ghosted under strictest secrecy. Millions of readers have enjoyed my storytelling – and that’s no exaggeration because average sales were 500,000 copies each.”

More exactly, she’s sold more than 4 million copies as a ghostwriter

And, she’s now writing novels with her own name on the cover.

How to explain what reading Nail Your Novel was like

It was Exciting—she woke up my Muse and set her spinning :-)

Maybe I should let Roz tell you about the book:

“Most things we do we have a plan for. In most jobs, if we have a task to do, there’s a project plan, a schedule, a methodology.”

“I’ve been writing novels for years and helping floundering writers find their way. What I notice time and time again is that so many make it very hard for themselves, even experienced authors.”

“For instance, many writers paint themselves into a corner because they are tackling a problem at the wrong time.

“They get blocked because the critical parts of their brain are inhibiting their creativity.

“Or their overactively inventive imagination is stopping them seeing the simple, rational solution. Or they are attempting to spice up a dull story by adding more events, when really they need to find a way to examine the ones they already have.”

“I’ve developed a method to tackle all the milestones of writing a novel, from initial inspiration to final polish. It’s smart and efficient. It draws on techniques from Hollywood scriptwriting, improvisational drama, project management and sports psychology – because experts in those fields have already solved problems that novel-writers come across.”

“My method will not only help you finish a novel, it makes the whole writing business a lot more creative and fun. A thoroughly planned novel takes less time to write. Even better, it is more likely to succeed in today’s market because it will have been properly structured, fixed and polished.”

If I taught writing, I’d probably have the students read Francine Prose’s book in tandem with Roz’s—get them consulting about the balance between writing to a plan and absorbing while they read

But, remember, Nail Your Novel is Exciting.

Roz certainly teaches you about the importance of structure and planning; but, she does it while letting you breathe—she lays out her hard-won wisdom and offers you alternatives, too—she lets you Play.

Actually, I’m certain many writers have read her book multiple times—each reading uncovering new nuggets of gold.

Also, be sure to click on that cover image up there and buy the book; and, even if you’re certain you’ll never write a novel, buy the book as a gift for that friend of yours who’s holed-up in some god-forsaken shack, mired in depression

Buy the book and read it many times; then, check out Roz’s blog for a continuing refresher course

Plus, you may want to check out all of Roz’s booksNail Your Novel was followed by two other books in the series; plus, there are the novels with her own name on the cover :-)

Special Monday BlogBonus:

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Does Everyone Really Have A Novel In Them?

Have you written a novel?

First Novel

Image courtesy of Hunter Ramos ~

If not, do you want to write one?

And, if you wrote one, do you think you’d want to publish it?

It’s certainly easy to publish these days—so easy some folks are screaming that self-publishing is a curse

I wrote and published a novel ( you can have a free copy from the side-bar :-)

But it took me eleven years

Ten of those years were spent working industriously—while also ranging around trying to find myself—but, working hard on four versions of the novel that went nowhere—I had the wrong settings for the story I had to tell.

Each writer has a unique road to travel to write a novel—as unique as each path toward publishing.

And, if you don’t think you could ever write a novel, realize that most writers must live through certain things before their novel can break free—and, many folks have lived well-into their sixties before they had lived enough for their novel to be born

I ran across an article in Fast Company, by Jane Porter, called 5 Successful Authors on How They Overcame Creative Blocks to Write Their First Book.

I’m only going to share the rather enigmatic quotes given as headers for each author in the article—do, please, if you have a novel in you, go read it

“Creating a community reminded me why we write.” —  Julia Fierro

“You do the work when you’re not in front of it.”  — Ted Thompson

“Enter your story in a different way.”  — Mira Jacob

“Don’t go down the rabbit hole.”  — Amy Brill

“Sometimes you don’t know what you’re writing until you’ve finished it.” — Vu Tran

As was said in one of Tolkien’s novels:

“You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 

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What Made You Write That Book?

This post is part of the new Friday series: Behind The Scenes of the story Notes from An Alien.

If you want to avoid having “spoilers” intrude on your enjoyment of the book, just grab a free copy and read it before you dive deeply into this series of posts—the book is short and, deep{this post has no real spoilers}

Today I’m going to begin to fulfill the wishes of Jane Watson, the first to request particular Behind The Scenes coverage.

Do feel free to share your desires, in the Comments, for “glimpses into the depths of the book—character disclosures, about people already in the novel and those yet to be mentioned—revelations of events that happened in the Worlds of Angi but weren’t rendered in the published edition

In the Comments to a previous post in this series, Jane said: “…I would be happy to know some of the philosophy and ideas that fuelled the writing of the novel….And I’d like to know something about the novel’s symbols. Tell me more about plasma…”

Without giving you my whole personal history—all of which somehow feeds into why I wrote the book—I’ll at least mention how my early 60s were the “worst” time of my life

I faced severe depression based on a decades-long series of remarkably bad decisions.

I also lived through the treatment for Hepatitis C (a deadly virus that attacks the liver).

This necessary regimen was an invasion of drugs, 11 months long, that I can best characterize as “sledgehammer medicine”

To my delight, I had a remarkable spiritual renewal during the horrible physical experience.

In fact, the whole cycle of despair, threat of death, and dreadful-treatment-inducing-renewed-confidence-and-hope can be seen as a rehearsal for the plotting of Notes from An Alien.

All my life I’ve felt the constraining force of “culture”—the mostly materialistic culture that has our world in its grip.

Since my mid-40s I’d been following a particular spiritual Path—struggling on that Path since I’d certainly bought into a number of the premises of our materialistic culture.

We rarely know the massively detrimental effect of false premises until we receive a major life-test and find them severely deficient

So, I’d gone through a major transformation—creativity intact………

When I firmly had the Theme of Notes from An Alien in mind and heart, I knew the story would begin with a war between two Worlds—one completely Corporate, one completely Religious.

A Corporate World because, no matter how beneficial the working-concept of this business model, too many of our World’s corporations have left human virtue behind and focused solely on their bottom-lines.

In the story, the people of the Corporate World, Anga, are born Employees of the Corporation. They all have implants in their brains—endocrine implants that wreak havoc with their motivations

They also have Simulated Recreation—personal virtual worlds used to calm and propagandize

A Religious World because, no matter how beneficial the work of religious people, most of the World’s religions have become far too dogmatic—even grossly materialized—straying far from the love and harmony promulgated by the religions’ Founders.

The Religious World, Anla, shows a dominant Faith that celebrates “submission to God”—plus rendering thanks for social advances—by tying people to stakes and draining their blood, which is imbibed by feverish followers

When we scan our life on Earth, we see the most egregious actions arising from Corporations and followers of Religions.

Both these sources of social influence have sorely tried me in my life—both had to be portrayed in the book.

So, Corporatism and Religiosity became potent Symbols in the story.

Plasma became a Symbol—some say a Character—because of my many years of study of the new paradigm in science—Plasma Cosmology.

Plasma is a state of matter, like solids, liquids, and gases, but it fills about 99% of the Universe—it shapes galaxies, stars, and planets—it forms electromagnetic pathways between Worlds—it exists in our bodies

For me, Plasma became a Symbol of the Connectivity that exists between all individuals—the unification that makes us One People

I’m working on a post that will delve more deeply into how I use Plasma in the story.

I’ve begun to answer Jane’s requests—I’ll come back to these themes again

If I’ve been unclear, make me clarify with further questions; and, if there are other aspects of the book you’d like more information about, let me know in the Comments

Read more Behind the Scenes posts…
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