So there I was 65 years old, still actively farming which can consume all of your time if you let it, struggling with this story that just won’t leave me alone. I have written over the last year several fragments of the story, the one’s that just had to get down on paper and I wasn’t unhappy with it but I just couldn’t make the whole thing into a novel.
Having committed myself to write I realized that I had never really researched or investigated how professional novelists go about their business and there was my Kindle just waiting for more content from Amazon Whisper Net. For whatever reason I chose to first read KM Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success published in 2011 and at that point available for the Kindle reader. This was a crucial and important moment and I have not looked back since then. I have since picked up something on the order of a dozen writing books but Weiland’s is still the best book in my opinion for a writer wanting to get down to real work.
Her major contribution for me was the simple comment that her “outlining” phase could take several months of notes on ideas, characters, setting, back story etc. before she ever settled into the actual writing of the novel. This idea took root and spread in my brain like Canadian thistle, prickly ideas constantly springing up and written down in the first coil notebook. It is now more or less 4 months since I became serious about writing my novel and I have filled almost 2, 300 page coil notebooks with ideas, notes on writing, the social structure of my story world, the basic religious practices, the fictional history of my heroine’s ethnic group and those around her and a lot of historical notes about what was really happening in the world starting from 1000 BCE.
I am going to create a “Reviews” page that will contain formal reviews of books that I have worked through and that I think are worth buying. I will build that probably tomorrow morning since I have also decided that from 5-6:30 in the morning is my social media work time.
I started this project in late May and have now managed, as noted above, to really explore (without any need to control what I am writing, without any need to think about plot, or character development, or grammar for that matter) my story world and my characters. There is a separate notebook, the Character Bible, that is slowly filling with basic outlines of each character’s appearance, psychology, goals, wishes, dreams and weaknesses along with interviews with all the more important characters. The story that I initially wrote that I thought was the start of the novel turned out to be the “initiating event”, something that irrevocably commits the heroine to a course of action that she follows for the rest of the novel and occurs about a third of the way into the novel.
So that’s the start. Simply write every day for an hour or more about ideas that come. My first entry was about the religion since the Mother (who is God) has encouraged my heroine to re-establish the ancient faith of her people that has been drowned out and overcome by the patriarchal male Gods for whom dominance over women is one of the first tenants of faith.
OK, more about all of that later, be patient, you’ll get the one sentence elevator pitch in a day or two.