Looking after #1 – Write the Novel You Want To Read

Guest post by Author J. S. Collyer

10372641_1436299246625640_8730916658319903732_nI sometimes wonder what sparks people off to start writing. In my experience, people decide to start for all sorts of reasons and at all stages of life. Some start penning poetry at 45, others (like me) were scribbling space operas in notebooks at age 10 before we even knew what a space opera was, let alone ever read one. Everyone has their own starting point and their own journey but I know the reason I started writing stories was because I loved to read, but the more and more I read, the more I realised that my novel is not out there. And the reason it’s not out there is because it only exists in my head.

Until now.

My first novel, a laser-filled SciFi romp called Zero, is due for release this August and it is the first time that a novel is out there that has everything in it that I would like to read. I’m not saying it’s perfect, or even that it’s any good, just that it was what I would like from a story. And it made it incredibly fun to write.

(If you want more details about Zero, you can check out my page on my blog)

It’s a given that if you’re not enjoying what you’re writing, chances are your reader won’t enjoy it either. Love you work, writers! Sink yourself in it and don’t be ashamed of what you want from it or what it wants from you. If you want to write paranoid erotic thriller or the next biggest literary social commentary with a high fantasy side-plot, you do it, baby! There will be an audience out there for you, whatever sort of story you want to write, so why not enjoy the journey?

If your narrative is a chore, chances are it’s not your narrative.

I’m not saying give up at the first rocky patch in the road. You and your story will go through good times and bad times, just like with any worthwhile relationship. There will be times when you skip through flowered meadows hand-in-hand, feeding each other chocolate-dipped strawberries and blushing at every exchanged glance. But there will also be times when you want to throw the furniture at each other, throws, cushions, lamps and all.

Don’t be scared of the work, of the difficulty bits or the dodgy bits in your draft. Keep on writing. If you’re really, really stuck, change your playlist, go for a walk, read another book and come back to it. If necessary, have a break. But, I’ve found, if you have faith in your project and you enjoy it enough, you will come back together and find a way to patch up your differences in the edit.

Of course, don’t avoid making the tough decisions. Some narratives are not meant to be. Be warned, it may take a long time for their cracks to show. You could have just written the first page or you could be 100,000 words in. But you can’t lie to yourself. You will know when a narrative is not salvageable. Be tough. Move on. It’s best for both of you.

(A tip for these difficult times: if the ctrl + alt + del step is a little too final, squirrel the story away in a ‘ongoing’ folder somewhere on your hard drive, or in your desk drawer if you’re old school. This is agreeing to disagree indefinitely and go your separate ways…but keeping each other’s phone numbers, just in case)

Because, after all, if you’ve reached that point, it probably means there’s another narrative in the brain tank screaming to get out, the one that was meant to be. No one else is going to write that story, not in the way you will. If you want it in the world, make it happen.

Set it free!

Look after number one, write the novel you want to read, because it’s very unlikely anyone else will do half so good a job.

————————————-

J. S. Collyer is a science fiction and horror writer heralding from Lancaser, UK who shares fiction and musings on writing on her wordpress (jcollyer.wordpress.com). Her first novel, Zero, is due for release by Dagda Publishing Aug 2014 and you can follow her for updates and fiction fun on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jscollyer) and Twitter (@JexShinigami)

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7 comments

  1. Kevin Brennan

    Terrific advice. You made me realize that I have quite the little black book of old phone numbers, and if ever I experience a bit of “writer’s block” I can always consult them. It’s true: nothing tells me that I’m working on something that will come to fruition like having fun while writing it.

    Can’t wait for Zero!

    • J. S. Collyer

      Great stuff, Kevin 😀 we are fortunate in a lot if ways that we have so many options a lot of the time. Most of us have many stories inside and we become a little wiser with each one, though it should still be fun overall 🙂

  2. Gwen Stephens

    Great post, JS, and such a timely one for me. After struggling off and on to revive the novel I’d first attempted back in 2009, I finally realized a few months back that I was writing the wrong story. I fought with the realization, because it’s human nature to resist change, but I eventually switched protagonists, even made a genre change, and began outlining again. Suddenly the story is flowing out with abandon. My aim is to write the “new first draft” in July’s Camp NaNoWriMo. I have no regrets about sticking with the old one for as long as I did, because I learned a lot. My original protags will still have a place in the new story, too.

  3. 1WriteWay

    What timely advice! I’ve been putting off going through my WIPs to see what might be salvageable, what might not. I’m not sure what scares me most: having to dump a WIP because it really doesn’t “work” or moving forward with one that does work but needs a lot of work 😉

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