From Idea to Publication: The Journey of a Published Novel
The opening scene.
It has to be catchy and grab your reader’s attention from the very first sentence. Never open with a dream sequence. Never start with a character driving back home. Never talk about the weather. And the list. Goes. On.
Talk about pressure for writing a novel you hope to publish someday!
Well. I have to admit, I did break some of those rules but after MUCH study of other novels which have done the same. I wrote my first chapter and revised it several times before I found a satisfying opening. Not long after I wrote my first chapter, I took an agent boot camp where an agent reviewed my first ten pages and gave feedback on that passage. This was a tremendous help to me and after making the suggested changes, I started entering contests. To my surprise (and delight) my entry placed in two of four contests entered. With all the feedback I received, I worked the section more until I just couldn’t squeeze anything else out of it on my own.
By the time I’d entered the third contest, the full manuscript had been written. I used my romance beats, my character sketches and the feedback from contest entries to work through the story. It took from the end of January to the end of June to write all 50,000 words of what would be considered a short contemporary romance novel.
Research Takes Time
What eats away at writing time is finding all those little details. For example, my heroine is Type 1 diabetic. I had to do a lot of research on the disease itself to make sure my facts lined up. Having been gestational diabetic for three pregnancies and having a grandmother who was type 1, I was able to draw from personal experiences. But it’s been awhile since I’ve had to track my glucose levels or manage proper diet and my grandmother has long since passed away. What snack would I likely have on hand at all times in my purse? If sugars are low, what are my symptoms? If sugars are too high, what are my symptoms? How do I fill the needle with insulin or glucagon? Things like that would pull me away from writing a scene until I had that one little tiny detail to add. I might need it for one sentence. Perhaps the sentence is better left out, perhaps not.
Either way, researching the details makes a huge difference in your overall story. Readers will catch you if you’re wrong (as one judge did when I entered my story in a contest – I made the changes as per her suggestions since she IS type 1!).
Have The Essentials Ready
Basically, I found the story wrote itself. Having the beats somewhat figured out and knowing the background (or backstory) of characters, the narrative took me where it wanted to. I just had to plant myself in my seat and press my fingers to the keys.
Oh, and one tip that’s been invaluable I came across – never end your writing session with punctuation. End it mid-sentence so you have some place to start when you sit down the next time to write. I can’t tell you how many times that little piece of advice came in handy. So if there’s one thing you take away from this post, let it be that.