Monday, February 21, 2011

What I Wish I knew When I Started

The title says it all, right?

I remember sitting down for the very first time to write a novel--this wasn't technically my "first novel" either--well, it was my first. But it was also going to be my only novel! (I'm currently writing my ninth or tenth, maybe even eleventh. I've written enough that I've lost count.)

Anyhow, I was in my mid-twenties, had one small child, was a stay-at-home mom, had no writing experience other than the little bit I'd learned in high school and a year of college. It had been a long time since I'd written anything! I was an infant in the writing world.

I couldn't even type without watching my fingers!

So, I sat down in a dark, cold basement, at my computer desk, and stared at the screen, wondering how in the world to put the images I saw in my head down onto paper. What I wish I knew back then? The first thing I wish I knew is:

LESS IS MORE (especially in YA).

I'd write eight paragraphs about what my character was wearing. Or a page on how the fog looked pooled below frost-covered pines. Instead of writing a story, I wrote a lot of description. And pretty crappy description!

More to come on this subject--there's a lot I wish I knew back then!

And come back tomorrow because I'm helping a fellow Bookanista, Gretchen McNeil, with her mind-blowing cover reveal!

17 comments:

Karen Akins said...

I'm curious about your first 7, 8, 9, however many novels. Did you revise them to the point that you thought they were queryable? In other words, did you think each one was a winner? And then when you reached the winner, did you *know*?

Mary Lindsey said...

Ah. A greater writing truth never existed.

So excited to see Gretchen's cover!

Stephanie McGee said...

LOL. I had the same problem with the first try at my first novel. (It took me 8 years to get the thing finished. I got stuck in an editing mode where I revised what I'd written but added nothing new to the story to get myself closer to finishing.) In the end, I sat down and just wrote the story from the start with fresh words. I covered the same information in about 1/3 of the wordage as I'd had before.

Angie said...

That's good advice. I know I was equally clueless when I started out.

Laura Pauling said...

there are many things I wish I understood starting out but sometimes it just takes time to grasp the concepts.

L.T. Elliot said...

I think that's one thing we all get wrong when we start out. But you don't know what you don't know until you do. *hugs*

Angela Felsted said...

Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to suck. We all do it, right? How great that you've come so far and now know so much.

Jenn Johansson said...

So, so true. I tended to do the opposite and describe nothing. Everything occurred in a white room and everyone was naked...

Now that I think about it, that kind of writing belongs in a completely different genre. :)

lotusgirl said...

The whole less is more thing is one of my favorite things about YA lit.

Jemi Fraser said...

I wish I'd known that about description too. My first 'real' attempt to write a novel included entire pages that needed to be deleted :)

Michelle McLean said...

lol oh ditto on that. I had my character walking into her house and spent 4 PAGES describing in minute detail every inch of the house :D

Bethany Wiggins said...

I am so glad I'm not the only one who started out this way! I've learned that the delete button is my friend.

Caleb said...

I 'wrote' my first 'novel' when I was 16. It was all downhill from there.

Medeia Sharif said...

I also remember my paragraphs and pages of description when I should have cut to action.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I wish I had known that I was telling when I thought I was showing. And that historical romances for twenty years ago weren't the best examples to follow in terms of writing. ;)

Julia's Child said...

Truer words = never spoken.
Sarah P.

lbdiamond said...

Less is more--excellent point & so true!!!