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  1. #1
    Brick ONeil
    Guest

    What do I do next? Subplots, background and flashbacks, oh my!

    The novel/story that I have written needs work, I know that. But I have been sitting on it for months and months now, and I have posted several times asking adivce/help. But haven't heard any advice that really helps. I've got the basic story line (the first rough draft) down but don't know what to do next. It's a complicated plot (or not, depending on one's point of view). I've rewritten the first chapter about four times, and think I like it now. The rest of the book is frustrating. Do I write subplots? More character background? Flashbacks?

    How do I know it's going to be a full length novel and not a short story? I've tried finding writing groups or a mentor to help me, but keep running into dead ends. This is my first novel and it's going nowhere fast. I need help! Please!



  2. #2
    john folsom
    Guest

    Re: What do I do next? Subplots, background and flashbacks, oh my!

    Brick, how many words?

    Have you done any editing yet?

    What's your genre?

  3. #3
    Alphabet
    Guest

    Re: What do I do next? Subplots, background and flashbacks, oh my!

    This is my first novel and it's going nowhere fast. I need help! Please!

    Be careful that the amount of help you are asking for or seem to need isn't going to turn this into someone else's novel (or the novel of a whole conglomerate of people)

    If you don't understand how to write a novel in terms of what it ought to end up as I suggest the only thing you can do (which will retain your ability to legitimately think of the finished work as 'yours') is to simply read novels - lots of them - until you understand what it is you are trying to write.

    After that there is probably a book or two about 'how to write a novel' that may help - but first - read novels.

  4. #4
    Amanda Turek
    Guest

    Re: What do I do next? Subplots, background and flashbacks, oh my!

    If you have the basic storyline mapped out and you know how the story is going to end, I would suggest working out more character background. Then let the characters run and the subplots will take care of themselves to a large extent.

    And, of course, read, read, read!

    Hope that is useful.
    -at

  5. #5
    Amanda Roper
    Guest

    Re: What do I do next? Subplots, background and flashbacks, oh my!

    Have you tried practicing your skills by writing short fiction? I joined a couple of fan fic groups. (Yeah, I know, but...) Reading the work of other members and receiving honest feedback has helped build my skills over the past couple of years. In conjunction with studying the classics and mythology.

    You could also try writing shorts telling how your characters came to the place they are in your novel. I did this with a couple of my characters and it really fleshed out my idea of their personalities and the subplots connected to them.

    I agree with the others. Reading the work of a great author is like sitting at a master's feet and having them mentor you personally.

  6. #6
    Amanda Turek
    Guest

    Re: What do I do next? Subplots, background and flashbacks, oh my!

    Amanda,

    I also enjoy writing stories about my characters and how they came to the place they are in the novel. I had a character who seemed to be a cardboard place marker until I wrote his story. I had no clue what his story was until I wrote it.

    And Brick, Amanda's comments led me to think that if you don't know whether you have a novel or a short story, it may mean that you should try it as a short story first. The reason I say this is that if you restrict yourself to a certain number of pages or whatever, you can hone and tighten your story--not to mention your writing skills! If you are not sure about how to structure a novel, then trying to write one can get out of hand. And if the short story works, great!

    This has been my experience, anyway. Good luck!
    -at

  7. #7
    Denis Bonner
    Guest

    Re: What do I do next? Subplots, background and flashbacks, oh my!

    Brick

    You have started somewhere. Now you must investigate where that leads. It is possible to start a novel (I'm talking 80,000+ words here) without working out where you are going. I know because I have done exactly that.
    I find the process of writing 'organic' - what I mean is that it grows. You (the author) add / invent material to fill out what has already been written.

    Above all you must believe you can do it.

  8. #8
    Victoise C.
    Guest

    Re: What do I do next? Subplots, background and flashbacks, oh my!

    If you are still checking in here Brick, I spent YEARS writing my first novel which is in submissions now. Of course, the most important thing is to keep reading novels, all kinds. That is No. 1. I recently however bought Novelists' Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld and boy do I wish I had bought it a year or two ago. It's very helpful.

    I second the opinion about asking for too much help on where it should go. I dropped out of my writers group at the point where I started receiving too much info and questions about where it was going... which I hadn't found out yet. It was like a group/commitee novel all of a sudden. I had to work on it solo to find out.

    It's funny, some writers say they just begin and let the characters take them where they have to go. Other writers say they always have the opening and the end down pat.
    I think the first way is more fun. I suppose you could turn out books faster the second way, esp genre but who knows. How's it coming anyhow? V.

    P.S. I spent months and months ignoring my novel. When you come back to it you're fresh, it's been in the drawer 'fermenting' as..... ? put it.

  9. #9
    Brick ONeil
    Guest

    Re: What do I do next? Subplots, background and flashbacks, oh my!

    Thank you everyone who responded on this forum and sent me an email. The advice I was seeking was too broad for this panel, I realize now. I finally went to the bookstore and bought "The complete handbook of novel writing" by writers digest. So far, the word count is over 34,000 and at 117 pgs.

    I've read the first chapter of the aforementioned handbook and it has already given me much to think about. Patience is what I need to finish this novel, much as I'm beginning to despise and loathe looking at it (I jest). Thanks again, everyone.

    Brick

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