The literary world is never boring. And social media is never quiet. Put them together and what have we? My new passion is the NovelRace that Aditya and Samit have organized. Several people, serious writers and others are scribbling away furiously (okay tapping away on their keyboards), to see who can complete a novel of 60, 000 words first by September this year. Participants tweet their wordcounts and some like me, also share their little woes and joys about the experience.

Well…since this is my own, sweet, undemanding blog, let me share what’s on my mind. I’m scared witless. Frightened, terrified, petrified, spooked, horrorstruck, struck dumb (not a good thing for an aspiring story-teller, I’m sure you’ll agree). What if it comes to rubbish? What if I discover that after all these years, I’m not that great at it anyway? Oh horror, there’s nothing worse than losing a dream. Okay, I’ll worry about that later.

Pull back and onto the point. What’s really interesting is what I’ve been learning about writing in the meagre few days that I’ve been in the race. For posterity, some of my big lessons:

1. You can’t write about a character that you don’t like. Get to know your characters well if you are going to tell their stories.

2. A short story can be created from a plot idea and the characters will just sort of fall into place (I know, I’ve done it). But a novel is different, you really need to work on characterisation and build a case for each character in your reader’s mind, for them to empathize with the story. So Character above Plot is my big takeaway.

3. Writing a chapter is very different from writing a short story. I’ve spent so much time ‘condensing’ my writing…into blogposts, into tweets, into 55-worders, into short stories, into read-all-in-one-page articles, into concise reports that I have to learn the art of writing with a lot of words and not boring my reader. I am finding it really, really hard to go beyond 1000-1500 wordcount. And that’s sometimes not enough for a chapter, or well the chapter just seem like fluff.

4. Just because you can string words together well, doesn’t mean you can tell stories well. BIG, HUGE lesson. But ah, I’ll come to dealing with this on a later date. For the time being, this experience is valuable for how much I’m learning about writing.

And hey! I got quoted in a Mid-Day article about Twitter and NovelRace for this, today.

There are others who use it to post recipes or haiku poems. In fact, Novelrace followers are even giving each other tips on what would be an ideal length of a chapter and style of writing.

For instance:

ideasmithy: wonders what is the right length for a chapter. 1-1.5K is as far as I’ve gone with short stories & now one chapter. Thoughts?
allvishal: @ideasmithy Break them up as you like. Wrote a story with 2K chaps once, this one is leaning to 5K. Some may have none or 100.

Signing off now. I have a novel to go write. In the meantime (in a shameless self-plug), go read about my writing adventures on Twitter.


UPDATE: If you’re a participant, follow the participant discussions on the NovelRace Facebook page. Also, a live update of participants’ wordcount is available at the NovelRace website.


Other NovelRace updates:

  1. NovelRace
  2. Adventures Galore!
  3. If You Fall, Get Up & Run Again!
  4. The Lone Runner
  5. My Characters Are For Real!
  6. The View From The Shoulders Of Giants
  7. So Much In A Name!
  8. Taking A Stand
  9. Everything But The Novel
  10. The Long, Dark Teatime Of The Writing Soul

8 thoughts on “NovelRace

  1. er, may I also do a shameless plug and say I humbly stand in line (way behind of course) with all you fine novel-writers.

    Only difference being I am not attempting to write novel, coz well, I prefer short stories. And two, I am still in two minds over the whole quantity of words being churned out. It’s a race you race with yoruself, and I get that, but seriously speaking, isn’t there something to be said of crisp succint ideas turning into say I donno, 10 words with depth than perhaps making it a lengthy 25?

    Voicing an opinion, while I stand at the end of the line at close to 1800 words or so..
    .-= rads´s last blog ..teamwork =-.

  2. way to go!! A novel’s one of the best ways to explore yourself I think..

    Also, IMHO, it’s very much possible to write about a character you dont like.. there are negative protagonists, and second person perspectives and oh so many other such possibilities..

    You know what, I just recently bought a book for my class on creative writing, I wish I could have given it to you.. It has awesome guidelines for sudden questions that pop up while writing a story.. like the number of words needed in a chapter..


    I had the best November of my life thanks to this. Yes, I made it to the 50,000 word count– wrote a “novel” on Bombay. But I’m too ashamed to even look at it now, so after the initial euphoria, it’s back to the writing/non-writing days..I am, however, sure that you will do better than me.

  4. @rads: I was of the same mindset. After all, I’ve written short stories and I like the format. But I took the easy way out (or is it the hard way) and decided to try a novel. And by the way, you’re way ahead of me on the wordcount so heads-up!!

    @PS: You can when you see me next. 🙂 I’m still in the kindergarten and every day is a new discovery in writing.

    @Sharanya: Why ever??!! I am never ashamed of anything I turn out even if no one else likes it. It is your baby after all, believe in it!

  5. Finally somebody realized that you should be forced to write, at gun point or 😀 something like it. I can’t wait to hear more.

  6. It was a joke Idea!!! 🙂 Novel writing can be something that seems too scary to ever attempt. Someone like me’d probably need motivation ( in the form of a 😉 ) to even think about doing it. 🙂
    Glad to know that it’s coming along fine.

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