So here’s the next update of NovelRace. Things went a little awry last week since the last update got pushed into the middle of last week and I got busy over the weekend with The Wall Project.

Last week, on account of having to ration my internet usage, I ended up concentrating on the novel a lot more. Which brings us to the first lesson that cutting out distractions is vital while writing a novel.

My dear writing buddy was down here early on the weekend, which gave us a chance to bounce ideas off each other. I tweeted earlier that writing was an incredibly lonely activity. Not any more. I really think a writing buddy can make so much of a difference. I’ve taken to reading the prefaces of books in the past few years, especially of ones I really like. I can suddenly relate to the long lists of people that get thanked for their support and love. Worry and stress just seem to be a natural part of the sudden power of playing God with people’s lives, even if they are only fictitious (God must go through a truckload of antacids each week!). At such a time, it is vital for a writer to feel supported and understood in order to be able to function properly. A writing buddy is an invaluable resource too, in that he or she not just supports you but also understands what you are going through at each step – the agonizing over such details as a character’s name, writer’s block, chaptering etc. Thank you Aditya, multifold – for NovelRace and for being my personal buddy.

One of Aditya’s tips was to not force myself to write in the order that the story would be eventually told. When I shared that thought on Twitter, Samit said,

On the other hand, writing in order it’ll be told allows for better chapter transitions. I write in order.

Still, in a craft such as this, different things work for different people. The idea certainly worked for me. Given that I have a multi-character cast, I’m finding it a lot less stressful if I just pick the sub-plot that I feel like writing about that day and go with it. Eventually I’m finding it evens out and I have all of the editing time to piece them together in a more coherent flow. It is so much like solving a jigsaw puzzle. The trick is not to start with any one piece and build around it but look for any piece that fits another. Eventually the sections all fall into place.

When I began, I was also apprehensive about the wordcount, given that I’ve never really written much that’s longer than say a couple of thousand words. I find it has become increasingly easier, in the past few weeks, to push that number and without too much strain. What’s more, one of my sub-plots was originally written as a short story and I thought it would fit in neatly into this novel. I’ve drafted and re-drafted it several times over. During the week, I was reading one of my early drafts and it showed me just how far I had come since I could see places where more detail was possible. It’s hard to explain exactly but suddenly the difference between a short story and a novel’s chapter gets easier to discern. In a short story, you actually economize time and reader interest. So an engaging story would focus on actions and key conversations. In a novel, however, you have a lot more freedom to add description, detail the characters and background better and add quirks.

Speaking of detail, I also had an interesting thought come my way from a writer-friend. She has read a number of my posts so is at least reasonably familiar with my writing style. She noted that I was pretty thorough with my detailing, drawing elaborate descriptions of situations and places. It made my writing very relatable and likeable at one level. But, she also cautioned, that sometimes people who focused too much on detail tended to lose out on plot. In a nutshell, a lot of pretty scenery and nothing really happening. Heard and understood, I’m mindful of that for now. While re-drafting I’ll definitely be scanning for the description/plot balance.

At the start of last week, I was aiming to get into the Top 10. You can see the results starting to emerge now. The really frenzied wonderkids have mostly finished their first drafts and at current count, there are 5 of them. NovelRace itself is gaining momentum as more and more people are getting in, with a few newcomers still adding their names to the tally. (with a side-mention of the troll attack mid-week. How stupid can people get?! Sorted out, since.)

I, like a number of others, form the middle body, not yet done but very much in the running. I did manage to make it to top 10 by Friday, but I’m afraid this was helped along by the fact that one of the Racers completed the Race and so pushed up the rankings of all the others.

That’s it from me for this week. I have a novel to write and stories to tell. I’ll see you next week with more lessons and a better NovelRace rank (this week I gun for Top 5).

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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
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