Today I’m super pleased to host Stephanie Cage who has recently started blogging her novel, The Crash.
For the first time today she’ll be revealing her cover for The Crash and telling us why and how she was inspired to write it.
How Dickens helped me complete National Novel Writing Month
Once a year a huge number of people challenge themselves to write 50,000 words as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It sounds like a ridiculous amount to write in a month, but if you’re willing to write fast and not worry about rambling it’s actually not too hard. Problem is, you then end up with a sprawling mess of a novel which needs a vast amount of work to make readable. (Well, I did!) My first novella, Desperate Bid, began as a NaNoWriMo novel but by the time I’d taken out all the detours it was a much more manageable 35,000 words. So when I set out to write The Crash a few NaNoWriMos later, I decided to take a few lessons from a master storyteller to make sure I ended up with a story I’d want to keep.
Dickens was the master of serialisation and every chapter he would help his audience by giving them a clue what was to come. Each chapter begins with ‘In which…’ and then a brief summary of the events of the chapter. This acts as a taster for the audience to intrigue them with the content of the chapter but when I started drafting my chapter headings they also helped me as author to clarify what I was going to write. With a few sentences summarising the content of the chapter it was easy to ensure that I didn’t become distracted as I wrote my scene at my speed using ‘write or die’ software (OK, Dickens didn’t have that, so maybe I cheated a bit!)
Dickens also needed to make sure that every week his audience would come back, which meant ending the chapter with a strong hook. Regardless of what had happened in the chapter, the ending sentence had to raise a question in the audience’s mind which would bring them back next week to find out the answer. Sometimes when I wrote the question I wouldn’t know what the answer was going to be but by the time I came back the next day to write that day’s instalment I would have figured it out.
Using these two techniques I was able to complete my 50,000 words novel with only a very rough outline and still develop a plot which constantly kept the reader moving forwards with the story. Of course some rewriting was required but for the first time I had a story with no dead ends or major digressions. I have continued to use variations of this technique ever since.
You can follow Stephanie and read her posts, including previous episodes of The Crash here: Stephanie Cage -Writer