Author Topic: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels  (Read 6735 times)

Offline deborahowen

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2011, 10:47:55 PM »
Good post Deborah - hopefully new writers will heed the good advice there and appreciate that the words used are meant to help them. Thank you. [Not so new - still learning a lot :D]

Thank you. I'm still learning, too. I've come to the conclusion that writers (or anyone trying to plummet the depths of any art) never learn it all. They just become satisfied with what they've learned and their level of success. I don't want to ever be satisfied with who I am. I want every day to be a growing day.
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Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2011, 02:10:58 AM »
Maybe it's just me, but after writing and publishing short stories for almost three years now, I've only recently started feeling
confident enough to write my first novel. The longest part of writing any story is not in the writing itself, but in editing. So
if I'm confident in my ability to avoid certain pittfalls, I won't have to rewrite the story a dozen times. That's why most
beginning writers quit. They've revised that same story so many times that they start thinking they'll never be able to write.

When I started writing short stories I had to rewrite and edit them so many times it took about 3 months to finish a publishable story.
Now I write a short story a week. Because I've got the basics down. Which by the way I learned from MWC, crit groups, books, lessons, fiction
and of course, hundreds of hours of practice. Not to mention advice from rejecting editors.

I really believe you can save yourself a lot of time on that first novel by learning all the basics first (and your confidence will come across in
your work), but in the end you'll have to sit down and write that novel, knowing it's not going to be close to perfect the first time.

I think Stephen King said something about the first 1 million words just being practice.  :)

But I guess every person has their way of doing things. I think my need for being extra prepared and as confident as possible comes from
english being my second language.

So whichever way you prefer, best of luck with it.
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Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2011, 02:18:08 AM »
Deb your last two posts are definitely better worded and less self-gratifying!
Learning by doing, without instruction, is of course going to fail. It's a given that there needs to be outside stimulus to help people learn. But this could simply be a forum like this, reading many novels/stories, and explicitly teaching oneself the craft by reading books/online content. But this can all be done while "doing", i.e. writing. A novel even. If that novel is dismal, so what? Mine is...all 160 000 words of it, but while I was writing it I was learning. From it, I can predict the milestones and challenges novelists face much better than reading about them. I can look at a street map or I can drive around myself.

Yeah, there are people out there who will get stuck into a novel, convinced they have something important to say, without bothering to learn. They will say "ignore my grammar, what about my story?" like grammar is something unrelated to writing. Or "I can't spell, so please disregard that". Well..., no. That's a waste of my time, because first and foremost you need to know HOW to write, and it's disrespectful to disregard language like that. If someone is unteachable like that, for example, then maybe they're not cut out for it. I've seen people posting here over and over, and no matter how many people tell them the same thing, they don't take the advice and continue to repeat the blunders, probably just so we can read what they have to say.



I still disagree that one needs experience in publishing to move on from being a beginner. I have read amazing things from unpublished people, and absolute drivel from published books.

And just another thought... smaller projects, like short stories etc, they can be more difficult to craft because of the lack of flexibility. I choose to write novels partlky because of this, and partly because I don't like to read short stories. I want to enter the world of a character and stay there for a while, immerse myself more.
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Offline lesleyslfree

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2011, 06:51:25 AM »
WOW and double WOW!!

I have read all of this thread whilst on my coffee break from my writing. I consider I am still learning and will try to learn to the day I die.

It does not matter wether we are learning / honing the craft of writing or what it is. I consider myself lucky I came across Nick Daws courses, who does instill the confidence that you can write.
I tried at traditional course and it was not for me!
I can say I have had some success, of articules published on the web, paid peanuts but each month they do pay. I have also p :) :)ublished my first ebook again from Nick 10 day ebook.

We are all individuals and we can all learn in our own way, Deb, you most certainly did get the feathers flying with this thread however, I can agree and disagree. I joined this forum quite a while ago, however was put off by similar threads and felt I was not good enough to be on here. I was encouraged to come back through Nick, as I was looking  for feedback on speak/type software which I got in spades and have enjoyed some conversations on here. So I guess I am saying we all need to take what is said not literally or personally.
There is huge amounts of great advice on here, it would be a shame if others shied away like I did, feeling we we not good enough to participate.
Coffee break over back to writing or rather dictacting as my hands do not allow much typing these days.
PS I am also starting a 80000 word novel in 80 days next month but this month is spent in prep and outline and blueprint etc.
Happy writing to all.

Lesley

Offline Hugh

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2011, 09:57:19 AM »

I still disagree that one needs experience in publishing to move on from being a beginner. I have read amazing things from unpublished people, and absolute drivel from published books.
 


I agree that getting published is not the only measure of success. It is, however, a measure of a writer’s ability to write about something in such a way that an editor thinks tens, if not hundreds of thousands of readers will want to read it, and be willing to pay hard cash for the pleasure.

“Getting published”, to me, doesn’t include publishing yourself, or simply posting something on the Internet, neither of which involve an experienced, objective eye to judge its merits. Hence, we are subjected to a mix of good stuff and total crap, although what one person thinks is amateurish drivel, someone else might say is brilliant. It’s a funny old game, writing.

Going back to Deborah’s original post, whatever we might think of the way it was worded, the message came through loud and clear. Deb is trying to help others avoid some of the pitfalls she had to learn about the hard way.

I think it would be a great pity if she, and others, stopped doing that, just because some people thought she sounded condescending, or whatever.

Hugh

Offline A.J.B

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2011, 10:04:30 AM »
I personally disagree with this advice. It's always been my opinion that, because everyone is different, nobody has the right to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't write first.

First thing I wrote was a novel and that has recently been accepted. I have had shorts published but I wrote those after the novel.
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Offline Annmarie

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2011, 10:49:13 AM »
Quote
Deb is trying to help others avoid some of the pitfalls she had to learn about the hard way.

I appreciate it. (Thanks, Deb!).

But not everyone has to salute every point of the advice and march away to execute it.

The list is basically the Wise Teaching the Young - the young being inexperienced writers of whatever age. When you're young, you sometimes have to make those mistakes yourself, no matter what the Wise tell you. That's one way to grow as a person and as a writer. If you can avoid the pitfalls and grow - great. I think most of us have to muddle through and find our own way, keeping the guidance we get from more experienced people in mind.

This doesn't make the advice less valuable. We need those guideposts. In the end, we do it our way. I'm not talking about learning grammar or how to execute a scene -- everybody has to learn the fundamentals. I'm talking about how we as writers choose what we write. That's our business.

So I say:

Beginners should write whatever the heck they want.

And take the consequences.




Work hard. Believe. Take a chance.

Offline A.J.B

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2011, 10:55:27 AM »
I also don't believe writing courses are a bonus, but then I am biased as I learned by reading and never had any creative writing lessons etc...
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Offline iwonatw

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2011, 12:53:45 PM »
Call me cynical (I'm certainly not trying to be rude) but I wonder if Deb's post would have been different if she weren't in fact flogging writing courses... I'd better get back to stickies and forum etiquette to read up on self-promotion...

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2011, 01:27:44 PM »
To make sure you see it - here it is:

Quote
12. Advertising. The only formal advertisements accepted on the forum are the non-intrusive Google Adsense ads at the foot of the screen. If you wish to advertise a writing-related product or service, you may do so in your forum signature, which can be created and edited on your Profile page (once you have moved out of Newbie status). In addition, if you have a writing-related product or service to offer, it is acceptable to mention it in a single topic on the forum. Offering discounts for MWC members is encouraged!

Here's the link for the whole thing:

http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=7415.0
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
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Offline Hugh

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2011, 03:34:15 PM »
Call me cynical (I'm certainly not trying to be rude) but I wonder if Deb's post would have been different if she weren't in fact flogging writing courses... I'd better get back to stickies and forum etiquette to read up on self-promotion...


Cynical? Do you think My Writers’ Circle was started and is run by an altruistic zillionaire whose only motive is to help beginners get started on the road to publication?

So you don’t misunderstand, I’m not knocking MWC or its founders, who have created perhaps the best forum for writers on the Internet.

But, like any website, it has to be paid for. WCCL develops and sells ebooks. Nick Daws sells writing courses — and what better potential customer pool than a writers’ circle, with over 10,000 members we’re told?

And, as Alice has pointed out, any member can promote themselves in their forum signature — free.

That’s a pretty good deal in my opinion. But Deborah, and other experienced, published writers, are happy to review work, and give advice freely, because writers tend to try and give their fellow sufferers a leg up if they can.

Hugh

Offline junel

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2011, 05:27:36 PM »
I wouldn't dream of telling any new writer not to start off by attempting to write a novel. I'm not saying that's what the original poster said either.

But it's all apart of the journey, each of our routes are different, and we have to respect that. What is more important is that the determination, desire, and hunger is there.

Now, if you mean new writers should be writing plenty of smaller, more managable works such as flash fiction, short stories, and articles to pave the way to getting their novel published, that's different. And I agree.

As for,

1. Learning by doing (and without instructions) is the hardest possible way to learn.

well, everyone's different and what worked for you, may not necessarily apply to someone else. I'm a firm believer in being thrown in at the deep end, sink or swim, so to speak. And I don't think it's that different when it comes to writing.

I for one, have never bought or read any of the 'books on writing' that get mentioned on the forums so often. Or taken a writing course or classes. And it has been very intentional. For one thing, I can't get my head around following rules, after all, creativity can't be bound by rules. Granted, there are the basics, i.e. grammer, sentence structuring, which have to be followed. Also, I have been very aware that whilst I was in the process of finding my writer's voice, I didn't want anything to interfere with that or dilute it. I wanted to keep it my own. And I felt, reading 'books on writing' would have meant I was following someone else's instruction.

Having said that, I feel I am at a point now where my writing voice is strong enough to read these 'books on writing' without them diminishing my writing voice, so I may well get round to finally reading some.

It's the path I've chosen and believe, has worked for me.

Junel.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 05:32:39 PM by junel »

Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2011, 07:52:55 PM »

Quote
I agree that getting published is not the only measure of success. It is, however, a measure of a writer’s ability to write about something in such a way that an editor thinks tens, if not hundreds of thousands of readers will want to read it, and be willing to pay hard cash for the pleasure.

... meaningless pop tunes sell, tens of millions of dollars.
And what about those who have not attempted publishing? Certainly, having been published is an indicator that maybe this novel pretty good, but not a measure, really. There's that Eragon book ... I call the author a beginner, regardless of his publishing. I think he is still a beginner.

Quote
Going back to Deborah’s original post, whatever we might think of the way it was worded, the message came through loud and clear. Deb is trying to help others avoid some of the pitfalls she had to learn about the hard way.

Loud, maybe.  ;)

Quote
I think it would be a great pity if she, and others, stopped doing that, just because some people thought she sounded condescending, or whatever.

I'm always a bit sceptical when a complete stranger declares that all they want to do is help other strangers because they don't want anyone to go through the same thing they had to. And if one sounds condescending, that is a sure fire way to make people deaf to their "help" whether it's genuine or not.

Anyway, enough arguing about what Deb said and didn't, you are not her advocate or PR. I get now that the advice was simply to take it easy, learn the basics, becaus there's plenty to know, and it's not all about the author and what they have to say.

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Offline deborahowen

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2011, 10:28:03 PM »
Call me cynical (I'm certainly not trying to be rude) but I wonder if Deb's post would have been different if she weren't in fact flogging writing courses... I'd better get back to stickies and forum etiquette to read up on self-promotion...

If you think I'm here to promote my own agenda (which is a legal 501(c)3 charity that sponsors cancer patients in writing therapy, btw), test me. Write to me and I'll tell you where you can take free writing courses.

Years ago, when I was drowning in writing confusion, I made myself this promise: If I ever made it into the writing world, I vowed to help every person I could. I haven't "arrived" and never will... but I'm fulfilling my vow.

I can't buy back the ten years I wasted doing all the wrong things. However, with every post I realize more and more that not everyone wants to be helped... and they can't be helped until they're ready. There was a time when I wasn't ready either.

And btw, College Guy and I have passed a couple of private emails and we're good with one another. Discussions like this should never get heated. It's counter-productive to the one reason we're all here.
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Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: 8 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn't Write Novels
« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2011, 07:42:23 AM »
I dont think i need the type of help a beginner might so its not that i dont want to be helped... Heck, i do need help though, i need help to feel motivated to write (litrrally, write, i have plenty of inspiration but not enough motivation). I want to do 2000 words a day, but its not happening.
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