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What shape and size is your next novel?

July 4, 2012

Novel shapes and sizes     This month’s top tip examines how to define the shape and size of your next novel.

First, browse a bookshelf (real or virtual) and decide what shape and size you would like your novel to be.

Establish how many words and pages make up that shape and size and consider how many you have produced already.

This should give you an idea of what you are aiming at, what you have achieved in the past and where you are now.

Next, consider your options.  What is your theme/working title/average daily writing output/timescale etc.  Really go to town on this one and think through all the different possibilities.  Once you have explored every angle make a note of what you could do.

Look at your list of possibilities again, decide what you will do and when.

Or, if this doesn’t work for you, simply go with the flow.  This does not necessarily mean staring at the blank page and waiting for inspiration.  Writing is a sequence which starts with Flow and moves onto Shape.  To follow this method, you have to establish the flow i.e. think about the writing task, take notes, sketch out ideas and plans, experiment with different ways of developing structure such as flow charts and spider diagrams or mind maps.  This process helps your brain to gather material ready for writing.  Once you start writing the shape will appear.  Once you finish your story you will have the size.  You can then reshape and resize your novel during further drafts until you have an end product.  If the need arises you could then tailor it to industry standards but it is important to let the novel find its own shape and size to begin with.

And, it doesn’t have to be a novel.  You can apply these tips and ideas to any body of work.  So, what is the shape and size of your next novel?


From → Creative Writing

  1. Some very useful tips here – a help to any writer,. W

  2. I always like to think about how my book might look – by that I mean the cover. I will often look at published works and think my cover would be like that. I also like to pin it down to colour so I often think of my book in terms of a colour. it sounds crazy but all these visualisations help us towards the final goal.

    • Not that crazy. I usually decide on a certain colour file to contain each writing project. For me the colour chosen somehow reflects the subject matter. Have you tried writing or printing in a different coloured ink? Apparently it engages different parts of the brain and is thought to produce different content.

  3. You’ve given me some reasons for thought on my planned ‘mini’ book on the North Pennines. Good to be following your blog.

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