Never was there a more timely guest post! Today we welcome Aydin Guner to the blog to give us some helpful, unconventional tips on writing a first novel. Which is timely because Ann and I are currently writing our first novel so these tips will come in very handy!
5 Tips On Writing Your First Novel by Aydin Guner
I wanted to provide a few unconventional tips on how to write your first novel. It’s probably a bit like having your first baby, you never quite expect it, its rarely planned and it’s never quite what you expected it to be. But that’s ok, that’s normal, and I’ll explain why.
Before you panic, the first rule of creating a novel, and this rule is your North Star, the place you come back to when your lost – is establish your story. This doesn’t mean a detailed plot and all the dialogue, it just means, “What is the story about?” It can be as brief as two sentences. Something like:
Man becomes a tennis player, has some drama with someone in the industry, his dream of playing in the finals is sabotaged, he evades and overcomes his career being destroyed to eventually lift the trophy.
So there you have a basic outline of a story. But of course, there’s 80-100,000 more words to add in, what do you do?
Again, don’t panic. Firstly, try to understand your lead character, who is he? What does he like to do? What are his flaws? What motivates him? Once you’ve established these things, you can start writing about it. At this point, I wouldn’t even worry about ‘telling a story’, just write – it’ll all start making sense as the story goes on and its character building. So, let’s say Eric, our tennis player, has a crazy competitive streak, to the point he is neurotic and OTT when playing a game.
It’s Christmas and the family are gathered around the dining table, playing our annual game of ‘Monopoly’. My wife, Carrina, is to my left, wearing a red Christmas jumper, complimenting her blonde curly hair and my in-laws are opposite us (I hate my in-laws). I am next to wide rolling the dice for my next move, my eyes open with anticipation, eagerly awaiting a good roll so I can land on ‘Mayfair’. My plastic Christmas hat is to the side, almost falling off as I frantically shake the dice and plunge them onto the board.
As you can see, we are starting to bring him to life. This scene could go in so many different ways. You could have him argue with his inlaws over ‘cheating’ allegations. You could have him really drunk and saying something inappropriate. You can have him spill a drink. Several options. This leads to my next tip, let your imagination run wild.
Sometimes you don’t need to have the story or scene mapped out. As long as you know what traits the character has, and if you’re character building, you can just write those traits into the scene. Often I’ll write a chapter, without knowing what I’m about to write. I just have the character discuss something – something random. It’s ok to do this, it helps the reader connect with the character you’re writing. Writers are sometimes so focussed on the story, they forget to character build in an organic way. Be patient, it’s ok to have your character talk about potato chips and movies for a few pages, it makes him/her human.
So, you’ve established your story and you’ve analysed your lead character and written some random chapters to highlight some of his/her character traits. Now you have a foundation to tell your story.
Make sure you have a good supporting cast. The characters in the book are crucial to the feel of the book. Give them depth, provide a back story for them, let the reader know who they are, bring them to life. A good supporting cast is so important. The reader won’t feel engaged if the other characters aren’t interesting. To write good characters, I always used a mixture of people I’ve met along the way in life. Fact is stranger than fiction and, I can guarantee you’ve met some interesting people in your life! Merge the traits together to create unique and interesting characters.
My next tip – write about something you’re passionate about. If you write about something you’re passionate about, your enthusiasm will shine through the page. There will be times when you don’t want to write, or you’re just not feeling up to it, and that’s ok, and normal. But if it’s a story you’re passionate about telling, those times become less and less. Try to think of themes and character traits that excite you and motivate you. Writing is a platform for your imagination and it gives you a voice. Think about what you want to say and write about it.
My final tip is, be patient. You will hit blocks when you don’t know where the story is going to go, but take a step back from it and be patient. If you’re completely stuck, you could take a complete left turn and go back to the characters childhood or a flashback of some kind. Dreams are also a good one, to help immerse the reader into the characters mind. Patience is key, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it’s important to realise a book really does last a lifetime. So take your time with it and make sure you’ve told the story you want to tell.
About the Book:
Damon West is a twenty-eight-year old living in New York City. His life appears to be perfect. He has a loving girlfriend, good friends, lots of money and a job on Wall Street, everything a young man could ask for. However, Damon has a secret. Damon is the Devil. For centuries, Damon has roamed the Earth enjoying everything the human world has to offer. Sex, entertainment, travel and new discoveries. Damon's life appears to be perfect but takes an unexpected turn when he meets a co-worker, Latasha. Damon is suddenly submerged in a spiraling obsession with Latasha he can't control. She plays him for the fool. For all his charms, Damon is unable to deal with those emotions. Is it love? Whilst Damon's world starts to spiral out of control, we start to question who Latasha really is. Is she who she appears to be? Was this all part of a higher plan? Has she been conspiring with the suspicious new boss, Jason Godfrey? In The Devil In I, Damon faces the ultimate battle to hold on to everything he has: his job, his reputation, his girlfriend, and his life. This is a fast paced, sexy, violent modern day thriller. It is the ultimate story of Good vs Evil. Based in New York City, The Devil In I is not for the faint of heart.