Friday, January 8, 2016

So…You Want to Write a Novel by Christine

Johannes Vermeer

  • You’ve been journaling since you were a kid. 
  • You’ve been writing stories since you were old enough to hold a pencil.

    But write a novel? Write your memoirs?

    • You’ve had this desire deep inside, yammering to get out for years, but that's what it's remained--a dream. 
    • Or you've got a manuscript lining your bedside drawer, a manuscript no one but you has ever seen. 

    So where do you start? Or restart? Does the word "Revision" fill you with dread?

    Rachel and I invite you to join us on our weekly blog Novel Renaissance. We hope that by sharing what we have learned on our writing journey, we can help your dream of becoming a writer a reality.

    Renaissance--"a movement or period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity." 

    In other words, 

    • Rebirth
    • Revision
    • Resurrection
    • It's time to pull that manuscript out of the drawer, time to open up your laptop and begin. 

    We've planned our topics for the entirety of 2016, topics that---I for one---learned by trial and error. For the month of January we will be talking about PREMISE

    • But here's lesson # 1, that goes even before Premise. The nitty gritty of being a writer, Baring Your Soul.

    When I first started writing back in 1999 I understood any non-fiction I hoped to write, especially the account of my birth mother experience would be autobiographical. But later when it seemed that particular true-life account might never be published, I felt the Lord urge me to put the spiritual and emotional truths I’d learned into Christian Fiction.

    Whew! I thought. This means I don’t have to bare my soul. I can hide behind my “untrue” historical epics that God-willing might help readers think about the Lord while they’re being entertained.

    Here’s the true scoop.

    When I wrote my debut novel Shadowed in Silk I don’t think readers had a clue that I was plastering my heart and soul into my heroine Abby Fraser, even into my bad-guy Russian spy, and especially into Abby’s enemy the Muslim woman, Tikah, who kidnaps Abby’s child.

    Those three characters all feel invisible for their own reasons. The two women especially "feel" that no one sees their heartaches or hears their cries in the night.

    • Note the word "feel", you'll be hearing a lot about that too in the topics to come.

    The reason I could write my debut novel was because I knew what if felt like to be invisible, as a woman hurting over the relinquishment of my firstborn to adoption. I was the invisible one in that particular adoption triad. This enabled me to feel like invisible Abby. 

    But I also felt like my Russian spy who chooses to be invisible on purpose. 

    I also felt like Tikah, Abby's personal enemy, because part of my heart longed to turn the clock back so that I’d never relinquished my baby in the first place. I took the bare truth of my soul and painted that longing into my character Tikah as she does the reprehensible by stealing another woman's child.

    Shocking, I know. I’m not saying my emotions were right or honorable. Emotions are emotions, but that’s what books are, a baring of the soul. Of course I didn’t take back my true-life child, and the Lord helped me through my heartache. But because of that there is: 

    • "Me" in my heroine
    • "Me" in my villain (very important if you don't want a stereotypical mustache twirling bad guy).
    • "Me" in a complex secondary character

    The ideas and premise for your book must come right from the corners of your soul. Every memory you’ve had, sensory, intellectual, emotional, affects how you see the world. That’s what a book is, sharing your world view in one story at a time.

    That’s where you start, be willing to unveil your soul

    Here are some questions to ask yourself, to start the mental juices flowing.

    • What matters to you?
    • What broke your heart?
    • What mended your heart?
    • What deep memories, emotions have shaped your soul?
    • Don’t always think of sad stuff, what joys have sent your heart skyrocketing?
    • Now, lastly, what kind of books do you enjoy reading?

    If you enjoy crime thrillers, then you may not want to start writing a romantic novel that’s based on your grandparents’ courtship. But you can take the emotions you retain regarding your grandparents’ love affair and weave that into your crime thriller.

    For this week’s lesson, think about what you’re passionate about, and what kinds of literature you enjoy.



  1. I appreciate the "don't always think of the sad stuff..." how true. We need the balance of sadness and joy to form good characters. Nice site!

    1. So true Cynthia. I love a book that has it all---like life, don't you? When I read a story I want to feel the heights and the depths of what a character is going through. Thanks so much for your comment. Hope to get to know you well as we share together about the joy of reading and the writing craft.

  2. I found you on the ACFW Promotion Loop. I hope to visit you each month, so be sure to remind us when your monthly blog is ready! Oh--what do I like to read? A thriller without the graphic violence, but with lots of tension. What do I write? Romance.

    1. Peggy, what a joy to meet a new friend. I just love ACFW, and so does Rachel. Yes, will let you know each week on the Promo loop when we post. Every Friday. I too love thrillers with loads of tension. My reading tastes (and Rachel's) are varied. Rather eclectic actually. Because of that eclectic taste my writing crosses a few genres so that it's sometimes hard for me to categorize. I started out with historicals, dabbled a bit in romance, and now I have found my nitch--braided novels that combine a historical story as contemporary, with a mystery as well as what I like to call a Big Love Story, which is different from a romance. Looking forward to seeing more of you and especially as our "Draws" start for our free critique giveaways.


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