Shifting Gears on Writing My Novel

Most of what I have been writing here on my blog relates to books I have recently read and my overall impression of those works. If you have been following my writings, you will recall that my reviews have been quite positive. I am not sure whether that is because I have made good choices or simply that I do not have a particularly critical mind. I like to think it is the former. I will continue to post comments on books as I read them but today want to focus my attention on the actual craft of writing.

I have picked up a few books so far which I’m finding helpful in this regard. The first is Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. I laughed when I first read the title thinking “is the Dummies reference intended for the fiction writer himself or for his readers?”  At the same time I’m also reading Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell. Each book received excellent reviews at both Amazon and Goodreads and I’m finding both quite helpful. Since each of these are How-To books I’m reading them leisurely, taking notes, and incorporating those ideas that fit my needs best.

A book that I heard much about when I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference (SFWC) last month is The Chicago Manual of Style, which was first published in 1906, is now in its 16th edition, and is widely regarded as the single best reference for writers, editors, proofreaders and sundry other professions related to the writing world. I do not currently own a copy of this book since even a heavily discounted copy sells for $40. Fortunately for me I was able to borrow one from my local library. One of these days I know I will have to bite the bullet and buy a copy but for now I am glad to have this valuable reference work on loan. If anyone has any suggestions of other books I may want to investigate leave a comment here or write me at Ed@EdHartnett.com.

This also is a good time to mention that my progress on my book writing has been going slow of late. I can make all kinds of excuses for that but I will fess up to the fact that I simply am not setting aside time every day for doing it. Several times at the SFWC I heard it stressed that one needed to block a certain time of day (from one to three hours) at least five times a week to dedicate to writing a manuscript. James Scott Bell in his book I cited earlier mentions this as well. He in fact recommended setting a word count goal rather than specific amount of time to make sure you actually achieve results. Mornings work best for me; I’m refreshed, most energized (at least after 2 or 3 cups of coffee) and my pooch is not yet staring at me with his adorable eyes begging to go out for our hour in the park. Plus it normally is very quiet in my house at that time. So starting tomorrow morning I am committing to writing at least 1000 words in my manuscript five times a week. Wish me well!

5 thoughts on “Shifting Gears on Writing My Novel

    • Thanks for the suggestion. Yes I seen some very strong recommendations on King’s book elsewhere and certainly he knows a little something about being a successful writer. I’ll include it on my To-Read list.

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  1. I don’t know if it is still available but when I was in college, you could find access to The Chicago Manual of Style online for free. Since most literature and english classes required using it, it was quite the necessity to have access for free.
    I’ve also heard great things about King’s book. I’ve been told it is a must read. It’s on my list. Personally I have found that reading the experiences of writers in their quests to write and publish novels successfully has been very useful as well. They are more personal than the How To books and you can communicate directly with the writers.

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    • Thanks for writing. There is a 30 day free trial for the Chicago Manual online version but then the annual fee is $35, not outrageous certainly but I’d be more inclined to buy the hard copy which I think Amazon lists for around $40. I’m guessing that students may possibly be able to have free access or else the publisher has entirely dropped the option. I appreciate your suggestion though. I have read many positive things about King’s book and will be sure to check it out.

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