Novel Writing

Reining it in: How to focus your #story so it doesn’t run away with you #amwriting

Animated sequence of a race horse galloping. P...
Animated sequence of a race horse galloping. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (died 1904), first published in 1887 at Philadelphia (Animal Locomotion). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My new novel has topped 3,500 words of notes as I freewrite and brainstorm my way into an outline. I had a moment today when a sudden realization about what my novel is really about struck me. A shiver ran down my spine as I realized the possible implications of the totally subversive idea that emerged from the murky depths of my subconscious mind.

“This is big,” I thought.

And then, “This is probably going to piss a lot of people off.”


Not literally, but I was thinking it.

As I typed out the details of my idea, another idea struck me. By “struck me,” what I mean is that it wacked me upside the head like a baseball bat.

I fully intend for this novel to be a one-offer, and NOT a trilogy. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of trilogies. I am so sick of getting to the end of a novel only to realize that it’s the first in a series, which makes me feel obligated to read the next book, even after I find myself fully satisfied with the first. I want to write one, complete book this time! I want to finish a thought quickly and then move on to the next one! I have too many novel ideas to waste time writing serials!

But, this new idea, well—it’s so big, I am now wondering how I can possibly fit it all into one book. It almost has to be a trilogy.

Then, I remembered what I used to tell my Comp I students back in the day when I was still torturing myself by teaching Comp I: Focus. Figure out what your main point is and eliminate every detail that does not support that point.

What does this mean in regards to writing a novel? Well, the sad fact is, I am going to probably write a whole lot of material that is going to be cut in the end. It also means that I still need to narrow my focus. My big idea needs to be reined in and held to a very narrow track. I need to define my limits.

Like many writing problems, what this situation calls for is more freewriting.

Man, are my fingers getting tired!

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