New Beginnings — Beginning a New Novel

What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to start a new novel? Which book came easiest, which was the hardest? What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book but hasn’t?

Barb:

  • What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to start a new novel? Check Twitter.
  • Which book came easiest? Iced Under.
  • Which was the hardest? The one I am writing right now. Every %^&* time.
  • What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book but hasn’t? Lie down and hope the urge passes.

Jessie:

  • What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to start a new novel? Take out a fresh notebook and a favorite pen and start writing down questions about the book and answering them in a variety of different ways.
  • Which book came easiest? Murder in an English Village.
  • Which book was the hardest? Whispers of Warning. For every 20,000 words I added to that book I ended up cutting 25,000. It was absolutely maddening!
  • What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book but hasn’t? Ask yourself why you haven’t done it yet. It is always easy to tell yourself there is not enough time, there are more important things that need attending to, that you don’t know what you are doing. If the answer to your question is about fear I would suggest you start to write the book immediately. If you want to do a thing, but you are afraid to do the thing, it is probably something quite important to you, something you would be sorry to fail at and thus something you will sincerely regret not having tried when you come to the end of your own story.

Edith: Barb, you made me spit my coffee! Hilarious. Jessie, why do you think that happened with Whispers of Warning (asking as someone who writes so sparse she never needs to cut great swaths of words)?

  • What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to start a new novel? Conjure a great first line.
  • Which book came easiest? Flipped for Murder. The story and voice for the first Country Store Mystery seemed to flow without effort.
  • Which was the hardest? Charity’s Burden might have been the hardest, possibly because of the difficult theme.
  • What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book but hasn’t? If you want to write one, you will. Also, find your tribe – to learn from, commiserate with, and make connections with.

Liz: Barb, I’m cracking up too – and agreeing hard with you as I start a new book and wondering WHY I would possibly want to put myself through this again! Edith, I love that you used the word “conjure” about first lines because so often all of this seems like we’re using (or hoping for) magic to get it done, right?

  • What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to start a new novel? Think about how much time I have to procrastinate before I have to get serious about it.
  • Which book came easiest? Murder Most Finicky. It was just so much fun to write about reality show chefs and have Stan visiting Newport.
  • Which was the hardest? The book I just finished, Witch Hunt, out next year, was really hard because I was creating a “real” world and a mystical world. And being the first book in a series, you want to get it all right!
  • What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book but hasn’t? Take care of your creative self and do what you have to do to get to the page every day.

Sherry: Twitter? I play a game (okay, multiple games) of solitaire. It’s so interesting to here which books were easiest and which were hardest.

  • What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to start a new novel? After solitaire I stare at the blank screen, put my fingers on the keyboard and stuff comes. I’m never sure where it comes from but it is usually there.
  • Which book came easiest? Who came up with these questions? This is hard. Maybe The Gun Also Rises because I had so much fun using the real mystery of what happened to Hemingway manuscripts.
  • Which was the hardest? I’m with Liz. The book I’m writing right now, From Beer to Eternity,  the first in my new Chloe Jackson Sea Glass mysteries. I have had a hard time shutting up the editor in my head who keeps telling me I can’t do it. 
  • What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book but hasn’t? As author John Dufresne said, “Sit you behind in the chair.” Okay, he didn’t say “behind” but mom will probably read this.

Writers: What is your best advice to a budding writer? Readers: Have you ever been able to tell when a writer has struggled?

10 Thoughts

  1. Phew! I’m glad you ladies didn’t insist we answer those questions too. Advice to budding authors? Learn your craft. Join a writing group (or two or three). And if writing that novel is your dream, NEVER GIVE UP.

    Although I love Barb’s answer sooo much!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Once when reading a book I felt like either the author was struggling or she was just trying to finish up her writing contract because the book seemed like it was torture to write. The author kept using the same two words a gazillion times and by the end I was so glad it was over I didn’t know what to do. 🤦🏽‍♀️

    Like

  3. My advice to budding writer: Write every day, buy how-to manuals, go to Book Passages Writers Conference, read, read, read. And by the way, while social media can be a black hole, I get a ton of information from following successful authors. There was a really good conversation yesterday on Twitter about expectations. FB is good too. I applied for the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant because I saw Hank Phillippi Ryan talking about it on FB. And won. And got a book deal. And met y’all lovely authors.

    Like

  4. I’m with Annette – glad you didn’t make us answer all the questions. And Barb, you’re too funny.

    Best advice? Two parts: One, commit to writing and write. Two, find a supportive group of people who will lift you up and help you learn what you need to learn – because it’s guaranteed you need to learn at least ONE thing and probably a whole lot more than that.

    Like

  5. Barb, I was eating breakfast while reading this post. That was almost extremely dangerous.

    Based on the answers here, I can’t always tell when a book came easy or was a struggle for a writer. But I can tell when I struggled with a review.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.