How Hubpages Helps You Write Your First Novel
Writing Your First Novel
I remember when I wrote my first novel at the age of 14. I can’t say why I wrote my first novel except there was a story in me and it had to come out. It was the summer and school was out. We had an Apple Computer. I believed we started out on a commodore 64 with cassette tapes. Back then Windows and Office did not exist. So I wrote my first novel by hand. It took me a month and was only about 100 pages of typed material in the end but it was finished. I made my grandfather listen to it. He was 84, crippled and couldn't run. My first captive audience and I was hooked on writing. And I made my younger brother listen to it which he felt Star Wars was a much better.
They both had suggestions which at first hurt me but then I came to realize they were right. And so I began training my brain to put plot tracks down. And I learned to use foreshadowing and red herrings in my writing. Being brought up on England English literature had exposed me to and entirely different form of writing then was commercially available in the USA. And because my family was English on my Father’s side we had a library in my grandparent’s home on the shore. I would read Kipling and Conrad and many other English authors at a young age. I think in 4th grade I read the Bourne Identity in about four hours. Almost all of American literature I could read quickly. I later learned I read at 300 wpm.
English literature is not so heavily dependant on such devices as foreshadowing and red herrings as American literature. So my first book did not use those devices nor did it have very many paragraphs. You can read pages and pages and never hit a new paragraph in a book by an English author and in the USA a paragraph can be, and is often, a sentence of dialogue. My point is that with globalization writing is changing and what are acceptable standards of literature are constantly changing.
With my first book written and typed, I set out to get it published. My Mother was mortified as being a writer is and was a very impractical profession. Although I had pointed out to her that there were Nobel Laureates. It didn't convince my Mother I should pursue this career. I can’t really blame her. My Goddaughter wants to be a physical therapist and she is finishing college before she is out of High School. And it just flies out of my mouth, “Be an orthopedic surgeon…you aren’t a people person.” My intentions are pure but it isn’t exactly what she wants to here. Although when she was younger she wanted to write her own Japnaese Animae comic books so I bought her story boards, art supplies and Japanese Language tapes. Much to my surprise she learned the language pretty quickly at least as well as anyone can learn a language from self study.
UPDATE: GODDAUGHTER TOOK MY ADVICE AND IS NOW IN PREMED PREPARING TO BE AN ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON.
So my first book ended up in a drawer some place in my desk hidden from the world for about seven years.
Layings Down the Trancks or Scenes
Always Start Writing with Conflict
Returning to Writing: Second Book
By 1991 I had lived in Europe for a while in several locations and picked up those languages and I had more experiences. One day I found my old manuscript in my desk. I read it and I appreciated it was never published as it was rather immature. I am a person who is very hard on themselves. I have always had to be as I have always had to be responsible when I was young. Trust me no one could inflict more damage on me than my own criticism, although I appreciate people trying. So I had a word processor at this time and I started typing my second book called Catharsis. I had hoped to be able to publish it by the time I was out of college. I think I went through rewrites at least six times.
And I didn’t have trouble lying down tracks for the plot line nor did I have difficulty between the two genres in writing any longer. My first book was Science Fiction and the second was a psychological thriller. And it was a dark novel. I managed to get it to Hollywood and I found a producer to read it. But in the end it just wasn’t commercial enough at the time. Later in the 1990(s) psychological thrillers became all the rage but I wasn’t established enough. I actually got a personal letter from John Grisham’s agent who was not willing to represent me but continued to encourage me to write. It was perhaps the nicest rejection notice I had ever received. And I had enough rejection letters ot wall paper my bedroom.
My friend from Rome was working in the film industry over there and she told me I had to get into the unions in order to really have any chance of getting published. She recommended I enter into contests. I did and I won frequently and won several contests. This too took place in the early 1990(s). Someone in my life who shall remain nameless wanted to edit my work. I am not going to lie to you I was conflicted about this. I had been winning regularly without edits and I felt if I only hung in there for a bit longer I would finally get either a publisher or an agent. One or the other of which I would need to get into the union. The first three rounds of edits I made all the changes without asking questions but saved the editing notes. Finally the fourth time around I confronted this person and showed them how they kept changing the edits to make their stake in my work appear more than it was. Simple things like commas being taken out and being put back in. By the 6th edit I burned the manuscript. I think the person who edited back and forth probably has one copy on the side but he can never publish it I still have the copyright.
As with the Hub Pages Patron of the Arts Contest the contests I entered required me to enter into different genres. This netted my first children’s book series. And eventually I was approached by another producer for that series as well and I had to learn to write movie scripts. So I spent several months studying how movie scripts were made. Tarantino’s Pulp fiction was one of the first scripts I studied. I also studied Three Days of the Condor and Silver Streak.
But my friend who worked in the movie business told me I really needed to know someone in the USA movie business. I knew some actors but no one that really had a foot in the door. Oddly enough I also like writing movie scripts. And I am not so pretentious to write in camera angels which really make directors angry.
But in my pursuit of being practical I started teaching. I had a lot of children with serious problems both medically, academically and behaviorally. So I started running my classroom by the numbers and conducting field studies in my classroom. And a lot of my students overcame their disabilities. It was and probably still would be considered controversial to push children to perform beyond their disabilities but I see my students and they have successful employment and are contributing members to society today.
So What Is It Like Writing a Book?
Some days it is like pulling your own teeth out and you have expressive aphasia and hate everything you write. I don’t think anyone who writes a book doesn’t hate some of their work. When writing a book you are literally struggling to get your work to even a tolerable level.
And then other days it just flows out of you. The characters write themselves and they talk to the writer.
And since I have written books and stories since I was so young I never really write myself into a corner. Sometimes it seems like I am but that is how the story reveals itself with only one inevitable conclusion.
By the time I was invited to attend graduate school, I can’t even tell you how many books I had written. I still have many of them just lying around. I do still like the work even a decade later.
As much of a Scientist as I am also a writer. It is my outlet for the harsh realities of the world. I may never publish another book but I will always write because it is apart of me. Nietzsche’ said good artists and good people should not be confused so the fact I am not well received as a writer is testimony to my sterling character. Of course Nietzsche’ also did not believe in good and evil and was big on communism so who knows if he should be taken seriously.
In the Beginning
Some Advice on Writing a Book
Make certain you set up your plot so it is evenly laid out and revealed. Much like in music every book has a crescendo. It is important to build to the crescendo or climax.
I would never publish your first book. It is just my experience until you have written several books your first work is derivative. It takes experience writing novels to become any good at it. In graduate school I wrote 200 pages of publications each semester. And that was considered average for a PhD student. I would have my friend from the Cayman Island’s help me proof read. I miss her!
Work out everyday. When I write I work out everyday for at least an hour. Writing requires you sit for long periods of time and be very cerebral. In order to balance the mind body equation you have to work out everyday. When I was working on another book I would work out for four hours a day. But that was a good book. I was so tired and focused by the time I returned from my work outs I would sometimes type as many as 40 pages a day. Once you get into that pace of work it isn’t that hard to keep up. That was a good book between the work outs and my focus. That was until I was hit on a bike in a hit and run. I was bed ridden for 8 weeks with a very bad fracture. I was lucky to have survived the hit and run. I finished that book during physical therapy. So you may want to skip cycling in the street if you are working on your book or value your limbs.
While I have publications I have never come close to being on the best sellers list and I had to go through publishers and the ever corect but dreaded editor. Now days anyone can publish online but they are responsible for their own edits or rewrites. The Internet has turned the entire literary business upside down. My suggestion to anyone who wishes to be published is to get noticed. And Hub pages is the perfect opportunity for you to do just that…be noticed. Hub pages offers you the opportunity to be published every single day.
Writing has offered me many opportunities I would not have otherwise had in my life. Where I am a Scientist by nature I also embrace literature. I was probably only invited to study for my PhD because of my talents as a Scientist but more importantly as a writer. So even if you start out on Hub pages with humble ambitions it may lead you and take you to places you would have never imagined yourself being able to achieve. You will never know until you start. The most important thing is that you start writing and you learn as you go. There is no better teacher then experience and that is especially true for writers. So hone your craft here by joining Hub Pages.
More by this Author
An article about how to get your child to sleep in their own bed.
A tribute to the one yeat anniversary of my Mother's death.
An article analysizing what it is like to grow up with serial killers and rapists in a small southern community.