Thursday, March 12, 2009

the 14 week novel - week one: ideas

I’ve been trying for a while to write a new YA novel. It started last summer, got pushed to November for NaNoWriMo, and it’s still not written. I have several novel starts, but I don’t have a finished novel yet (probably because I’m trying to write multiple novels at once). It’s time to do something about that.

I will finish a novel in 14 weeks, even if it makes me crazy. Anyone want to join me?

Here's the plan: each week, I’m going to give myself an assignment, which I will also post on my blog, along with quotes and/or links to helpful articles. The first two weeks (starting today) will be the planning stages, and then I’ll be trying to write about 5000 words a week until I get to the end. If I have left over weeks at the end, they will be focused on polishing and planning for revision.

Here is the assignment for week #1:
Come up with an idea for a novel or an interesting character. How?

* Play “what if” with your idea or character: What if this happened? What happens next? What would be the best place to start the novel? What does my character want, need, fear? What happens if they get what they want? What happens if they don’t?

* Keep going until you don’t have any more questions, or set a timer and brainstorm for a set amount of time, like an hour.

* If you are like me and have multiple novel ideas you want to write, pick one. Or pick a main novel and don’t work on the other one(s) until you are done with your assignment for the main novel each week.

Quotes for this week (most from LA SCBWI 2005):
"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." – Somerset Maugham

“The difference between a good movie and a B movie is that the characters in good movies are believable. The ones in B movies are more likely to go to their attic in their nightgown in the middle of the night to investigate a noise, which nobody would really do.” - Kathleen Duey

“Give yourself time for your subconscious to work...Make lists of every solution to the problem that you can think of. Even if you don’t come up with a solution on your list, it’s a warm up for your head, and you might think of it later (while in the shower or on a walk, etc.).” - Gennifer Choldenko

“It’s what you do with the junk (ideas) that matters. Add light to junk in a cylinder and it becomes a rose window (kaleidoscope). Add light to ideas and they become a story.” - Rosemary Wells

“Everything in a teen’s life is about first experiences and emotional extremes…they are in a constant state of humiliation.” - Sonya Sones

“Write EVERY day, like it’s your JOB.” - Christopher Paul Curtis and Gennifer Choldenko both said this about how they work.


  1. Great idea! Good luck with this...Have fun at 'work'...grin...

  2. Thanks Brenda! I need all the luck I can get. :)

  3. Good luck!!! Love the quotes, especially the first one! :)

  4. You've inspired me. While I won't promise to start (because I have to work on the one I've started) or finish (because it needs more than 14 weeks of work) a novel. I will promise to subscribe to your posts, glue my butt to my chair and write along with you.

  5. Good luck with your writing. It sounds like a great plan. I have trouble following through with one idea until it's done, too.
    Love the quotes!

  6. Great idea! I'm in! I have two projects in revision and I'm obsessing over those to the point that I can't write anything new! Maybe sticking to a tight schedule will help me forge ahead.

  7. Awesome, Steph! You got me diving in to look over my much-awaited storyline. The problem for me is how to know when the brainstorming is over! I could probably go on indefinitely... :) Well, I've made some good progress, at any rate!

    Are you going to post new assignments every Thursday? Love the quotes, too! Thanks for the FUBIC (fire under butt in chair)!!!

  8. Thanks Kelly!

    Jean, it's great to have you writing along with us! That's what it's all about, really.

    Thanks Adrienne! I'm going to have an ongoing art project soon too :)

    Yay Sarah! I hope this helps you to get going on a new project.

    Welcome to the FUBIC project Joan! (BTW, totally love the idea of Fire Under Butt In Chair.) I have a problem knowing when the brainstorming is over too. That's why each week will focus on something new, and the writing starts soon. I plan on posting assignments every Thursday. :)

  9. I love this idea. Fast Drafting worked well for me, too, but I didn't have a set end goal for that one.
    I just might have to try this. I have a current novel that needs some revisions, but I might just have to get some of these new characters out of my head first...

  10. Wow. I'm not the sort of person who can turn my inner editor off and do this, but I'll be cheering you on every step of the way. Just call me Shiela Jr!

  11. Join us Lily. It'll be fun (maybe a little bit crazy too). ;)

    Thanks for the cheers Sheila Jr. er, I mean Carrie :)

  12. I'll give it a try. I've got an idea percolating. A good push and a deadline might be what I need to get a draft on paper!

  13. Welcome Nora! I hope this helps you with your novel!