Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
0 Kudos

First, Finish your Book

Do you have an idea for a book? A half-written manuscript? Is your manuscript 98% complete but still in need of tweaking? Whatever the state of your writing, the reality is that you won't get your book published until you get it done.

Whether you're writing for friends and family or as a money-making venture, think of a book as you would any other business project. You wouldn't try to launch a new product without setting goals or land a new client without carefully preparing a presentation. Likewise, you shouldn't try to write a book without some serious planning.

Start by setting aside a time and place to write and acquiring the necessary tools. Then establish a writing schedule -- on paper -- and hold yourself to it. I have never met an author who wasn't driven by deadlines.

So set a goal. For example, maybe you want to have your book published by January 2009. Start there, and then work backward. Does that sound like a long way off? Actually, if you want to get traditionally published, you'll have to factor in at least 18 months, so you're already at deadline! (If you have a time-sensitive topic or want to get your book in print sooner, don't worry because there are alternatives.)

Of course, all this sounds easy. It's not. To get my book, Get Published, done, I dragged myself out of bed and made my way, laptop in hand, to the local Starbucks. It was definitely the latte that got me there, but once there I had nothing to do but write. (Noisy and busy spaces give me energy; I'd much rather write in a public space.)

To all the writers out there, where do you write? How do you stay on track? What tricks of the trade can you share? Also feel free to share your questions or problems with finishing your book, turning your creative ideas into a final manuscript.

Reply to this message to join the conversation.

Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
Contributor
SundayArtist
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎06-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

I've written a children's picture book, but the illustrations are at the storyboard stage, so I haven't submitted it. I'm still learning what the requirements are for the art.

Does anyone out there write and do their own illustrations?
Frequent Contributor
magicalbookworm
Posts: 61
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

I've gotten the finish the book part, I think I'm just stuck on the editing and if I need to find a beta reader for said novels. I guess what I really need to work on is editing! :smileyhappy:
Frequent Contributor
crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

[ Edited ]
I'm from the George Lucas school of writing/completing a script or story.

he said (in regards to film-making, so I paraphrase):

A good story is never complete, it is only abandoned.

He was referring to Star Wars, and to the reasons why he went back and made the Special Editions, Directors Cuts, Super-Delux-Ultimate-Extraordinary Directors Cut Special Mega-Ultra Edition... and the prequels

it didn't have anything to do with making money hand-over-fist, for re-packaging and hawking the same old thing back on the unsuspecting public and ravenous fanatics who would pay anything for another spoonful of mediocre 'improvements' from the man, the legend, the god, George Lucas... he did it all 'to tell a better story...'

yeah, right George...

any way, so that's how I go about 'finishing' my novels. I will be revising and revisiting the stories until I die; they will never see the light of day on any Barnes & Noble store shelves, so I rework and rework and rework...

Message Edited by crAZRick on 06-01-200702:49 PM

I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

As an artist, I've 'learned' when to stop painting, or creating in whatever medium I'm working in. There is what we call, 'overworking'. I think it holds true with writing. You can work a piece to death, literally! :smileywink: But it's something I've had to learn over time, until it became ingrained...It then becomes just a feeling you get, and you just know when to stop.

I'm a potter, and I was once taught, you need to visualize the lump of clay, and see it develope in your mind - from the time you put your hands on it, until it comes out of the kiln. You must see the processes, and the objective (end results).

I've written two ways....One, starting out just to write a screwball story, for the fun of watching where it will take me. I just let it happen, allowing my mind free will. About three quarters of the way through, I knew the ending...it just hit me. You'll have writers who will disagree with this type of writing....

I've tried to edit myself, but find the difficulty lies in my frame of mind, which varies from day to day. Words are so illusive at times, my objectivity can be lost. I can write and rewrite until I'm blue in the face. I was told by an author, always save your first draft....at least you have something to fall back on, after you've screwed up all the rewrites!

Now I have a second story - I know the beginning, I know the middle, and I know the ending. It's satisfying to write this way, also. I'm working out the connecting parts - tying it all together....And I know it has to stop at the ending I've chosen.

Yes, there can be continuations or sequels to most any story, according to whomever reads whatever you've written. That's half the fun of reading, it's using the imagination at the ending of a novel. As a reader, it's all in the eyes of the beholder.

The discipline in organizing your thoughts, as a writer, takes work at times, at least that's the conclusion I've drawn. And we all have our own reasons for creating, in whichever field of art you've chosen. But the ultimate goal for me, is the personal satisfaction I get while going through the process. It's all a great and grand discovery, when the process becomes satisfying.

Kathy S.
Contributor
SundayArtist
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎06-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

N. J. Lingquist told me that your first draft is to the writer like a lump of clay to the sculptor. Writer's start without clay, they have to create their own. Then after they have that clay, they start to sculpt it (the rewriting and editing stage). I thought that was a very good way to describe the writing process. It helps me to view the first draft and story board with less worry, just get started and get it out there on the table.
Frequent Contributor
crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

I wrote my 'first draft' of my novel in 50 or so pages of a 3x5 pocket-sized notepad, filled with character notes, conflict notes, all sorts of random notes. I carried this little notebook around with me everywhere I went at college, used it as reference whenever I worked on the actual novel.

It was weird, wild, wacky and wonderful all at once, that little notebook full of random musings; and it worked very well.
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
Frequent Contributor
doeyeou2
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎04-24-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

I would say my method of writing is first, I know how I want the story end. Second, I know how I want to start the story...the remainder is just connecting the dots.

In my 30 years of working, I'm sure I've seen or met a million people, so my characters are people I've seen, talk to, dealt with, or just watched in motel lobby. I want my characters to be everyday people. Stan Lee the creator of Spiderman wanted an everyday kid to have all troubles of growing up in addition to his superpowers. I want the same just without the superpowers.

I know who I want my audience to be and I know how I want the plot to flow. I know I want to try and surprise the reader with each new story.

What I need/ed to learn was the techniques used to accomplish my goals. So I've written some stories, to get feed back on how I wrote. Which I have learned a lot here at B&N. So, I will take lessons learned and continue writing stories. Once completed I hope to gain more fine tuning so that I can eventually go back to my first stories, rewrite the technique but leave the basic plot.
New User
LadyHawk14
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎01-29-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

I agree that a schedule is critical! (A former Adm. Asst. talking.) To get my book of poetry finished I had my husband handle everything a the house for a weekend so that I could just organize the writing I'd already done and focus on the book. (It was that or pay for me to stay at a hotel for a weekend so I could focus on writing!) Then the reality of my daughter being born gave me a firm deadline. I figured I'd "never" have time to write again once I had a child. Now I do my best focused writing when my daughter is napping, in the afternoon. I'd love to be a 4 a.m. writer but I just can't seem to get up that early. The hardest part for me is writing on a regular basis if I don't have a schedule. I keep making notes though when ideas hit me, the little portable notebook idea is helpful.
New User
erinee
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

It's amazing how many people think writing means 1) becoming suddenly inspired, 2)writing the book, and then 3)getting published without any revisions or strain.

I'm on the fourth draft of my first novel and can honestly say that the only reason I've gotten to this point is because I'm not afraid to work hard no matter the outcome. The best way to get it done (since I have children and work part time) is to get up before dawn and force myself to write, whether I feel inspired or whether my muse is sleeping in and drooling on my pillow. It takes a certain amount of tenacity to finish a book, let alone revise it until it's as perfect as you can get it. Some of the best advice I received was from Kyra Davis, a bestselling chick lit author (yes, I'm namedropping). She said that when you're blocked and don't know what to write, you just sit back down and write anyway. I've found that to be the best way. Sometimes exercise, like walking, or housecleaning helps somewhat, but nothing beats writing like writing. Otherwise it's easy to let the block and your fear of its continuance psych you out.

Staying on track means making sure the automatic coffeemaker is pre-programmed so I can drag my weary carcass out of bed and get cracking! Goal setting works best when I have both long-term and short-term goals, like "I will write 2 pages every day no matter what. In one month I will produce 60 pages of new material." Even if I fall a little short of the goal, at least I'll still have produced something!
Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

Erinee,

I agree. I honestly believe that anyone can land a book contract, but to do so takes more work (and probably money) than most people are willing or able to spend. Luckily, there are affordable alternatives that provide everyone the opportunity to see thier book in print and we'll talk about the alternatives at different points in this club.

Your tactics for dealing with writer's block are very sound and many experts would give similar advice. To everyone else: what strategies do you use to keep writing when life gets in the way?

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
Frequent Contributor
magicalbookworm
Posts: 61
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

I make sure I put aside a set of hours every day to write. My goal is 1000 words a day (of course I don't reach that count all the time) but the point is thatI am at the computer at my stated time and at least trying to get some writing done. Though it is hard not to be distracted by things on the internet etc. Plus lately I've been having trouble pushing past my set 1000 words goal. Currently trying to finish the book i'm working on, then I should actually edit something! :smileyhappy:
Contributor
lily_sparkletoon
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎04-10-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

Yes. Also finding the right amount of control. My second novel is out. It was years and years of working and reworking. You have to find time for things. I even found time to also get a degree and working on another. If you are going to write.....you need a fall back plan
Author of
Acoustical Poetry
Tales of Tara : Gabrielian Chronicles (soon to be released)
Contributor
alexandra_boza
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎05-11-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

ok so i am trying to write my little story of my experince through Hurrican Katrina and i have a rough draft and i am editing my next draft.....But unlike all others here i am not looking for a career in thw writing field. i just have an amazing story to tell, of what happened to me and how this horrible disaster has changed me and help me become a better person. the more i write and talk about this story i am amazed at all the weird this that happen. Like this example that came out of the blue!
i was calling one of my health insurance companies to ask a question regarding a surgery question and the person i speak to is very interested in me and that i live in New Orleans and asked me about life after Hurricane Katrina. Well after 2 hours talking he said i really needed to put it all down on paper because i had a "real" story one that was "The real deal. The stuff the rest of us didn't see on CNN."
so we exchanged emails and after many talks on the cyber world lines he says that he graduates college english with a minor in creative writing and he said to me was "What
you need though is a little professional refinement, so to speak, someone you feel you can trust, a trained writer to help you convey it, in a way that makes it
almost impossible for the reader to put down."
so i sent him my very rough draft and we are in middle of editing.
so you see! i found an friend and help to edit and polish my story.
then every time i speak to someone else about my story i get help. For example again while shopping online to get some craft supplies for my mother i meet bj who is a member here and she told me about this website where i can get help, ideas, suggestions and so on.
so you see! It is like someone or something is pushing/guiding me in the right direction to get this story on the way to being published, or as my friend says in a very eloquent way...."by sheer happenstance during an insurance phone call, purely by chance?" & "Freaky, yes, but also kinda beautiful, you know?"


thank you for any comments/suggestions

alexandra boza
MAY WE ALL CARRY WITH US
"HOPE", "STRENGHT", "COMPASSION", AND "COURAGE" NOW AND FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES!
Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

The belief that there's a larger purpose for your writing is very powerful indeed. It does sound like everything is coming together for you. Writing is an amazing journey, and sharing your story through a published book will open doors for you that you can't possibly predict.

Congratulations on getting this far and good luck to you as you take your story to the next step.
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
Frequent Contributor
Quack
Posts: 27
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

There's a theme here that I really like - writing shouldn't be mainly about financial profit. The chances of creating the next Harry Potter are worse than winning the lottery. You must enjoy the process. I do still wish you all luck with your works. There are some interesting ideas here with a lot of heart put into them that I would love to run across on a bookshelf at Barnes & Noble someday.
New User
Broos
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎07-09-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

An interesting thread here, a reminder that there are all kinds of stories and ways of telling them.

I'm in the middle of what I hope is the final major edit of my third novel, Peter Wicked. I have to finish it by the middle of September, because that's when the editor needs it. I love a deadline. I wouldn't get anything done without a deadline.

I've got to say, though, I wouldn't write if I didn't get paid for it. It's more fun not to get paid for playing music, and more relaxing not to get paid for sleeping in, for instance. :0)

Anyway, my daily goal is to get through one chapter, which in my case is usually 10 to 15 pages. If I get through at least one scene, though, I figure I'm okay at this point. The closer I get to deadline the more panicked I'll get, and the more panicked I get the faster I'll edit. Works better than coffee and doesn't make my eyeballs jiggle. Doesn't taste as good though.
Contributor
Gypsy
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎06-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

My first book is done. Essentially, it's a "chick book" which borrows heavily from the stories my mother told me about growing up in rural New England and later her life in the army during World War II. However, now that I'm done, I've been tempted to write the stories she and my dad told me about the war. I haven't been especially diligent - OK, I'm not diligent at all! Still, I've already lost my dad and mom's very old and her stories are starting to change a bit. I suppose my main problem is feeling that I should have some sort of framework before I even begin.
Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

Gypsy,

Don't overthink it--my advice to you is to just start capturing those stories, even if they are changing a bit. My own mother passed away several years ago, and I so regret that I didn't record her stories and memories.

The framework will come later (or it won't--but at least you'll have those memories which you and your relatives will surely treasure.)
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
Frequent Contributor
skipster56
Posts: 65
Registered: ‎07-23-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First, Finish your Book

As a published author I find my best times at my local coffee shop that has wireless internet service which allows me to do on-line research needed. The music also adds to my ability to think. I keep a notebook with me at all times to keep the "Outline" near and to jot down any new ideas. I write about adventurous, suspense romance and like to find romance in any topic I write about. My current novel, I am working on, is an urban legend story of a woman that dropped her baby over a bridge then feeling remorse, jumped in to save her, resulting in both drowning. As it is an urban legend of a ghost I connected the love of the mother and daughter for the axe of the story. I set my deadlines to correlate with events happening. The release party for this novel, when completed, will be on a Halloween night at midnight. My newest novel, Dangerous Love, 2010 A.D. will be released very soon. My local B&N store is hosting a Release Party for the novel and I am setting the release around the first week of September, re: 911. The story is of a love between a suspected terrorist and a young beautiful woman working for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. One of my favorite quotes is by Stephen King. "You need to read, to write."
View the new web page for Dangerous Love at www.skipstover.com