I am writing today to say thank you. The Better Novel Project has grown a lot in readership over the last few months, so I just wanted to touch base, answer some questions, and give you all a few updates. And mostly, I wanted to thank you for following along, for encouraging me when I feel scared of writing, and for joining in an exchange of ideas, from debating the traits of villains to the importance of feminism in YA. Thanks for inspiring me to “stay the course” on this journey!
Welcome new readers
I feel very fortunate that the Better Novel Project has gained so many new followers recently. In case you’re one of them, here are the most frequently asked questions about the project.
1. What is your project all about?
I always wanted to write a novel but felt intimidated– by the length, the complexities, and my own self-doubt. I figured the best way for me to overcome these hurdles was to break the story down into bite-sized pieces. But what are those bite-sized pieces? With that question the project was born: my mission is to deconstruct popular novels, find their common elements, and then apply my own story over that structure. I find a lot of guidance from the mythical hero’s journey.
2. Why do you always refer to Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight?
I am most drawn to writing a young adult adventure story with a science fiction twist– I like to say that that’s the genre that chose me. So I set out to deconstruct the most popular stories in that genre: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight fit the bill! You’d be surprised how structurally similar these books are when you look closely enough.
3. What’s with the index cards at the end of the posts?
The index cards represent the common element that is shared by the three example novels, whether it be a scene, character type, setting, symbol, or theme. When I discover a new “bite-sized” piece, I write it up on an index card and then place it in the Master Outline. The outline is like a roadmap of bestselling story elements, and I’m pretty proud of how it’s turning out so far.
4. Won’t all this outlining stifle your creativity?
Don’t worry! If there is ever a conflict between the outline and my gut, then my gut wins . . . hands down! The master outline is here for guidance, but it’s not an exact formula. Nothing can be substituted for good writing and imagination. (Think of it like a skeleton– there are so many ways to flesh it out! Too gross?)
5. Are you writing your novel as you create the outline?
Yes! As promised, my work-in-progress is a YA science fiction novel. It’s an adventure story involving three friends, biotechnology, and lots of clues left by 1950’s aerospace engineers. The photo here is from a novel-research-field-trip I took with my dad to the National Air & Space Museum.
6. Who draws the doodles? I do! If they make you smile, please share them (they are pinterest-friendly).
In other news…
7. Math is hard.
I recently posted an article on the top 10 ways to write about music. It was kindly pointed out to me that I misnumbered the list, and my top 10 list was only the top 9! Luckily, author Diego Ramos offered to post an example of how he uses music in his writing through simile and metaphor. Head over to the updated version of the music list which definitely has 10 things now. I quadruple-checked.
8. My favorite things.
I got the chance to guest post on 27goodthings.com, where writers, artists, and bloggers share their good things. I highlighted three of each of my most favorite things to read (The War of Art!), watch (Hugo!), and geek out on. (Kikkerland Kraft Notes!)
9. Camp NaNoWriMo begins today!
Finally, I took the plunge and signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, an April version of National Novel Writing Month. My goal of 30,000 words seemed reasonable when the camp was a month away and now I’m getting a little nervous. If you have any NaNoWriMo experience, your tips would be much appreciated!
Thanks again for supporting the Better Novel Project. I hope you stick around. Best of luck with your writing!
P.S. Have a blog post of your own that you are especially proud of? Share it below, or shoot me a quick comment with how your writing is going. I’d love to hear from you!