Bit by Bit by Bit: Fiction Writers, Please Lend an Opinion

My first two books, Private Hercules McGraw (Anaphora Literary Press, 2012) and The Journals of Lt. Kendall Everly (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), are books of poetry; yet, unlike most volumes of poetry, poem by poem, each book tells a clear, define story. So yes, I’m a poet, but I’m also a storyteller. Many of my blog posts are vignettes, blurbs that tell short, short stories. More often than not, these blurbs usher me to far away, magical places where knights swings swords, trolls drag knuckles, and dragons spit fire. Thrilled to visit these imaginary realms as often as I can, I’ve begun writing a novel.

I’ve discovered that writing a length story is far different that writing poetry er even short pieces of fiction. It takes more, in my opinion, dedication, more persistence, more endurance. Ironically, however, I still craft this world during short blasts of creativity. After I write a paragraph or two, I abandon my pen, recoup for a day or so, and then wield my pen again.

Fiction writers, is this a strange way to write a novel? How do you approach your stories, your pen, your empty page?


22 thoughts on “Bit by Bit by Bit: Fiction Writers, Please Lend an Opinion

  1. No, it is not a strange way to write a novel. There is no strange way — no right or wrong. That’s what I teach all of my creative writing students. I’ve written nine novels, and each of them was written at different paces and with different rhythms. One was prompted by a painting that I couldn’t get away from and was literally driven to sit down and begin describing. That description became the setting of a novel, and I didn’t stop writing until I had written for about an hour and a half. One began with a two-word writing exercise, and the story just unfolded before my eyes, so I wrote until I had two chapters done before I felt I had written myself out at that sitting. Others were written in vignettes that came to me piece-meal over a period of weeks/months.

    One — that I’m working on now — came to me in three different small sections. The first section was one rather long paragraph, and that’s all I had for about a month. Then each of the other sections — every one from a totally different part of the story — came separately. But I wrote each one out so that it’s ready to insert when it’s time comes. One new novel I’m working on currently gave me about a page and a half before I came to the end of my thoughts about it. That page and a half sat there for over a week before I added another half page. And about two weeks later, I finally got another page written. And it isn’t unusual to have about a third of a novel done and have the ending come so alive in my head that I have to write the end before I can go on and fill in the middle.

    So, no, your method is not strange. It’s just you. You’re the creator, and the creator of a thing is the ONLY ONE who can say how it needs to be done.


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  19. I like what Sandra said. The way you approach your writing is the best way to do it, chances are. As long as you don’t permanently abandon it (unless it really needs to be abandoned for something else). In other words, there’s no “right way to write.” When you get into personal preferences, I’ve done many different things: I’ve begun one novel during NaNoWriMo, then left it idle for a year or two and returned to it bit by bit, adding on more layers. But, as of yet, it’s still unfinished and unpublished. I self-published another work that started off as a short story then blossomed into a novella-length work over approximately 5 months. Again, for me, I’m at the point where I’m realizing that a certain predictability and regularity ARE good for me. I used to embrace the idea that “I’ll write when I want to write,” but now I believe that, as with other pursuits, it’s good to practice even when you don’t feel like doing it. So, I do try to write something daily . . . even loquacious comments like this. I suppose it just helps to not be too rigid in any writing approach, which tends to gum up the works. Anyway, I hope this comment helps, so long after the fact of your asking. It’s so interesting to see (American) Civil War poetry; World War I seems to be (or at least to have been) the darling with respect to subversive or unexplored poetry. In the end, I say, keep on writing!


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