Monday, January 7, 2013

90-Day Novel Project Update 1

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          For this blog, I decided I would only write posts about books that I found helpful or inspirational. I had to make an exception in this case because I am comparing two books for the 90-Day Novel Project.

          It's Day 6 of the 90-Day Novel project. I have followed the schedules and exercises in both Alan Watt's The 90-Day Novel and Sarah Domet's 90 Days to
Your Novel--and they could not be more at odds.

          The first, and most important, difference is the tone in each book. Bestselling author of the novel Diamond Dogs, Alan Watt's tone is professional and supportive. His readers are colleagues. Each day's first page begins with Hi Writers. He always uses "we" and "our" as he discusses and shares his thoughts and ideas with fellow writers.

          Watt also allows for his readers to have different writing processes and to be at different stages in their growth as well as in their novels. He brilliantly addresses some trouble writers may have come across in the past along with solutions that include the importance of creativity on pages 4 & 5 and the role of the subconscious on pages 8 & 9.

          In the Preparation section (pp. 16-18), Watt discusses that characters need dilemmas, not problems. Problems can be solved. Dilemmas take transformation. Right then my whole relationship with my characters and novel shifted, became deeper and infinitely more interesting. I was excited and inspired to get back to my novel.

          Watt expects his fellow writers have stories to tell and characters in mind. His exercises for each day consist of open-ended questions about their heroes and other characters. In the 10-20 minutes I spent answering these questions each day, I have learned some surprising things about my characters' backgrounds, goals, and motivations. I also learned a great deal about my novel as a whole while answering the structure questions on Day 4.

          I can always tell that a book is inspiring and motivating to me when I flip through it and see many underlined sentences, marked passages, and comments in the margins. More than half the pages I have read so far have "spoken" to me.

          On the other hand, Sarah Domet's book with rigid thoughts and exercises might be appealing to beginning writers, but I think she turns her entire audience off with her "Gotcha" comment on page 41, before Day 1 exercises even started.

          In her book, we are not all writers in this project together. Instead, she writes as though she has all the answers and the readers are merely students. She does not give her readers credit for having much writing experience or different processes. I found this book uninspiring so I will not be following it any longer.

          I will update my 90-Day Novel Project again on Monday, February 4.

How are your novels coming along?

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