Speaking of novel writing… (since Adrienne eloquently expressed on her blog the other day that “Jesus Christ, it’s just a friggin’ notebook”) I’ll tell you that I’ll write all my notes to my new novel in several Moleskine notebooks. I used to use nothing but generic composition books (hence the Being Good cover), but I switched to Moleskine last year and am completely hooked.
The story to the novel will be fleshed out in a larger plain Moleskine notebook. As you can see, I haven’t yet cracked the seal on the notebook I bought for this novel. Maybe that will be the big sign that I can write about in the blog: the peeling of the plastic wrap. Then you’ll know it’s underway.
I also keep smaller Moleskines on me all the time to jot down ideas. I transfer the notes in the small books to the main notebook every day. In the main notebook, I’ll also outline the entire flow of the novel and all the characters and whatnot. One of the biggest lessons I learned by doing it this way for Barry’s Cherries was that I could be okay not including a bunch of material. I didn’t make as many notes for Being Good. I started from an outline and had plenty of material for the story but not an excess. With Barry’s Cherries, I had enough that I was comfortable not using a lot. The novel became more about the story and less about witty observations or whatever.
Like I said, this may not interest you in the least, but I didn’t learn how to write a novel in college and I’d have loved to read the weblogs of authors to find out how you go about it. I had to figure out the mechanics of writing a novel for myself. And I had to figure out those mechanics as they related to the kind of novels I want to write. I don’t want to write intellectual tomes. I don’t want to write epics. I want to write contemporary commercial fiction but I want a bit of a rough edge to my work. I want spontaneity within the structure.
So once I have the whole story fleshed out in an outline of three acts (how predictable) and plenty of notes on things that will happen along the way and snippets of dialogue, et cetera, I’ll just start writing. That’s how I keep the spontaneity. I’ll refer to the notes I’ve taken but more often, simply writing the notes down keeps them in my memory and they come out in one way or another as I write.