Mark Charan Newton, self-described “process whore,” shares with us his list of things he considers when he sits down to work on a new novel. Here are a few points I especially liked:
1. Have we been here before? I look at the bones of the novel and think – am I repeating myself? No. Is this a blatant rip-off of something else? No. We’re cool. Is this vaguely familiar to something else? Yes. Damn. Then what can I do to make things a little different at least? How can I put my spin on a particular trope? Crave something new, kids. Crave your own spin. Make your own mark on the world. Not radically that people think you should be locked away, but enough to make people stand up and take notice. It’s a fine line – I can’t help you with that bit. [....]
5. Are you about to move the story on? Are the words that you’re about to magically imagine onto the screen going to serve as developing the character or plot? All of them? Okay then. (Note: an editor will always slap more of this particular instinct into you.)
6. If your heart is not in it right now, walk away. Come back later. Do not sit down and write when you’re just feeling a little too tired or jaded. The words you put down will probably get taken out later, so why not just save yourself the time and kick back with a whisky instead. Get enthusiastic. If you’re not enjoying it, then why the hell should your readers? [....]
9. Who are you writing for? I fell into this trap with my first novel. Started wondering what kind of readers I should aim my novel at, what things to keep in mind, and the end result was a bit – if I’m honest, if I’m truly honest – hodgepodgey. Pick and end goal. Choose a vision. Stick to it until you’re done. Don’t start worrying about what traditional/contemporary readers might want to read.
– Personal Writing Checklist
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