Friday Conversations with a Self-Publishing Writer 05/15/15


I LOVE this illustration because (in my odd ways of thinking) it gives me permission to TAKE the time necessary to create the best possible novel I can.  The photo may be hard to read on this blog—so I’ll repeat two of the dates here: The SEED of this tree—at its center—germinated in the year 550 (yes 550 A.D.). The same GIANT TREE was cut down in 1891.  Of course, I seriously doubt that any of us will take 1,341 years to finish a novel—however it can still feel that it takes that long.

It is said that author Helen Hooven Santmyer wrote her novel, “…And Ladies of the Club,” over a 50-year span of time! Her choice to tell the story(s) of fictional members of a small town women’s literary club set her up for this lengthy adventure as their lives. The actions and events within the cultural and political life of their community necessitated the evolution of time both real and imagined.

No Great Mischief: A Novel by Alistair MacLeod simmered and stewed and bubbled and boiled within him for thirteen years. MacLeod was a well-established short-fiction author before he began the pages of this book in 1986. Unlike most of us, because of his previous successes, he had developed a friendship with his publisher who quite literally nagged MacLeod until the day the manuscript was placed on his desk in 1999.

Two other best selling novels—taking several years to write—are ROOTS by Alex Haley and PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett.

Mr. Haley, who was also a Senior Editor for Readers Digest among his list of careers, utilized his own family history as the storyline of this famous novel. However, he didn’t skimp on research and the authenticity of his work reads well on the page and views well on the movie theatre screens.

Mr. Follett shares in interviews that, “…towards the end [of writing this novel] I was working Saturdays and Sundays because I thought I was never going to get it finished.”  It is also the book he’s most proud of because it vividly recreates the entire life of a village and the people (characters) who live there—including their environment and way of life.

If you haven’t already discerned my bottom-line-thought-for-the-day, it is this: Research the Details. Looking again at the tree-slice illustration I’ve used, you can see that the Tree gives up its story in the “plotline” actions and events that occurred during its growth.

  1. A catalyst event happened.
  2. A birth—representing many births—occurred.
  3.  A tragedy happened.
  4. A military battle brought victory and defeat.
  5. A king was crowned and laws developed.
  6. A new continent was discovered.
  7. More wars and battles were fought and treaties made.
  8. A new nation declared independence.
  9. Multiple discoveries using Electricity.
  10. More battles between men and beliefs of what is right and what is wrong.
  11. Concluding with The End of observations of the actions and event in that Time-Frame.

These elements will create an “epic tale” no matter the length of your novel. They also allow your own Tree-Slice to evolve, which is (I believe) an excellent method of plot development. BE ENCOURAGED, fellow-writers! The reading public is eagerly waiting for the novel only you can write, whether it takes a year—or three years—or ten—or fifty.

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

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