Common Questions Answered, Pt. 1: What to Write when a Novel is a Daunting Task

Common Questions Answered, Pt. 1: What to Write when a Novel is a Daunting Task

Today I will to start a new blog post series called Common Questions Answered. In this series I will answer common questions I receive that relate to writing. Where, then, should I start with this Common Questions Answered, Pt. 1?

Well, lately I’ve been asked, from different directions, where to start writing for someone who feels that a novel is a daunting task. This is a question specifically asked by novice writers who want to take their writing to the next level but feel like a 50,000+ word novel is an unachievable task.

I’ve also been asked to share my thoughts on how to afford an editor on a limited budget.

To me, these questions have an entwined answer, which I will provide you with now.


Where to Start with Your Writing

Don’t purposely overwhelm yourself with a task you feel will be unachievable. Don’t start with a novel just because you think that a novel format is the only format in which to write. You can write stories in shorter formats.

My advice, therefore, is to start small.

If you start small, you can always work your way up across time. That’s how most of us (if not all of us) begin our other careers (all kinds of different careers). We start at the bottom and work our way up (if we are of the ambitious kind).

This is true to life also. We learn how to walk before we can run.

This very same climb or learning curve can be applied to the story formats in which we writers write.

Start at the bottom with a shorter story, then work your way up to a longer format and at last a novel. In other words: start with short stories and work your way up to novellas and then novels.

If you love or need to write but feel like a 50.000+ word novel is a daunting task (or purely overwhelming) you can always start small.


The Benefits of Starting Small

There are a couple of advantages that follow with writing short stories:

  • A short story should roughly be between 2,000 and 7,500 words, which means that they don’t take very long to write.
  • Because they are short, you can write many at the same amount of time as it would take you to write a novel.
  • Because you can write many short stories at the same amount of time as one novel, you will learn a lot about the craft of writing — story structure, character creation, describing settings, etc.
  • You may come closer to finding your voice with every new short story you write.
  • Writing short stories also mean that you won’t spend months writing a story that you, in the end, realize isn’t good enough.


Short Stories and Editors

Writing short stories also have its advantages when it comes to hiring an editor on a limited budget:

  • A short story means less words than a full-length novel, which in turn means that your story will cost less to edit (most editors take a smaller fee per word in a manuscript).
  • You can hire an editor to edit several short stories for the same price as one novel.
  • If you realize your editor isn’t living up to your expectations, or that your working relationship isn’t working, you won’t have spent a smaller fortune on edits because your short story is cheaper to edit than a novel would have been. (Note: whether you’re writing a short story or novel, make sure that you click with the editor and that you respect each other before you hire him/her!)


There you have the answers. I hope they have brought you some help and clarity.

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Do you have any questions on writing that you want me to answer in another post?

Common Questions Answered, Pt. 1: What to Write when a Novel is a Daunting Task
Common Questions Answered, Pt. 1: What to Write when a Novel is a Daunting Task