What challenges did you face when writing your novel?

For More Deaths Than One, my first finished novel, the biggest challenge was learning how to write. Yikes. The original draft was laughably terrible. But I kept reading books on how to write, and I kept rewriting my novel, and eventually I got it right.

For A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my biggest challenge was finding the beginning of the story. I liked the story, and I kept telling myself that if people could just get through the first fifty pages they would like the story, too. Then one day it dawned on me that the solution of getting readers to see the story beyond the less than sparkling beginning was to get rid of the first fifty pages. So I junked those early chapters, wrote a new beginning, and then the real challenge began — getting it published. After two hundred rejections, I finally found a publisher, Second Wind Publishing, who loved the book.

For Daughter Am I, I had one great obstacle — me! The story came to me all in one day. Even the biggest story problem — why the gold was buried — was resolved that very night when I read a book about the war on gold. Still, even though I knew the story, it took me eleven months to write the first draft. Words come slowly to me. I’m not one who can sit down and just write what comes to mind. I have to dredge the words from somewhere deep inside.

For Light Bringer, my biggest challenge was figuring out who my not-quite-human characters were and where they came from. It was the first of my published novels to be started and the last to be finished. It took that long to discover the truth of the characters.

Here are some responses from others authors about the challenges they faced when writing their book. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with: Jeffrey Siger, Author of “Target: Tinos”

I always like to immerse my characters in what I see as significant looming issues, but  the book originally planned for a 2012 release was scooped by world events thereby requiring me to scrap it and write an entirely new one. That experience left me a bit gun shy about picking another issue to wrap my story line around. But as I’m sure happens to so many writers, when you relax and just let the keyboard pull you up, voila, magic happens.

From an interview with: Anne Lyken-Garner, Author of “Sunday’s Child”

The obvious challenge was exposing my life story. It’s not and will never be a comfortable thing to do. Once it’s out there, it can be perused by anyone and be open to mockery, disdain etc. People can judge you because they think they can analyse you now that they know so much about your life – even if they’ve never judged you in the past.

From an interview with: Sherrie Hansen, Author of Merry Go Round

The only struggle I seem to face with my writing these days is finding enough hours in the day to sit down and write. I own and operate a bed and breakfast and tea house and am a pastor’s wife. I maintain four houses. It’s a good, but very busy life, and when the day is done, I am often too exhausted to think.

From an interview with: T. C. Isbell, Author of “Southern Cross”

I’m a retired engineer. My first challenge was to learn how to not write like an engineer. My second challenge was to learn everything I missed while staring out the window during my high school English classes.

From an interview with: Linda Nance, Author of “Journey Home”

Life got in the way. When you are raising a family there are many things that make writing the book less of a priority. An almost fatal accident made existance difficult and the idea of finishing the book only a distant dream. I did not give up but when I had the story completed I could see it was still not finished. It needed more. It needed more than I could give.

I enrolled in a class at Arkansas State University and doors opened giving me a new enthusiasm I had never felt with the feeling that I could . . . I could do it. They taught me so much and they helped me to learn to learn. I have always believed that we should learn in everyday and all that we do. The class helped me to view things in more than one way and to use that in what I was working on.

So, what challenges did you face when writing your novel?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire http://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ and follow the instruction.)

7 Responses to “What challenges did you face when writing your novel?”

  1. Writing Jobs Says:

    That was an excellent post. Very nice writing style. Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoyed it very much

  2. Stephen Leslie France Says:

    The most challenging aspect of writing my first novel Fall from Grace was accepting the fact that five whole chapters – one protagonist’s entire story – could not fit with the book’s plot. After spending a third of the year contemplating it, in April 2008, I deleted approximately 30,000 words. Therefore, I would say the editing part of writing a novel is the most difficult.

    Aside from that, I enjoyed the entire process.

    http://stephen-leslie-france.blogspot.com/

  3. MBT Says:

    It took me four years to write my novel. With work and family, sometimes setting aside the time was hard. I’m always amazed when I find out that someone wrote a terrific novel in just a few months, (or less). I loved the process – especially when I had the opportunity to write for hours at a time and lose myself in the story. But, once my novel was completed, I settled back and took a look at this ‘thing’ that had turned into a tome – and realized that, at a whopping 146,000 words, it was bloated and uncomforable in its own skin, and needed to be trimmed back. A lot. Having to determine which pieces weren’t critical to the story was an arduous process, and learning how to remove myself emotionally from those parts, and let them go, didn’t come easily, either. So, I would say – finding the time, and editing are the most difficult. Everything else in between – joy!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’re right — sometimes having to trim scenes and words from a novel is difficult, but by cutting out everything that isn’t absolutely vital, the story will be better for it.

      • MBT Says:

        p.s. – I really enjoyed reading your piece on grief. It resonated with me on so many levels – from the clear, profound, and understandable sense of loss to the other feelings I didn’t expect and didn’t understand. Losing my brother in a car accident after losing my dad to cancer was what made me start writing my novel. I finished it (after four years) just after my sister died from complications of MS. My novel isn’t overtly about loss, but it is about change and learning when to hold on and when to let go. I’m still learning – still traveling that road of self discovery. I love your work, thank you for sharing it. : )

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          We all endure so much loss, it’s amazing we find the strength to continue the road to self-discovery, but somehow we do.

          Sometimes it seems as if everyone can churn out a novel in just a few months, but it takes me years. Best of luck with your novel.


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