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Question
My fantasy novel

I have been 'trying' to write my novel since January 2003. While my first idea wasn't good, I tend to get writers block and stop for months at a time, then I will start again, but I end up changing the story completely and having to start all over again.

I need help with that, as well as a better way to write my novel. Planning ahead, characters, plot, etc... I usually would write my novel as the ideas came to me, chapters at a time, with no pre story or ideas ready. How exactly would I structure it.  

Answer
Hello Rob,
Have you ever considered joining a writer's group? The only reason I ask is because when I first decided I wanted to write a full length novel, I had trouble keeping with it. I would constantly change the storylines, come up with better ideas and go back and make what I've already written fit with those new ideas. It took me ages finishing individual chapters. But when I joined a writer's group, they helped me with everything. They helped me to focus on one particular idea, gave me tips on planning stories, while learning a whole heap of other things about writing along the way. But what was better was that they were support.

In my opinion, I think your main problem is coming from the writer's block you seem to suffer quite often. The only thing that helps with writer's block is pressure. Push yourself to write. Set a time everyday for you to be able to write. The time you choose should be where you can write at that time tomorrow, and the next day and the next. Even if you aren't writing your story, and even if you're not in the mood to write, write anyways. Eventually, what will happen is when you sit down at that time, your brain will click that it's writing time. It will learn that during this time, the creative side needs to take over, and it will. At first, it is difficult to get into the habit. But no matter what, you have to write everyday, even if it's just for 10 minutes.
Writing is the only way to get better at writing. You can do all these courses, but they will tell you the same thing. Write, write, write.
Another way to help with writer's block is to write down a list with 5 reasons why you do write (including what your goal is) and 5 reasons that stop you from writing. Keep the list somewhere you can see it. And everytime you sit down and write, read the 5 reasons you write and it will encourage you to achieve a finished goal. And when you realise you are doing one of the 5 reasons that stop you from writing, hit your self across the hand and start again. This will help motivate you.
As for structuring, all writers are different. Some need to plan each chapter before writing, while some, just write. Some even write the end first and go back to the beginning, drift to the middle, then the start and so on, jumping chapters.
What you need to do is find your writing style and stick with what you're comfortable with. If you want to plan your chapters, do that. If it works out, great. If not, try just writing and see what happens.
No matter how you write, you should have what is called a "writing companion" or plainly, "a notes book". This book, whenever a fresh idea comes to you, jot it down, but then, go back to your original plan, unless you can find a way to composit both ideas into one. Don't just shove the other one away.
Most beginner writers, I've learnt also have the same problem. They compare themselves with other writers. I'm not saying you are, but don't ever do this. Write as if no one is going to read what you write, but when you edit, edit as if the whole world is going to read it. A bit of writing wisdom for you.
I hope I helped. :)

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Kristal Maspara

Expertise

Struggling with writer's block? Need help with your writing? I can answer anything to do with writing fiction, whether you are a new writer, or have been published. I can help with ideas, motivation, techniques, and I can offer tips to help you improve.

Experience

I am currently writing novels of the historical romance genre, I am a manager of a writer's group and a member of 2 others. I have connections with published authors such as JoAnn Ross.

Organizations
Thomson Education Direct & Writing Groups Ass.

Publications
School magazines, local papers.

Education/Credentials
Finished courses in short story writing, and romance writing.

Awards and Honors
Publich speaking awards for Lion's Youth of the Year, Certificates for completion of writing courses.

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