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Lessons learned from one blogger’s 365-day novel writing challenge

Blogger Amanda Martin, who committed this year to blog a daily installment of her novel in progress, made it to day 50 yesterday and has logged more than 42,000 words. I’ve been following her posts and have noted interesting lessons and inspiration about the writing life and craft.

In her post yesterday, Martin wrote: “My main question is why people like the posts they do: is it because of the Claire installment or my daily diary/diatribe?”

Here’s my take…

For one thing, words add up. Even if you don’t have much time, you can write something, and that something will add up to a full manuscript eventually. Martin, her two children, and husband have all battled colds and flus during this time, but she continued to write.

I enjoy reading about Martin’s process, from researching to just persevering through the writing process while juggling two adorable children and life.

In “Two Hundred Steps Home,” (the working title of Martin’s novel), the protagonist Claire’s life revolves around Starbucks, stilettos, and her career as an Advertising Account Director. That is until her boss Carl decides to send her on a mission to visit every one of the 200 YHA hostel in England and Wales as part of a marketing campaign. More used to five-star spa resorts than ‘flea-infested hostels’ Claire only takes the assignment to save face. It becomes clear to her that the ‘mission’ is a ruse to make her resign.

As I’ve followed the posts, I asked myself what makes me look forward to finding out, “What happens next?” Here are a few elements of Martin’s evolving draft that struck me.

Story questions. Will Claire lose her job or will she have the last laugh? What happened with Michael, her ex-boyfriend? Why did they break up and will they get back together? Who is this elusive Josh and why is he trying to maintain such a low profile? And what will happen with her sister and her medical scare?

Character growth. Claire started out being a high-maintenance, advertising agency hot shot. Her journey to complete this work assignment is causing major discomfort and giving her opportunities to change, which a character must do to bring a story to a satisfying conclusion.

So after thinking about what Martin is doing, ask yourself if your novel presents readers with mystery. Is your protagonist on a path of conflict and growth?

Visit Martin’s writermummy blog to read the latest installment. If you’d like to read from the beginning, Martin has created a download of the first posts collected in one place. You can download it by clicking on the link in the right sidebar of her blog.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thank you so much for this! *Beams* It has really made me smile (on a tough day – see tomorrow’s post!) I’m so glad you’re enjoying Claire’s story and the story elements are coming through. My favourite part of writing a first draft is finding out what my characters will do next and how they will grow. Doing it so publically is hard because I have to watch for continuity errors, but in some ways that has made Claire’s journey more natural. Some days she slips into her new life with ease and some days it is harder: a bit like being a parent! 🙂

    February 20, 2013
  2. Just read today’s post and about to download the others. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    February 20, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Cantankerous Caterpillar: 2013 365 Challenge #52 « writermummy
  2. Author Amanda Martin discusses her Daily Blog Challenge | Write on the World

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