Writing A Novel At A Young Age

by Kimberly Stevenson
(United States )

Question: I'm only 13 years old, but I have always loved reading and writing. Recently I wrote a short prologue that seems to have blossomed into an idea for a book. A fictional book, or more than likely a trilogy or 3-part book. I have had 10-20 people who I knew read it, and tell me what they thought. I didn't tell them who wrote it, in order to get true opinions. I didn't have anyone give me a bad review, including someone who is also a first-time author, and is published. But I don't know where to start with writing it, or what kind of book I want it to be. Trilogy or 3-part book? I have 3 different stories that wrap into one big-picture idea, and for each story I have a different outline, somewhat of a skeleton. But for each, I have the same issue. I know the story line, and what I want to happen, even at the end of that 3rd part, but where to start? If I do end up writing it (I hope I do, everyone who's read any part of it wishes that I would so that they can read it) what chance do I have of getting it published as a very young, first time author, trying to write either a trilogy, or 3-part book? And how should I start it? Any ideas?

Answer: First, congratulations on making an excellent start.

Second, it doesn't matter too much where you start, but you should probably work on finishing one book or story first.

It's good to have ideas for other books. If you succeed in publishing one book, you may have the chance to publish the others, and all those ideas will be valuable then. And you may find that you need to take a break from time to time, perhaps by writing the odd short story or recording ideas for other books.

But nothing more can happen until you have at least one story finished.

As for publishing...

In traditional publishing, the odds are seldom in anyone's favour, regardless of age (unless they are already famous for something else). However, writing a great book certainly improves your chances.

You may be older than 13 by the time you finish writing your book, but even if you are still a teenager that's not necessarily a negative. If the book is great, your age could give the marketers an interesting angle (simply because teen authors are rare).

How much you want to be a writer matters as well. Do you want it enough to muster the self-discipline needed to put in many hours and months required to write 80,000 words, and to revise and polish your manuscript until it is the best you can make it? Can you doggedly put yourself through the process of querying agents and publishers, possibly getting dozens of rejections... and still have the fortitude to keep going?

You should also know that luck plays a big role. You may be lucky enough to find the right publisher at the right time with a book that plays into an emerging trend... or not.

Of course there are alternatives to traditional publishing, but self-publishing comes with its own set of challenges, foremost being your ability to market and sell your work to readers other than your friends and family.

Worst case scenario... if you really want to be a writer, start writing. Even if the story you have in mind now doesn't sell, keep writing. Most writers have to write several "practice" novels or dozens of short stories before they start selling their work. It's how they develop their skills. You can't learn how to be a great writer if you don't practice anymore than you could become a great pianist or gymnast without practice.

Sometimes people spend years writing something they feel will be their most awesome story ever, only to discover it was just a warm-up for the ten-times more awesome story that comes to them next. You can't predict these things. All you can do is write the story that wants to be written now, and see what happens.

Best of luck.

Comments for Writing A Novel At A Young Age

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Nov 13, 2013
Re: Writing A Novel At A Young Age
by: Todd Rogers

Allow me to second Gary's congratulations on your becoming interested in writing!

The love of writing starts early in some, later with others. Some are good, some are great, some should never lose their day jobs, but the lesson here is that writing is and always will be an ever evolving process.

I, too, started writing at an early age. Just about the age you are now, 13. I started with writing fan fiction based on TV shows I loved at the time until a few years had passed and I had my first real epiphany which gave birth to my first real original story idea.

It was set in the future in a world where prejudice didn't exist like it does here, and humankind was way more advanced with its technologies and knowledge of the universe than we are today.

I also did a trilogy where each part is a generation of the starting protagonist hero's family line, each with between 45-47 episodes or chapters if I really wanted to be bold enough to do it that way.

In total, when I got done fleshing out the characters, I had amassed over 200 unique chapter titles.

I wrote half way through the trilogy and then life and the military got in the way, and I let it go for a long time, but now, 27 years later, at 44, I am finding that I want to do more with the story and "update" it.

You are young. Your writing will evolve. The first story I ever wrote was a 28 page short story called "The Boy Who Found $900,000". If you wondered why not a cool $1,000,000 dollars, you'd be asking the same question many adults and friends that read that story would ask.

It was interesting to say the least.

One thing that Gary said about self publishing, I want to mention here.

If you want to be a big and famous author like JK Rowling, you go to an agent and seek to have your story professionally done, marketed, etc.

However, if you just want to get your amazing stories out there, self publishing is the best way to do it.

You can open an account once you're old enough (I think 18 is the youngest, you'll have to check) with Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform or you can do Apple's iBook platform.

Either way, there is nothing better than going through a list of new book titles and discovering something interesting worth reading.

Whichever way you decide to proceed, just be mindful that the finished manuscripts of JK Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone" was initially turned down by all the publishers she went to, and finally someone did publish her, and the rest is history.

Good luck!

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