Had some questions about 1st Novel

Draven Vertigo

Aspiring writer.
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It's wonderful to see all the threads with folks at so many different stages and experience levels in writing! I've been working on my first novel for a long time now and sadly I'm not very far with it but it's stuck to my bones and thankfully I don't see giving up as an option. I had some basic questions about it and hope I'm posting this in the right place.

1. How often is it necessary at the minimum to describe what your characters look like? Like every scene they're in? Every other scene?

2. I have 3 POV characters right now. All are third person close and the Narrator can read their thoughts. Only one POV is featured in each chapter, and I sort of elude to who's chapter it's going to be in each chapter header and lead in with the Narrator. Is that ok?

3. Sometimes I suspect that my MC might be a Mary-sue or possibly adjacent to one but he does lose fairly often, question is I guess how do I know when or if he is or not?

4. How do I finish this thing when I only seem to have the energy, motivation and enthusiasm to write it when I'm stoned or drunk/buzzed? Like when I'm sober I 2nd guess and judge my work so harshly that I just don't write but it's like my child it's always on my mind and when it's not it's never gone for too long.

Guess that's all I can come up with for now. Thanks all.
 
It's wonderful to see all the threads with folks at so many different stages and experience levels in writing! I've been working on my first novel for a long time now and sadly I'm not very far with it but it's stuck to my bones and thankfully I don't see giving up as an option. I had some basic questions about it and hope I'm posting this in the right place.

1. How often is it necessary at the minimum to describe what your characters look like? Like every scene they're in? Every other scene?

Every scene would probably drive me mad. Do your characters change clothes a lot? Is there appearance pertinent in telling me something about their developing character, or is it vital for the plot? If these are all no or virtually no, then you probably don't need to worry too much about constant description.


2. I have 3 POV characters right now. All are third person close and the Narrator can read their thoughts. Only one POV is featured in each chapter, and I sort of elude to who's chapter it's going to be in each chapter header and lead in with the Narrator. Is that ok?

Sounds okay, lots of authors do this. A beta reader would tell you if there was any issues with this. So better to just not worry about it and just crack on.

3. Sometimes I suspect that my MC might be a Mary-sue or possibly adjacent to one but he does lose fairly often, question is I guess how do I know when or if he is or not?

Again a good beta reader would pick up on this. Fresh pair of eyes that hasn't been in your writing will probably help you. Sometimes you can't see the wood because of the trees.


4. How do I finish this thing when I only seem to have the energy, motivation and enthusiasm to write it when I'm stoned or drunk/buzzed? Like when I'm sober I 2nd guess and judge my work so harshly that I just don't write but it's like my child it's always on my mind and when it's not it's never gone for too long.

Wow, pretty hard core, I find such mental states very dampening of creativity.

Whatever works for you, I suppose.

When I write (sober...well usually with a big pulse of caffeine) I have two 'modes'. I have a "pioneer phase" where I have a blank piece of paper and therefore just gush out the story (I'm a plotter, so I always know roughly where its going.) I essentially throw the kitchen sink at it and get all the ideas I want in the section in. Then I do an "deep editing" phase where I go over the section and really think about polishing it up, making it more coherent, correcting problems. And usually shortening it!

Anyway, be consistent with whatever scheme you do, and you should get better at writing.
 
I wish I was only able to think of four questions when writing my first novel!

1. If people read like I do, they form a mental picture of a character from the first description, so when I write, unless there's a specific reason to describe them in detail again, I don't. (Note: I am always completely shocked by how different to my perception characters look in movie or TV book adaptations)

2. I do that, so it's perfectly fine. In fact, I usually go for a minimum 5 or 6 POV characters (26 is my record in a novel). I also often use the POV character's name as the chapter heading. I don't want readers wasting energy wondering who is 'speaking.'

3. Refer to comments by @Venusian Broon

4. If that's your method, that's your method and if it works, it works. I writer sober, although I sometimes think I must have been drunk when I read over what I've written.

It's great that stopping is not an option. Finishing your first novel is life-changing and while it doesn't get any easier - often the opposite - knowing that you have written an actual entire frickin' novel will make all that work worthwhile.

Good luck with it!
 
1. How often is it necessary at the minimum to describe what your characters look like? Like every scene they're in? Every other scene?
Once, when you first introduce them. Pick one or two details that the reader can build their own impression around. (Avoid having your POV characters looking in a mirror or a photograph to convey their appearance.)

2. I have 3 POV characters right now. All are third person close and the Narrator can read their thoughts. Only one POV is featured in each chapter, and I sort of elude to whose chapter it's going to be in each chapter header and lead in with the Narrator. Is that ok?
This is fine.

3. Sometimes I suspect that my MC might be a Mary-sue or possibly adjacent to one but he does lose fairly often, question is I guess how do I know when or if he is or not?
Does he lose because he has internal flaws, weaknesses, or blindspots that he hasn't overcome yet? You're safe, that's not a Mary Sue. Does he lose because other people ruined it for him (eg, a lucky villain or a clueless secondary character?) Might be a Mary Sue.

4. How do I finish this thing when I only seem to have the energy, motivation and enthusiasm to write it when I'm stoned or drunk/buzzed? Like when I'm sober I 2nd guess and judge my work so harshly that I just don't write but it's like my child it's always on my mind and when it's not it's never gone for too long.
This is a short article that has been immensely effective at helping me lock up my inner critic until much later in the writing process. Might help you too:
Madman, Carpenter, Architect, Judge

Bottom line, recognize that what you're writing right now is a rough draft never to see the light of day. Give yourself permission to write whatever you want, with the confidence that you'll fix it in later revisions. Writing is Rewriting.
 
1. It is never necessary to physically describe a character. You can describe them any number of ways. Your reader does not need a concrete visual description to enjoy reading about the character's actions.

2. Sure.

3. Don't worry about it. Mary Sue's are bad because they make the story awful to read. If the story is entertaining and doesn't make you want to roll your eyes, you're likely fine.

4. A lot of creative types, like musicians, use weed when writing. A lot of great writers were drunks. If that's what you need, then that's what you need.
 
1. How often is it necessary at the minimum to describe what your characters look like? Like every scene they're in? Every other scene?
At most, I will give a full-ish character description the first time the character is introduced. Even then, I keep the description minimal, one or two characteristics and sometimes none. I may repeat a characteristic later, but only if it is advancing something in the story.

2. I have 3 POV characters right now. All are third person close and the Narrator can read their thoughts. Only one POV is featured in each chapter, and I sort of elude to who's chapter it's going to be in each chapter header and lead in with the Narrator. Is that ok?
In third person close, I would expect that the narrator is the PoV. Any scene description should be done from the perspective of the PoV and not some outside voice. I do consistently open with a couple of sentences of scene description, but, as mentioned, I only describe what is visible or sensed by the PoV. I avoid any type of overhead, neutral aerial drone view. I try to name the PoV character in the first sentence of a new chapter or scene; I use only number chapters and do not expect a reader to view any chapter name as a necessary component of the story.

3. Sometimes I suspect that my MC might be a Mary-sue or possibly adjacent to one but he does lose fairly often, question is I guess how do I know when or if he is or not?
Try-fail cycles are a necessary technique to help build interest and tension. Each failure, though, needs to be advancing something in the plot, the character's knowledge, the character's skill set, or something. If not, the section becomes superfluous; it can be removed without having any effect on the story.

4. How do I finish this thing when I only seem to have the energy, motivation and enthusiasm to write it when I'm stoned or drunk/buzzed? Like when I'm sober I 2nd guess and judge my work so harshly that I just don't write but it's like my child it's always on my mind and when it's not it's never gone for too long.
As you posed this as a question, I assume that this is something that you view as a problem. It is perfectly fine to critique one's own work, but until the text is on the page, there is nothing to review, edit, or enhance. Anything that precludes one from committing to words on a page is simply procrastination. Change your writing routine to avoid any current triggers and allow yourself to write something and know it is okay to throw it away. The key is to get something written; only then can one improve it.
 
3. Sometimes I suspect that my MC might be a Mary-sue or possibly adjacent to one but he does lose fairly often, question is I guess how do I know when or if he is or not?
Today's Mary Sue was yesterday's ideal character. I'm against writing characters just because they are fashionable, and by corollary, not writing them just because they are currently unfashionable. I believe that if you draw from your own experience you will be creating a character with depth, which will draw readers in regardless of whether they are fashionable or not.
 
3. Sometimes I suspect that my MC might be a Mary-sue or possibly adjacent to one but he does lose fairly often, question is I guess how do I know when or if he is or not?
Today's Mary Sue was yesterday's ideal character. I'm against writing characters just because they are fashionable, and by corollary, not writing them just because they are currently unfashionable. I believe that if you draw from your own experience you will be creating a character with depth, which will draw readers in regardless of whether they are fashionable or not.
 

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