Jan 16, 2014

How To Write a Novel in 10 Easy Steps*

I’m starting a new novel, hooray!

I thought it might be fun, and instructive, to document the whole process, from the very beginning, and share it here over the coming months.

It's a process that I've developed over the course of writing 4 novels (3 published), and many many many false starts. It's somewhere between detailed plotting and unfettered "pantsing," and it works well for me.

Of course it’s only one of a zillion ways to write a novel, and it won’t work for everyone. But maybe it will at least help you think through your own process, and find something that works for you. Feel free to use, copy, share, write.

I’ll be sharing info I've cribbed from lots of other sources, most of which I don’t even remember anymore, but definitely from these books:

Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway

All 3 of these books deal with story structure. A strong, tight structure is absolutely essential if you want to write a decent novel. In my opinion.

OK, so here we go!

Oops, not really. Sorry. Because before the writing comes the pre-writing.

I'm starting this new book with pre-writing, but nothing crazy. I don't create a 20-page outline, or detailed character sketches, or anything like that. A bit of pre-planning is good, though. It helps me avoid too many dead-ends as I write, plus it makes me feel like I'm getting down to business even before I start the actual writing. (And I get to justify my bouts of daydreaming/staring out the window.)

For this new book, I already know a few things:

1. It will be a novel for kids (about age 8 and up).
2. It will top out at around 40,000 words.**
3. I already have a rough idea for the plot and a couple of characters.

You'll see later why all of these things are important to know, starting with the next post:

Step One: Seat-of-the-Pants Outline

*The steps are easy. The writing isn't. Sorry!

**How do I know this? This will be my 5th novel. Novels 1-4 were all about this length, and so I’m pretty sure this one will be, too. Having a rough idea of the finished length helps me to sketch out my rough outline, before I ever start actually writing. The structure would be the same for a longer novel, though; just stretched out.

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