My 9 Steps to Writing a Novel

whitefacestepsWriting a book sounds like a good idea. However finishing it takes more time then one really puts thought into initially, I know I did. And sometimes you have to deal with inspiration to editing before you can find an audience that would be worth publishing for; other than yourself. My steps work for me, maybe for you, maybe not. At the end of the day we all have our own style and at times we find others that we can relate to. Good luck with your endeavors and finding a style and routine that fits you.

Step 1: Brainstorming

Out with the bad, in with the good. 

Forget the thought of good. Spending money on publishing should only go to something great and those ideas may take time. If you haven’t had the great idea yet then you find yourself stumbling over one thought to the next looking for the one that will blossom and change everything; How you think, how you feel, what you want…. When you get an idea just write it down, go with it. Keep going until what you have written matches with your gut.  Just keep writing that story out until you realize it is as bad as you thought it was. Then the next and the next and the next. Then one day that great idea will come and it will be obvious.

Step Two: Rough Draft 

Just write it!

Time for the rough draft. Stop thinking about it and just get it down on paper. Keep writing and when you get stuck back away. You aren’t always going to be able to write in spurts. Sometimes your writing will cause you to stall. Personally I write from the beginning to the end because I like traveling with the character.  I imagine it as a movie in my head. Sometimes, when I have a random amazing idea, like the way my first book started, I get a thought of a moment in the book and I write that out and save it for later till my characters finally get to it, then I insert it. Sometimes it is a small moment and sometimes it is the end of the story. The moment you recognize the great idea…you will know where to go from there.

Step Three: Dealing with Idle Hands

Don’t just walk away!

Oh how easy it is to give up when you feel the pressure, or the lack there of. No one said writing would be easy. It is real work to take a few pages and turn it into a book. It takes determination, focus, and passion on most days. Writers block isn’t easy and everyone is different. When I find myself not focused I set daily writing goals. For instance, I plan on my rough draft being at the minimum of 130,000 words (I will probably hack off a lot and then add some back on through the next rounds). I give myself a minimum goal of 1000 words a day. Divide that by 130,000 words and then go to the calendar and mark the day I will be finished. There may be many days with 1000 words and then other days when there are 5000 and more. With this minimum goal I can finish my book at a maximum of 4 in half months. If you are at a loss where you’re at to add the 1000 words then write a summary of your expectation for the next so many words or the rest of the chapter and move on to the next part of your book that is leading your interest.

Step Four: First Draft

Hack-Away

TIme for the first draft. This part is less gratifying than writing the rough draft, where it felt like a journey. This is the part where you question your original moments. You began to chop away the bad and pay attention to the grammar a little bit as you add in new ideas.

Step Five: Second Draft

So not done yet!

The second draft. You feel good about your story. Now you are paying attention to the grammar and hopefully you won’t doubt yourself and try to change things around again. You may be rereading your book several times because you will find yourself always catching something you missed.

Step Six: Show & Tell

Pass it to a friend.

Sometimes you are too close to the project and you need time to breathe and get a view from an outside perspective. Not only should you take the time to think about the story, and how it affects future stories if a series, you give it to a friend that won’t criticize too harshly, cause you need to keep your ego, but someone who will break it to you if it is a money waster. There are a lot of critical people out there who are more critical than your audience, beware. Those people usually aren’t the experts, perhaps they like to think of themselves as such since they don’t know another; unless your skin is thick they may say something harmful to your thoughts that others would disagree with.  Be careful about who says what is what, and therefore what you believe.

Step Seven: Final Draft

One last time.

Getting back your book from a friend or two you may find yourself with a new perspective or feel accomplished. Or perhaps you have thought of some more ideas. If so time for the final draft. Perhaps you will put in some new ideas, but overall you really look for stupid grammar mistakes once again and make any changes your friends and acquaintances have offered. If you are getting a professional editor then I suggest reading the book over and over until you feel you have found every grammar mistake you understand, so you can save on your money.

Step Eight: Professional Editing

Sigh

Turning your book to the editor, because you edited until you bled and your eyes teared up, you decide its time. You were critical and harsh and you gave it time to breathe. Time to give it to the editor and hopefully your eye caught enough errors to save on the editorial changes. For months it will be in someone else’s hands and you will read it two or more times after that to accept their critiques and give your final words to change anything you think is needed because after you approve that final text it becomes WAY more expensive to make changes between going back to the editor and reprinting.

Step Nine: Publishing

Breathe

The book has been approved by you and the editor. It is time to let it go. Concentrate on marketing, approving the layout, the final cover design, and meeting with all the right people to complete the steps for its time to meet the public. Good luck!

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