How do I write a novel?

Sometimes, when I tell people that I’ve written a book, they get this “wonder struck” look on their face. (Not all people, mind you. But some.) They say how fantastic it is that I’ve finished a book, and how they’ve always wanted to write a book.

Then they ask me how I did it.

That’s such a complicated answer. There is so much involved in creating a novel that I don’t know where to start. I mean, there’s the plot, the characters, and the setting, but then there’s grammar, dialog, clarity, and pace; it isn’t something learned in a few short lessons for 9.95 – it’s a process.

But, in short, here’s how I started: I had an idea. I sat down at my computer. I wrote that idea down.

I started writing. I kept writing. I finished the story.

Simply said. Not simply done.

What I mean by “finishing” the story is that I sat down and wrote the rough draft from start to end. I revised. I started with the first chapter and worked my way through until I reached the end.

This is where that rule of writing comes in; I worked persistently to finish each revision. I wanted to be a writer, and if I didn’t do anything else with my life, I would finish that novel. And I did.

I know the intimidation of staring at the blank word document. Where do you even start to write a novel?

For me, I start simple: I write down what happens. It doesn’t have to be literary magic. It’s just what happens – “Harry lives with horrible family. Finds out he’s a wizard. Goes to wizard school. Saves day from Voldemort.”

Yup. Harry Potter 1 in a nutshell. Sure, a lot of other things happened, but a best seller isn’t written in one sitting. From the point of inspiration to the final product, there is a lot of work. There is a lot of time – from the first point of inspiration of Devil’s Blood to the final product took about ten years. Mind you, I was a sophomore in high school, and what I wrote was simple facts/scene seeds. A lot of that time was also devoted to trying to figure out how to write a book. I was in college, late teens/early twenties, and didn’t know lick about publishing.

I assume that most people that want to write start out in a similar boat. I think some of the best advice, that I didn’t understand at the time, was that being a good writer takes time, energy, a lot of determination, and guts. You’ve got to be ready to take feedback and better yourself and your writing craft. You’ve got to be willing to give a lot of free time to your novel.

If I ever write one of those writing books, the opening is going to be about slowing down and taking your time. The world’s not going to end if you don’t get your novel out tomorrow, or this time next year.

If you want to write a novel, take this first step: start, keep at it, and finish.

One thought on “How do I write a novel?

  1. I don’t know who said it, but the 10,000 hours of practical effort at a craft to master the skills, and then it’s just the beginning of a life-long process of refining that mastery …


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