Want to write a novel? If you do, please realize that you can do it YOUR way. There’s no “right” way to write a novel.
Do what works for you. As long as you’re writing, it’s going great. Every novel you write is different, and you’re different with each novel. Everything you write teaches you something. When you’re just starting out, you see one way to write something. As you gain experience, you see more ways to write.
I enjoyed Max Barry’s Fifteen Ways to Write a Novel, in which he says:
If there were a single method of writing great books, we’d all be doing it.
There’s no single, best way. Do what you intuitively feel is right for you. If you’re stuck on your novel, write a short story.
I ghostwrite fiction for clients, as well as writing my own fiction, and usually have one book I’m drafting, while I revise a couple of others — four others, at the moment.
My current way of writing a novel
I spend a couple of hours each day writing rough draft material, either at the beginning of the day, or in the late evening. My sole aim is to get words on paper. I use the super-easy outlining method.
My first drafts are always a discovery process. Everything goes right into the draft: character journals, notes to myself, ideas about character arcs.
I try to write straight through from the beginning to the end of the book. However, if the plot shifts in a major way, I’ll delete scenes and chapters, and write new scenes and chapters.
For example, one novel I’m revising, working title, Wilderness, started out as a paranormal, with time-travel elements. I was a quarter into the first draft, when I decided to eliminate all the paranormal material, and turn it into the first book in a contemporary series.
That was a major switch, but it worked out well. I deleted some scenes, wrote several new scenes, reworked the beginning, and carried on with the draft.
(A tip of the hat to Scrivener, which makes it easy for you to switch things around, as many times as you like.)
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Updated: November 1, 2016
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