Daily Archives: June 23, 2010

how to write a novel

herein i shall reveal how one is to go about writing a novel.

1) pick a point of tension in an imagined narrative you wish to write that is strong enough to maintain a plot.

2) journal around with the idea until one is comfortable continuing forward with it, playing with different ideas and character sketches.

3) create an outline, preferably in a spreadsheet where one can simultaneously keep notes and scribblings extending off into the aether of the outline.

4) put the outline away and ignore it completely unless you get stuck.

5) compose the novel.

6) don’t give up.

7) check your outline if you get stuck.

8) don’t give up.

9) are you almost halfway?

10) stop halfway, and take a break. take a week or two off to read and catch up with your friends and family.

11) get back to work.

12) are you done?

13) stop 1/4 to the end to take a break. take a week or two off to read and catch up with your friends and family.

14) It’s getting really hard now – I know.

15) you’re never done.

16) you’ll never be finished.

17) you will spend the rest of your life with this book hanging over you like an albatross.

18) there is nothing you can do to make this novel what you want it to be.

19) Give up.

20) blame yourself.

21) drink too much.

22) get in a fight with someone you love.

23) wander bookstores and marvel at all the novels that are better than yours that people should read.

24) try again.

25) fail again.

26) write a short story to get your confidence back.

27) stare at duotrope’s daycounter with perilous dread.

28) try again.

29) give up when the rejection comes in for that short story.

30) try again.

31) again.

32) accept that the novel is only as good as the novel that is in front of you, and it will never be anna karenina, never be 100 years of solitude, never be everything you wanted.

33) send it out.

I’ve been jammed at step 4 for a bit on something, time constraints being what they are for graduate students with full-time jobs. But, it’s time to do this again. It hurts, and it’s hard, and it’s grueling, but it’s time.

The signal around here might cool off a while. Expect no regular updates while I’m working on my thing.

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