So you want to write a novel …

K. A. DaVur

I am lucky enough to own a publishing house.  Owning a publishing house enlightens one to an incredible fact hitherto unknown.  EVERYONE either wants to be a writer or knows someone who wants to be a writer.  Your waitress?  Yep. She has always wanted to be a writer.  Your Doctor?  She has a novel tucked away somewhere that’s almost done.  Your lawn man? His brother writes amazing works.  But, when you hand over your business card you get to hear, as the old saying goes, the rest of the story.

“Oh,” they say, “I’ve never actually written anything.”

Ah.  Well.

I know for some of these aspiring writers it is just a passing fancy. I cannot help them.  Writing – and if you are lucky enough to get published – marketing, improving, selling, signing – is not for the weak of heart.  But for others it is simply that they are intimidated by the prospect, or perhaps don’t know how to begin writing a larger piece.  For those, I would like to submit my simple, four-step plan to writing a novel.

1. Know where you are going.  Some people are “planners” and some are “pantsers” and I get that.  The simple fact is, though, that if you don’t have any idea where you are going it is too easy to get lost.  You will wander.  You will lose the thread. You will get bored.  So, you need to be able to state the genre of your novel. You need to be able to describe the plot and your main character in one concise sentence each.  You should be able to complete the following sentences, also concisely:  In the beginning _ .  In the middle _. At the end _ .

2. Work on only one project at a time.  Furthermore make that the same project.  Once you begin a novel, write that novel until it is complete.  If you get a new idea, make notes, then set it aside.  Otherwise, you will get caught in the rush of a new idea, work on it until the initial thrill is gone, and then abandon it for another new idea which you will later abandon for a yet newer idea.  Dance with the girl you came with.

3. Write every day.  You have time.  Yes, you do.  It doesn’t have to be great work, you just have to write.  500 words a day is less than one page on a computer and is only two pages front and back in a notebook.  It is little enough, can be done in spurts throughout the day, but if you do that 60 days in a row you have a decent sized children’s novel. Sixty more days and you have an adult tome.  Write every day.

4.  Finally, understand that only writing is writing.  Planning is not writing. Thinking about writing is not writing. Talking about writing is not writing. Reading is not writing. Revising is not writing. The only thing that is writing, is writing.


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