So You Want to Write a Novel
You’ve dreamed your entire life of writing a book. Finally, it’s time. The room is quiet, the bottle of red is empty, the moon’s magic electrifies your thoughts.
Your words flow with ease onto the blank page. The prose is brilliant, heartfelt, and amazingly perfect.
You wonder why others struggle to write. If only they had your talent.
Your type a single pitch letter, share it on Facebook. It goes viral.
The requests from agents to represent you flood your email account.
Publishers are wooing you. They are offering the best book cover designers, tours in top cities. The swear your book will have prime real estate in all the best bookstores.
Your story rockets to the top of the Amazon’s Best Seller list. The downloads for your book surpasses Adele 25.
Your picture is on the cover of Poets and Writers, People, and Time Magazine.
Your number of Twitter followers passes Adriana Grande’s. Jimmy Fallon is your bestie.
And then the dream dissolves. Your neck is stiff and the letters from the keyboard are imprinted on your cheek. You’ve fallen asleep in front of your computer again. Every night it’s the same, even if the only liquid to pass your lips is Green Tea. You wake up to a blank page with a jackhammer pounding inside of your head.
You finally ask yourself: how is it done?
There is not a precise answer on how to write a novel. This is more of a guideline I dug out of my archive for a friend who asked for advice.
How to Write A Novel
2 or more hearty characters, preferably one with a problem in need of solving (you can proceed with 1 character, but with two there is possibility)
Peppering of quirks
½ dozen, more or less, sub-plots
Multiple dashes of conflict
Heavy sprinkling of tension
Senses on the pages in equal parts:
Just enough narrative
Adequate setting – too much and your readers get bored, not enough and your readers get lost
Not required, but helpful:
1 good chair
Belief in self
Support of family and friends (note: some friends may abandon you during the writing of a novel because you’re “no fun anymore and all you ever do is write”)
One ream of paper or 2-dozen blank moleskins (or journals of preference)
Time (scheduled, measured, managed, and respected)
Daily word limit
A room of your own
Do you still want to write a novel? Really?
On a large blank canvas combine the essential ingredients, stir with equal parts vigor, passion, blood, sweat, and tears, in unquantifiable measurements. Note: The time required to complete is unique to the writer. The approach in which the writer mixes and stirs with vigor is unique to the writer. How the story unfolds on the page is unique to the writer. There is no class or how to book that auto-magically makes the words appear on the page. Only the writer sitting at his or her desk, hour after hour, day after day, until the story is complete, makes this happen. At the end of your journey, perhaps 100,000 words give or take, you’ll have a story as unique as you are, one only you could write.
Do you still want to write a novel? Really truly?
Once you have all the ingredients, mix and write. The baking process is arduous and goes something like this:
Shitty First Draft- you
First Edit – you (completed after the shitty first draft is finished)
Second Edit – you (completed after the first edit; this step consists of rereading your book aloud to your cat or the wall and tweaking as you read; note: may require two reads before next step.)
Third Edit – not you (hire a professional copy and or story editor; at a minimum, a copy editor is worth his or her weight if gold)
Fourth Edit – you (review and incorporate the suggested changes)
Fifth Edit – not you (back to the professional- really truly)
Still want to write a novel?
The above measurements are not exact and merely a suggestion based on personal experience, loss of friends, numerous bottles of wine, several blank canvases, a new chair, three computers and Mac, endless journals for notes, software, unnecessary funds spent on writing books with jacket descriptions which promised me a book in a month.