Writing a Novel

novelWriting a novel is like running a marathon.marathon

The most important thing to remember about writing a novel is to finish it.  Only then will you know what the story’s about and where it begins.  Finish the novel, then go back and fix it up. Diana Gabaldon, NYTimes bestseller, says when she first decided to write a novel, she promised herself to finish it. And she did.

Write what you read.  Write the kind of book you can’t find on the library shelf.

Writing a novel is like driving across the country.  You could even do it at night.  You only have to see as far as the headlights.

Since novel writing is like driving across the country, you have to figure out what to do if things get boring in the prairies.  According to mystery writer man with gunLawrence Block you should bring in a man with a gun (an unexpected event). See the hero’s journey, Step 8 below

A novel is an organic entity, it grows as it goes.  Outline it if it helps you.  Use webbing. Use the simple, one page outline of the hero’s journey.below

Develop the dreadful alternative. In a romance, if Susie doesn’t find her true love, the free world will be destroyed. It has to be important that Susie finds Mr. Right.

Everything revolves around the protagonist. Side stories are okay, if they involve the hero or the antagonist.

Don’t kill off the antagonist until the end. Save the big confrontation between protagonist and antagonist for the end.

hero's journey

  1. Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where
  2. they receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE.
  3. They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but
  4. Are encouraged by a MENTOR to
  5. CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World, where
  6. they encounter TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES.
  7. They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossing a second threshold
  8. where they endure the ORDEAL
  9. They take possession of their REWARD and
  10. are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.
  11. They cross the third threshold, experience a RESSURECTION and are transformed by the experience.
  12.  They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World.

Images courtesy of:

  • novelpublicity.com  novel
  • marathonbf.com
  • 123rf.com  man with



8 responses to “Writing a Novel

  1. I totally agree with this post! This is so true.

    Right now, let’s say that I’m planning my route across the country or I’m putting headlights on 🙂

  2. Another timely post as I struggle towards the self-imposed finish line for the first draft of my latest mystery.
    A novel is truly a marathon event and it is easy to hit the wall as they say. Unlike a marathon there are no flag posts when writing a novel to make sure you stay on track. You can easily go off in the wrong direction and need to back track. Like a marathon where you keep your feet moving at all costs, you need to keep your pen moving across the page day after day when completing your tome.
    I write and I write knowing that at least a third of the work will be cut and lie on the floor of my office like discarded pieces of film in the editing room. I write and I write knowing that eighty percent of the remaining two-thirds will be reworked into something completely different from its first inscription
    I write and I write seeing the gaping holes in the subplot that need to be filled for the story to be truly complete. I write and I write creating new questions each day that need answers before I reach the finish line.
    But then you glimpse it over the horizon. One more mile and you’ll be there. The finish line. Over that line you forget all your struggles as you look at the ten centimeter high stack of papers–your vision complete. The pain of the birthing process is gone, forgotten by your massive kick of serotonin within your head and you’re off on your next quest, planning and training for your next marathon… your next novel.

    Why do we do it? Because in the moment of the journey, there is peace and tranquility where you play within your mind and forget about the realities of life… where you find the joy of putting your vision, your story hard onto paper for others to find and to enjoy.
    I am a marathon junkie it seems.

  3. Love your lines: Writing a novel is like driving across country. You only have to see as far as the headlights. I know many people say you must have the whole novel laid out in your head before you start, and although it’s true of genre novels, I think character based novels are different. It takes courage, though, to write this way, to get up in the morning NOT KNOWING what you are going to write. You have to trust that the material will come. Once again, Ed, a great blog.
    All the best for the season. May it be safe and peaceful for you.

  4. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

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