How to Write a Novel in 30 Easy Steps

There are a lot of great websites/blogs available that tell writers how to get their work published (in very vague terms that don’t actually give specifics as to “how” to actually do it), and there are great sites that tell writers how to edit/review/critique their manuscripts. But very few sites help a writer with the essential process of writing a novel.

1) Pick a tense situation in a completely fictional world of your choosing that you think can sustain a viable plot.

2) Mule over that situation and meandering plot for months and months, creating, dismantling, and re-creating characters time and time again until you go insane.

3) Agonize over an outline, pouring yourself into every detail of your imaginary world until it oozes with your personality and presence.

4) Shove your outline in a drawer and completely forget which overstuffed drawer you put it in.

5) Compose the novel, completely ignoring your outline unless you get stuck.

6) Never give up.

7) If you absolutely get stuck, try to find the blasted outline you stuffed away.

8) Still don’t give up.

9) Keep writing…Anywhere near the halfway point yet?

10) If you are, take a break – realize that you still have family and friends and they might need a little attention from their writer family member/friend.

11) Don’t get distracted – go back to the novel; you’ve recharged, now it’s time to work again.

12) Don’t give up.

13) Are you finished with it yet?

14) Find the 3/4 mark of your novel and take a break – revisit your family and friends.

15) Get back to work.

16) Don’t give up yet. This is the hardest point; you’re so close to the end, you are exhausted, and you know how the danged thing ends (unless you write like I do and never look at your outline once you stuff it in a drawer), so why continue??

17) Don’t quit now…keep going.

18) Stuck? Review your outline but keep working.

19) Get frustrated with your story.

20) Scream, kick, and rant about how your story will never be done!

21) Stare at your computer monitor for hours on end, completely blocked.

22) Take several trips to the bookstore, staring at all the titles on the shelves that are obviously way better than yours will ever be.

23) Repeat Step #22 at the local library.

24) Fall into despair and drink too much.

25) Realize you’ll never be as good as other authors and think about chucking that manuscript in favor of one that IS actually as good.

26) Also realize that the manuscript sitting on your desktop, so close to being finished, is probably just as good a starting place as any other manuscript – plus, you’re drinking too much as this point to fathom starting a new MS.

27) Sit back down at the monitor.

28) Put the bottle away, and pull the outline back out.

29) Start writing again.

30) Don’t give up until you type the words (as pretentious as they might seem) “The End”.

And there you have it! The actual steps it takes to write a novel. Of course, some of these steps might vary a little from writer to writer (like if you don’t care to become a raging alcoholic and would rather substitute some other type of vice like playing the ponies, etc.), but this gives the aspiring and budding author a step-by-step guide to writing a novel.

In actually, there might be a few steps you could skip in this instruction guide. But, if you’re going to take any one step away from this article today, you should take this one – Don’t (or Never) give up.

~B.C. Brown

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