A Novel Way to Write a Novel

I’m an expert at writing a middle grade novel when not having a clue if I was going about it the correct way. Now that I am beginning my second manuscript I feel more comfortable with the process. What I have learned is to go with what works for me. I have no idea if other aspiring authors use similar approaches but here is my 8-step program for writing a novel:

  1. Write a storyline. ________ is the story of_________ who wants to _______ but can’t because ________. Fairly basic but it helps to have this in black and white before doing anything else.
  2. Who are the characters and how will they change? I try and get each character in my head and write down the important events that will take place for each.
  3. Write the specific plot points. In my first effort I had three with the first appearing on page 15 in a 170-page manuscript. The next one on p. 54 and the final on p. 115. Each of these plot points moved my character in a different direction but still focused on his original goal.
  4. Write the first and last chapter. I find it important to write a solid beginning and ending chapter. It gives me direction for the interior of the story.
  5. Divide up the writing task into four unequal parts. The first three all culminate with a plot point and the final takes me to the end of the book. This step consumes my thinking as I write scenes and then wake up the next day thinking of a better way.
  6. Re-write. Each part is now read and read again, sometimes out loud. I look to balance the amount of dialog with description. I tend to get carried away with the dialog at times and this helps me focus. It also helps to look at the pages in Word’s reduced display format of 50-75% or print them out and lay them in front of you.
  7. Get critiques from people you know and don’t know. Rewrite based on their comments, then get more critiques.
  8. Let the final product sit for as long as possible. I haven’t been able to hold out longer than 15 days. I was amazed how new the words seemed to be. It was a huge help in being subjective in the evaluation of my own writing that led to more revisions.

How long did all of this take? Two years but I feel confident this next round will find a shorter time period.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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