How To Write a Novel

It’s on so many bucket lists that it’s become a cliche’ – still, writing your novel might be closer than you think.  With advanced small publishers like Mills River Press, a professional and competent novel might be closer than you think.  So how do you go about creating the perfect story without the dangers of “self publishing?”  (Writers everywhere just cringed.)

Here are some simple steps that will get you started.

  1. Become acquainted with Microsoft Office/Word.  It’s the industry standard for creating those PDF files that you’ll be submitting.  Get to know the program in and out.  When you start your work, remember that you want standard margins, double spacing and Times New Roman font.  Try to avoid the whole “I’m gonna make you look at my formatting” idea.  It’s your words that sell, not your presentation.  Oddly, bad presentation may kill your words.
  2. Proof every day.  I tend to write 1500 to 3000 good words each day…..and then I spend hours editing what I just wrote.  I have readers that go through my finished work and tell me if I am engaging them as a reader – I look for spelling and context errors.
  3. Put together a story line.  Look up “story-boarding.”  I am teaching a 2/3rd grade class how to write a children’s’ book right now by actually writing a children’s book.  They’re wonderfully talented.  Give yourself a general overview.  When I started Soul Thief, I knew that I wanted a paranormal romance about archangels, the divine and humanity.  I knew that I wanted a story with sword fights, with romance and with sex.  I used a “post it note” system to create a story line so that I knew where I was going with the dialogue.
  4. Create believable characters.  Interview your characters…yes, I mean talk to imaginary people.  People are a balance of good and bad, of ups and downs.  No one is really perfect.  Avoid the typecasting ideas of perfect pastors, bottom feeding lawyers, god like doctors, brave young widows.  Break the mold.  Those leading men need faults, those sexy women need a little imperfection.  I see little pieces of so many  characters in lots of people.  That is good because they have universal appeal.  Ask them questions, get to hear their voice, know who they are.  When you write, you will find that your characters take on their own life and make yours impossible if you’re trying to get them to act out of character.
  5. Develop a real story.  Why are you telling their story in the first place?  I want to be invested in your character.  In my newest off-Angellion novel, I am writing a semi-erotic thriller about a small town corner that is killed by a big time psychopath.  Why did he kill her? Why do we care? What about this small town makes it worth reading about? Invest yourself in creating human capital….and a non traditional story line that makes an impact on your readers.
  6. Write what you know.  Look out the eyes of your soul and weave a story through the world that you live in.

The most important thing that you can do is sit down and write like it’s a real deal.  If you delay or post excuses why you can’t write, you won’t.  This is an art – it takes practice.  No, most people don’t sit down with no experience and just write their first book – but we all started with short stories and newspapers articles, guest blogs and real effort to make that dream come true.

See you on the NYTimes bestsellers list!

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