How Not to Write a Novel in Four Easy Steps.

Posted on Posted in The Writing Life


Over the past few months, and particularly with my last novel I have picked up a few learning points about my writing process.

Here are a few things I am trying to avoid this time around in the vain hope that I shall not be facing depressing revisions on the finished manuscript I submit.

So here goes – how NOT to write a novel in 4 easy stages:

1.  Do not allow enough Pre-Writing time  so that all of the story development and snatches of dialogue and partial scenes etc has to be done on a manuscript which is too close to the deadline – so you end up with notes to yourself scattered all over the place on digital sticky notes and a mess in progress which you can hardly bear to look at because it is so horrid.

And the characters will not talk to you because you are a mess.

I know, I know. You get really excited about an idea and start writing WITHOUT the necessary amount of time staring out of the window and nailing down all the different elements of the idea – so that what you do write is only half formed.

Yes, I am talking about vampire text here. Text which has to be staked through the heart before it can go out into the daylight.  So hard when it is so cute. Sniff.

2. Do not allow yourself enough time to write a discovery dirty draft of the whole book based on your development notes – a draft where the characters TELL you what they truly want – which could be very different from what you thought they wanted and needed when you started writing their journey. This means that you have to go back to the start and rework everything  – but you are out of time.

3.  Do not be brave enough to go back in and hack the dirty messy draft  manuscript to pieces and cut out your favourite scenes – you know you should because you know the characters better now and understand their motivations – but Revision is SO hard and required rock solid professional discipline. And then do not write better scenes because you are exhausted and are working silly hours of wasted time because of the deadline.

4. You then submit your manuscript to the editor when you know, deep inside, that you  could have used another week to sort out the hero’s backstory – and whatever happened to the conflict in the middle chapters?

And then, finally you can sit back and wait for the  four pages of revisions.

Deep joy. [Glazed Smile.]

2 thoughts on “How Not to Write a Novel in Four Easy Steps.

  1. Thanks Lacey. I speak from experience – but I think we are all guilty at some time or other. As for the cat pics – did I mention my small problem with procrastination?
    LOL – happy days.

  2. Fab post Nina! I’ve committed number 3. Albeit unknowingly, but I still did it. If only I could have a “do over” of that submission… :) I love the cat pictures. They crack me up every time!

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