Step 6: Write Your Novel

Write your novel, story or screenplay–scene by scene, chapter by chapter.

You have developed your characters, planned the plot, learned good writing techniques, like active verbs, scene structure, and more. You’re ready to dig in. Craft one scene, then the next, clear to the end. You can either create chapter breaks as you go, or you can put them in later. Do what works best for you. Find your method.

Turn off your editor! Let your creative mind take over. You will revise later, once you have a manuscript. There is no other way. Through writing, and later revising, you will hone your craft. Believe in yourself! I wanted to quit every time I read a passage I’d written, worthy of the trash can. But my passion for writing kept me going. When you first play the piano, you’ll hit sour notes. The more you practice, the better you will play–the better you will write. And before you know it, you’ll be proud of what you’re producing. I remember the first time I read something I’d written and it blew me away—I couldn’t believe I had written it. That was the moment I knew that I’d never turn back or hesitate again (and I still hit sour notes–that’s what editing is all about). So, jump in!

The hook: It is the first line of your novel or story. It is a line of writing so strong, it sucks the reader in or “hooks” them right away. I should provide a strong sense of story and/or character. It may come to you now or later. But examples follow:

John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars: “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

Langston Hughes from “Why, You Reckon?”: “Well, sir, I ain’t never been mixed up in nothin’ wrong before nor since, and I don’t intend to be again, but I was hongry that night.”

Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451: “It was a pleasure to burn.”

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick: “Call me, Ishmael.”

Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye: “Nuns go by as quiet as lust, and drunken men and sober eyes sing in the lobby of the Greek hotel.”

John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie: “When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.”

Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea: He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

Work on the hook later. Start writing the story. However, when you are ready to craft the hook, I have written a separate article titled “Great Beginnings” that breaks down several iconic sentence forms that are standards. (Links below)

Let’s Get to Work—It’s time! You’re ready. Now, write your novel.

  1. There is nothing more satisfying that writing the last sentence in your novel, tipping back in your chair and gushing, “I did it. I wrote a novel!” It doesn’t matter if it’s a mess. It’s a first draft. Get there–you’ll be glad you did.
  2. Set a pacing guide—a goal sheet—a work plan. Without it, you may dawdle. If you write a page a day, you have a novel in a year. I like to write 3 to 5 scenes at a seating, which can be a chapter. My goal is 10-12 pages a day (writing full-time). Figure out a comfortable pace for you. It might be 5-pages. Block your goals on a calendar. Then follow your plan. In this way, I knocked out the rough-draft of Evil Speaks, books #1 of the Warriors and Watchers Saga in 8 weeks. I spent another 4 weeks revising—but I’m jumping ahead.

Go to Great Beginnings or

Go to Step 7: Revise and Edit.

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