How I Write a Novel

1) carefully outline a plot from beginning to end, with thoroughly drawn-out characters, relationships, conflicts, and outcomes.
2) create chapter summaries from the outline and check them carefully for errors in logic, consistency, etc.
3) using the chapter summaries, start writing the actual text
4) discover to my horror almost immediately mammoth problems exist in all of my careful planning: characters wouldn’t/couldn’t do this, storyline points I thought would flow seamlessly with the overall themes instead run into lonely cul-de-sacs, planned actions can’t by any stretch of the imagination physically occur in the geometric spaces I’d (not) diligently mapped out, events that I breezily templated as commonsensical are encumbered with a galaxy of ridiculous qualities each requiring several more chapters of backstory to even remotely make sense, etc.
5) develop writer’s block and insomnia
6) begin wasting my precious writing time reading Wikipedia pages on the stars of moronic sitcoms from the sixties
7) start writing in the chapters anyway in bursts of unconstrained prose, without bothering with spelling, grammar, or rational order.
8 decide the writing life is not for me. Stare blankly out the train window. Or into the mirror, noting perpetual hangdog expression, thickening bags of skin under my eyes, scrofulous skin.
9) go back and read the sophomoric gibberish I extruded and start to tear out my hair but realize not enough hair is left to grasp onto.
10) spy a sentence that actually isn’t bad and also contains a nugget of information that turns on a light in my brain regarding the solution to one or more of the problems from step 4. Prune or rephrase all the gibberish and retain the sliver of good.
11) back on the horse, trudge forth, begin literally dreaming I’m a character in the book or I’m the director of the film version, which leads to more problem discoveries, solutions, and refinements.
12) repeat all the steps above, not necessarily in the same order. Until the f*&king novel is done.
13) literally die from anxiety when the book is exposed to the public.
14) vow never to write again
15) start writing a new book

4 thoughts on “How I Write a Novel

  1. I’m not such a tight planner as you seem to be. Before starting writing, I set up a plot-line, do some character development and research for my world building. Before starting a new chapter, I do this again. Nevertheless, on my last occasion I had the same experience as you had; plot-lines didn’t come together. Looked back into my planning and discovered I didn’t develop two subplots into the previous chapter. So it was back to the previous chapter (I usually write a book from chapter one to the end), revise, improve, self-edit, send to editor, revise again, etc…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the good chuckle! I go through all of these stages too… and it’s especially funny how steps 14 and 15 provide the best explanation for why we writers keep on doing the crazy things that we do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why have you been following my writing plan?

    Except for #6, which for me would be repeatedly watching and/or looking up info on old Star Trek episodes I’ve already seen a zillion times in the vague hopes that I will brainstorm new scifi plot and tech ideas…

    Liked by 1 person

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