How to Write a Novel in Eight Steps

Step One:  The First Draft 
Have an idea.  Make an detailed outline, fly the by the seat of your pants, or do a combination of both.  Doesn't matter - just get it done.  Conduct five million Google searches.  Watch YouTube videos when words fail you.  Listen to music you can ignore.  Set a daily word requirement and consistently meet it until you've gotten the whole storyline down on digital paper.  Be proud of your accomplishment.  Think to yourself, "The hard part's over."

Step Two:  The Read Through
Read what you wrote.  Figure out that your dialogue bears no resemblance to the way that actual people talk.  Edit language and phrasing to make it sound more natural, clarify wording, simplify anything that's too complex or confusing.  Set a date for the book's release.  Create a cover.  Think to yourself, "I'm almost done.  The end's in sight."

Step Three:  The Alpha Read
Summon the courage to show your work to another human.  Identify a human with a knack for telling you the truth. Give you precious manuscript to that person.  Wait forever for them to read it.  Try to listen to their opinion objectively.  Hold your tongue when you want to fire something back because your feelings are hurt.  Live in denial a little while. Cry when you realize how much time and effort it will take to fix everything.  Pick up the shattered bits of your ego from the floor.  Think to yourself, "I can't do this."

Step Four:  The Rewrite
Rebound.   Have an epiphany about how to fix everything while driving 70 mph down the interstate.  Talk it all into your speech to text app while sitting in carpool.   Kill your darlings. Create a separate document to house them because you have trouble letting go.  Write new ones in their place.  Retrofit existing chapters to suit your changes.  Hold your sick kid and try not to think about how you should be writing.  Reread what you wrote. Have another go at the parts that still don't work.  Think to yourself, "This is where the real work begins."

Step Five:  The Beta Read
Identify at least two people who would be willing to read your work.  Use the internet to source them if you can't find them.  Read between the lines when the comments come back.  Twist.  Tweak. Add. Subtract.  Think to yourself, "It's almost there.  Almost.  Just keep going."

Step Six:  The Proofreading
Run "Spelling and Grammar Check".  Hit the "Ignore" button more times than you thought possible.  Find a grammar nazi with eagle eyes.  Give that person your manuscript.  Don't mind so much when it comes back bleeding with red marks.   Pour over every line.  Obsess over every word.  Think, "If I look at this any longer, my brain is going to bleed out of my ears."

Step Seven:  The Reflection
Put the damned thing away.  Work on the blurb. Work on the acknowledgements.  Work on the copyright page. Anything but read that book again. Pick it up when the thought of putting a match to it summons tears instead of joy.  Read it one last time.  Decide that it's good (or good enough).  Think, "I can't believe I did this."

Step Eight:  The Publication
Publish in any way you see fit.  Tell your family. Tell you friends.  Tell all of your social media. Tell them again.  Hope.  Pray.  Worry.  Promote.  Think, "Time to write another one."

Repeat until you've got a good excuse not to.


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