My Steps to Writing a Novel

I read a lot about writing the first novel and learned even more by writing one. However, I  would never say I am an expert. What I found out during the whole process was priceless. I discovered that I needed an outline to give me a guide to follow as I wrote the book. I also found that I needed a list of characters with their description. I then decided I needed a timeline so that I could keep things happening in sequence. I also learned that to complete a first draft I needed to write. I learned this lesson by participating in the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. I honestly don’t think I could have written the novel without the structure this provided.

I have written a lot of non-fiction work and never planned to write a novel. I subscribe to organizations that discuss all types of writing, and that is where I learned about NaNoWriMo. The first time participated I jumped right in. I didn’t have an outline or list of characters to help. Unfortunately, I was only able to write 8,000 words.

I waited for a couple of years before trying again. During that time, I also read several books about writing novels. In 2014, I tried again. This time, I had an outline and a list of characters with descriptions. When the competition came along, I tried writing and correcting the text as I went along. I recognized that I would never finish if I kept doing both. I decided just to write and leave the editing for later.

As I began to write, I stayed on course with the outline. I had to add several more minor characters to my list as I went along. Before the 30 day period, I had written over 50,000 words. I was proud of myself. I sat the book aside for several months before I went back to edit. Leaving the book alone was hard to do. I thought if I left it alone too long I would lose my initiative. What I lost was the memory of exactly how the book read.

When I started to edit, I was surprised at what I had written. I even found that one-third of the way through the book I had changed the main character from a man to a woman. Of course, this meant that I had to rewrite the first third of the book all over again. It was worth it. The new character was better than the first.

I edited the book twice before sending it to a professional. The editor reviewed it twice too. The second time after I made the revisions she suggested. After that, I read the book twice more making further edits. However, none of that would have been possible if I had not written the first draft. If I had kept writing and editing, I probably would never have finished.

These probably aren’t the steps you would take, but they worked well for me. The only piece of advice I feel qualified to share is to write, write, and write. The rest will come later, even if you don’t believe it will.

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning currently writes biweekly on his blog His published works include the peer-reviewed book Basic Safety Administration-A Handbook for the New Safety Specialist. Fred also authored two editions of the peer-reviewed chapter Safety Training and Documentation Principles that was published in the bestselling Safety Professional Handbook and the Safety Professional Handbook Management Applications. He coauthored the peer-reviewed chapter Safety Training with Christine Fiori, Ph.D., PE, published in the bestselling Construction Safety Management and Engineering, second edition edited by Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP. Fred also has several self-published books. He has a series called Fred’s Safety Shorts. This is a collection of twelve books on topics related to safety published with Kindle Direct Publishing. Fred self-published another six books using both CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and Kindle Direct Publishing. He has authored fifty-eight articles in various publications on the topics of safety and health and project management. Fred has earned several writing awards for his non-fiction work. Fred has two novels A Walk Among the Dead and Mystery at Devil’s Elbow.
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