top of page

My Novel Writing Process: Write Your Own Novel in 5 Easy Steps

Every author's writing process is different, but I still think sharing it is important, especially for fledgling writers who know what they want to do (write a book!) but don't exactly know where to start.

This is my writing process that has seen me through the completion of over five manuscripts, and two publications! You can use it as is, or make adjustments that work for you, but the end result is always what should work best for you.

Plotting Stage

I'm a plotter, so if you're not, this isn't the phase for you. I think it's very important to flesh out a seven act story structure and at least some basic character information before writing.

I put all information relating to my WIP in its own book bible--which is essentially just a notebook filled with everything about your book. I try to flesh out as much as I can for the story before writing, but even I will admit that things will change, and that's okay.

For outlining, I tend to just write out scene for scene what happens in the book, using bullet points. When I finish, and have hit all the plot points needed, I'm able to separate these bullet points into individual scenes of my novel and use them to help my schedule my draft.

First Drafting Stage

I'm a full-time writer, which makes my job writing, which means I likely have way more time to write than you do. I tend to churn out a first draft in a few weeks to a month, using the bullet points to track my progress.

I typically do one scene a day, and it depends on the length of the book. If I come up with a self-imposed deadline, I might have to write more scenes in a day, or I might fall behind and have to play catch up.

I use this way of tracking completion of my novel over a word count because I know that I'm an underwriter. I also know that it is easier to finish my draft if I'm not stressing over how many words it is, just whether I told the story.

That's right folks: I do not worry about word count at all. Shatter Girl's first draft was maybe 30k words, and now finishes at 60k. One More Hour's first draft was 16k. The only goal for your first draft is to get it finished.

Read & Re-Outline Stage

This is the first time I read my novel. I do not read anything I write in the drafting stage, and this is essential to make sure I get to the finish line. Going back and reading means I'm spending more time editing and fretting over what I already wrote and less time finishing the story. This is a desperate cycle I refuse to take part in.

I love the feeling of going into a Staples to pick up a printed, spiral bound version of my book. It makes me feel a little official, and I get to read it and mark it as needed, making notes in the margins about what works and what doesn't, what I would change.

I go back to the outline after. This is where a lot more story, character depth, and plot gets added in that I missed the first go around. My second draft might double or triple the length of the manuscript because I have a more stable connection with my characters after writing them for the first time.

Second Drafting Stage

Sometimes this means I'm just editing whatever I wrote, adding in more detail, inner dialogue, and description. My writing in my first draft is generally very plain, straightforward, and to the point, with minimal extras and flowery language added. A lot of the second draft involves adding more depth to the writing, as well as adding in those extra scenes, arcs, and moments that didn't make it into the outline the first time.

Beta & Developmental Stage

Sometimes, manuscripts might need over two drafting stages in order to make it to this stage, so don't fret if you feel like your second draft isn't ready to be read yet. Once I feel as if the manuscript is good enough, I open it to beta readers and my developmental editor.

A developmental editor is a must for any author, and cannot be skimped out on. This is when someone looks at your work with a fresh set of eyes and gives you comprehensive advice on plot, characters, pacing, structure, and more. I offer developmental editing services if you are in need of an editor.

Betas are also fresh eyes, though they are more unreliable in actually finishing the manuscript. I've had a lot of betas fall off midway through, and it's understandable considering readers typically do this unpaid, because they love your or your work. Implementing goodies such as bookish merch will help guarantee more of your betas read through. They also provide excellent advice from a reader perspective, while your editor will look at it more professionally.

Third Drafting Stage

The third drafting stage shouldn't require any major rewrites, and mostly doesn't. This is where you apply the constructive feedback from your betas and editor into your manuscript. For some, this could absolutely mean major rewrites. But mostly the hard work is done.

Copy Editing Stage

Otherwise known as line edits, a copy editor goes through your manuscript focusing on grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax. As an editor myself, I do not pay another for this service since I can do it on my own, but if you're someone who is not excellent at writing English in the Chicago Manual of Style, I would recommend hiring out for this.

If you're on a budget, websites such as Grammarly or ProWritingAid are extremely helpful in catching most of these mistakes. Still, I would highly recommend that if you have a ton of mistakes, you need to hire a copy editor.

Proofreading Stage

This is the final read through. Your manuscript should look and feel like a book, besides a few typos or misused words. This could mean hiring another editor or having a friend read through the book to point out any mistakes they catch.

The issue with editing on your own is that you begin to read your own manuscript too much, and this can get tiring for you and cause you to miss more mistakes. A fresh pair of eyes will catch most mistakes.

But never fret if you don't catch them all--even trad published books contain typos sometimes. If you find one post-publication, no one will fault you for it.

Publication Stage

It's time to get your shit together. You've written your novel, you've perfected it, and now it's time to get it out to the world. Whether you decide to go indie or trad is entirely up to you and both have different journeys. Even still, you've done the thing. You've written the book.

I post a blog every Tuesday with writing tips. Sign up to my mailing list today to be notified every time I post as well as get writing tips, book recommendations, and more!

4 views0 comments
bottom of page