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Writing a novel in one month: Tips and Tricks

Novel writing can be a daunting task. To go from a page with absolutely nothing to a full blown book. Anyone who knows me, knows that I crank out pages pretty fast and they aren’t all badly written, either. Well, a few are but the majority won’t make your eyes bleed. The question is…how? How do you get the juices flowing enough to produce an entire novel in one month? Here are tips and tricks that I keep in mind whenever I write.

Tip1: Don’t stop.

It’s simple enough advice, but don’t stop. Everyday, try to write something. I don’t do NaNoWirMo, but I think it’s a great idea. One month of pushing yourself and trying to get as MANY words out as you can. That is brilliant. But don’t stop. Sneak that one hour before bed and write something, even if it’s just a short story idea; a scene; a bit of dialogue. Get into the habit of giving yourself a few minutes daily to write. In all skills we learn, it takes practice. Soon you will be able to do it on the fly.

Tip2: Backpedal and delete.

If you are writing very well but suddenly it stalls or you become bored with it, chances are, the plot is too weak. So weak in fact that it’s even boring YOU the writer. No amount of praying will make it presentable to readers either. Make a new version of the file (a new copy), read over what you’ve written and START deleting. You might not know your plot yet, that’s fine. Give the character a goal and make sure every scene leads to that goal. Don’t be in love with your words. Delete and don’t look back. The previous version is still there should you change your mind.

Tip3: Sleep.

Too much emphasis can’t be put on being rested, but also, letting a story rest. If you’re really stuck, that’s fine. Jump over to something else you’re working on, or start something new, with the promise to try working on this story again later on. Let time pass. The more distance you have from it, the better. Let it sleep. Don’t struggle until you hate it. Get up and do some housework, relax your mind. Heck, do something that requires your full concentration. Rest assured, your muse will give you an idea when you least desire it.

The TRICK to writing a novel in 30 days or less…

is that you can’t. That’s the trick, and it’s a trick because you can’t. I don’t care who you are, you cannot write a novel in thirty days. That is the only issue I take with NaNoWirMo, the biggest reason I probably will never feel comfortable enough to even participate in the event is… You simply cannot write a novel in thirty days. Nobody can. Yes, you can end up with 50k or more. You can end up with a great plot, a great, solid story. But it’s not a novel. A novel requires ripping it apart and putting it back together. It requires self-edits, beta reads, and other sets of eyes taking a look so you can get feedback. What you amount to in thirty days is simply a draft and all drafts are incomplete. Imagine a finished house with no doors, no windows, and it’s hollow inside. Yes, it’s a ‘house’ in a sense, but it’s not complete.

I just wrote a 60k (70 when adding it’s original first part) in three weeks. And although I’m very confident it’s a strong draft with a solid plot, strong characters, and smooth pacing, it’s not complete. It won’t be complete for months.

So when December 1st comes, look at what you’ve written, no matter how long, and know that it is incomplete. Let it sit for a few months, then start your edits. If it doesn’t take you some MONTHS to years to edit it, it’s still incomplete. I wrote my novels 13 years ago. I abandoned them and came back and rewrote them again. Then went back through and reworked them even more. I’m doing them back to back so they seem fast, but honestly, they are 13 years in the making. So, too, am I.