ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing»
  • How to Write

How to Write a Novel in Six Months: One Writer’s Journey

Updated on May 4, 2009
Photo: nuanc,Flickr
Photo: nuanc,Flickr
 

Most of us who write on a regular basis (and many people who've never used a pencil for more than a grocery list) have the same dream: to write a novel. I'm no different. This fall I'm attempting [again] to write a novel, and this time I've enlisted my entire writing group to join me. As if that weren't enough accountability, I've decided to share the whole experience with HubPages fans, along with anyone else who's interested.

I'll be sharing the ups and downs, tricks that work for me, and resources I'll use along the way in a week-by-week format. Check back here often for new links. This is meant to be a glimpse into my process and I to help you on your own. Wish me luck that maybe come New Year's we'll have a new series called How to Publish a Novel!

My Personal History as a Novelist, or How Not to Write a Novel

I came to the writing life with a bang. One day I was watching Oprah and pouring Cheerios on a high chair tray and the next I was plotting out the next biggest thing. I exploded into writing trying every exercise, reading every book, and of course I jumped right into my first novel. One thing you have to learn if you want to reconcile your yearning to write and your sanity is that writing is a very personal and time consuming process. Not only are there no short cuts, but no one writer's process works for everyone. For me, the writing life has been full of trial and error, stops and starts, and wild fluctuations in confidence and self-esteem.

That first pass at a novel was fueled by a wonderful book called The Marshall Plan, which takes you through a very structured and analytical approach to planning out a novel. The accountant in me loved every bit of it, especially the part where I created spreadsheets to track my the detaila of my scenes. I still think Mr. Marshall has an amazing plan. The problem was I hadn't gotten my fingers limbered up enough to benefit from all the information. Novel number one was abandoned after only a few scenes.

Yes, You Need a Plot

My second foray into noveling (yes, I do make up words) was inspired by Chris Baty's November Nanowrimo and the book, No Plot, No Problem. No offense to Mr. Baty, but not having a plot is actually a very serious problem IF you want another person to read your novel. In fact, the plotless novel I wrote was not only unreadable to anyone else, but fairly painful to read back to myself. It's especially disturbing to come upon a scene starring the town football star I'd killed off a couple of chapters back. Oops.

However misguided I was during the writing of that work, I'm so thankful for it. It gave me the confidence that I could create scenes and characters, and more importantly, that I could type the number of consecutive words it takes to fill a book. That, plus I have a two-inch stack of paper on my shelf that somehow qualifies me to call myself a writer and playdates and cocktail parties. This method is amazing for freeing you up to put words on paper. I would recommend this method in a heartbeat. I just won't personally do it again.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • SEXYLADYDEE profile image

    SEXYLADYDEE 3 years ago from Upstate NY

    Found this Hub on Pinterest. I will be reading and taking this journey. (Even if you have finished already). I too have finished a book and started and almost finished a few more. I am ready to get started again and am hoping to use your journey as a way to inspire me to finish. Good luck and yes please do continue with How to Publish.

    Dee

  • profile image

    whowas 5 years ago

    What a great and generous idea to share so intimately your novel-writing process with the world at large! I shall look forward to reading through your other hubs and charting your progress.

    I think your experience is quite common amongst writers. It is often said that the 'first novel' (to be published) is actually the fourth, fifth or even sixth to have been written. I have four complete novels in my files and all of them are unpublishable. But that is not the point - they have been my education as a novelist and the one I'm writing now benefits from everything I have learned before.

    As Regan Hoffman has said, "It is a case of years and years of putting fingers on keys and bashing the words out. They will eventually come out and they will eventually come out the right way - but there are no shortcuts."

    All the best on your writing odyessy!

  • RichardCMckeown profile image

    RichardCMckeown 6 years ago

    Great strategy, Lela. Thanks for sharing!

  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 7 years ago from Long Island, NY

    Well in my case it wasn't a novel. I wrote a book on relationships as a self-help book. But I relate to your story as it also took me many years to write. I went through the same process you did so I can relate. But I got it done and I am sure so will you.

    I like the way you listed every step required and wrote individual hubs for each, including what you learned to do along the way. I think this will help any author who is also trying to complete a novel.

  • profile image

    Keith Sutherland 7 years ago

    A great read - fab journey...good luck with it all! I hope to get published soon as well. See what you think of my first page...

  • Don Simkovich profile image

    Don Simkovich 7 years ago from Pasadena, CA

    Hey, good luck with your novel. I've never wanted to write a novel until this year. I'm almost done with my second draft and getting ready to send it off to an ebook publisher that does both ebooks and print. An editor there is aware of it. I wrote quite a few short stories in my undergrad days and always liked short story writing. Now, on the verge of finishing my novel is requiring a push, push past some tricky plot points!

  • De Greek profile image

    De Greek 8 years ago from UK

    I have become an instant fan :-)

  • parrster profile image

    Richard Parr 8 years ago from Australia

    Thanks Lela, great job.

    I too love writing... when I don't hate it. It's a bit like that I've found.

    I'm going to one-up you here, on the time frame of this hubs title that is. I wrote my second novel in 4 months... so there... nanenanenana ;)

    You can glimpse it here if you like https://hubpages.com/literature/Terrors-Child-part

    All the best.

  • Myles54 profile image

    Myles54 8 years ago from somewhere a dash to the left of this wide world.

    Im so excited for you! i see all the other links are live, so i suppose you've made it! but, avoiding a ruined story, i will go week by week, and hopefully your journey will inspire me, and help me on my own! on to week 1...

  • profile image

    Feline Prophet 9 years ago

    Gosh....I am impressed. I would never be able to think of a plot and characters and dialogue and all the other necessities of a readable book...it seems like an impossible task and I wish you all the best. Let me get on with reading the rest of your hubs now. :)

  • starrkissed profile image

    starrkissed 9 years ago from Arizona

    Best of luck!!

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)