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Writing and Publishing My First Novel and the Lessons I Learned.

Updated on February 29, 2020
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don is a Writer and a Storyteller. He has published over 9 books on varied subjects along with many articles and commentary on his blogs.

My published novel, ONE BULLET

My first published novel, ONE BULLET available on Amazon
My first published novel, ONE BULLET available on Amazon | Source

Finishing your work on a Book is hard

When you set out to write a book, even one as straightforward as a simple detective mystery, you have to be prepared for the level of mundane work required.

If you already consider yourself to be a writer and, like so many of us, have been pumping out a wide range of; Short Stories, Poetry, Instructional Articles, Political Commentary, or even Recipes, then you probably do have the proven writing skills to finish that thing called a BOOK!

And, I call it a THING intentionally.

You see, with me, it became that THING that was sitting there, on my iPad, waiting patiently for me to get back to work on it.

For me, my first book, even though most of it existed in my head, was almost a physical entity.

It was always there in the back of my head, just waiting, for me to come back to it and FINISH THE JOB!

An unfinished book can draw at a writer's psyche. And with each new idea or inspiration that pops into the writer's head, he feels the need to jump up and work on his book project.

I read an article somewhere by a famous established author and he described this special writer's angst with; an unfinished Book is a fickle and demanding B^%#, and she can drive you crazy.

So,when you start that new book idea on your word processor, you already know that you can write, and write pretty well.

But you should be prepared to accept that a Book demands so much of you and your time that you really do have to manage it's development, and drive yourself to not only write, but to accept it when you have reached that point where you have to let it go and publish (or not).

An unfinished Book is a fickle and demanding B^%#, and she can drive you crazy.

— unknown

Going to the next level with your Book

When you decide to move up to taking on the task of writing a complete book, know that it is actually so much more than just a long Story; you also have to understand that you must now write at a higher level than you did with your shorter works.

Of course, back then you were putting out those 500-word or even 2000 to 5000 word works, with ease.

And you were damned good at it. You received accolades from your peers and followers. You were like the guy that walks into a bar and buys a free round for everyone. They all Loved you.You could do no wrong!

But when you step up and commit to writing a full, 100,000-word, or even a 200,000-plus-word STORY, then you have just stepped into another realm of writing skills.

And, I am not talking about writing some enormous technical manual. With these, you have the crutch of the technical data itself to lean upon and you are usually describing procedural steps and thus the work is easier to write as the flow is dictated by reality.

I know this, because I wrote so many of these for decades during my career as an Engineer. And, honestly, a Technical Manual is just a grammatically correct list of instructions and technical jargon combined in a format that is convenient for other technical people to read.

It is not entertainment.

And, my friend, writing a story that entertains the reader and holds his attention, is a unique skill that not everyone can exhibit easily.

Critical Things to consider with a book


Take note of the Critical Tips for you to consider as you structure your book.

Have a PLOT

A writer must start with an idea for a Plot, and it had better be a good one.

Some people will storyboard their Plot before they start. I do this myself, but I do it with my own little twist.

I like to use the power of my iPad and start a document with a series of what I call HOT LINES. I am sure that there is a technical writers name for these but I actually consider these Hot Lines to be potential chapter titles.

I have my original story idea and I write a series of these supporting Hot Lines that take me from what I consider to be the starting point of my story, all of the way to what I want to be the ending.

Then, I let the whole thing get COLD for a few days, before I go back and read what I had put down.

Once I figure out what I had written down before, because really, probably half of what I put down makes no sense to me after it gets cold, I end up rewriting and reordering my Hot Lines, often with the addition of more and sometimes the deletion of some.

Then it's time to let it get Cold again.

Finishing Your Outline

At some point, I start calling these Hot Lines my Outline and I move on to my next step.

I write one paragraph under each line of what I now call my Outline.

Each of these paragraphs should have enough meat in them that they make sense to the writer as part of their Story Line.

Once again, let the whole thing get COLD for a few days and then come back and see if everything makes sense. If it doesn't make sense in your story now, you don't need to waste more time with it. Get rid of it or move it to where it does make sense.

Now, chapter by chapter, put some more meat into the story. In other words, expand each story to the point that they can almost stand alone supporting your Chapter Title.

Your Story MUST Flow

It is so important that, your story flows smoothly from the opening statement to the very last line.

Even though you are nowhere near finished with your Story, every time you read through it, with a clear head (sometimes, a glass of wine will help) you must feel confident that your story flows well.

If the first thirty (or whatever) pages are a really good read, but then, even you (the writer) have trouble getting through the next ten pages, then you have a serious problem.

This should be a red flag to you that those ten pages need some serious rework.

I mean do you really want to hear your readers say; Hey I read that Book. It started out OK, but I got bogged down after a while and I just gave up on it. How did it end anyway?

You must have a good Plot and your story really must flow, and flow smoothly.

So, let's say that you have somewhere around 40,000 or more words put together by now and your story line looks pretty good to you.

Then you are just reaching the point where it's time to get to the real work; the task of making your story into a real book.

The hard work part of writing.

Generally, when you are presenting a story to a reader, they expect to read a real story about real people.

You know, people who laugh and cry, who talk with and yell at each other; people who have thoughts along with people who act and move and do physical things.

Writing Descriptive Text

You must now go back to your story and fill it in with all of the necessary Descriptive text you have stored in your head so that the reader can build their own picture of each scene.

For instance, if you have a love scene, then you must write a descriptive love scene.

I don't mean some sordid description of the sex act, but a description of two people who are in love and who are discovering each other through the act of sex.

Or, if you have a chase scene, then you have to make the reader feel that he is right there, in the middle of the chase, and he knows what the chaser and the chased see and feel and how they act throughout the action.

And you need to write their conversations in a way that the reader knows exactly why they said what they did, at that moment.

Every paragraph of your work at this point must be evaluated to ensure that you have used adequate and accurately real descriptive text.

Confirm Your facts

This one can take some time. But, even if you are writing a totally fiction work, the facts that you do use had better be accurate, and at the same time do not, absolutely do not use the names of real people or companies.

They can get real testy and sometimes can sue you if they can prove you were referencing them. Always include a disclaimer in the front or at the end of your work, to cover yourself.

Fix the GRAMMAR and Spelling.

There it is. The big Bugaboo!

All of that Grammar, just lying there in your book and a world of potential readers, just waiting to stumble over each spelling error or even worse, that damned comma-splice.

Just remember that the Spell Checker on your word Processor has limitations. It really doesn't get upset if you type "an" or "and", or "the" or "they" or the many other perfectly good words that are spelled similarly, in the wrong place

And, a good grammar checker can have similar problems with sentence structure.

So, yes, you do want to use these great time saving tools, but nothing beats actually re-reading your story. Over and over and over, ad nauseum.

Get another Opinion on your work.

And eventually, you will get to the point of thinking that your work is done. You're sitting there, finally patting yourself on the back thinking; I have just written the perfect detective story.

If you want a reality check, hand a friend (or as I did my wife) a red pen, and a printed copy of your book and ask them to edit it for you.

Then, prepare yourself. You are not going to like what they hand back to you when they are done.

You see, something new is going to happen to you. You are going to make a discovery, about yourself.

This work,of yours, that has become so much a part of you?

It is not just an English paper getting a grade, it is a part of you that you cannot stand to hear someone criticize. Not even obvious spelling errors that you missed over and over, or a misplaced "Cap" or a note about how a sentence or a paragraph "just doesn't make sense".

And, you will get these corrections, in bright RED ink, all over your work, probably.

Finally, you accept your mistakes and go back to work on them.

And this is when something else happens.

While making these corrections, you are editing and even adding more sentences and paragraphs thinking; wow, this part is even better this new way.

But, don't forget, major changes, even to a simple paragraph should force you to drop back and go through the Proofreading process all over again, and if you and your new editor are still speaking to each other, ask your friend to do their job for you, once again.

Ready to Publish

Finally, one day, and that day will come if you persevere, you will truly be ready to publish.

To get to that day and finally publish your book just takes extra and tedious work, and then one day, you will know it is ready to publish.

You will, on that special day, finally realize that there is nothing else you can do to make your story any better. You will just know that it is finally at that point where you cannot contribute any more to the story.

Your Book is Done and you, the writer are ready. You know, it is ready to put it out there, in front of those masses of readers.

Good Luck!

I did Publish my own Novel as well as several other books

Well, with all of the pontifications aside, I did publish my first Novel.

It's a detective story about a half Navajo, ex-Marine who went to work as a detective for a Special investigation Unit of the Tampa Police Department.

He has the world by the tail until one day an Assassin comes to town and the detective is drawn into a world of subterfuge, and lies, that end up turning his life upside-down.

My book is available on Amazon as a Paperback as well as in Kindle ebook format.


How to StoryBoard your Book

Stephen King on Writing Books

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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