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My Novel Writing Process

Updated on December 12, 2014

Some Initial Thoughts

Is there only one way to write a novel? Of course not! The end result is all that matters for an author. How you get to the finish line does not matter. The only truly bad novel, in my humble opinion, is an unfinished one, so don’t get hung up on the process and forget the goal.

Having said that, what follows is the process I use when writing novels. It is not Gold Seal Certified. It is just my way. I share it with you in hopes that it will help clarify the mystery of novel-writing for some, and for others that it might give them food for thought as they prepare to embark on the 100,000 word journey.

My way is no better or worse than any other way. It is simply my way.

I just finished the first draft of my latest novel, Shadows Kill, a psychological thriller that deals with serial killers and vigilantes. I have written two other novels, and I have an outline in my head for the next one, which I will begin after the first of the year. All three novels to date were written using the process I’m about to explain. Hopefully you’ll find something in this article that will help you.

Choose your path and begin the journey
Choose your path and begin the journey | Source

It Begins with a Question

The inspiration for my novel came from a fleeting thought about vigilantes. I was thinking of an old movie called “Death Wish,” with Charles Bronson as the lead character. I was also thinking of Hannibel Lecter from “Silence of the Lambs.” From those two random thoughts a novel emerged.

I then asked the questions I ask before I start any novel:

“What if such and such happened? What would be the outcome?”

Once I have answered those two questions, I then devise an opening scene and an ending. The rest of the novel is up to the characters to tell.

My characters must become real people to me
My characters must become real people to me | Source

Who Are My Characters

I sit down and “invent” characters. I’ll have a lead character and two or three supporting characters, and I then write a biography for those characters so I can get to know them as real people.

Once I know them then I feel safe in tossing them into the story and allowing them to tell it. As each scene unfolds I ask myself how my main character would react to a certain situation. How would the supporting characters act, based on their biographies? I need to stay consistent with who the characters are. I can’t portray a character as a caring human being and then have her cussing out her neighbors. I can’t have a horrid human being acting with compassion for someone who is hurting.

If I know my characters, then I can invent situations for them to react to, and that brings us to the next step in the process.

The First Draft

The first draft is simply story-telling at its most basic level. I do no editing during this draft. I don’t labor over word choice. I just tell the story.

Now, although that seems simple enough, telling a story of 100,000 words is, in reality, somewhat difficult, and the main reason for the difficulty is because a writer must maintain the reader’s interest for that long. Trust me when I say that is no easy task.

The task is made easier, however, by inserting “sparks” every 25,000 words. A spark is an event that ignites the story, and the general rule of thumb is one spark per 25,000 words. Simple division, then, will tell you that a book of 100,000 words should have a minimum of four sparks to maintain interest from start to finish. Any less than that and you risk imitating some Russian novelist. Any more than that and you risk a breakneck pace that could greatly affect the quality of your writing.

Once I have told the story from start to finish then I can get out my writing tools and give the story some body and substance, and that means it is time for the second draft.

The Second Draft

On my second draft I get down to the meat and potatoes of my novel. I delve into intense character descriptions and reflections. How does my character feel about what is happening? Does he remember things from his past that might help him deal with the sparks? How does he relate to other people in the novel? Is there some way I can make the dialogue better and more interesting?

I’ll also paint the scenery during the second draft. What kind of day is it? Is it raining, sunny, snowy, or foggy? What does each scene look like? Go into detail here so the reader can actually see the rooms, the furnishings, the shadows and the landscape. Instead of saying Bob drove from Point A to Point B, describe what Bob sees during that drive. Instead of saying Emily entered the room to confront Bob, describe the room as she sees it, and describe her feelings as she prepares for the confrontation.

Again, as a general rule of thumb, my second draft additions are about 25% of the total book. In other words, a book of 100,000 words will have about 25,000 words of meat and potatoes.

Please note once again that these are just my guidelines. I’m not saying everyone should do this. I’m just telling you what works for me. Take what you need and leave the rest.

Without editing, all you have done is a writing exercise
Without editing, all you have done is a writing exercise | Source

EDITING

The first draft of “Shadows Kill” took about four months to write. I suspect the second draft will take one month, and then by the first of the year, I’ll be ready to hire an editor.

Why hire an editor?

Because I don’t trust myself to look at my novel objectively, and quite frankly, any writer who thinks they can do so is a dumby-pants.

If you want the best possible results, then spend the money to have someone do the editing, and choose your editor well. It can be costly, but it is also invaluable.

When I turn my manuscript over to my editor, she will dissect it with a surgeon’s hands. She will not only point out grammatical errors, but she will also slice and dice unnecessary phrases, and point out the illogic. It can be a painful process, but it is absolutely necessary. A writer becomes too attached to his/her work, and that’s a simple truth. Leave this phase to an expert who has no emotional attachment.

Plan on at least another month for the editing.

One final note about this stage: The bottom line is that this is your manuscript. The final decisions regarding what to keep and what to toss out are yours. You are the one who invested the long hours and effort, and you are the one who has to be satisfied when it is completed. Your editor is invaluable, but all he/she can do is advise.

And Then You Are Done

Well, you’re done with the writing stage. Next comes publishing, but why ruin a good article by talking about something that is depressing on the best of days?

I hope that helped some of you. I would love to hear the process you use, so feel free to share in the comment section below. We all learn from one another, or at least that’s how it should be.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Great advice and I know you know your game on writing a novel, so truly take your advice to heart on this, Bill. Thank you for sharing and have a great weekend now!! :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Janine. Happy Friday to you, and I'll be by shortly to see your blog.

    • profile image

      missirupp 2 years ago

      Good tips. I like you broke down the "sparks," that they should happen around ever 25,000 words.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you missirupp...I'm glad you found this useful. I think if people break down the process into manageable chunks, it is not as intimidating. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      I like your method. In fact, I lie it so much I may just start thinking about attempting a novel. You amaze me, Billy. Up, useful, awesome and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pop, if I inspire someone to write a novel, then I am one happy writer. Oh, wait, I'm always a happy writer. :) Well, I'll be happier, how's that? Happy Weekend to you, my friend.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent tips and guidelines, billybuc! I take my hat off for you :)

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I have never seriously considered writing a novel, but the way you have broken this process down, it makes me think I may consider it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Martie! Hopefully this will help someone struggling with the process.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      sgbrown, breaking it down into small chunks makes it seem much more doable. At least, that's what I want others to realize from reading this. Thanks for the visit.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Excellent! This makes me want to stay in all weekend and write, write, write.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, great advice as always. My favorite English Composition instructor always told us to just start writing and "dump everything" onto paper. Go back and worry about making it pretty later on. Fretting over grammar and syntax really slows down the creative process.

      Knowing your characters is also vital, but we also need to recognize that circumstances can cause an individual to "rise to the challenge" and become a new person (right now I'm thinking of Bilbo Baggins).

      I do have two questions: (1) how do you go about finding an editor for a manuscript, and (2) (regarding your comment under "First Draft"), what do you have against Tolstoy?

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, I love the idea of adding more detail in the second draft. That's a tactic I will certainly use when I get there.

      I have some questions for you:

      1. Do you draft in Word?

      2. Do you start a new doc for each chapter or do you continue on with one document?

      3. Do you save your first draft as is, then 'save as' your second draft?

      4. When making character and setting notes, do you do it on paper or do you create an electronic document?

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Great advice Bill. Sounds really doable. I can see breaking up the process would be helpful. I struggled through my first draft searching for the perfect word and trying to methodically set the scene. Going back the second time around makes better sense and helps to get the ideas out of your head before they poof into thin air. Have a great weekend. Hope it stops raining soon.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, that is music to my ears....and, by the way, I like your new profile picture. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, great points. Tolstoy? Great writer, but a bit too long-winded for my tastes. Finding an editor? Ask around...I'm going to include this in the mailbag series, but ask around. I found mine on HP, and I know of several on HP who will do a great job for you....one is the lady who commented right after you, Bravewarrior. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheez, Sha, I was just finishing up the Mailbag for next Monday, and here you are with four questions that would fill an entire mailbag. Dammit! LOL Well, okay....yes, I draft on Word....no, I do not start a new doc for each chapter....yes, I save the first draft as is....and I make my character and setting notes on a Word doc. How'd I do? I'll give you reasons for all those in the Mailbag series. Thanks for great, practical questions.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Michelle. The rain and wind have stopped and it is calm right now. We had one heck of a storm.

      As for your comment, if I edited as I wrote I'd never reach the finish line. LOL Seriously! I'm too much of a perfectionist, and I have to give myself permission to just write the first time through the book.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx for the answers, Bill. I've made the mistake of creating a new doc for each chapter of The Gifts of Faith. I think the reason I did so is because it started out as a short story then I changed direction. Oh well. Live and learn.

      And thanx for mentioning I provide editing services. Much appreciated!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've got your back, Sha. As for the new docs, that is one reason why i don't do that. I have a tendency to lose things on my computer, and the fewer docs I have the better. :)

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Bill, I knew you were a pantser, but it doesn't sound like you do any sort of outline? I guess since you've put the time in to know your characters so well, they can tell you the story! One question/clarification: When you write the first draft, without doing any editing, how long does it end up being? Are you saying first draft is 75,000 and then second draft (when you add the 25%) ends up with a total of 100,000?

      Thanks and have a great weekend!

      Great

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      As always a sterling article and for me applicable to life in general.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, I don't do an outline, and I don't suggest that for everyone. I don't know how to explain the process that goes on in my brain, but as I begin a story, the outline kind of forms in my brain. I know where I'm starting and how the story ends, and the rest just kind of comes to me. I'll answer your question in a mailbag, but essentially you are correct in your summary.

      Thanks my friend. Happy Weekend to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, if I pulled that feat off, then I'm happy with my article. Thanks, buddy.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Thank you for the awesome advice you continually share with us. It's amazing how you do what you do so well. I thoroughly enjoy your novels and I'm certainly looking forward to your next one.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Fiction writing is just something way beyond my skill set. At least one day when I decide to leap into the unknown, I'll know I can look to your helpful articles on it. Happy Weekend!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      This is extremely useful for me, bill, because although I have plenty of ideas and a few sketches of various characters, my downfall is being able to organise them all. I flounder, I can't decide what to do and then I'm apt to give up which is not good and somewhat defeatist!

      A good structure come guidance is what I need and this is exactly what you've done here. So thank you! You have given us a good template.

      I'm still working on my family memoirs/history as a basis for a story and that organises itself so I'm taking the easier option!

      Invaluable ideas and advice here, useful for many of us I'm sure.

      Just had a really busy Friday so looking forward to a lazy weekend. Hope yours is a good one.

      Ann

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      An excellent example of novel writing. I truly admire your style and clearly it pays off. Initially writing a brief for each character is commendable. I note you begin with an opening and an ending - does the ending ever change as the novel takes pace and the characters begin to dictate?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Marlene! I would have never dreamed, twenty years ago, that I could write a novel. I'm sure glad this ability reached me before it was too late. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Weekend to you, Heidi! Who knows, right? One day you might wake up and a novel will be whispering to you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Ann! I'm glad you found this useful. I would say you are on the right track with that memoir. The story and characters are taking the story out of your hands, so to speak.

      Have a great weekend. We are recovering from one hell of a windstorm, but all is well other than a little cleanup.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Travmaj, what a great question that is. In my case no, not so far. I have stuck with the endings I envisioned when I started all three novels. I can see that happening, though, and I'm a bit surprised it hasn't happened to me yet.

      Anyway, I wish you a spectacular weekend, and thank you.

    • caseymel profile image

      caseymel 2 years ago from Indiana

      I usually write how-to articles, but I have never tried a novel. I might have to give it a shot!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mel, I think most writers, eventually, want to try it, if for no other reason than to just see if they can do it. I know you are a good writer, so that requirement is out of the way. :) Have a great weekend and thank you.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Well Bill,

      Pretty good stuff, I'd say. Since you are following the voice of experience and 'what works for me', I see nothing wrong in this.

      For my first book, I wrote the first chapter as a result of a writing competition. I knew what my book would be about, and I knew that I would start with my childhood, so that's what I did. However, in my book the Prologue comes first. I also wrote the chapters in different order and re-arranged and added as was necessary.

      For a book, I re-read many many times, and return to the work quite frequently over months and make changes or add bits. My book was spiritual, so I chose a writing friend from the Path I follow, a woman following a different Path; someone new to the Path, and what you might call an open thinker.

      Like you, I wanted different people to read and re-read the book. This is invaluable. I did not use a paid Editor in the true sense, but I had a friend who is a proof-reader plus, and she worked with me through every chapter and again through the entire book when it was finished. Enough for now. Best wishes with your upcoming book. Peace.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I learn something new each time you write. Not that I want to write a book, I just like to learn...Thank you....

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Ruby. I admire people who like to learn, so it comes as no surprise that I admire you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Manatita, I love to hear of the process other writers use, so thank you for sharing yours with us all. I like that you have different people read your book, and I agree that it is invaluable. Great stuff here, my friend.

      blessings always

      bill

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 2 years ago from Scotland

      Thank you Bill. As always you provide helpful advice in a manner which makes it seem individual just to the reader, all from one source article. We can all take something useful from your words and grow from it. I am not sure how you do it, but you are very good at it!

      I have been saving chapters individually... now you have me wondering if I will lose some.. :)

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Excellent advice sir, it has all the ingredients of guidance for both the beginners and those who have stuck with an unfinished effort. Thanks.

      Characters identification, Drafting phases and 'insertion of Sparks' are simply helpful. Your efforts are not only embellishing hubpages with quality writes but also inspiring us to do the same. May God shower His abundant mercy on you.

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

      I think it's very interesting to read the process of other writers. I think we can all learn something from each other; you never know when someone's method can make your writing go smoother. (excuse my semicolon! joke) Although I've seen that particular Stephen Cannell video before, all writers can find something useful in the large YouTube library of Q & A's that his daughter has maintained. I admire him and it is sad that he is gone. He was a good writer who didn't let his dyslexia hold him back from achieving his goals as a television writer/producer and novelist.

      For my process ... admittedly, I am a bit more ADHD (okay, anal!) than some writers when it comes to making and keeping copies of my stuff because I am afraid of losing work - either by accident (any number of oops moments have happened to me. lol) or by editing and re-saving a draft multiple times so that my original is gone, and with it, any original direction or dialogue I may have had for the story.

      I use a flash drive for each project. I make one main folder on the flash drive and title it "Draft Copy." I don't write in one continuous document. As I write each chapter, it is saved in its own subfolder (titled Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc). When I'm done writing, I do a complete copy paste of the draft, put it into a second folder on the same flash drive and use that as my editing workspace. That way I have a complete first draft of the work and a complete copy of the draft to edit to my heart's content. Until my story gets its sea legs, sometimes I have three totally re-worked chapter 1's in the edit folder and two versions of all the other chapters. Sometimes there are 3 last chapters all with alternate endings! Each edited chapter is saved individually so I can pick and choose which one fits well with the work as a whole. When I am ready to say the work is complete, I print it out and give it to 3 or 4 "select" friends to read. Usually I take a 5 to 7 day break from re-reading that work, and go start a new project. Later when I come back to it, my eyes always seem to catch something I missed. When my "select" friends give me their ideas and thoughts, I take their suggestions (or not), and make my final copy.

      I have found that if I use the first draft to do multiple edits, then I've lost my "original" as well as any unique dialogue or narrative. Sometimes the first draft has some really good stuff that can be lost in the never-ending editing. So that's what I do. I know there is probably an easier way for me to get from point A to point B, and that's why I like reading what others do. I'm sure my process will go through many changes in the future as it has in the past 40 years. Thanks for writing this article. It should give all your readers some pause to examine the way they work and possibly make a few changes for the better.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      If I begin the process of writing a full-length novel one of these years, I'll review this and all of your novel writing hubs and posts.

      About knowing your characters and staying true to their personalities, I wonder if knowing their dynamic places on the enneagram of personality would be helpful.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Knowing your characters is so essential, I agree. Especially if you are to let them "tell the story" which I like to do, as well. Without that approach, a more detailed outline would probably be necessary.

      My novels are in a series, so my characters have to be 1) either totally consistent with their past behavior, or 2) change as part of the story elements. I sometimes find using partial outlines during the first draft to be sure that is done properly.

      Another very useful article. Thanks, for sharing, again! ;-)

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very useful and interesting tutorial. Your guidelines are so clear-cut to follow. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Interesting read and good to learn how you write a novel. Thanks and you have a great weekend my friend.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      Interesting, and an approach I would you had I any inclination to write a novel. I like the title, and I would read the book jacket based on that title alone, and especially if it had some interesting art on it.

      What is your goal usually for total word count, and how many chapters will satisfy the story?

      How do you pick the voice of your story, such as first person or other?

      What I like to do is come up with story plots?

      I liked Death Wish, but I had no interest in watching Silence of the Lambs. I did watch Dexter up until its last two season, then I got tired of it.

      Looking forward to reading more about Shadows Kill.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great and so perfectly explained.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. I always wondered what the process was for writing a book. I always looked at it as an overwhelming task but you laid it out nicely and it actually doesn't seem quite as scary. Thanks for the education. Have a great weekend.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Well, it may not be the official way to write a novel but it sure sounds good to me. It seems perfectly logical to draft, fill in, edit, and finish. Is that what you're saying? I know I'm simplifying but I also know this is an easy description to understand and implement.

      Now I know you were a teacher in a former life ;)

      Voted all but funny and pinned. Have a great weekend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, I know quite a few writers who save the chapters individually and manage not to lose them. I just know me, and I know I'm pushing my luck if I do that. :) Thank you and Happy Weekend to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, I think the more we know about our characters, the better. Whatever it takes to make them real people is worth doing. I hope you write that novel one day. Best wishes to you, and thanks.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bill. I always recommend some sort of outline for novel writers. Just because I don't doesn't mean I'm correct in not doing so.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Venkatachari M. It is the teacher training I went through, learning to boil down a lesson to its simplest and clearest form.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rajan. I always appreciate you stopping by.

      Peace and best wishes to you.

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      Boy, all points are definite take-aways for any writer. It's something I need to work on. I am far from being that structured and if I was, would probably save me a lot of grief. Thanks for the tips, Bill and have a wonderful day. Kim

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Bill, this kind of nuts and bolts stuff is so valuable. Too often people hide their process in the belief that it being public will somehow lessen its value or pull business away from the source. I think just the opposite. I'm far more likely to read the work of authors who share their craft freely and I'm much more inclined to do business with those that give information. I really respect your ethics and look forward to watching your effort come to fruition. Voted up and all that jazz because you are a gift to the HP community!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      I tend to combine first and second draft work. I find I can't write the story without going into details. It doesn't seem 'real' to me otherwise. I know they say just write the story first and make it pretty later, but that just doesn't work for me. I don't go back to edit for at least a week. That's when I really begin to pull the story together.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      M abdullah javed, what a lovely comment. Thank you my friend. I am just a simple writer who wants all writers to spread their wings and fly. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rachael, thank you for sharing your process with us. You describe it as anal, but I suspect it is a process used by a great many writers who are "organized." See, doesn't "organized" sound much better? Seriously, I admire your attention to detail, and I think your comment is very helpful for many.

      Have a marvelous weekend and again, thank you.

    • Sandra Eastman profile image

      Sandra Joy Eastman 2 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      Wow Bill I don't know how you have the time to write. Just answering all the comments is work enough. I have so many drafts and some chapters saved on my computer of my current for saga for Rubies - some examples of it are on the hub. I too think that there is no exact right way to write (no pun intended) a book. The answer to me is in the editing process. I usually edit my book several times before I have someone else read them. I have a friend that does editing and she usually works with me on it. She's very very good at catching any typos along with giving advice on how the story should fall. Thanks for the great hub and have a wonderful weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brad, I'm going to save your questions for a future mailbag if you don't mind. I thank you for them and I promise to get to them in a week

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE. I appreciate it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill. I think a lot of writers think it is an overwhelming process. If you break it down into small steps, it can be done. Have a great weekend, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, that's exactly what I'm saying. Some writers will do three or four re-writes, and that's fine. Whatever it takes to reach the finish line.

      Thank you for the kind words. I do love teaching.

      Happy weekend my friend.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kim! It does take discipline and structure, but I also know you are a good writer and capable of doing this. If so, good luck.

      Happy weekend to you, Kim!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for sharing these tips, Bill. I've always been more interested in writing poems and short stories than novels. Lately I've been thinking about a topic which I think would be better expressed as a novel than a short story, however. I may need your guidelines soon!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, thank you Iris. I don't believe in hoarding of any kind. What was given to me freely is now given by me freely. That's how it should work, or at least that's what I believe.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, I really appreciate you sharing your process. Like I said, the only correct way to write a book is your way. If it doesn't work for you, it will never work. :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Sandra. As for the comments, I love the relationships I have formed here at HP. You writers are the reason I'm here, so the comments are my favorite part of the day. :) Thanks for sharing your process with us.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alicia, if I can help in any way, please reach out. :) Thank you and best wishes on this Sunday.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 2 years ago from Kansas

      Thanks for the valuable information. I don't want to be a dumby-pants, so I think I will take your advice. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Bill, you are a prolific writer. I really loved this article…especially the significance of the 2nd draft. And the editing! It’s so important to have an editor who is not only skilled, but candid. I wish I had the time to write more, but work often conflicts so, that I feel as though I’m trying to serve two masters. I’m sorely tempted to go on sabbatical in search of that desert island, or some isolated cabin, deep in the woods – not the “Nell” kind, but you know what I mean. :-) Voted up and shared. As always, I wish you much deserved success with “Resurrecting Tobias” and “Shadows Kill.”

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      I like how you give authority to your characters; I find that interesting. Thanks for sharing your process. It helps.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Your idea about the "sparks" is very interesting, and you used it with great skill in your Tobias novel, especially the spark where Toby got drunk and there were extremely negative consequences. I won't say exactly what in case you hub readers are contemplating buying the book. Anyway, my wife heard the gasp in the next room when I read that "spark".

      I suppose outlining and character development is very important, but I'm afraid with my limited attention span if I did that I would get bored with the project before I ever wrote a word. I prefer to let the first draft be the outline. I was punching away on a novel tonight and found that I was entertaining myself with some stuff that I was writing that was completely unplanned. I guess every writer has their own modus operandi. Great hub!

    • georgescifo profile image

      georgescifo 2 years ago from India

      Great insights and I really know that writing a novel is one of the most difficult tasks.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Many thanks for your excellent tips on novel writing. You have inspired me to get going with the two novels i have put onto my to do list for next year. Personal circumstances have taken me away from writing articles for hubpages but it's my aim to try fitting in two posts here before the new year . Again many thanks for your great sharing post.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      Well, I have always envisioned myself writing a novel with the words just flowing out, no edits or anything needed. Of course I know that is a dream, but when I read a really good book, that is how I think the author wrote it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pawpaw, I'm glad you don't want to be a dumby-pants. LOL Thank you, sir!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Genna! I'm in a unique position that allows me to write often. I know exactly how lucky I am. I wish you that sabbatical soon so you can answer your calling. Your muse awaits you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora. It's a hard concept for some to comprehend, but that's exactly what I do. Turn them loose and let them tell their own story.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mel, I can't outline. I'm terrible at it, but I know writers who swear by it. To each his own, my friend. Follow your own path and best wishes to you. Thank you for the kind words about Tobias.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      georgescifo, I will say it is much easier the third time than it was the first. Like all things, it gets easier with practice.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nadine, I'm glad you are back, and I hope you can find the time to do more writing. You are good at it. Thank you and have a wonderful week.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I suspect most allow free flow the first time through, although I do know writers who edit as they go. I don't know how they do it and maintain flow, but more power to them.

      Thank you as always and Happy Week to you.

    • craftdrawer profile image

      craftdrawer 2 years ago

      Never thought about writing a novel but the process is an interesting one.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you craftdrawer. I appreciate you stopping by.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for sharing this with us, Bill! We all have our own way of writing, and I'm likely going to stick with my mine.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      vkwok, you do quite nicely without my suggestions. Carry on my friend, and thanks for reading.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I never had any cue what the process was. I always just barrel ahead and do everything in one shot. Perhaps your way would be much better, but for some reason, I can never allow myself to do anything in pieces.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, my way is much better for me.....not for you if your way works.

    • stevemorgan1005 profile image

      Steve Morgan 2 years ago from Chattanooga, TN

      I thoroughly enjoyed this article. My wife and I have been toying with the idea of writing a novel for some time. I am certainly going to take some things you said to heart, and see where that takes me in my writing.

      Aside from that, I cannot wait to read your newest!

      Steve

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for following, Steve, and I'm glad you found this useful.

    • beta5909 profile image

      beta5909 2 years ago

      My first dive into crafting fiction and it strikes me that this creative process is similar, to something I know, making a necklace. The question is like the focal point of a piece of jewelry. The beads are positioned as the characters. They tell the story of the why the focal was chosen. I think I can do this. I never thought about fiction this way before. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Beta, you just made a great analogy...you have the mind and creativity of a fiction writer. Now all you need to do is practice. Thanks for all the visits this morning.

    • Prabhjot Saini profile image

      Prabhjot 2 years ago from Delhi, India

      Your hubs are always very interesting....... and useful....

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Prabhjot Saini...I appreciate it.

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