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How To Write A Novel & Finish It

Updated on September 18, 2014

Writing a Novel Need Not Be an Agonising Grind of Blood, Sweat and Tears! I Should Know, Even If I Haven't Written One!

At least, not the whole of one so why do I think I'm qualified to tell anyone anything about novel writing?

Well, three years ago I was asked to put on a literary event for my local Arts Festival. They wanted something the press would get excited about and which they hoped would generate some free publicity.

The Killing Tree
The Killing Tree

Enter The Novelettathon!

Write A Novel In A Day!

My brain child was the Novelettathon or write a novel in a day! Ambitious or what! My local writers' club thought I'd gone mad and so did I at times, but once the idea occurred to me, I was oblivious to any problems! It was only when the excitement died down and I was faced with turning the idea into a practical reality did the sheer magnitude of what I'd started, hit me.

Necessity is the mother of invention so they say and I did get this project off the ground and very successful it turned out to be as well. A total of 14 writers worked on the book, each writing one or more chapters. These were all done during the Novelettathon day and tidied up and co-ordinated by me at a later date.

The result was The Killing Tree which you can see here: The Killing Tree

Detailed Planning Is The Key!

Your Book Plot

All well and good, but most authors do not want to work in a team or even have the opportunity to do so if they did. Well that's O.K. because this isn't about collaboration. I learned a very valuable lesson from that Novelettathon. Without knowing it, I realised that detailed planning is the key to writing any book and is the one sure way of making you finish it.

Now I can just hear the waves of shock horror reverberating around the ether! Planning destroys creativity ... you have to let the characters tell their stories ... writing is a stream of consciousness, you can't plan it!

Hmm ... well if that works for you then great, but I'm willing to bet that most authors who hold to those convictions seldom get past Chapter Three at the most! As for those that do limp along to the end, if our Novel Beginnings first chapter contest is anything to go by, their plots are likely to have more holes than a tramp's sock and their characters would make great props for motorway bridges!

In my opinion, creativity is like a fire, let it burn as it will and it destroys, control and harness its force and you have a very powerful tool of heat and passion to do your bidding!

How To Write Your Novel & Finish It - details all the methods used to write a novel in a day
How To Write Your Novel & Finish It - details all the methods used to write a novel in a day | Source

How I Did It!

I discovered the huge advantages of planning through necessity which is why most aspiring authors don't do it and consequently suffer burn out. This is understandable really as most of us do not have deadlines for our books, no-one really cares whether we write them, we may even face hostility from our families who can't see the point of it, so we just muddle along hoping that one day we will actually hit the keyboard or get past the chapter three block!

It doesn't have to be like this! I got a team of 14 writers to complete The Killing Tree in one day by breaking the task down to incident specific chapters which were based on a well planned plot outline.

The writers were given a detailed character synopsis for each of the main players, but with scope to add their own ideas. Part way through the day each writer was invited to read to the group their chapters after which a lively discussion took place to ensure action and details tied up.

Something which doesn't normally occur to writers when they begin their novel is the importance of clearly identifying their reader. Our workshop did not begin until all the writers involved had a clear picture in their minds of who they were writing for.

Novel Writing Poll

Lots of writers begin novels, but a great many never actually finish them!

Answer YES if you reached the end of the final chapter and NO if you're still floundering around the middle chapters!


See results

© 2014 Sue Kendrick

I'D LOVE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR NOVEL - How long have you been writing it?

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