2 Steps to Writing Your Novel

16 Dec

Have you always wanted to write a book, but never had the time? Have you started a book but never finished it? Have you just about given up on your dreams of being an author because it’s just too hard?

Well, writing can be really hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Recently, I participated in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, where you have 30 days to write a 50,000 word book. To some that sounds like a lot of fun. To others it sounds a lot like their worst nightmare. To me, it showed me that not only is it doable, it’s also exciting and fun. The trick to writing, not just in a challenge like this one, but writing in general, is to have a workable plan.

I’ll show you the two steps first, then I’ll go into greater detail. So, (drum roll please) here’s the two step plan for writing a novel:

  • Focus on getting to the next big scene in your book.
  • Put in the time and effort to hit your word count goal for the day.

What?! You mean that’s it? Just focus on going from big scene to big scene and do word count goals? That’s just too easy! Of course there’s a little more to it than that. However, taking something big and scary and breaking it down into manageable chunks, makes just about anything doable.

First off, step one: Focus on getting to that next amazing scene that is crying out to be written. In order to get anywhere it’s a good idea to know where you’re going. Wandering aimlessly does NOT work in writing. You must have a destination in mind. In writing your book, that destination is your next big scene.

Larry Brooks in his book Story Engineering
says there are five major scenes in every best selling book.

  • The first is your hook, some way you have of introducing your character or story and making your reader want to know more. This, obviously, takes place somewhere near the beginning of your book.
  • Your second big scene is your first plot point, where the main character is forced to take action that will begin his journey to change his life. That takes place right at the end of the first quarter of the book.
  • The third is the mid-point, which takes place obviously, in the middle of your book. There is usually some major shift here for your main character from reacting to actively taking part in his own destiny.
  • The fourth major scene is the second plot point or climax. That usually takes place right at the end of your third quarter.
  • Your last major scene is your satisfying ending.

A terrific visual of this was created by Rachel Savage. For more tips on the craft of writing check out Larry Brooks’ blog,

Step 2β€”Put in the time to meet your word count goal for the day. If you aim for the stars, you may not make it, but you just might hit the moon. The point is to have a workable goal for the day, every day. If you want to write a book, you must not only plan your major scenes, you must actually sit down and write. Writing a 30,000 to 50,000 (or more) word book is still done one word at a time. If you set a goal of writing 1000 words every day, you will finish your book in 50 days (for a 50,000 word book). That’s about a month and a half. If you do 1000 words a day five days a week, it will take you ten weeks or right around three months. That’s completely doable. But, you still have to just sit down and do it.

I know, in some ways these steps are simplistic, but that’s the beauty of it. If you keep at it, you will finish what you start. The key is to start and then keep going until you’re done. And, you know what, I did it and so can you. I believe in you. Every person has a story to tell. The world is waiting to hear yours. Get moving!

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13 responses to “2 Steps to Writing Your Novel

  1. Mark Showalter

    December 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks Christina πŸ™‚

  2. Ruth Ann Nordin

    December 18, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    This is a great post! Can I put it on SPAL? I’ll give you full credit for it.

    • ChristinaLi

      December 19, 2011 at 5:28 am

      Ruth Ann,
      Thanks so much! Of course you can put this on SPAL. It would be an honor!

      • Ruth Ann Nordin

        December 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm

        Thanks Christina. I’ll plan on posting it this week. I got sidetracked with the Amazon post and was waiitng for the other posters to be done. I’ll let you know when it’s up. πŸ˜€

  3. Wendy A.M. Prosser

    January 30, 2012 at 7:56 am

    When I’m stuck with my WIP, I find looking forward to writing a big scene is a great way of encouraging myself to keep going.

    • ChristinaLi

      January 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Wendy, I totally agree. In fact, it’s really fun seeing just how my characters will get me to my next big scene! πŸ™‚

  4. Jenny Reeve

    February 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Very inspirational. Thank you.

    • ChristinaLi

      February 13, 2012 at 11:58 am

      You’re welcome, Jenny! Have a great day writing!

  5. Novel Girl

    March 30, 2012 at 1:09 am

    I read and loved Story Engineering too. I created an eight-part series on my blog by breaking down each Core Competency. I love finding other fans too. πŸ™‚

    • ChristinaLi

      March 30, 2012 at 10:08 am

      I’ll have to check out your series! πŸ™‚

  6. Thomas

    March 30, 2012 at 4:22 am

    The key is to also make sure the characters and scenes benefit each other and are magical; doesn’t mean magic is literally there. But yes VERY good ideas. I do alot of this already. I don’t use the Nano thing(though i have and use a Nano ipod :P). Ijust develop the characters and scenes there in, write them and see how it all ties together and BAM, then I see if it works!

    • ChristinaLi

      March 30, 2012 at 10:14 am

      Yes, Thomas. The characters have to move the scene along and the scene has to move the character along. Neither gets to really rest. I like having a large, overall plan, then I get down to writing it scene by scene. If I get bogged down somewhere, I go back to my overall plan and see where I’m at. Then, I can either stick to the plan or adjust it as necessary.


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