How to write a novel

Bitch I’m back. By popular demand. And by “popular demand” I, of course, mean that none of you have been outright asking for this. No one has actually said, “you have to start blogging again, or life is meaningless.” And you didn’t have to, fair readers. Being asked or told to do something is, like, vintage. It’s an adorable but outdated way of communicating, similar to sending and receiving mail via carrier pigeon and working out your maths via abacus. We’ve evolved.

So yeah, I’m reading your minds. And, yikes, some of you are disturbed. And others are thinking far too much about House of Cards and Fuller House in tandem, and I can relate. Netflix is genius. It’s almost as if they have insight into what we want to watch and then create their own programs to satisfy viewer needs. Oh wait.

Anyways, let’s talk about writing a novel. I promised you this post the last time I blogged, so here we are. We talked previously about conception and planning for the book baby. Now we’ll go through the more advanced stages of actually growing a book baby and bringing it into the world. Again, I’ve written one book, so I think we can all agree I’m an expert.

Let’s do this…

4. First Draft – So you’re in the first trimester, woohooo! No one really knows you’re about to have a book baby, except your significant other and maybe your immediate family. This part is just for you, so resist the temptation to show anyone. As Stephen King says, “write with the door closed.” Your objective is to write the first draft as fast as possible and get to the stage where you type in “the end.” If you do this, your first trimester will last about a month. Don’t worry about errors, typos, etc at this stage. Just brain dump it all into what sort of looks like a story with a beginning, middle and end. When you finish the first draft, your book baby will not yet look like a book. It’s far too immature, and it will not survive if it’s put out into the world just yet.

5. Second Draft – If you’re anything like me, then this is where you start to look at the book objectively. You begin to edit and consequently shave off anywhere from 10-30k words. It’s starting to look like a book baby! It’s as if you’re in the second trimester, and you’re starting to show. Everyone can tell you’re about to have a book baby in as little as two months. Holy shit, what? People are actually going to see my baby? And dole out unsolicited book baby advice? Well, now I feel like this:raw

Totally stable.

6. Third/Fourth drafts – Now it’s time to seriously edit, and as Stephen King says “edit with the door open.” Also known as Stage “I’m showing, and everyone knows I’m having a book baby.” This is where mobility becomes seriously challenging, because you need to edit like goddamn crazy. In my case, I had to make sure there weren’t any holes in the story, proofread and edit for continuity. It took anywhere from 10-12 hours a day over the course of 2-3 days. Seriously rigorous, time consuming and mind numbing stage, but your goal here is to make it look as good as possible before you hand it off.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 3.11.15 p.m.
Yup – source Lydia Sherrer on Facebook

7. Editor – Welp, you’re in labor. My editor functioned as my midwife, because when I finally got the book baby to as far as I could take it, she stepped in to make sure it was ready to meet the world. I handed it off for 3 whole weeks. The author Lydia Sherrer posted the photo to your left in a Fantasy Writers Facebook group I’m in. I could not think of anything more fitting to sum up the wild ride of emotions that creep in while your book baby is being viewed for the first time. Blame it on the epidural.

8. Post-editor-edits – Wow, you can see the book baby! She’s all covered in goo, though. Time to clean her up. My “midwife” editor send the book back to me, and it was shocking how much I’d missed. I had to sit down and re-edit again, and then I read the book aloud to see how it read. This took approximately 2-3 days, and my throat was crazy sore afterwards.

9. Beta readers – I guess this is the incubator? We’re still in the hospital for sure. I passed my book off to four generous souls to pick up on any issues before it goes to press (ie Amazon, Kobo and ibooks). They had the book for less than 2 weeks, and afterwards they filled out a bunch of questions. If you’re anything like me, this is when you brace yourself, check their docs every hour on the hour and await responses. You will perpetually feel like being all, “Hiiiii remember me? Everything is fine, I’m cool. I’m not craving your approval or anything. I always make this face. This is my

hiiiiii remember me?

relaxed face.” This is where you have to force yourself to be patient. Your betas will deliver solid insight that proves that your baby may have looked ready to meet the world, but you missed some goo. Clean the goo.

10. Publish – Also known as stage “woohoo, she’s ready! No more goo!” Also known as “woohoo, I’m totally done! All the hard work is behind me!” I’ve never had a baby, so I’ll defer to you parents out there. That’s how this whole “having a baby” thing works, right? Kidding πŸ™‚

In any event, come meet my book baby tomorrow, 9th March 2016. We’re being wheeled from the hospital with our matching bracelets, and we can’t wait to see what you think.

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