December 1st, 2014

Some people find it hard to believe that anyone could write an entire novel from start to finish in just thirty days. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not only possible, but to show you exactly how it's done in just twelve easy steps.

  1. Write your query letter first. Seriously. Because if you can't succinctly describe and sell the book you're about to write now, you're not ready to write a book. You might learn a lot about yourself at this stage and save yourself a lot of revision time later.
  2. Before November begins, spend anywhere between one and one hundred and twenty months preparing. Plan your book and make sure you know enough about your subject matter to make your writing believable.
  3. During November, write like the wind. This is "Draft Zero", the stage where you tell yourself the story. Concentrate on the story, not the storytelling. Does it have legs? Is it going anywhere? That's exactly what you're going to find out this month.
  4. When the story is done, walk away from it. At least a week, but if you can, just enjoy December and pick it up next year.
  5. In January, print it out and read it. Mark what you liked and what you didn't like. Make detailed notes about what worked and what didn't.
  6. By February you should be able to begin the actual manuscript. We'll call this one the first draft.
  7. Spend two or three months on it. Feel free to self-edit along the way. You might be surprised what hits you now that didn't even occur to you in Draft Zero.
  8. Now it's ready for your first readers. Hand it to them and say, "Please read my book and tell me what you think." Be patient and don't pester them. They have lives too.
  9. When they tell you what they think, listen to them. Don't pout like a baby. Woman up about it. And definitely do not tell them in great detail why their opinion is wrong unless you've somehow also worked out a way for you to visit all ten thousand people who eventually buy your book and personally explain to them why they were wrong about why they didn't like your favorite scene.
  10. Take all feedback (including your own) and start the next draft.
  11. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
  12. When you're absolutely positive you're done, crack open that query letter, freshen it up, and send it off.

And you thought it couldn't be done.

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