by: George Hutton

Have you a fantastic idea for a novel that you are sure will be a smash best seller, if you could only get it out of your head and on paper? Would you love to have written a novel, but aren’t quite sure how to actually get started? Well, relax, this is your lucky day. You’re about to learn how to write a novel in three months or less. You’ll need a couple of hours a day, a good deal of persistence, and some limber fingers (you’re going to be doing a lot of typing).

The first step is to create all your characters. There are plenty of ways to do this, but you want to make them as real and as concrete as you can. Describe them in much more detail than you would in your book, describe all of their strengths and weaknesses, and put them in various situations just to see how they’d react. Give yourself two weeks for this step.

The next step is to create all your steps. This is best done on a big long sheet of paper, like butcher paper. Or your desk, or whatever. Each step should be only a couple sentences, and when finished, it should be a layout of your entire novel from start to finish. If you like, there are plenty of software programs created specifically for this purpose. Give yourself two weeks for this step.

Believe it or not, next comes the easiest part, the writing. Since you’ve already figured out the character and the basic plot, you shouldn’t have too much trouble actually writing everything out. Don’t worry about mistakes, or even filling a page with gibberish. Just keep writing without stopping. If you’ve done sufficient work building the characters and the plot, this part should actually be pretty easy. Give yourself a month to do this. If your book is a normal sized novel, you’ll need to write two or three thousand words a day. Get your coffee pot fired up, and turn off the TV for a month.

Now you’ve got a pretty rough draft finished, it’s time to go through and polish it. The first pass through, focus only on the spelling and grammar errors. Nothing else. The second and third pass is when you should focus on the actual writing and make any changes you think are necessary. It can be helpful to get a second opinion, but it’s not necessary. Give yourself another month for this step.

And, you’re done. One month of prep work, one month to hammer out the guts of your story, and another month to refine everything and make it perfect. After you hand your polished manuscript over to your agent, you can get started on your next best seller.

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