32 Easy Steps to Writing a Novel
1. Hatch brilliant idea and jot it down.
2. Get excited! You're going to be a writer!
3. Jot all your initial thoughts into a word document or whatever.
4. See it's a jumbled mess and delete it.
5. Mull the idea over for 4-6 more months until it all snaps into place, baby!
6. You've got this! You're going to be a writer!
7. Write a plot outline of insanely nested bullet points. Spend more time confirming minor details of niche topics on Wikipedia than actually writing.
8. Crank out three character sketches of people you'll eventually realize you don't like. Spend more time on baby-name-meanings websites than actually writing.
9. See it's all just a jumbled mess, consider deleting it, but don't this time. Very important.
10. Get a coffee or something. Drink it! You're going to be a writer, damn it!
11. Research ambient mood music to write to on Youtube. Get in that keyboard zone.
12. Realize your outline has glaring plot holes and that your characters are more boring and ineffectual than watching a single drop of food coloring dissolve in a glass of water.
13. Realize your similes and metaphors are weird and dumb.
14. Succumb to existential despair as your plot unravels and your characters do nothing.
15. Type word after tedious word in the hopes that a meteor will destroy Earth before you finish the first draft.
16. Get back to drafting but spend more time on synonym websites than actually writing.
17. Cry hard. Cry often. Wrench your heart. Tear your hair. Gnash your teeth. You're going to be a writer, and no natural force in the universe shall stop you.
18. Attempt to explain the plot to a friend. Fail miserably. They don’t get it. Realize that you don’t get it, either.
19. Realize you never had a cohesive idea in the first place. None of this makes sense. Geometry has ceased to function. 90 degrees is no longer a right angle. Time takes less time than it used to.
20. Realize it's 3 A.M. and the only thing you wrote today was this sentence: "The castle’s gray walls were consisted of gray stone hewn from larger stones mined from Graystone Quarry."
21. Check your word count. 50,000 in under a year! You are become a writer!
22. Every time you fix a plot hole in your draft, go back and fix it in your outline.
23. Take a break from the rough draft to write an article "How to Write Your First Novel in 39 Easy Steps." The world will thank you for your sage advice. Edit it down to 32 steps one breezy afternoon.
24. Hammer those keys until your rough draft's amorphous, hideous mass emerges from beyond the torn veil of your cracked imagination.
25. IT IS DONE! YOU ARE WRITER!
26. But wait! What about second draft? Stuff that first draft abomination into a drawer for 6-16 weeks or months or whatever. At least until you forget the whiff of its unnatural odor.
27. Read that shit. Annotated that shit. Fix that shit what you annotated. Realize you're way off from your original outline and wonder why you spent so much time agonizing of its details if you were just going to abandon it every time your characters demanded anyway.
28. Print off a newer, better copy. Mail it to your friends. They probably won't read it. Stuff it back in that magic drawer for another several weeks.
29. Bust out the 'search and replace' function of your word processing unit. Fix every discrepancy you can find ranging from characters' names, descriptions, attitudes, voices, actions, beliefs, and overall arcs. Rinse and repeat for settings, worldbuilding, and plot (again, again).
30. Look at your horrid sentences. They meander like lost zombies in search of brains you’re sure you left behind long ago. Sentences clear as obsidian. Some of them don't possess recognizable verbs. Fix that shit.
31. Read your manuscript backwards. Cross those T's! Dot them I's! You are a writer, so you better strap in!
32. When the dust settles and normalcy returns to your domicile, understand that you have wrought something from nothing. Or from several nothings. You have cast your lasso into the aether and pulled out thought after thought and stapled them together. Now, it’s time to try to find an agent so other people can read your masterpiece. Writer! Huzzah!
I hope this little insight entertained you, fellow writer. Drafting a novel is hard. Finishing one is a gargantuan task. You can do it, though, with practice and persistence. Like any skill, writing is a product of your attention to it.
Read others' good writing. Then, write and rewrite your bad writing until it becomes good writing.
No one is born with the gift.
-W. L. Prowell