The Keys to Writing a Novel


Key number 1 – Read! A lot. Read other authors to see how they style things. How do they set up a scene?  How do they create characters?  How do they create an emotional response; any response – love, hate, fear, joy, humor, bad humor, a desire to go to a book burning.

Read different genres. If you’re writing a detective book read sci fi.  If you’re writing romance read about zombies. Actually those two are pretty close to the same. In romance two people try to consume each other emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Zombies want to eat brains. See? The same.

Key number B -Write every day. The easiest way to start a book is to write something. It doesn’t matter what it is. It can be a shopping list, a recollection of a past event, or anything that hits your brain. Just write. If you don’t shop, there are exercises on line to help you think out side the box (ie your skull).  Eventually something will click. You’ll create a character you love. Or you’ll come up with a unique phrase. I mean pretty much every country song starts with a hook phrase.

And do it every day. It isn’t important how long you sit and write. It is important that you do it every day. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Pen up, pen down, pen up…

Key number III – Bring in the most talented team you can find. I was a terrible writer (maybe still am but for my great team) but I have a very visual brain. I can see scenes and think I can convert them into black and white marks on a piece of paper. It doesn’t always translate. A team that gets to know you helps interprut your mush and helps to convert it into a fine dining.

Oh and trust your team. They can do lots of good stuff like help create something that will be read by a customer, or keep you from being sued for libel, or protect you from embarrassing yourself. That’s been my biggest fear. Writing something so offensive that I become the target of a social media hate campaign.

Of course letting others in means you have to be willing to delete chunks of work or witty (to you only) phrases. It gets harder the farther you go into the process. You’ll start to see your characters as real people. Changing the color of their eyes can be emotionally challenging.

Key number four – Invest yourself. I mean if you can’t feel it, a reader definitely isn’t going to. If you’re writing a scene about a first kiss think about yours. Describe what you saw, felt, smelled, heard. Involve all of the senses.   This means puting on paper for the world to read how you really feel about things. It’s like running naked on a really dark night. People know you’re exposing yourself, but they can’t quite pick out the real you. You’ve disguised you with half truths and things that have nothing to do with the real you.
Key number Z –  Don’t sweat it. Don’t worry about how many copies you’ll sell. If it’s one it’s a blessing. Everybody has different goals when they write. My original goal was to finish a book so I could say I had. With that accomplished I set a new goal, sell a copy. Nailed it.  Next, sell one in a foreign market. Been there done that. Next, make money. Workin on that one. And my next one?  An appearance on the Ellen show. Why not?  Why not me?  Got to always have a dream.


M. Louis is the author of the Jake Brand PI series.  Sign up and get a free copy of book 1, Angel’s Devil rated 4.6 stars on Amazon.   Secondhand Smoke (Book 2) is now available. It’s free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers / 2.99 for ebook.



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