Write Until it is Right – Building a Better Novel

Writing my first best selling novel is taking much longer than I thought. The first words were written out twenty-two years ago. As my writing evolves and grows so does the words in the novel.

I am on my fifth or sixth re-write. In truth, I have now lost count. The benefit of a professional critique, critiques from fellow writers and practice have all helped to make a better creation than what I first completed three years ago. I now understand that writing a novel is not just about putting words down on paper that tell a story. It is about creating an experience.

Tips for Building a Better Novel

    1. Finish the story. The only thought should be finishing the book. The number of pages, the editing or any other deterrence. Just sit down and write it out.

    2. Edit the novel for spelling and grammar. Check for any major plot problems and repairs those as well.

    3. Set the story aside for a time. Let it rest. A great story is like fine wine. It needs time to rest for the real beauty to come alive.

    4. Read the story as a reader and not as the writer. My first read through I wanted to toss the first four chapters completely. It was not bad writing but it was bad for the story experience.

    5. Go back through and write it out again. Use this time to edit major hurdles you had with the reading.

    6. Print out several copies and ask people that you trust but that are well read to read the novel. Give them the freedom to make notes and comments.

    7. Use these new ideas to make edits and changes.

    8. Invest in a professional critique. Find someone with experience in the industry to help you see the good, the bad and the ugly of what you are writing.

    9. Let the novel sit again. Walk away. Work on other projects.

    10. Read the novel, review the notes from the critique and re-write once again.

A novel reaches completion when it provides an experience even to the writer. The process can not be rushed. The words need time to evolve, expand and become the story that they are working to become. The best written novel is one that is written until it is right.

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  • Hi Kathryn –

    Twenty-two years? Wow! I’m hit four years this month and thought that was long. Hopefully, all your good advice, writers conferences, craft books, and crit partners will speed up the process for me. 🙂


  • Hi Kathryn!

    It sounds like you’re very passionate about telling this story! That’s a great feeling. I have found that a critique group is an invaluable experience and it’s motivating because you have to have content for them to critique each month, or however often you meet.

    I agree with your points, particularly the one about setting it aside for a time and also your first point about finishing it before you worry about anything else.

    I’ve also found that it pays to know where you’re going. Not necessarily an outline or plot summary, though that is what works best for me, but to be able to know what’s going to happen in the beginning, middle and end so you don’t have sagging parts and your scenes all work together.

    Happy writing!

  • You have inspired me to get started. I’ve had a burning idea for 2 years and put nothing on paper yet. I’m at the very beginning of WRITE. Don’t know what I’ll do with it when I’m finished, but right now I need to get writing……….. thanks!