How to Write a Novel

“What really counts is the application of simple, unremitting hard work, nose to the grindstone, putting in the reps, and slogging it out over time.”

1-463241697_1000The past couple of days have been good days for my new novel. I’ve actually found time to deep-dive some into the story and I’ve learned a lot – both about a couple of my characters and the general direction of the plot.

“What!” you say. “You don’t have the book plotted out by now?”

No, gentle reader, that does not seem to be how the writing is working out at this juncture. Oh, I started out with my own ideas and some firm plans in my head, but then I found myself listening to the characters and apparently there are layers I hadn’t even imagined, and plot twists I honestly didn’t see coming.

Today, for example, my protagonist walked into a public library and the moment he started talking with the guy at the reference desk I could tell they had some history. I’m sure I’m going to learn something new about the story when they get together for a beer later in the evening. Whatever happens next, it likely won’t be something I had anticipated before their paths crossed.

Learning as I go:

BookCoverImageFor me, this is all a revelation. I am competent and comfortable writing inspirational books – my seven titles have sold upwards of 50,000 copies and I know I have reached even more people than that. But the WW2 story I published last fall (Suddenly the Light Was Gone) was something brand new for me, and now – buoyed by the confidence of a well-received first effort – I’m very excited about the book I’m crafting now.

I’m can’t be sure exactly when I’ll be finished, but this new book is going to be much longer (300-400 pages), a lot deeper and richer (more literary in style), and far more grown up in tone. In Suddenly the Light Was Gone I carefully re-engineered the more troubling or sensitive scenes to make them more accessible to young adult readers; I can promise that won’t be the case in this new novel.

Insight into the process:

The reason this is my topic for today’s post is so I can offer some insight into the creative process. Life has been overwhelming recently, and I have been unable to string together enough hours of uninterrupted time to move the story forward at all – until the past couple of days.

You see it doesn’t matter how much natural ability someone has as a writer, or how many great ideas you have in terms of plot; what really counts is the application of simple, unremitting hard work, nose to the grindstone, putting in the reps, and slogging it out over time.

If I’m to have a prayer of presenting this project to the public in time for Christmas 2018, then I’m going to have to put in a good 500 hours more of deeply engaged writing, focused, in increments of at least four-to-five hours at a time.

No, I’m not going to escape to some Hemingway-esque retreat and isolate myself for a couple of months! But I am going to be more deliberate about the process.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, you can find my other eight books either at my author page at Amazon, or just my Upper Room titles at the Upper Room Books site. Please consider making a small investment in a couple of books and then let me know what you think.

Peace and more – DEREK

Find Derek Maul’s books at:

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