30 Steps to Writing a Fiction Novel in 30 Days

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(First things first.  When this blog series was first started it became so popular with my readers that I’ve decided to finish it as a book. The first three posts are available online still, but the rest of the series will be available for purchase in the form of a book in the summer of 2020.)

Now that has been stated it’s time for…

Disclaimer, I’m not a big-time success or even hugely popular (I have a small but loyal following when it comes to my books) , and I can’t make any guarantees that what I have to say will make you a success.  All I’m doing is sharing what works for me with you.  Maybe it will help you as a writer.  I hope it will.  What I do know is that I’m not one of those people who has a novel burst forth from her fingertips fully formed and in the correct order.  (And if you are one of those people, I would like to know what sorcery you possess and how do I obtain it.)  My novels come in bits and spurts with bitch-slaps of inspiration which leave me seeing nothing else for hours only to fade away if not jotted down quickly enough.  This technique I’m sharing with you, helped me keep the seeds of creativity safely stored until I was able to sprout and nurture them days and even weeks later.

How to Write a Novel in 30 Days!

Write an entire novel in 30 days?  You ask with skepticism.  However, there are lots of people out there who not only think it is possible, they try to do it every year.  Some of them even succeed.  There’s an entire online community built around the idea.  The example which comes to mind is NanoWriMo.

Whether or not any of the writing which results is completed and ready to publish, I don’t know.  I could probably find out but that isn’t the point of this series.  The point is to help you do it; start to finish.  All gritty details included.  If you do it right and follow the whole series, you might hate me in the very near future, much as anyone hates when their coach pushes them to do what we know you are capable of and not just let you put in the effort you feel like putting in.  (Whether you finish your novel in 30 days will depend on how long your novel is and how many hours you are able to put into it per day.)

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Over the series you will go from a vague idea (or maybe you have something more corporeal) to a finished fully structured and complete story.  My book Chieftess took three months to write using the technique outlined in this series of posts, however, I only worked on it an average of about two sometimes three hours a week with most of those hours being between bouts of delirium one week while I was home sick and stuck in bed.  That is a total of between twenty-four to thirty-six hours of effort.  For the 2018 NanoWriMo this is how I completed Empire of Man which comes out late 2019 (Keep an eye out for pre-sales).

Please understand this is an introduction to writing a novel.  It will be a short novel suitable for publishing as an e-book but probably wouldn’t look like much as a paperback.  I list ten chapters in this proposed book.  Many people will feel that is too short.  Whatever.  Just give it a try.  At the very least it will be a great writing exercise for those who have no idea where to start. 

What you will learn:

  • Day 1) Brain Storming – who, what, where, when and why, also why this is not plotting
  • Day 2) Plotting – In a general sense create a conflict/problem and determine the solution
  • Day 3) Creating your world
  • Day 4) Character development
  • Day 5) Place development
  • Day 6) Cultural development
  • Day 7) Species (this step may be unnecessary for some fiction.  Though if you are unfamiliar with any of your subjects or want to keep scientific facts straight then I suggest some thorough detailing of these things.)
  • Day 8) Plants
  • Day 9) Animals
  • Day 10) Sentients
  • Day 11) Outlining – series
  • Day 12) Outlining – chapters
  • Day 13) Outlining Scenes – if you do not intend to write the story now, after this step is the most convenient stopping point.
  • Day 14) Do You Need a Prologue?  Well Do Ya? –
  • Day 15) Writing Your First Scene – Oh, no!  What am I doing?  Writing the first scene.  You outlined it but aren’t quite sure how to flesh it out.
  • Day 16) Writing Your Next Scene – Crap! Another one?!
  • Day 17) Completing your first chapter – I can’t believe I thought I could do this.  Building suspense, urgency, and conflict.  Main conflict and first act conflict established.
  • Day 18) Chapter Two – Do you have continuity?  Have you been head hopping too much? (ie. How many brains does your reader see through?)  Who has the most to lose?  Who has the most to gain?  Are the good guys still good?  What are their motivations and what side of the conflict are they on?
  • Day 19) Chapter Three – All the characters are present.  The main conflict creates ongoing tension and urgency while the solution to the first act conflict is discovered.
  • Day 20) Chapter Four – Resolving your first conflict. (Read action!)  How did we get into more trouble?  Second act conflict is revealed and may or may not be related to the main conflict
  • Day 21) Chapter Five – Starting the second act in danger/with drama and making people want to read more.  Second act conflict is hinted at in the final paragraphs of the previous chapter.  Now the full extent of danger and second act conflict is established. 
  • Day 22) Chapter Six – Continuing the journey and searching for a solution to current conflict and main conflict. 
  • Day 23) Chapter Seven – Resolving current conflict and gearing up for the final act.  Action, triumph, and more damned trouble.  Oh, it’s the same damn trouble we’ve been trying to stop from the very start.
  • Day 24) Chapter 8 – More obstacles in the way.  The big bad’s minions, or fate shitting on your character?
  • Day 25) Chapter 9 – Discovering the solution.  Charging to the rescue. 
  • Day 26) Chapter 10 – Writing the Ending. Killing the bad guy, solving the problem, happily ever after.  Or is it?
  • Day 27) Reading Your Novel – Don’t change anything.  Just read it.  Make notes.
  • Day 28) Reworking Your Novel (Read: Structural Editing) Time to break out the big guns and do some heavy lifting with moving things that need moving.
  • Day 29) Editing for Spelling and Grammar – is your word processing program enough or should you invest in specialized software?
  • Day 30) Trimming the fat – removing unnecessary or over used words.  Using a thesaurus to substitute out words which are used frequently but can’t be removed

If you want to read a book written with this technique, take a look at my novel Chieftess.  This technique, with its ten-chapter structure, was developed specifically for writing books in my Maker of Fate series.  Are you ready to get started?  Are you interested in trying?  Next week’s post will start the series with Day 1 – Brainstorming

Tell me what you think in the comments section.  I would love t o hear from my readers regarding this content.

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