Image: "Catalina State Park, Arizona" (c) 2014 Stu Jenks.
On How To Write A Novel by Stu Jenks.
(This is just how I do things. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but there are commonalities between what I do and what other writer folk do. And to those of you writing your first novel, maybe, just maybe, this will help. It's why I'm writing this piece.)
1) I think about the story I want to tell, that I must tell. I don't think about it long. I have work to do.
2) I create the characters, make up their names, write their back stories. I write all these down in aseparate document that I add to as the novel progresses, as my characters grow, shrink and change.
3) I start the story in the middle of something big.
4) Now I write.
5) I write everyday or at least 5 days out of 7.
6) I write everyday until I'm boring myself, or I start lying or being cute, or until I'm just dried up. For me I write between 1 to 3 hours a day. I end my daily writing after I've started the next new chapter. Even it it's been a shitty writing day, I still right to the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.
7) The next day, I go back and read what I've written the day before. Only the day before. I fix typos and add or edit a little here and there, but not too much. Then I start writing anew again. I stop when I reach the end of a chapter or when I'm dry or dull, which ever comes last.
8) I Repeat. I Repeat. I Repeat.
9) In about a year, I had my first novel. Sort of.
10) I then go back to the beginning of the novel and began reading it, fixing typos, syntax, and taking out the boring stuff and the stuff that doesn't fit or just sucks. This takes a while. About a couple to three weeks.
11) After I've done that, I find an content editor. A real editor. Someone I pay. I pay her well. Also, I find friends who will read my stuff. They are almost always right in how I've missed the bar. I listen to my editors and readers.
12) I then find a line editor to fix punctuation, syntax, misspellings, etc. I pay her well. As Stephen King and others have said: "To write is human, to edit, divine."
There are many more steps to getting my books to market. It's like putting a fattened hog in the back of a pickup truck to take it into town for slaughter. It takes a good deal of effort and it's not easy, but it's need to be done. Those steps I'll talk about later in another StuBlog post.
To sum up:
I think up a good story. A story I really need to tell. A story I want to read.
I write everyday. Even when I don't feel like it. Even when I'm writing shit. I write everyday.
I finish the first draft, warts and all. The road to Hell is paved with unfinished novels.
I give the book to my two editors and a friend or two. I listen to what they have to say.
I edit the book myself one last time.
And as I go into the printing/publishing/designing stage, I think about the next story I need to tell. And begin on that.
Step Zero, my first novel is out. Air & Gravity, the second novel, is at the second reader. And I'm working on the first draft of the third book now, a Christmas novella.
And on with life and work I go.
Hope this proved helpful to y'all.
Love, light and luck,