You’ve reached the point where an idea that’s been bubbling in the back of your head is finally ready to germinate into a real idea!


Bad News!

It takes a lot of work!


The only way a novel gets written is if you sit down and write it. Now, there are a great many things that can help you make the whole process easier. I should mention, these are things that work for me. Every writer’s style and process is different, so play around with various techniques and find one that works for you. For me, this is what I do:


Step One: I pare down my idea to its absolute basics into one or two lines. If it’s about a boy falling in love with a girl who is a magical time traveler stuck in 1999, then that’s all I write, I concentrate on building the rest of the world/conflict/story in my outline.


Step two: I write a treatment. This is anywhere from one to two pages of the story summarized as I see it. It goes into some depth, I throw in the basic conflict, maybe the theme if I see one jump out at me (I forget, might’ve been Stephen King who said it, that the best themes and symbolism are the ones that you write by accident without realizing it), and maybe a twist if you’re so inclined.


I take my treatment and then write extensive details about the world my character inhabits. Using the time traveling girlfriend as an example, I would think about how she time travels, why she does it, is she magic? or smart enough to build her own delorean? Does she want to travel back to 1999 on purpose and if so, why? Is she in love with the protagonist? Is she the protagonist? What motivates her to get back to her boyfriend in 2012? Is the boyfriend trying to build his own time machine to get back to her? Is she sending messages to him through time to help get her back? Is the trip fatal? All these things I include in the expanded treatment as I call it.


Next up is the step outline which for those unfamiliar (which I haven’t seen a lot of people use actually) is basically a beat by beat of the book itself going through each scene one line at a time.


1) GF builds time machine and accidentally travels back through time to 1999.


2) BF comes in with the intent to propose and discovers her time travel machine and her disappeared.


3) BF recieves letter from GF announcing where she is ala Marty McFly style.


4) GF discovers 1999 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be what with Blockbuster video late rental fees and the lack of internet…


…and so on and so forth til we reach the logical conclusion of the story.


Then I take all that and let it simmer. I leave it for a day or two and then come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. I rewrite what works, delete what doesn’t and all in all decide if my novel is ready to begin.


Then I write it.


I don’t set writing goals for myself. I find that guilt won’t motivate me. Some days I’ll write 500 words and I’ll think it sucks. And others, I’ll write 12,000 words of perfect prose without blinking an eye.


I keep track of my daily writing on a Google Calendar I have set up and since I know I have to report at the end of the day whether or not I did any work, I find the motivation comes naturally.


Good luck to you! Write a best seller!


Rick Johnson



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