10 Easy Steps to Write Your Novel

My newest writing guide is out! This project began when I tried writing a blog post about how to write a novel, but I quickly realized just how much I had to say on the topic. It turned into a 100 page guide on the entire process. Take a look at the table of contents below!

(More info on all my books for authors under Authorpreneur Press)

10 Easy Steps to Write Your Novel: The Quick Start Guide to Novel Writing.

Print for only 7.99

10 easy steps novel

The “Quick Start Guide” to outlining and writing your novel!

Helpful exercises with each step.

Tips for beginnings and more advanced writers.

Have you ever wondered how to write a novel? Have you started and got frustrated? Or have you written a few novels but still want to streamline your process and learn more about structure, plot, characters, setting, and putting it all together? Do you struggle with outlining? 10 Easy Steps to Write Your Novel covers developing ideas, conflict, characters, setting, big plot points, outlining, the writing process, writing scenes, and editing and revising.

Table of Contents:

  • Step 1: Develop your Idea
  • What about a title?
  • Developing “Sparks”
  • Questions to Consider
  • A Solid Foundation
  • Developing Your Idea Exercises
  • Step 2: Develop Your Conflict
  • Conflict Exercises
  • Step 3: Add Your Characters
  • Play Around with Character
  • Character Exercises
  • Define Your Characters
  • More Character Exercises
  • Step 4: Define Your Setting
  • Using Setting to Shape Story
  • Setting Exercises
  • Step 5: Outline your Big Plot Points
  • My Novel Structure
  • Expanding the 7 Plot Points
  • Step 6: Plan Act I to the Door of No Return
  • Outlining
  • What about Prologues?
  • That Opening Line
  • Beginnings
  • Genre Beginnings
  • “The Beginning” Exercises
  • Complications
  • The Door of No Return
  • Step 7: Plan Act II to the Midpoint
  • Act II Exercise
  • Low and High Points
  • Midpoint
  • Step 8: Act III: Plan the Middle to the End
  • Taking Action
  • Dark Moment
  • Climax
  • Resolution
  • Ending Exercises
  • The Last Line
  • Step 9: Writing
  • Writing Scenes
  • Should you write every day?
  • Should you set a daily word count goal?
  • Should you write in order?
  • Should you edit and revise during the first draft?
  • Staying in the flow
  • Keeping up your momentum
  • Celebrate your progress
  • Step 10: Re-writing & Editing
  • When should you share your work?
  • Critique Groups?
  • Start with the big issues
  • Checking Smaller Elements
  • Should you have a theme?
  • When is your novel finished?

New release for authors: 101 Questions to Improve Your Novel

It’s out in print and Kindle! And it’s in a new box set with Blockbuster Books, Broken Down–details below.

This book grew out of my experience editing and my own “final check list.”

101 Questions to Improve Your Novel: for Writing, Editing, Revising, and Polishing

From plot twists to dialogue, authors have a long list to think about when revising and polishing a novel. These 101 questions and explanations will help you improve and check your novel’s opening, plot and character development, conflict, pacing, dialogue, and of course the writing itself. After months or years of working on a story, it’s difficult to check the quality on every fiction element. 101 Questions looks at overarching issues, small details, and writing technique. You may learn about new techniques and tips, see a method differently, or realize that you forgot a trick. This handy list of 101 questions explores many possible ways to improve specific areas, add layers and depth, strengthen conflict, find plot holes, and identify writing issues.

Contents:  Workshop and Checklist,  All About STORY,  All About Editing,  The Beginning,  Sample Openings,  Plot & Structure,  Chapters & Pacing,  Scenes,  Characters,  Dialogue,  Setting,  The End,  Strong Writing,  & Final Checks
Sample Question – #40. Do all of your characters have strong feelings about each other?

Working on this element truly adds another layer to your story. In life, we meet people and classify them right away. It’s not often that we know a person but don’t have any opinions or feelings about them. But we see that in stories all the time.

Sometimes I read or edit a novel and have a hard time telling the characters apart. This arises when the characters aren’t distinct, but it’s also caused by a lack of feeling toward each other. If your hero really dislikes another character, that will color the hero’s description and interaction with that character.

Take a closer look at your work: make a list of all of your characters and then describe how your hero feels about them. If your hero doesn’t feel anything that shows in your story right now, do you need to make that character more colorful? And by colorful, I mean annoying, more pushy, more opinionated, more deceitful, more secretive, more talkative, more silent, more helpful, more sweet, more of a pushover, more something?

Look at the relationship between all of your main characters. It might help to make a chart. Then think about how they interact and secretly feel about each other. You can have a lot of fun in this area, and it really deepens your story.


101 Qs for your novel

And here’s the box set for anyone who doesn’t have Blockbuster Books already.

Both books are in Kindle Unlimited so you can borrow them,so people who aren’t signed up to use that program might want the box set.

And information on the second book:

Blockbuster BooksBlockbuster Books, Broken Down

Learn from mega bestselling novels to build your own breakout plot!

Why start from scratch and reinvent storytelling? Instead, use a 7 point plot outline developed from wildly successful novels.

“Blockbuster Books, Broken Down” is a workbook style guide that reveals the structure and elements in huge bestsellers of the last fifteen years, many of which became movies. By breaking down these books, we can see how successful authors are breaking out by satisfying readers’ needs.

This is a hands-on fiction workshop packed with insights and activities to quickly teach you breakout plotting and novel development.


A story and a sentence walked into a bar together…

They both noticed a woman with long, dark hair and an inviting smile, so they sat at the bar, four stools away from her. She glanced over at their entrance before turning back to her conversation with her friends. Sentence told Story, “Watch this. I’m going to wiggle my perfect construction at her. She won’t be able to resist!”

Story watched as Sentence tried to catch the woman’s eye. The woman and her friends gave Sentence a few polite glances, but they weren’t interested.

When Story had enough, he announced, “My turn!” He walked around Sentence to sit closer to the woman and gave her a nod and a wink. The woman immediately moved down the bar three seats to talk to Story.

“Your characters are amazing! How did you come up with this idea, anyway?” She leaned closer and tilted her head back to tease him with a half smile. “And the twist at the end! I didn’t see that coming, but then it made perfect sense. Please tell me there’s a sequel. Does Jake ever win Kathryn over, and does his father ever forgive him? Is there another mystery to solve?”

Story motioned for another round of drinks and murmured, “I’ll tell you everything if you have a few hours…”

Sentence sulked in his seat. What had he done wrong?

“Sentence” missed the simple fact that readers don’t go into bookstores and online retailers to buy groups of sentences. There aren’t any reviews that read, “This book is full of perfect sentences! Check out the metaphor on page 82. The sentences were so wonderful that I forgot about the story and highlighted the commas and semicolons. This author knows how to vary sentence length! Wonderful!”

Readers often say a novel is well written, and they might mention the imagery or fresh use of language, but that alone won’t win readers. Personally, I don’t want to throw a reader out of the story with a impressive sentence. I want the plot and characters to pull the reader in so she’ll keep reading past her bedtime. Of course, I don’t want poor writing to distract the reader either, but I know the point of the novel is the story.

As an artist, do you want others to see the picture you’re painting or the brushstrokes?

Do you need to write well on a sentence level to write good stories? Yes, of course! But are the sentences more important than the story you’re telling? Not in my opinion. Aren’t authors selling stories, not sentences?

Writing well is very important. I don’t mean to argue that point, but it really bugs me when I hear someone put down a mega bestselling author for their writing. It’s usually on a sentence level: “Look at all the clichés, passive voice, and simple sentences! A fifth grader could write better.” It could be true–the given book might very well be full of sentences that could be written better. Maybe their modifiers don’t line up. Maybe they like using clichés as shortcuts in certain places. Maybe they choose choppy or run on sentences over proper grammar to show the character’s thoughts and emotions. But, if the writing really is that poor, then the author must be doing something else right. And that “something else” really sells copies. Millions of readers are buying those books. Despite what people say, you can’t sell a book month after month on marketing alone. If it’s not a good story, people complain. They won’t tell other people about the book.

Readers want an experience away from their life. They want to get sucked into a great story that makes them forget everything else for a few hours. They want to connect with the character and see the world differently. They want to experience a great story. They want to feel.

So, yes, please learn to write sentences well and play with language. Study English, spelling, and grammar. Create fresh images and strive to be original. Learn how to write well so readers can understand what you’re saying. And if you want to sell that writing, remember your job is to tell a damn good story.

Writing & Publishing Roundup 2014

So, it was another crazy year in publishing.Trade book prices came down, overall book quality (Indie and trade) went up in my opinion due to increased competition, and the number of books on the market skyrocketed. Of course, that’s been a trend over the last few years. Kindle Unlimited rolled out in the US and then in countries all over the world, drastically cutting book sales for many authors. I think a few have profited, but I’ve seen a majority of authors saying their sales (including borrows) and income doing a nosedive.Yeah, publishing continues to change, and the playing field has leveled out once again, where Indies no longer have an advantage with lower prices and faster releases.

All of the above is good for readers. I’ll admit I’m happy I can get books from my favorite authors for lower prices. And, the truth is, being an author isn’t like other jobs. You don’t put in the time and schooling and then know you have a career path with steadily increasing pay. Being an artist of any kind has challenges. Authors are creatives and business people, and our books have to compete with Facebook, TV, free content, and all the other books out there. In essence, if you’re going to be an author, you have to do it because you love it.

What about me? I’ve been writing away as usual. I released three full novels in 2014:

Costa Rica,  In A Field of Oranges, and  It’s All In My Head 

Links to different retailers on my homepage. There’s also my Amazon book page.

And I recently released the first novella in a new romantic thriller series, Stranger in my Bed. This first novella doesn’t have so much of the romantic element in it–I’d even call it a psychological thriller.

2014 was a really great writing year for me. I pushed myself to offer something really different with each book. I took It’s All In My Head to a week long, intensive writing workshop, and it eventually became my longest work to date, and my first novel in 1st person. I just LOVE that story and the characters. Some books are harder to write, and that one had challenges, but I still smile when I think about the writing process, and remember it like a life-changing vacation.

I took the lessons learned while writing that novel and started my new series. There’s a lot of mystery in Stranger in my Bed. It’s great fun to write! I also wanted to try a different format, so I’m using a TV episode format, where I’m going to release novellas hopefully once every month. The entire story is much bigger than my usual novel length, too, so this format works well. I really like having smaller conflicts in each novella that will also build the overall problem. In the end, I’ll probably release a box set of the entire story.

I’m also finishing a noBlockbuster Books, Broken Down - so you can write your wonnfiction project–my first book about novel writing. I’ve held off on offering writing advice because there’s an abundance of that there. But I haven’t seen one that covered my content. I took my notes on bestsellers and looked at lists of books that were turned into movies, and something jumped out at me. It was one of those amazing moments when a light bulb turned on and I literally stood up in amazement. This happens when I see something about my writing or writing in general, but I’ve never felt my new insight was a really new insight for writers in general. This time I thought, wow, I need to share this! So I am.

The guide is actually about plotting, creating a blockbuster plot, and making any story bigger. I break down the plot of mega bestsellers to form a simple novel map that anyone can use to plan their novel with critical points that set stories apart.

Blockbuster Books, Broken Down is up for pre-order in Kindle and will release on January 30, 2015. There’s a workbook for the print version, and I hope to release that in January.

Well, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and New Year– I’m celebrating Christmas vacation with two weeks of sleeping in!