How to Produce a Novel - Overview

 
The following is an outline of the information in these pages. The presentation is designed to be followed in sequence, however, links are provided to go to areas of interest.
   
All writers who aspire to authorship...
   ...should see the movie Genius, a biopic of editor Max Perkins's professional interaction with Thomas Wolfe, Earnest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In one scene, Wolfe brings a thousand-page handwritten manuscript to Perkins in cartons. Perkins ultimately edits it, paring it down, reordering scenes, deleting characters, and identifying plot issues for Wolfe to address.

The point? Until it is published, your manuscript is not a book; it is a work-in-progress.

If you are well into your first draft, or have completed it, you'll be loath to delve back into your main story, plot, characters, and settings, but you must be prepared to do so. Your story could be compelling, but the presentation may be challanging to follow or flawed. Some character may lack motivation or be superfluous. Some descriptions may be mamby pamby.

In the old days, there were Max Perkinses to sort it out. Not so today. We must excavate our imperfections ourselves. To smooth out the rough areas, scenes can be added, deleted, altered, and rearranged. Characters and plot points might be reconfigured. A character who has morphed from bad-guy to the not-so-bad-after-all guy may require ousting completely. Your favorite turns-of-phrase may need to be cut because they no longer fit the context of the scene.

Faulkner famously summarized the process: "In writing, kill all your darlings." It is the mantra of the serious writing community.
   
For all the reasons you sought advice and are here, read these discussions. With the exception of Finding an idea, which may apply only if you are beginning to write, all the topics outlined below will impact your final revision and prepare it for publication.
   
Finding an idea
  The Creative Process
  Flash Fiction
  Floodgate Fiction
  Writing Prompts
  Resurected Storylines
 
Preparing Yourself to Write
  Olympic runners couldn't walk at birth. So, too, before they penned their first composition, the greatest writers needed to learn the language and study the art and craft of putting words on the page through mentorship, internship, independent or formal study, and by being avid readers. It is never too late.
  What you must read
  Are you an Outliner or Pantser?
  Research
 
The Writing
  From the Department of Understatement:
There are a lot of places to read about how to write.
  From the Bureau of Reality:
Most say the same thing in almost the same words.
  From the Division of Practicality:
You don't have the time to read and sort through thousands of blogs, web sites, chat groups, and fora about how to write. You need to learn and implement.
  From the Board of Personal Responsibility:
You must have the patience to prepare yourself by efficiently and effectively investing a writer's one commodity—time—to learn, practice, and emmulate.
 
Self-editing
  Unless you pay thousands of dollars to each of several different classes of editors to transform you draft into a publishable work, you must do it yourself.
  Learning to use the tools
  Overcoming common writing errors
 
Feedback and Review
  Every writer has a message to convey. Even if you're just telling a story. But is it sufficiently intriguing to make a reader invest up to ten hours of their life listening?
  Beta-readers
  Soliciting feedback
 
Publishing
  The techtonic plates have shifted and a single publishing continent is now two.
  Agents and Publishers
  Self- versus traditional publishing


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How to Produce a Novel
  Overview
Stage I: First Draft
  Stage I, page 2
  Stage I, page 3
Writing Intermezzo I
  Preparation for Self-Editing
Stage II: Self-Editing
  Stage II, page 2
  Stage II, page 3
Stage III: Feedback/Review
Stage IV: Publishing
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