Is there a best way to write a novel? #SoCS


Is there a best way to write a novel?

I’m sure there are at least as many ways to write a novel as authors writing. In fact, there are probably more, because authors could even write each book in a different way.

I don’t know if my way of writing is the best way, it probably isn’t, because I’m fairly new to this profession, having only written two novels so far, but what I do know is that it’s the way that works for me.

I call it the layered approach. First I ‘see’ the chapter or scene I’m about to write. I imagine the conversation, situation, place, and or action which will take place, and when I feel confident about it, I start writing.

The first draft is often an outline, just so I don’t forget, because I have another full-time job and a family, and sometimes I just don’t have the time to develop the idea fully when the idea comes.

During the next stage, I keep thinking about and seeing the scene. I call it ‘summoning’, as I walk, drive, cook, or even dream. If I can, I talk to someone about it, if not I talk to myself about it.

Then I expand the outline, and I continue expanding the outline, with various layers, on different occasions. Each layer focuses on a different aspect, character, or part of the scene. The layering is repeated until I’m satisfied. Then comes the editing, which I consider the final layer.

This process can take days, weeks, or even months, because sometimes I leave the first drafts and return much later, after writing other scenes. I never write chronologically, that is in the order the book finally appears.

I plan the whole novel before I start, but it’s a very loose plan, because I know the characters grow as I write, which sometimes affects the plot, and even the ending. I want to make sure I’m writing with a goal but without constraints.

I imagine it’s like filming. I’m sure no director starts filming scene one and carries through filming in the same sequence as the final film appears at the cinema.  I’m also pretty sure painters don’t start at the top of the canvass and finish at the bottom when they paint! The creative process is far too anarchic, eclectic, and subconscious, to follow a strict routine, although the final product looks deceptively ‘neat and tidy’.

Are you an artist? How do you create your work of art? Do you also do it like this?


This post was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s #SoCS: Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

This week’s prompt is: Use the word “is” to begin your post – bonus points for using it (as a word on its own or at the end of your final word, i.e. “metamorphosis”) at the end of your post as well. Have fun!

Would you like to read some of the other posts?