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Becoming a Published Author Series: Accessing your Novel Writing Progress

For the next 5 weeks The Book Faery Reviews will be posting the Becoming a Published Author series written by Holly Lisle.  Future posts will begin with BaPA:”title”.  Lisle is a full-time writer who has sold 30+ novels to major publishers and is the creator of the “How to Think Sideways Career Survival School for Writers” .


Assessing your Novel Writing Progress: Check These Four Things

You have reached the middle of your novel. It is a good place to take a breather and look at your work. Is the ending you envisioned still in sight? Did you take a detour along the way?

Before you take out the red pen, or worse, stoke the fires, take a look at four things that accurately assess your progress thus far. This part of the process is meant to be fun, not painful. Rewrites are not allowed.

Firstly, how much fun are you having? Writing is fun for writers. You eat, sleep, and breathe how words can come to life. Writing garbage to please the market means selling yourself short. You can’t live with that.

Working with your Muse should be an enjoyable experience. The ride may not always be smooth, but the finished product is well worth the trip. When you feel like you are at odds with your Muse on every page, close up shop. It is time to start over with another idea.

Secondly, take another look at The Sentence. You want to be sure you haven’t jumped the tracks. Does it still hold true? If the answer is yes, breathe a sigh of relief and make your way to step three.

If the answer is no, it’s not so terrible. Your sentence just needs some work to fit the main idea of your story. Changing your sentence may be necessary to capture the heart of your book. The actual manuscript won’t be harmed in any way.

The third thing to investigate is your characters. They are your children. Is everyone obeying mommy and daddy or do one or two want to go their own way? It’s time to ply the wayward offspring with goodies or lock them in the closet (I in no way endorse this method for human children) to make them behave. Don’t change their behavior on paper—keep any changes in your mind for now.

The last thing involves your plot. You had one when you began the story. Consult your plot cards for directions. It’s okay to ask for directions if you are going to follow them. Don’t be afraid to cut loose or change plot lines that are not working for you.

Before you get discouraged, first follow the steps above. No major surgery is allowed while the story is as yet unfinished. Any major nipping and tucking now could do more harm than good to your characters and your story. Complete your first draft and then we’ll talk about going under the knife.

Want to stay on track with your writing and sell your writing? Holly Lisle is a full-time writer who has sold 30+ novels to major publishers and is the creator of the “How to Think Sideways Career Survival School for Writers”. Go to http://howtothinksideways.com/members/?rid=1012 and access 3 free lessons that teach you straight from her highly-acclaimed course.


3 Responses

  1. i may have to pick this book up

  2. I really appreciate your review on this!

  3. like dina said “i may have to pick this book up.” however, i’ve written my book. it’s in “first person”, that being myself of course. it is written from the gut and reads like i speak. still though, i feel a few people would have to die first before i can publish (or attempt to do so). i don’t know any other way around it. i don’t want hurt feelings although the story is the bitter truth and we are all grown ups now it still seems to matter. is it just me or am i actually going in the right direction?

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