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How to write an unforgettable novel? That's the key question!

Of all questions, 'How to write' is the most commonly asked, when people — exactly like yourself — are struck with a great idea for a book, story, even a movie. The mind's eye catches tantalizing glimpses of the finished product, but the blank sheet of paper (or the blank word processor document) is absurdly intimidating. Where in the world do you begin?

If you've even thought the words, "I just need to know how to write," you almost certainly have The Idea. You've glimpsed the finished novel ... bound between glorious covers ... you can feel it in your hands. You're itching to sit down and write it, but though you've written short stories and poems, you've never tackled a novel before. Or perhaps you've never written before, and genuinely are wondering how to write.

You might need help with the some or all of the basics, or you might be ready to tackle the more complex parts of the process. Jump in wherever you need to — and don't be afraid (or too proud) to backtrack and double-check the fundamentals. You want rock-solid foundations under you, and you'll build them brick by brick.

The process of constructing a novel can begin with the fully-fledged idea, or a haunting scenario in need of a plot, or a delicious hero or heroine, in search of an adventure. It can even begin as a pet peev, a grumble about some problem that needs to be addressed, perhaps an injustice, or an unsung hero. Imagination gives the author a glimpse into another time, a place. You see a face, a scene. The pulse quickens as the creative juices flow. Time to write!

Or is it time to ask how to write this story? How to capture it before it's forgotten, and record it in a way that thousands of other people will want to share. The first step is to get the plot down before it can escape, and to thrash it out, develop it. The foundations of great storytelling are laid here: What is a plot ... and how do you write one?

Every writer has a different way of approaching how to write a novel — the planning and execution. You'll soon discover the process that suits you best. Much will depend on your situation. Are you short of time? Can you take all the time you want to get it done? Generally, the more planning you can do before you start to write the novel itself, the faster you'll be done. How to write a novel the fastest way possible? Think it through first!

Here are some of the basic topics I'll be writing about in the weeks and months ahead -- as I upload each post, the links will "go live." They're not all "up" at this time, because this blog is very new, but if you're on the mailing list, you'll be updated...

Meanwhile, turn page to First Steps - the framework goes up before the house!

Down to Basics
(As the posts go up, these topics will turn into live links: stay tuned -- be on the mailing list!)

Before you start to write:

What is a plot?
Getting plot ideas
Developing the plot line
Creating the characters
Doing some research

Time to start writing...
Finding your own 'voice'
Grammar? who the heck needs it?
A pinch of punctuation...
You want me to spell what?!
Learn to write ... love your keyboard!
Learn to write, but learn to type ... a bit!
Is my research sound?
Novel, novella — or short story?
Writing in drafts
Do I have to freelance?
Poets, rise up and be heard!

What about editing?
What's a 'global' edit ...?
Copy editing 101
Applying spit 'n' polish
Cheat sheets for editing...
Copy Editing Checklist
Reference works for editors
Using a pro editing service

Computer stuff:
But I hate typing!
Hardware for writers
Software for writers
Don't be a software victim!

Writing for readers...
Groups and workshops
Writing for your friends
Help from your Beta readers
Readings and fiction parties
Internet fiction archives
Ezines and fiction lists

Choosing the right publisher
Finding an agent
Manuscript formatting: get it down pat!
Making the submission
Handling rejection. Ouch!
Reading a contract ... properly!
Getting paid
Book fairs and conventions

Flying Solo:
Making the decision to self-publish
Software for publishers
Printshops for publishers
Take DTP 101!
Copyright matters
Publishing ebooks
Publishing ezines
DIY Publishing Checklist
Pitfalls to beware

Sell it!
Marketing your work
Getting into bookstores
Make the Internet work for you
Design and build your own website
Running a mailing list
Publishing newsletters
Advertising on a tight budget
Offering customer service
Watch out for the pitfalls!

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