Blogging Insights–# 44 — Novels and Books


“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”  — W. Somerset Maugham

Are there any rules for writing books? Are there any rules that are applicable to most authors?

When it comes to making a book happen, the rules that I think matter are first (and foremost), you “see” a book in your head. Next, write a first draft and give it at least two edits. After that, if you humanly can manage it, hire a professional editor. Then, finish the book.

As for the writing process? Everyone who has completed a book has a few “rules” that worked for them and might work for you. Or not. Everyone’s process is different. Some writers need complete privacy and quiet to write. Others’ like noise and activity. Personally, I’m an isolationist. For anything longer than a blog post, I need to be left alone without interruptions. No phone calls. No casual conversations with friends unless I’m taking a break.

I didn’t take many breaks. The few I took were brief. I was sure if I stopped writing, I’d never get back to it so I never stopped writing until I finished the first draft and initial edit.

It took me 9 months to complete a first draft and first edit. It took three more months to do a second edit, by which time I was getting tired of the book. That was when I should have had a professional editor go over it and give it back to me with corrections and suggestions. The book never became as good as it should have been because I was unable to do that. Friends who might have edited the book had already read it, usually more than once.I didn’t have enough money to hire anyone, so I skipped the final edits and moved on to doing what I knew: designing the physical book.

Dr. Tanya is right when she says the most critical premise for book writing should be: YOU HAVE TO FINISH IT!

Regardless of what process you use, whatever rules you follow or don’t, if you haven’t the grits to plow through a full draft and at least two self-edits, you will have a a lot of lonely first chapters cluttering up your hard drive.

It’s easy to start a book. Most of us who write have an idea or three that can produce a good first chapter but that’s as far as we go. As often as not, first chapters that never go anywhere might have made better short stories. A lot of ideas aren’t “book length.” It can be a great idea, but not a book.

The thing that made my book a book and not another of my many first chapters is I saw it as a book. I knew where I was going to start, had a pretty good idea how I would finish, a clear idea of format and what would happen in the middle. If you mentally see a whole book, you have a much better chance of writing and finishing it. If you don’t see a book, but only an idea, consider a short story.

I’ve never written another book. I never saw one in my head and for the smaller ideas, blogging has suited my writing needs well.

Categories: #Blogging, #Photography, #Writing, Anecdote, Editing

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8 replies

  1. This is an excellent guide line for writing a book.
    I am so glad my post prompted you to share your knowledge and experience.


  2. You did great to finish and publish your book. Is it available as an ebook?


    • Yes. Amazon seems to have made it harder to find links, but I think this one works. I have no idea why they’ve changed the links. It used to be a lot easier to find and send a link. If it costs more than a dollar or 2, let me know. I can lend it to you for free — I just would need your email address which you can send via my contact information. I’d just send you mine, but then I’d have to publish it which I’d rather not do (for obvious reason). Just know that I’ve moved on some considerable distance since I wrote this, at least religiously. I can’t consider myself Christian in any sense these days — or dogmatically anything. In many ways I believe in everything. All prayers have power, and well-meaning people are good, whether or not they adhere to any recognizable religion.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha, that Maugham quote is awesome. I believe that there are no rules in writing, because what one person says should not work could be another person’s bread and butter, e.g. Stephen King’s hate for adverbs and JK Rowling’s use of them.

    But if there’s one rule I have to put out, it’s just write! Anyway, thanks for this post!


    • That’s 95% of becoming a “real” writer. Stop talking about it and just do it. If you’ve got even a hint of talent, the process of doing it will make you better. I was very amused by the reviewer who said I was very “businesslike” in my writing. He’s probably right since I was a business and technical writer for many years, but I’m also a very efficient writer. I spent decades learning to trim text to a minimum and I’m sure it shows. But I also really prefer “spare” writing as a reader. I admire lean text. More Hemingway, less George R.R. Martin.

      Liked by 1 person

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