Learning To Write: My First Novel Part I

Beyond The Blogs

I have been blogging for a year and decided to write my first book. It is a fiction novel and represents a completely different genre in writing for me. Since all my blogs engage the reader with non-fiction material, this is a completely new venture for me.

I started my story about eight years ago and abandoned the effort because I thought it wasted my time. Who would want to read a novel written by me and buy my book. So it sat deserted in an archived file and forgotten.

But then I worked up the desire to start a website and tell people about my life experiences. Since thousands of you seem to like my stories, I have gained new confidence in my writing ability. Hence, I pulled the novel out of electronic storage and decided to take it to completion.

Something To Know

Writing a novel, or any book, is challenging and requires passion to get it done. You have to create real characters and live with them in your mind. You feel what they feel and you make them come alive in your story. If you don’t, you will fail.

I decided to mix three love stories with life and death scenarios and tie everything together within the pages of one book. The whole thing came alive as I went forward without an outline or definitive plan of action.

To get to the point, I learned and created as I wrote. Writing a blog is one thing. A full blown novel is another, with its own set of rules. Yes, rules for both styles do overlap, but the novel’s are much more demanding. Creating something out of thin air is a daunting task and you need all the help you can get.

When You Get The First Draft Done

I finished my first draft which included some 60,000 words, 270 pages, and 37 chapters. I decide to wash it through a program called Grammarly. I used the free version and got little from it, so it didn’t provide what I needed. The premium version is about $30. per month, so I nixed it.

ProWritingAid came to me as the next option. The free version allows the use of its grammar checker, spelling, style of writing, repeated words checker, cliche checker, and overall report. You’re limited to 500 words at a time, so I just do a single page and run all the features through. Then move on to the next one.

The website itself also gives you free writing tips and eBook downloads to help you focus on the correct procedures to follow. Using all the features available will save you unbelievable amounts of time with your first work, and everything thereafter.

Critical Errors

Punctuation is my first hurdle. I wanted to know the correct placement of quotation marks in relation to periods, commas, question and exclamation marks, and asterisks. Periods and commas are pretty straight forward, as they always fall inside the quotation marks. Question and exclamation marks are confusing. Some rules say inside and others outside. I have chosen to go inside.

Adverbs are the bane of all writers. The general rule is to avoid them if at all possible. Words like really, very, than, and was, all play havoc with the reader and cause him or her to plow towards the point you are making. When you write a novel, the reader can lose track of your story if sentences are long and drawn out. Make your point as quickly as possible and move on.

Cliches are another evil. I loaded my novel with them and need to go back and make them disappear. They do not enhance my writing and I will learn to live without them. I could create my own I suppose. My sentences need to be unique and ProWritingAid helps me do that.


There is more to know and to write about. This is just the start of my journey. I finished my fourth draft and jumped right to my fifth. I have the novel at the 80% percent completion level and I am ready for beta testing now.

My wife will read it and pick out grammar errors, boring passages, and conflicts. I will inquire other beta readers to do the same. I want to get as much done right the first time out and not go back with repetitive edits.

I am so into this novel that I get emotional when I read certain parts of it. Sounds silly for a hard core person like myself, but that’s the way I am. I have come this far and don’t want to rush it into print with faulty mistakes that can be fixed now. It will be worth all the effort when it is done.

Next: Finding A Title


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