My New Method for Laying Out a Novel – #AuthorToolboxBlogHop – September 2017


I can’t remember how long ago I found Raimey Gallant, but I believe it was in the 2017 A to Z Challenge, where bloggers seek to write 26 posts in 26 days according to an A to Z theme. As an aspiring novelist I am eager to collect any and all advice from others on my path to publishing success. Since I followed Raimey I have seen so many helpful posts about the process and when I clicked on the one for this #AuthorToolboxBlogHop I was again rewarded with some fantastic wisdom. After I made a comment to that effect I thought I might just have something to add to this month’s conversation, so I decided to put together this post.

I claim last November as the moment my writing endeavors took the “Giant Leap” forward. Last November I took a second stab at the event targeted at novel length writers, the National Novel Writing Month or more commonly known simply as NaNoWriMo. It wasn’t my first attempt, but it was the one where I approached with a plan as well as a solid outline of what I wanted to write. When the dust settled on November 30th I had a good first draft weighing in at 72,000 words!

I know there are several skeptics who will claim a good novel cannot be put together in 30 days. I agree, it can’t. But you can get a very nice ROUGH draft through this process. Emphasis on ROUGH, as you are probably getting my drift now. There are so many experienced writers offering tips on Twitter, WordPress and other platforms during this 30 day Spartan Race for Writers. But the overriding sentiment is JUST WRITE! It is much easier to edit and revise when you have something to edit and revise.

For those of you still reading at this point I promise I am getting to the meat of my method. Jumping off the success of the 2016 NaNoWriMo I thought wow I need to do this each year. But part of the success is having a good idea what you want to write and how the plot will flow. Enter the 2017 A to Z Challenge, where you use the letters of the alphabet to create a skeleton for your theme.

I chose to use this to brainstorm my new historical fiction novel that I will put to the test starting November 1st of this year. Using the 26 letters I developed characters, setting and plot for my novel, which I am calling the Steel Horse Saviors. A habit I developed long ago is to take the germ of a novel idea and let it simmer in my mind for at least six months before I begin to write. That gives me time to poke holes in the idea before I expend the energy to write myself into a corner. I recently violated this practice with what I thought was a sure thing and 5,000 words in I called the time of death on the sad sack.

Each day of April 2017 I posted a brief description of whatever that day’s subject was and got some valuable feedback. I will be a full six months past that experience when the flag drops on November 1st. I even created a cruse logo to use on Twitter.


Yes, I agree, I need to stick with my writing as my pictorial design skills are a step above Kindergarten crayon mastery!

But I also used Twitter along with Hootsuite to build interest in my theme.


Another thing I did was to include a two or three paragraph excerpt centered around the subject of each day’s post. It is intended to flesh out the relationships of the characters as well as to develop their personality and voice.

There is more, but I know you all have lives and projects you want to devot time to so I will stop here.

Does any of this resonate with you? Are you doing this or something similar? Will you take part in naNoWriMo2017? If so I am looking for writing buddies to encourage and be encoured by this November.