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How many times have you finished reading a novel and said, I could have written

that book. You know what? Youre right. ll of us, I believe, carry at least one
novel around in our heads or our hearts. !ovelist "oni #orrison $ut it this way% If
theres a book you really want to read but it hasnt been written yet, then you must
write it.
&riting a book is no easy task. !evertheless, every day another book is
$ublished.
In '((), according to Books in Print, '.* million book titles were in $rint. "he
number of books $ublished in '(() alone was '+,,,,, in the -nited .tates. .o,
why not you?
What you need
I believe that if you can write a sim$le /nglish sentence 0after all, thats what
/rnest Hemingway wrote1, are alert to the world around you, and want to write a
salable novel 2 really want to, not 3ust kind of want to 2 then you can do it. I
dont think anybody ever became a writer by going to a worksho$, reading a book,
or even reading this article. &riting comes from something internal in a writer.
However, this article will save you time, $oint you in the right direction, and hel$
you write a novel in ',, days or less.
Possible?
It works. Ive done it myself several times.
I know what it means to s4uee5e in an hour or two a day 0or night1 of writing. It
is not easy to write a novel, not when you have a full time 3ob, family, and
res$onsibilities, but it can be done. #ost writers, in fact, have had to carry on two
lives while they wrote their novel. 6ut once you sell your first book, than maybe
youll be in the $osition to 4uit your day 3ob and devote the rest of your life to
writing full time.
Great writers have done it
Yes, you have a 3ob. Yes, you have a family. !either have sto$$ed great writers in
the $ast. "he $oet &allace .tevens was a vice $resident of an insurance com$any
and an e7$ert on the bond market. "he young "... /liot was a banker. &illiam
8arlos &illiams was a $ediatrician. 9obert :rost was a $oultry farmer. Hart 8rane
$acked candy in his fathers warehouse, and later wrote advertising co$y. .te$hen
8rane was a war corres$ondent. #arianne #oore worked at the !ew York ;ublic
<ibrary. =ames >ickey worked for an advertising agency. rchibald #ac<eish was
>irector of the ?ffice of :acts and :igures during &orld &ar II.
Drawing from pure emotion
&hat makes a writer? ;erha$s it is a single incident 2 one that ha$$ens early in
life and sha$es the writers sense of wonder and self@awareness.
"ake the case of =osA .aramago, the first ;ortuguese@language writer to receive
the !obel ;ri5e in <iterature. "he son of a $easant father and an illiterate mother,
brought u$ in a home with no books, he took almost +, years to go from
metalworker to civil servant to editor in a $ublishing house to news$a$er editor. He
was ), before he earned recognition at home and abroad with 6altasar and
6limunda.
s a child, he s$ent vacations with his grand$arents in a village called
5inhaga. &hen his grandfather suffered a stroke and was to be taken to <isbon for
treatment, .aramago recalls, BHe went into the yard of his house, where there were
a few trees, fig trees, olive trees. nd he went one by one, embracing the trees and
crying, saying good@bye to them because he knew he would not return. "o see this,
to live this, if that doesnt mark you for the rest of your life,B .aramago says, Byou
have no feeling.B
6egin with that $ure emotion. "urn it into $rose.
Let us begin
.inclair <ewis was invited to talk to some students about the writers craft. He
stood at the head of the class and asked, How many of you here are really serious
about being writers? sea of hands shot u$. <ewis then asked, &ell, why arenCt
you all home writing? nd with that he walked out of the room.
.o now it is time for you to be writing.
&hat follows is your daily log 2 each day may have words of encouragement,
advice, or wisdom or a task for you to do to get your book written. It is what you
need to do each day for the ne7t hundred days to write your novel.
Day 1
"he great New Yorker editor and writer, /.6. &hite, said when acce$ting the
!ational #edal for <iterature, writers courage can easily fail him . . . I admire
anybody who has the guts to write anything at all.
?n this your first day of writing your novel, make a $romise to yourself that you
are going to do it. "his is critical. &ithout that commitment, you may as well save
your $encils and $a$er. It isnt going to ha$$en. 9emember, write as often as you
can. "hats what writers do 2 they write.
Day 2
8arve out s$ecific time to write. "his is im$ortant because over the course of
writing a novel, youll get discouraged, bored, angry, or otherwise fed u$, and
when you start feeling that way, youll need clearly defined $atterns to kee$
yourself working.
?n occasion you may have to shift your writing times to deal with other
demands in your life, but fight to kee$ them as regular as you can.
&hat do I mean by s$ecific times?
"wo hours each morning and each evening, and one eight@hour day every
weekend, for e7am$le. >ecide how much time you will s$end writing each week,
and then do it. #any would@be novelists defeat themselves because they set a
schedule but then dont stick to it. 6e realistic in the time you $lan, and then live by
it.
Day 3
In the first week, decide u$on the story you are going to write. You might not work
out every detail, but today you are going to begin the $rocess. You are not going to
$rocrastinate 2 $rocrastination is your enemy. #atisse advised his students, If
you want to be a $ainter, cut out your tongue. "he time has come to sto$ merely
talking about writing your novel. Det started $lanning it now.
Day 4
&hat kind of novel a$$eals to you? &hat really gets your 3uices flowing? Is it a
good murder mystery, science fiction, a thriller, romance, general fiction?
lice #unro is considered by many to be the best short@story writer in the
/nglish language. Her books sell about *,,,,, co$ies a year. .he is a writer other
writers admire for her technical skills and the $urity of her style. .he is also known
for the com$le7 structure of her stories. ty$ical lice #unro story might begin at
a $oint that most writers would consider the end, then 3um$ to a time ten years
later, then back again. 6ut what is most interesting about lice #unro 2 who lives
in a small town in southern 8anada 2 is that her stories are about ordinary $eo$le%
their secrets, their memories of acts of violence, their se7ual longings.
"hink of what to write from what is around you, from what you know and care
about.
Day 5
It doesnt matter what kind of book you decide to write. "here are no rules other
than that the story has to be very, very interesting. It can be e7citing, scary, fun,
funny or sad 2 but it must not bore the reader.
Day 6
naly5e and learn. "ake your favorite novel of the ty$e that you want to write and
read it again, as if it were a how@to manual for becoming a millionaire. "hen read it
again, breaking the book down into sections. ?utline the action on large sheets of
$a$er that you $in to your office wall.
Day 7
lthough there are no rules about story ideas, I would offer you one caution% think
small. ?ne of the worst mistakes most beginning novelists make is thinking big,
trying to come u$ with an end@of@the@world story, in the belief that big is better.
"hats not true. Eee$ your story idea small and focused.
<ook into your creative soul and search for a little story but one that has real
meaning to you. &e are all $art of the human family. If you create a story that has
dee$ meaning to you, chances are it will have dee$ meaning for the rest of us.
Day 8
Imitation can lead to originality. >o short e7ercises imitating different styles. "ry
on a do5en voices until you find one that fits. $e the sure hand of a master. 6ut
remember this% write from your own e7$erience. Your e7$erience is uni4ue. s
=ohn 6raine, author ofRoom at the Top, wrote, If youre to be heard out of all
those thousands of voices, if your name is going to mean something out of all those
thousands of names, it will only be because youve $resented your own e7$erience
truthfully.
Day 9
>ont be afraid to write down scenes or sections that dont lead anywhere. >ont
discard them if they arent leading anywhere. :ollow the advice of =oan >idion.
.he $ins them on a board with the idea of $icking them u$ later. Fuite early in her
novel, A Book of Common Prayer, she says, she wrote about 8harlotte >ouglas
going to the air$ort. It was a cou$le of $ages of $rose that she liked, but she
couldnt find a $lace for it. I ke$t $icking this $art u$ and $utting it in different
$laces, she writes, but it ke$t sto$$ing the narrativeG it was wrong everywhere,
but I was determined to use it. .he finally found a s$ot for it in the middle of the
book. .ometimes you can get away with things in the middle of the book.
Day 10
6efore we leave the $roblem of finding your story, let me debunk another clichA
about novel writing% &rite only about something you know.
Youre heard that before. Its nonsense. "om8lancy had never been a submarine
commander before he wrote The Hunt For Red October. nd its a safe bet that
9ichard 6ach had never been a seagull before he wrote Jonathan Livington
!eagu"".
Instead of writing about something you know, you can write about something
you love. It doesnt matter what it is, 3ust love it. :or e7am$le, rthur
Dolden,author of #emoir of a $eiha, had lived in =a$an and was working for an
/nglish@language maga5ine in "okyo when in '(HI he got the idea for#emoir. In
'(H), after earning a creative writing degree from 6oston -niversity, he began
researching geishas and discovered a subculture with its own strange rules. It
took him ten years and several drafts before he sold the book to lfred . Eno$f
for JIK,,,,,.
Day 11
6egin by writing about what you know, if not the novel itself, then something
about the $lace or $eo$le in your novel. Its a lot easier to get started on your book
if you are writing about $eo$le, $laces, and things with which you have already
grown familiar.
Day 12
;ick your characters first, as they are harder to $ick than a story.
&hen writing, the $lot may or may not change, but the characters will develo$
and have a life of their own. s your characters develo$, theyll take on distinct
$ersonalities, and as with good friends, youll know in certain situations what they
will or will not do.
#ystery writer ?akley Hall says that a writer must listen to the demands of his
characters, who, as they begin to come to life, may insist u$on a different fate than
the givens seem to re4uire.
Day 13
Det a bunch of K by L cards and $ut each characters name at the to$. !e7t, think
about the role each $lays in your story, and what kind of $erson each is% age,
education, $lace of birth, hot@headed, funny, fat, ugly. &hat are their 4uirks? >o
they wash their hands K,, times a day? >o they hear voices? re they kind to kids
but love to torture cats? ;ut it down, $ut down so much that you finally come to
know these characters intimately. lfred Hitchcock would write down his scenes
on inde7 cards, one scene to a card. "hat way, as he said, by the time he was ready
to shoot the film, he was already done.
.ome characters will be ma3or ones, around whom the story will $ivotG others
will $lay bit $arts, but these will be critical too, as every $layer must have a reason
for being in the story. If they dont have a reason for being in your novel, theyll
slow down the story, and slowness bores readers.
Day 14
#ost novels are written to a formula, es$ecially big
best sellers. :or e7am$le, =ohn 6aldwin, co@author
of The %"eventh P"ague& A 'ove" of #edica"
Terror( develo$ed a sim$le formula that he used to
structure his novel.
His ten@ste$ formula is%
'. "he hero is an e7$ert.
I. "he villain is an e7$ert.
*. You must watch all of the villainy over
the shoulder of the villain.
+. "he hero has a team of e7$erts in various
fields behind him.
K.
"wo or more on the team must fall in
love.
). "wo or more on the team must die.
L. "he villain must turn his attention from
his initial goal to the team.
H. "he villain and the hero must live to do
battle again in the se4uel.
(. ll deaths must $roceed from the
individual to the grou$% i.e., never say
that the bomb e7$loded and 'K,,,,
$eo$le were killed. .tart with =amie and
.u5y were walking in the $ark with their
grandmother when the earth o$ened u$.
',.
If you get bogged down, 3ust kill
somebody.
#ore about formula. &hen /rnest Hemminway
started as a young re$orter for the Eansas 8ity .tar,
he was given a style sheet with four basic rules%
M -se short sentences.
M -se short first $aragra$hs.
M -se vigorous /nglish.
M 6e $ositive, never negative
sked about these rules years later, he said, "hose
were the best rules I ever learned in the business of
writing. Ive never forgotten them. !o one with any
talent, who feels and writes truly about the things he
is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides by
them.
Day 15
>evelo$ your characters and your $lot together. You cant do one well without the
other. Your characters are not wooden $eo$le who 3ust dro$$ed magically out of
the sky. "hey are critical elements of the drama you are creating. "hey must do
something logical or illogical 0which is what $lot is all about1 that adds to your
story, and moves it to its ultimate clima7. !ever, never se$arate characters from
$lot.
Day 16
"he reader has to believe that your characters e7ist or could e7ist 2 and they need
to be distinctively drawn. nd nothing better defines characters than their actions,
their $ur$ose in life. "heir $ur$ose may be good or evil. It doesnt matter. ll that
matters is that the reader sees their actions and $ur$ose, believes them, and is
continuously interested in them.
>o not write a story $eo$led with a cast of thousands. &rite a tale about one,
two or three memorable characters, all of them filled with $ur$ose.
Day 17
You need a strong $rotagonist. #ost writers have a $roblem with creating a
character who is larger than life, fully develo$ed, and a consistent $rotagonist.
9emember, your $rotagonist is your storys ma3or character. "his is the $erson
with whom your reader will identify. You want your readers to care about your
$rotagonist. He or she is your new best friend.
Day 18
:igure out who you need in the story and what they do together or to one another,
and the story does to them. re they all $ulling together in one direction? re they
$ulling in si7 different directions? sk yourself the critical 4uestion% &hich would
be most interesting to the reader? "hats the real litmus test of character
develo$ment and $lotting. &ill the reader be interested? &ill the reader care?
"o be successful in character and $lot develo$ment, you need to make hard
choices. You need to be ruthless with your characters and your story. &hos in,
whos out? &hats in, whats out?
:rankly, here is where a lot of first@time novelists sto$ dead. "hey cant bring
themselves to choose. "hey become fascinated or $araly5ed by the $ossibilities.
>ont you dare do that. 6e brutal. "ry different choices, of course, but move the
story forward event by event, bringing each character along with you. s each
event unfolds, each character must react to it. =ust as they would in real life.
If a child is hit and killed by a car, the drivers life is changed forever, the
$arents lives, the lives of the brothers and sisters, friends, even the crossing guard
and bystanders. You have to decide what the changes are. You must decide. "his is
your chance to $lay Dod 2 and if youre going to write you must $lay that role.
Dod is in the details, and Dod decides the course of the novel.
Day 19
Eee$ asking the 4uestion, why? s you reach the end of the second week of
defining characters, you will have a stack of K7L character cards that s$ell out
intimate details about the $ersonal life of each and every character in your story,
down to their waist measurement and favorite color. "he novelist Nladimir
!abokov com$osed all of his novels on inde7 cards.
Day 20
Your voice is your voice. Your style is your style. >ont attem$t to sound
like some famous writer. #any beginning writers feel that they have to add
something to their voice on the $rinted $age. &ho you are on the $age is who
you are in life, 3ust as so$histicated, 3ust as worldly, or not. It doesnt matter. Eee$
writing and kee$ cutting away at the awkwardness that might cree$ into your
writing. 6e a natural. s the :rench novelist, :rancois 9enA de 8hateaubriand
wrote, "he original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody
can imitate.
Day 21
;re$are a rough outline of the storys action from 8ha$ter ?ne through to the end.
!ovelist Eatherine nne ;orter $ut it this way, If I didnt know the ending of a
story, I wouldnt begin.
&rite down the last $aragra$h of your novel and $ut it in the drawer. t the end
of a hundred days, lets see how close you came to following your imagination.
Day 22
>o nothing 2 absolutely nothing 2 on your novel in terms of actual writing until
your $lotting 0along with your characters and their roles in the drama1 is com$lete
and down on $a$er.
>o not fall victim to that old author line% I 3ust start out with a basic idea and a
cou$le of characters. I never know where Im going. I let the characters tell the
story for me. "hat may work for brilliant and e7$erienced novelists, but most of us
need a clear road ma$ if we arent going to get ourselves and our readers ho$elessly
lost.
Day 23
Hang the cards and outline you have develo$ed around your office or room so that
they can be easily read.
Day 24
well@written $age@turner that is more character@ than $lot@driven and has a clear
beginning, middle and end is what editors 0and readers1 want.
Day 25
You now have made%
'. a commitment
I. a working schedule
*. a story idea
+. a cast of characters
K. a detailed $lot of the entire story
).
a short descri$tion of what your novel is
about.
Day 26
.et a goal for your self to write at least four $ages a day. "hat is *,,O*IK words,
double@s$aced. .ome days youll write one $ageG others youll write 'K $ages. "ry
to average at least four $ages a day.
Day 27
Your novel is a work of fiction, but that doesnt mean your facts dont need to be
straight. !othing turns a reader off 4uite as fast as a wrong fact. nd nothing gives
a story the ring of authenticity like the right fact or detail. -se the Internet for
research. Its fast, easy, and ine7$ensive. /very library in the world is o$en to you.
<ook, too, at maga5ines and news$a$ers $ublished at the same time and $lace as
the setting of your novel.
Dore Nidal used old editions of Harpers Magazinefor details when writing his
historical novels.
Day 28
8onversation is not dialogue. >ialogue has a $ur$ose. It $ushes the story forward.
It kee$s the reader tuned in to the story, and makes a $erson feel at the heart of the
action. "herefore, dont describe distant events second hand. ;ut the reader in the
middle of your storys action and your dialogue will sing naturally. Eee$ your talk
efficient and forceful. nd always make certain the reader knows who is s$eaking.
Day 29
<ook into the mirror and write about the $erson you see. "ry and describe the
$erson you see in the mirror to a man or woman you have never met. Eee$ the
descri$tion under *,, words. #ake this $erson a character in your novel, either
the $rotagonist, the narrator, or one of the minor characters of the $lot.
Day 30
!ovelist Eurt Nonnegut once remarked that, "alent is e7tremely common. &hat is
rare is the willingness to endure the life of a writer. It is like making wall$a$er by
hand for the .istine 8ha$el.
Day 31
8ommit yourself to a $oint of view early in your $lanning. "his way the reader can
get a footing in the story. ?nce you have decided which character will be the
view$oint character, stick with your decision. >o not shift $oint of view. If you
decide on multi$le $oints of view, show the story through one character at a time,
in order to avoid confusing the reader.
Day 32
8arry a note $ad with you. If youre waiting for a meeting to begin, start writing. If
youre on an air$lane, start writing. &henever theres a second to write, do it. ?nce
you have written it down, you own it.
Day 33
.us$ense is a basic ingredient of fiction. 6ecause of it, readers ask% &hat is going
to ha$$en ne7t? "hey will kee$ reading to find out.
Day 34
&hen using characters to $resent clues, dont forget body language. !onverbal
signals can communicate much more effectively than words. sk any two lovers.
Day 35
"ry writing first in longhand, then on a com$uter. "his will give you two $asses at
the $rose before you start editing.
Day 36
im for one startling image on each $age. :or e7am$le, try and match this image of
a sunrise at sea by ;hili$ 8a$uto in The )oyage%
golden shimmer a$$eared where the hori5on was su$$osed to be, then a
red sun $ushed u$, like the head of some fiery infant bulging out of the gray
seas womb 2 water giving birth to its o$$osite element.
Day 37
>ont overwrite 3ust because technology lets you do it. "he mechanics of the
com$uter and the internet make everything easier, from research to writing to
revising. Eee$ thinking small. &e all think that movies and baseball games are too
long. &hat about books? ;ublishers and editors will tell you% conte7t determines
length. =ust remember that The $reat $atby is only I,, $ages long.
Day 38
&ithout descri$tions the reader doesnt have a sense of $lace and time and mood
2 all critical for your story. 6ut with too much, your story will bog down and get
boring. Det in. Dive the telling detail. "hen get out. >ont drown in your
descri$tions 0or your research1. 8reate a world where your characters can live and
breathe, but not vegetate.
Day 39
Ideas, new and uni4ue 2 thats what sur$rises, satisfies and $leases readers. .tay
away from the tried and true. &rite with imagination.
Day 40
9ick 6ass, one of our finest stylists, says that fiction writers 2 like masons 2
re4uire both $ower and $recision to construct a good story. Youve got to lay the
stones one on to$ of the other so they fit together, but youve got to have the
strength to lug them around.
Day 41
.hirley =ackson, as the mother of four children and wife of a college $rofessor,
rarely had time to write during the day. Yet when she sat down at her desk at night,
a story like "he <ottery flowed out in a $erfect first draft. &hy? 6ecause she had
been thinking about it all day. 8ount on your subconscious taking charge and
working over ideas that come to you during the day.
Day 42
Dood characters grow and evolve out of basically two things% their actions and their
beliefs. &e develo$ a sense and understanding of $eo$le by what they do and think
in the dramatic events of the story.
Day 43
"he 9oman $oet Horace observed around '+ 6.8. that writers should attem$t to
say at once what ought at once to be said. In other words, grab your reader by the
throat from your very first sentence.
Day 44
>ont get discouraged. Eee$ writing. 9emember the ;ulit5er ;ri5e@winning
novel *ron+eed by &illiam Eennedy was re3ected by '* $ublishers before .aul
6ellow intervened on its behalf. In re3ecting <aurence =. ;eters The Peter
Princip"e( an editor wrote that he could foresee no commercial $ossibilities in
such a book.
Day 45
nton 8hekhovs remarkably sim$le advice was this% If a gun hangs on the wall in
the first act of the $lay, it must be discharged before the end. You have to look
at the total work with that $iece of advice in mind and cut out anything that doesnt
hel$ the story com$lete itself.
Day 46
It is emotionally costly to write well. >ancers, for e7am$le, know that theyCre going
to have bloody feet. ;ianists know that theyCll have to $ractice until the $ain in their
fingers makes them cry. &riting a novel is not like writing a letter. &riting a novel
is mentally e7hausting, far harder than a nine@to@five 3ob. &hen you write a novel,
you live the lives of your characters.
Day 47
In '(L(, at the age of H,, =essie <ee 6rown :oveau7 began to write the story of her
life. .he wrote innocent tales of her $ast, tales of her grandmother and of a distant
unt 8lara who chewed tobacco and could s$it in a cats eye.
/very morning she went into the kitchen of her white two@bedroom house in
#anhattan, Eansas, where she had raised eight children. .he sat down at the table
and, aided by scra$books, letters and $hotogra$hs, she wrote. >ay after day, week
after week, she wrote in longhand the story of her life, noting down the watershed
events% births, deaths, one marriage, three wars, one flood, as well as the things that
3ust struck her fancy, like the first time she saw <awrence &elk. Having told the
events of her life, she began then to write about the world that she never s$oke of.
Her feelings and thoughts.
=essie <ee wrote all of this for a teacher, 8harley Eem$thorne, at his Harvest of
ge, a $rogram for senior citi5ens. Her writings were $ublished by the local college
and entitled The Life of Jeie Lee Bro+n From Birth ,p to -. /ear0 bout *,
co$ies were $rinted for her family and friends. "hat was I, years ago. :amily,
friends, and strangers are still reading her I,H@$age book now entitled Any $iven
1ay& The Life and Time of Jeie Lee Bro+n Foveau2& A #emoir of T+entieth
Century America P&arner 6ooks, '((LQ.
.ince writing her first memoir, =essie <ee has written two more books. "he
latest, $ranny3 Ramb"ing of Thi and That T+o( was $ublished in '((*. "hat
year she wrote to the teacher who encouraged her to tell her story, "hank you so
much for not giving u$ on me, she wrote. I am not a writer, but my $oor efforts
have made a great difference in my life.
If =essie <ee 6rown :oveau7 isnt a writer, who is? /veryones life is a book.
=essie <ee told her story. nd &arner bought her story for one million dollars.
Day 48
;ersistence is what is re4uired. !ovelist Harlan /llison once said that if anybody
can sto$ you from being a writer, then dont be one.
Day 49
"he gifted writer =o@nn #a$son, who has $ublished a half do5en novels, believes
that writers should have a $hysical hobby. .omething that takes you away from
books and criticism, because it teaches you, it informs you, and it changes your
writing.
Day 50
"he novelist and $oet =ames >ickey, talking to students near the end of his life,
said, I dont mean to sell the $oet so long or at such great length, but I do this
$rinci$ally because the world doesnt esteem the $oet very much. "hey dont
understand where we are coming from. "hey dont understand the use for us. "hey
dont understand if there is any use. &e are the masters of the su$erior secret, not
they. !ot they. 9emember that when you write.
Day 51
#ost successful writers have had unha$$y childhoods. >ean Eoont5, for e7am$le,
was the only child of a $hysically frail mother and a violent, alcoholic father who
twice tried to kill himself and was eventually committed to an institution.
Instability was a constant in his family. "his terrible childhood stirred a $assion for
books in Eoont5.
?ne of his very first memories stemmed from a $eriod when his mother was
hos$itali5ed for several months. t the age of * or +, Eoont5 was ke$t by one of her
friends, who, every night, would tuck the little boy into bed, give him an ice cream
soda and read him a book. Eoont5 connected these sensations of safety and
ha$$iness with storytelling. "his has stayed with him.
Eoont5 has read The 4ind in the 4i""o+ by Eenneth Drahame at least K,
times, relishing the theme of friends $ulling together to overcome the bad guys.
Eoont5 credits books for showing him at the age of ( that not all families were like
his.
I am a driven adult child of an alcoholic, says Eoont5. "oday he works si7
days a week, arriving at his desk by L%*, a.m. He writes until dinner, ski$$ing
lunch.
6ut what does one do who hasnt had an unha$$y childhood? /rnest
Hemingway once said that writers have to have had a terrible childhood, or at least
think that they did.
Day 52
:. .cott :it5gerald said% 8haracter is action.
8haracters do not o$erate in a vacuum. "heir actions usually involve other
$eo$le, and these interactions are what make u$ scenes. :ull scenes, half scenes,
and narrative $assages are the building blocks for constructing a unified story line.
Day 53
>uring the making of the film B:riendly ;ersuasionB 2 from a novel by =essamyn
&est, &est remembers director &illiam &yler, saying, B&eve got to get one
more R&ill he? &ont he?B into this.B s a writer, &est tended not to do enough of
creating that tension, which is what readers want.
Day 54
Do to the library and browse through books on food and gardening. uthors of
these books describe smells, tastes, touches, and even sounds in $recise detail.
&hen writing, always mention scents and tactile sensations. Dood descri$tion
observes all the senses.
Day 55
.elect your details. s #ark "wain said% -se the right word, not its second
cousin. 9emember that verbs are the strongest $arts of any sentences. s 9ita #ae
6rown $uts it, Nerbs blast you down the highway.
Day 56
.trunk and &hite in The %"ement of !ty"e make this $oint% If those who have
studied the art of writing are in accord on one $oint it is on this% "he surest way to
arouse and hold the reader is to be s$ecific, definite, and concrete.
Day 57
"ake a break from your novel. "ake either a day off, or a week. fter this $eriod,
youll see your work with a fresh eye.
Day 58
9emember that novels can be light on $lot and short on style, but flesh@and@blood
characters with believable traits and motivations can save any book by gaining the
readers sym$athy.
Day 59
"heres an old adage in writing% >ont tell, show. It means, dont tell us about
anger, show us. &e then will read and feel the anger. >ont tell the reader what to
feel. .how the reader the characters and situation, and that feeling of anger 0or
sorrow, love, honesty, 3ustice, etc.1 will awaken in them.
Day 60
If you have written five $ages a day for the last ), days, you have written about
(,,,,, words. It is time to begin to rewrite and edit your novel.
Day 61
You have written a$$ro7imately *,, $ages.
6ut are these $ages a novel?
>o they have a beginning, a middle, and an end?
9e@read your novel and ask yourself% Have I raised a 4uestion or $resented a
$u55le, and then solved it?
If you can give a satisfactory answer to this 4uestion, then continue.
Day 62
>o a s$ell check of your book.
Day 63
;rint out your book.
Day 64
;lace the book in a safe $lace and leave it alone for two weeks.
Day 65
!ow that youCve been away from it for a while, it is time to start editing your novel.
6efore you start, remember what =ames !. :rey says in Ho+ to 4rite a 1amn
$ood 'ove"5 "hink of a clima7 as the target and the rest of your story as the flight
of the arrow. It is time to review the flight.
Day 66
Do back and read the whole novel from start to finish, noting lines and $hrases that
are awkward, but kee$ reading. >ont bother to rewrite, not yet.
Day 67
>o chunk editing. 8ut away from the bone of the story. Do cha$ter by cha$ter and
get rid of all your darlings as &illiam :aulkner called e7cessive $rose.
Day 68
9e@read your $ages 2 one at a time 2 out loud to hear any awkward sentence
structure.
Day 69
Do back and cut out one e7cessive meta$hor or simile from each $age. s :. .cott
:it5gerald $ut it, You never cut anything out of a book you regret later.
Day 70
8ut out one ad3ective or adverb in each $aragra$h.
Day 71
9e@read your novel again and look 3ust for the cliches. 8ut% one fell swoo$,
$retty as a $icture, in my minds eye, right as rain.
Day 72
Det rid of unnecessary 4uestion marks, e7clamation marks and $arentheses.
Day 73
Det rid of e7cessive use of foreign words or $hrases, the ina$$ro$riate use of fancy
words, vulgar language or images, or gra$hic blood and se7.
Day 74
Det rid of meaningless $hrases and 3argon such as% coming from, networking,
furthermore.
Day 75
9ead your novel into a ta$e recorder and then $lay it back while following the
written te7t. <ook for scenes that dont work, language that draws too much
attention to itself. 8ut and cut and cut towards the core of the novel, the essence of
what your novel is about. 9emember the flight of your novel.
Day 76
In this, your rewriting $eriod, make the o$ening of your novel as strong as $ossible.
"he first few $ages show an editor 3ust how talented your are. 9ewrite your
o$ening scene. Youll see that now, having written the novel, you are a much better
writer than you were when you started writing it.
Day 77
;ick u$ a half do5en great novels and read 3ust the first sentences of each.
Day 78
Do to a good book store and read the o$ening sentences of novels that have 3ust
been $ublished.
Day 79
9e@read your own o$ening sentence. How does it hold u$?
Day 80
9eview your manuscri$t and make sure you have given your readers a $icture of
your characters early in the story. 9eaders dont need to know everything, but they
do need to know what is $hysically im$ortant about each character. -se the five
senses to get your characters down on $a$er.
Day 81
You need a climactic scene at the end of your book, a scene that resolves the
conflict.
Day 82
9e@read the endings of your favorite novels. How does your book match u$?
Day 83
"he short story writer 9aymond 8arver said he knew a story was finished when he
found himself going through it once and $utting commas in, then going through it
again and taking the commas out. Is that how you feel?
Day 84
&rite a one@$aragra$h descri$tion of your novel.
Day 85
&rite one $aragra$h about yourself.
Day 86
Presenting your book.
:ollow these instructions closely%
M ;rinted on H 'SI@by@'', standard I,@$ound
bond white 0not high@gloss1 $a$er.
M !o three@hole@$unched $a$er.
M ;ages not bound in any way.
M ;rinted on a laser or ink@3et $rinter 2 no
dot@matri7.
M 'I@$oint@ty$e font.
M >ouble@s$aced, with one@inch margins..
M !umber the $ages consecutively from title
$age to last $age of te7t.
M ll new cha$ters start halfway down a new
$age.
M !o mention of rights or co$yright.
#entioning co$yright labels you as an
amateur.
Day 87
;rint out your novel.
Day 88
>ont mail your novel yet. It is now time to research and find the right agent to
re$resent you.
Day 89
"o begin the agent search%
M 8heck the acknowledgement $ages of
books similar to yours to look for the
names of the authors agent.
M sk other writers for recommendations.
M -se the :riendly gents list in the
9esources of this newsletter .
M -se the Internet and key in such words as
writer, author re$resentation, agent.
Day 90
.elect a few agents and send each a letter which begins 2 as a$$ro$riate%
I recently read TTTT, which is a wonderful book, and saw that you are TTTTs
agent.
?r%
#y friendSac4uaintanceTTTTTT, who is re$resented by you, suggested you as
a $ossible agent for my book.
?r%
I read your article inTTTTTT about the book business, and was ho$ing that
you might consider me as a future client.
dd the $aragra$h youve written about yourself, and then the $aragra$h about
your novel.
Day 91
In seeking an agent, remember that youre an unknown 4uantity and the to$ agents
are loaded with clients. im at those in the middle of any listing of agents. nd be
sure they actually re$resent the genre of novel you have written.
Day 92
&rite a brief syno$sis 2 one $aragra$h, no more 2 of your novel. #ake it strong
and lively. "his is an im$ortant sales tool.
Day 93
#ake a $hotoco$y or $rint out the first fifty $ages or so of your novel. "ry to leave
off at a $oint where the reader will want to know more of the story.
Day 94
6uy a sturdy, $added 3iffy bag. <ook in an office su$$ly store, EinkoCs, etc.
Day 95
&rite a very brief letter to the agent. Include the one@$aragra$h descri$tion of your
novel that you wrote earlier. nd include one brief $aragra$h about yourself. >o
sound $rofessional. >o not say, I always wanted to be a writer . . . or I can write
better than the 3unk I see . . .
If you are sending your manuscri$t to more than one agent at the same time, you
#-." tell them that this is a multi$le submission. /ither an agent will read it
4uicker or not at allG either way, youCll get an answer sooner.
In the 3iffy bag, $ut 1 the fifty $ages or so of your novel, 61 your letter to the
agent, and 81 a U', ../ for the agentCs re$ly. 0You will not get the fifty $ages
back.1
Day 96
Det a :ed/7 mailer of the right si5e and $ut your 3iffy bag in it. >ont cut corners
here. <ook $rofessional.
Day 97
/ntrust your manuscri$t to :ed/7. Eee$ your recei$t. !ote the date on your
calendar. >onCt e7$ect to hear anything for two months.
Day 98
6uy yourself a drink. muse yourself by thinking about who who should star in the
blockbuster movie.
Day 99
9emind yourself that you still have to wait for two months minus a day. >o not call
the agent. If two full months $ass and you hear nothing, then you can write a brief
note of in4uiry.
Day 100
9emind yourself that everyone 2 everyoneV 2 gets re3ected. "he stories are
endless. #argaret #itchell6$one 4ith the 4ind7( >a$hne du
#aurier 6Rebecca7(=ose$h Heller 6Catch8997( .te$hen Eing 0his first four novels1,
and on and on.
Day 101
.tart your ne7t novel.