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10 Steps To Writing Your First Novel By Sara Pufahl Anyone can dream of writing a novel but it takes cracking

open your soul then laying it bare, hand cramps, eye strain and, possibly, a few sessions of crying to see one to completion. And those are the easy parts of novel writing. To make it more clear, if you want to see your name on the spine of a book, you are going to have to work for it. Here are ten concrete things you can do to go from dreamer to novelist: 10. Write every day. What you write doesnt matter as much as the fact that you are getting your inner thoughts down on paper or screen. Do not edit this writing at first. Allow yourself the freedom to write whatever comes to mind. 9. Kill the inner liar. There will be a voice in your head that says You can not do this. Give up. If you are born to be a writer, and you will know it if you are, then that voice is lying to you. Its testing your resolve. Shout it down by saying positive affirmations out loud. This is your dream. Do not let anyone, even yourself, steal it from you. 8. Focus on one idea. Decide who will be the star in your novel and what locale it will take place in. Pick a goal for your main character to strive to accomplish. Dont try to write like your favorite author or the person who is currently on the top of the best sellers list. Instead choose a story idea by picking emotions you want to write about. Love. Hate. Rage. Disappointment. Shame. Guilt. You have to infuse your characters with these emotions and let that be the driving force behind their behaviors. If these characters seem real to your readers they will read about them in any setting or situation.

7. Decide on a Point of View Once you have characters, a setting, and conflicts you need to decide who gets to tell the story. Will it be in first person or third? Will more than one character get to have a

P.O.V.? 6. Plan Ways to Make Your Characters Suffer Novels are about conflict. The characters start off in the middle of a dilemma or transition period in their lives and by overcoming obstacles they find themselves or the answer to their problem. Or they dont. Either way they have to be constantly struggling toward or away from something. 5. Accept Imperfections. If you wait until you know how to perfectly construct scenes, dialogue, story arcs, a climax, a resolution, then you will never get past page one. Your first draft will be a mess. Write what you can. Correct it later when you have learned more. You can not edit a blank page so write what comes to mind and worry about making sense in your second draft.

4. Recommit. This is about the time it all seems overwhelming and a dreamer gives up. A writer does not have that luxury. For them the desire to write a novel, to tell a story that reaches into the hearts and minds of strangers and makes them feel, is embedded into the DNA of a true writer. Take a moment to come to terms with your fate. If you are destined to write, then sit with your pen or keyboard each day and string sentences together. Novels are written one word at a time. Dont let the enormity of this task stop you from forging ahead. 3. Listen Do not listen to anyone who tells you to give up. Instead close your eyes and listen for the sound of your characters speaking to you. When you can hear them telling you who they are and what they want you are ready to start putting their lives down on paper. 2. Figure out your writing style. There are two types of writers: the plotters and the pansters. Plotters develop detailed plot

outlines and background information for their stories. Pansters sit down and start creating with only the vaguest sense of where the tale might end up. Either style can work. I suggest writing only was much as your need in order to feel comfortable with your characters and story idea. For a plotter that might mean twenty pages of information, note cards, and poster boards filled with scene ideas. A panster could begin a novel only knowing the first name of the protagonist. 1. Write Page One. Now jump in the deep end and write the first page of your novel. Each day write at least one more page. At the end of the year you will have a novel. Then you will be more than only a dreamer. You will be holding your dream in your hand. At this very moment the story is inside of you. Write it down.

How to Write a Novel: The Snowflake Method

Writing a novel is easy. Writing a good novel is hard. That's just life. If it were easy, we'd all be writing best-selling, prize-winning fiction. Frankly, there are a thousand different people out there who can tell you how to write a novel. There are a thousand different methods. The best one for you is the one that works for you. In this article, I'd like to share with you what works for me. I've published six novels and won about a dozen awards for my writing. I teach the craft of writing fiction at writing conferences all the time. One of my most popular lectures is this one: How to write a novel using what I call the "Snowflake Method." This page is the most popular one on my web site, and gets hundreds of page views per day, so you can guess that a lot of people find it useful. But you may not, and that's fine by me. Look it over, decide what might work for you, and ignore the rest! If it makes you puke, I won't be insulted. Different writers are different. If my methods get you rolling, I'll be happy. I'll make the best case I can for my way of organizing things, but you are the final judge of what works best for you. Have fun . . . write your novel!

The Importance of Design

Good fiction doesn't just happen, it is designed. You can do the design work before or after you write your novel. I've done it both ways and I strongly believe that doing it first is quicker and leads to a better result. Design is hard work, so it's important to find a

guiding principle early on. This article will give you a powerful metaphor to guide your design. Our fundamental question is this: How do you design a novel? For a number of years, I was a software architect designing large software projects. I write novels the same way I write software, using the "snowflake metaphor". OK, what's the snowflake metaphor? Before you go further, take a look at this cool web site.

At the top of the page, you'll see a cute pattern known as a snowflake fractal. Don't tell anyone, but this is an important mathematical object that's been widely studied. For our purposes, it's just a cool sketch of a snowflake. If you scroll down that same web page a little, you'll see a box with a large triangle in it and arrows underneath. If you press the right-arrow button repeatedly, you'll see the steps used to create the snowflake. It doesn't look much like a snowflake at first, but after a few steps, it starts looking more and more like one, until it's done. The first few steps look like this:

I claim that that's how you design a novel -- you start small, then build stuff up until it looks like a story. Part of this is creative work, and I can't teach you how to do that. Not here, anyway. But part of the work is just managing your creativity -- getting it organized into a well-structured novel. That's what I'd like to teach you here. If you're like most people, you spend a long time thinking about your novel before you ever start writing. You may do some research. You daydream about how the story's going to work. You brainstorm. You start hearing the voices of different characters. You think

about what the book's about -- the Deep Theme. This is an essential part of every book which I call "composting". It's an informal process and every writer does it differently. I'm going to assume that you know how to compost your story ideas and that you have already got a novel well-composted in your mind and that you're ready to sit down and start writing that novel.

The Ten Steps of Design

But before you start writing, you need to get organized. You need to put all those wonderful ideas down on paper in a form you can use. Why? Because your memory is fallible, and your creativity has probably left a lot of holes in your story -- holes you need to fill in before you start writing your novel. You need a design document. And you need to produce it using a process that doesn't kill your desire to actually write the story. Here is my ten-step process for writing a design document. I use this process for writing my novels, and I hope it will help you. Step 1) Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel. Something like this: "A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul." (This is the summary for my first novel, Transgression.) The sentence will serve you forever as a tensecond selling tool. This is the big picture, the analog of that big starting triangle in the snowflake picture. When you later write your book proposal, this sentence should appear very early in the proposal. It's the hook that will sell your book to your editor, to your committee, to the sales force, to bookstore owners, and ultimately to readers. So make the best one you can! Some hints on what makes a good sentence:

Shorter is better. Try for fewer than 15 words. No character names, please! Better to say "a handicapped trapeze artist" than "Jane Doe". Tie together the big picture and the personal picture. Which character has the most to lose in this story? Now tell me what he or she wants to win. Read the one-line blurbs on the New York Times Bestseller list to learn how to do this. Writing a one-sentence description is an art form.

Step 2) Take another hour and expand that sentence to a full paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel. This is the analog of the second stage of the snowflake. I like to structure a story as "three disasters plus an ending". Each of the disasters takes a quarter of the book to develop and the ending takes the final quarter. I don't know if this is the ideal structure, it's just my personal taste. If you believe in the Three-Act structure, then the first disaster corresponds to the end of Act 1. The second disaster is the mid-point of Act 2. The third disaster is the end of Act 2, and forces Act 3 which wraps things up. It is OK to have the first disaster be caused by

external circumstances, but I think that the second and third disasters should be caused by the protagonists's attempts to "fix things". Things just get worse and worse. You can also use this paragraph in your proposal. Ideally, your paragraph will have about five sentences. One sentence to give me the backdrop and story setup. Then one sentence each for your three disasters. Then one more sentence to tell the ending. If this sounds suspiciously like back-cover copy, it's because . . . that's what it is and that's where it's going to appear someday. Step 3) The above gives you a high-level view of your novel. Now you need something similar for the storylines of each of your characters. Characters are the most important part of any novel, and the time you invest in designing them up front will pay off ten-fold when you start writing. For each of your major characters, take an hour and write a onepage summary sheet that tells:

The character's name A one-sentence summary of the character's storyline The character's motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?) The character's goal (what does he/she want concretely?) The character's conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?) The character's epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change? A one-paragraph summary of the character's storyline

An important point: You may find that you need to go back and revise your onesentence summary and/or your one-paragraph summary. Go ahead! This is good--it means your characters are teaching you things about your story. It's always okay at any stage of the design process to go back and revise earlier stages. In fact, it's not just okay-it's inevitable. And it's good. Any revisions you make now are revisions you won't need to make later on to a clunky 400 page manuscript. Another important point: It doesn't have to be perfect. The purpose of each step in the design process is to advance you to the next step. Keep your forward momentum! You can always come back later and fix it when you understand the story better. You will do this too, unless you're a lot smarter than I am. Step 4) By this stage, you should have a good idea of the large-scale structure of your novel, and you have only spent a day or two. Well, truthfully, you may have spent as much as a week, but it doesn't matter. If the story is broken, you know it now, rather than after investing 500 hours in a rambling first draft. So now just keep growing the story. Take several hours and expand each sentence of your summary paragraph into a full paragraph. All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster. The final paragraph should tell how the book ends. This is a lot of fun, and at the end of the exercise, you have a pretty decent one-page skeleton of your novel. It's okay if you can't get it all onto one single-spaced page. What matters is that you are growing the ideas that will go into your story. You are expanding

the conflict. You should now have a synopsis suitable for a proposal, although there is a better alternative for proposals . . . Step 5) Take a day or two and write up a one-page description of each major character and a half-page description of the other important characters. These "character synopses" should tell the story from the point of view of each character. As always, feel free to cycle back to the earlier steps and make revisions as you learn cool stuff about your characters. I usually enjoy this step the most and lately, I have been putting the resulting "character synopses" into my proposals instead of a plot-based synopsis. Editors love character synopses, because editors love character-based fiction. Step 6) By now, you have a solid story and several story-threads, one for each character. Now take a week and expand the one-page plot synopsis of the novel to a four-page synopsis. Basically, you will again be expanding each paragraph from step (4) into a full page. This is a lot of fun, because you are figuring out the high-level logic of the story and making strategic decisions. Here, you will definitely want to cycle back and fix things in the earlier steps as you gain insight into the story and new ideas whack you in the face. Step 7) Take another week and expand your character descriptions into full-fledged character charts detailing everything there is to know about each character. The standard stuff such as birthdate, description, history, motivation, goal, etc. Most importantly, how will this character change by the end of the novel? This is an expansion of your work in step (3), and it will teach you a lot about your characters. You will probably go back and revise steps (1-6) as your characters become "real" to you and begin making petulant demands on the story. This is good -- great fiction is character-driven. Take as much time as you need to do this, because you're just saving time downstream. When you have finished this process, (and it may take a full month of solid effort to get here), you are ready to write a proposal and sell this novel. Do so. Step 8) You may or may not take a hiatus here, waiting for the book to sell. At some point, you've got to actually write the novel. Before you do that, there are a couple of things you can do to make that traumatic first draft easier. The first thing to do is to take that four-page synopsis and make a list of all the scenes that you'll need to turn the story into a novel. And the easiest way to make that list is . . . with a spreadsheet. For some reason, this is scary to a lot of writers. Oh the horror. Deal with it. You learned to use a word-processor. Spreadsheets are easier. You need to make a list of scenes, and spreadsheets were invented for making lists. If you need some tutoring, buy a book. There are a thousand out there, and one of them will work for you. It should take you less than a day to learn the itty bit you need. It'll be the most valuable day you ever spent. Do it. Make a spreadsheet detailing the scenes that emerge from your four-page plot outline. Make just one line for each scene. In one column, list the POV character. In another (wide) column, tell what happens. If you want to get fancy, add more columns that tell

you how many pages you expect to write for the scene. A spreadsheet is ideal, because you can see the whole storyline at a glance, and it's easy to move scenes around to reorder things. My spreadsheets usually wind up being over 100 lines long, one line for each scene of the novel. As I develop the story, I make new versions of my story spreadsheet. This is incredibly valuable for analyzing a story. It can take a week to make a good spreadsheet. When you are done, you can add a new column for chapter numbers and assign a chapter to each scene. Step 9) (Optional. I don't do this step anymore.) Switch back to your word processor and begin writing a narrative description of the story. Take each line of the spreadsheet and expand it to a multi-paragraph description of the scene. Put in any cool lines of dialogue you think of, and sketch out the essential conflict of that scene. If there's no conflict, you'll know it here and you should either add conflict or scrub the scene. I used to write either one or two pages per chapter, and I started each chapter on a new page. Then I just printed it all out and put it in a loose-leaf notebook, so I could easily swap chapters around later or revise chapters without messing up the others. This process usually took me a week and the end result was a massive 50-page printed document that I would revise in red ink as I wrote the first draft. All my good ideas when I wake up in the morning got hand-written in the margins of this document. This, by the way, is a rather painless way of writing that dreaded detailed synopsis that all writers seem to hate. But it's actually fun to develop, if you have done steps (1) through (8) first. When I did this step, I never showed this synopsis to anyone, least of all to an editor -- it was for me alone. I liked to think of it as the prototype first draft. Imagine writing a first draft in a week! Yes, you can do it and it's well worth the time. But I'll be honest, I don't feel like I need this step anymore, so I don't do it now. Step 10) At this point, just sit down and start pounding out the real first draft of the novel. You will be astounded at how fast the story flies out of your fingers at this stage. I have seen writers triple their writing speed overnight, while producing better quality first drafts than they usually produce on a third draft. You might think that all the creativity is chewed out of the story by this time. Well, no, not unless you overdid your analysis when you wrote your Snowflake. This is supposed to be the fun part, because there are many small-scale logic problems to work out here. How does Hero get out of that tree surrounded by alligators and rescue Heroine who's in the burning rowboat? This is the time to figure it out! But it's fun because you already know that the large-scale structure of the novel works. So you only have to solve a limited set of problems, and so you can write relatively fast. This stage is incredibly fun and exciting. I have heard many writers complain about how hard the first draft is. Invariably, they are seat-of-the-pants writers who have no clue what's coming next. Good grief! Life is too short to write like that! There is no reason to spend 500 hours writing a wandering first draft of your novel when you can write a solid

one in 150. Counting the 100 hours it takes to do the design documents, you come out way ahead in time. (I'll note that many seat-of-the-pants writers shriek at the thought of doing a Snowflake document. That's fine. Different people are different. I suspect you know already whether the Snowflake is something that's going to work for you or not. Even if it does work for you, I'd encourage you to improvise on it. May a thousand different Snowflake methods bloom!) There is not just one solution to the problem of how to write a novel, there are many. Use the one that works for you. About midway through a first draft, I usually take a breather and fix all the broken parts of my design documents. Yes, the design documents are not perfect! That's okay! The design documents are not fixed in concrete, they are a living set of documents that grows as you develop your novel. If you are doing your job right, at the end of the first draft you will laugh at what an amateurish piece of junk your design documents were. And you'll be thrilled at how deep your story has become. That's All! That's the Snowflake Method. It works for me and for many of my writer friends who have tried it. I've lost track of how many people around the world who have emailed me to say that the Snowflake helped them get their novel on track. So it works for a lot of people. I hope it works for you.

Ways To Use The Snowflake

Are you struggling right now with a horrible first draft of your novel that just seems hopeless? Take an hour and summarize your story in one sentence. Does that clarify things? You've just completed step (1) of the Snowflake, and it only took an hour. Why not try the next few steps of the Snowflake and see if your story doesn't suddenly start coming to life? What have you got to lose, except a horrible first draft that you already hate? Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer who finally finished your novel, but now you're staring at an enormous pile of manuscript that desperately needs rewriting? Take heart! Your novel's done, isn't it? You've done something many writers only dream about. Now imagine a big-shot editor bumps into you in the elevator and asks what your novel's about. In fifteen words or less, what would you say? Take your time! This is a thought game. What would you say? If you can come up with an answer in the next hour . . . you've just completed Step 1 of the Snowflake! Do you think some of the other steps might help you put some order into that manuscript? Give it a shot. What have you got to lose? Have you just got a nightmarishly long letter from your editor detailing all the things that are wrong with your novel? Are you wondering how you can possibly make all the changes before your impossible deadline? It's never too late to do the Snowflake. How about if you take a week and drill through all the steps right now? It'll clarify things

wonderfully, and then you'll have a plan for executing all those revisions. I bet you'll get it done in record time. And I bet the book will come out better than you imagined. If the Snowflake Method works for you, I'd like to hear from you. You can reach me through the contact page on my web-site.

Footsteps to a Novel
by Margaret McGaffey Fisk
2004, Margaret McGaffey Fisk

Do you have an idea for a story -- a character who won't let you rest, the perfect plot, or an interesting world, whether a cattle farm in Canada or a planet with no surface water? All types of people have novel ideas, whether they are writers or not. Most ideas never become completed works, and the reason may be found in the word "work." Writing seems easy as you dash off a letter to Aunt Sally or complete your latest essay on the lifestyle of brown and black gerbils. However, writing for publication, especially writing a novel, requires a commitment few are willing to make. If you think you are ready to put in the effort, time, and focus, having some guidelines can greatly improve your chances of converting your idea into a finished piece of literature. There are many ways to approach a novel and any of them that end in a finished work are valid. The method I present below is one I've found effective and have used to complete three novels so far. First, a word about progress and the time it takes to write a novel. I'm a strong advocate of completing a draft before editing. Though this does not mean accepting each sentence as it pours from your fingers, it does mean no re-reading of the earlier words with the intent to modify them. Discuss the idea with friends and family as much as

you like, but hold your completed chapters close to the chest. Nothing stops progress as easily as the "well, it would make more sense if..." from someone reading your uncompleted novel. Almost anything can be fixed in the edit cycle, but if editing on chapters 1-10 starts before 11-32 are begun, the odds of the later chapters ever being written are severely reduced. Writing a novel is all about dedication and perseverance. As much as possible, avoid anything that threatens your objectives. You should never invite a hazard into your path. Honestly, writing a novel is complex enough without asking for trouble. My process involves five steps. These may seem simple on the surface but they encompass significant effort. I'm going to borrow from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to take you through the process because the familiar story line will help everyone focus on the steps, rather than whether or not to borrow elements of the idea. Step 1 - Idea This is the easy step since most people already have at least one idea. Evil stepmother jealous of princess Step 2 - Start Looking at the Story Behind the Idea (Very Basic Plotting) We have an idea above, but it's not a story yet. To have a story, there must be a beginning, middle and end.

The beginning should introduce the main characters, Snow White (protagonist) and the wicked queen (antagonist). The middle should be filled with the queen's efforts to kill Snow White and the end -- this is a fairy tale -- should be happily ever after. Oops, that means we're missing at least one more character. There has to be a prince. Better tuck him into the beginning somewhere. Step 3 - Creating Your Outline A plot, no matter how simple, involves a lot of moving pieces: characters, scenery, motivations, foreshadowing, and many other elements. An outline is a simple device to keep things straight. It is your general guideline as you move forward to ensure you don't become bogged down trying to figure out what should happen next. There are many people who believe an outline will kill their writing by stifling their creativity and destroying their interest in the story. That may be true depending on the type of outline created and the person. If you have never used an outline, I would suggest trying my approach before rejecting them altogether. I am an organic writer. As I go along, my characters reveal secrets and go off in different directions and even flesh out pieces I thought I could skim over by pointing out something critical that happened in that moment. This does not in any way prevent me from using outlines. Since I began outlining, my time to completion of a novel has dropped from seven years to two-to-four months and even down to one month for a 116,000-word novel during the National Novel Writing Month. My speed has more to do with how many words I'm willing to commit to on a daily basis. However, continual progress on each day is due to my outline. I can focus on crafting words rather than figuring out

what's going to happen next and how something fits within the existing plot. This allows me to make steadier progress because I've done most of my thinking in advance. My last purely organic book, Destiny's Path, ended up being a difficult edit because I had an end in mind but forgot to drive toward it in the text. The events built up to the final success but not in a way clear to the reader. If I'd used an outline, the notes should have been enough to remind me as I built each scene. My outlines focus on scenes split by point of view (POV). This allows me to track how often a given character owns a scene and to make sure I'm not straying away from characters for so long that the reader forgets them. My Excel template is available for download here: Whatever form of outline you use, whether notecards, word processor or spreadsheet, just start out simply. I'd recommend not using just a single sheet of paper because your outline can, and should, change as you go along. The basic outline only requires three parts. Beginning: Write a sentence or two showing the beginning of your story. This could describe the first chapter or first three; just get something down. However you track POV, use it to categorize this piece. If you are not planning to track POV or even if you believe your novel will end up in a single POV, I would recommend noting the viewpoint anyway. It does not take a lot of effort and can make you more flexible later on.

Snow White dreams about her prince but when he stops by, she's scared and runs away. Middle: Write a sentence or two indicating the middle part. What's going to happen over the course of the story to build toward the conclusion? Again, a general sentence describing most of the novel is fine. Jealous stepmother tries to kill princess but she escapes, though the last attempt leaves her in a coma. End: Write a sentence or two showing where you want to end up. This will serve to keep you in line because everything coming before should drive to this end. However, if as you build out the story, it makes more sense for Snow White to marry Dopey, you can always modify the end. It's important to build toward something as you write. Without a known endpoint, it's too easy for a story to become "and then, and then, and then." This is a common cause for writers to lose interest because the story has no focus and no sense of approaching a resolution. Prince finds princess and frees her with a kiss. They live happily ever after. You've finished your outline and you can jump into the book, right? Well, it depends. If you feel any more of an outline will constrain your creativity, even this much can assist in keeping the plot in order. However, the more you build your plot, the less you have to figure out

as you write and the easier you can tell when a new plot thread will blend in nicely or require an entirely different outline. I usually don't start writing until I have about half the scenes in my outline listed as a short sentence or two each. This gives me enough to get started while allowing character and plot growth along the way. Often, extra scenes or threads come to me as I approach the place where they would fit. Sometimes, I have to stop work altogether to rebuild a portion of the outline reflecting the changes. This process helps me think the change through. Now is the time to figure out if you have any elements requiring research. For example, can you really put a person in death-like sleep and for how long before that glass enclosure holds a rotting corpse? Oops, you tell me you are writing a fantasy? Switch your research to clothing in medieval times. The likelihood of needing to research at least one element is high. Do you know enough about diamond mining to make the readers nod their heads when the dwarves go off to work, or will they throw the book away in disgust? Here is where you identify what you might want to research, although you don't necessarily have to do the work in advance; some people do, some people don't. Step 4 - The Actual Writing A novel is anything from 80,000-125,000 words long depending on the genre and market. (Young adult literature is lower and some specialty markets have different high ranges, but this spread covers a large portion of the novel markets.) Estimating a word count of 100,000, just how long should this novel take to write? Well, the real answer, as ambiguous as it may seem, is as long it needs to. However, since

reaching your precious -The End- marker is a terrific thrill, let's look at some goals to set you on your way.

Word Count Goal 1000 1000 1000 500 500 500 250

Days of the Week Monday-Sunday Monday-Friday Saturday-Sunday Monday-Sunday Monday-Friday Saturday-Sunday Monday-Sunday

Total Days 100 140 350 200 280 700 400

As you can see from the chart, the more words per day and the more days you can commit, the sooner the novel will be completed. Okay, it may seem too obvious to mention, but people don't really think about writing that way. If you commit to 1000 words per day, you can complete 3 and 2/3rds novels each year. This is excluding editing, world building and other elements necessary to bring a novel to market, but it is still an incredible factoid. While 1000 words a day may seem unachievable, if you have at least two hours free, you could be amazed at how much consistent progress you can achieve. A good outline, so you don't have to plot and write simultaneously, helps keep the words coming. A warning though:

setting high goals from the start is likely to frustrate and stall you. To consistently achieve a daily word count goal is something to build toward until it becomes a standard part of your routine, whether you set a specific time or make completing your words a requirement before relaxing. As you write, remember the outline is flexible. apparent. Sometimes, the

original concept is either limited or flawed in ways not immediately While I recommend working from some sort of outline, don't let it trap you. If your characters reveal a new twist or direction, take a pause in writing and work out how to integrate the change into your outline. This serves a dual purpose. You let your subconscious improve on the original idea and, by conceptualizing through your outline, you can identify pointless deviations from your plot before you are mired in a series of events with no purpose. Step 5 - The End Whatever your goal, if you remain determined, the day will come when you write or type -The End- at the bottom of your manuscript. Take a deep breath. You have now achieved what most would-be novelists never do. At this point, I recommend taking some time away from the story before beginning your edit. It's a grand opportunity to start on your next idea.