How to Write a book

Wanna write a novel?

A lot of people do. A lot. And most people can’t get off the ground with it.

Here’s what you need. “It’s about a guy who…”

Okay, finish the sentence, and start. Go to, and buy Scrivener. It’s going to take a little bit to learn to use it and tweak it your way.

Use the three act novel template. Ready.. set… go.

Add 7 chapters per act. Add seven scenes per chapter. What you don’t use, get rid of. What you need more of, add.

Go to your cork board. Start labeling scenes. “Scene where Bedelia kills her dad”. Whatever. Label at least four scenes today.

Tomorrow, open a scene, just one, and start writing.

“IT was a dark and stormy night” or whatever. Where. When. Who. What. Why. how. Drama, drama, drama.

I then carry a notebook around with me (I’m thinking enviously of the new Tul notebook system…), and I’ve made it a practice to put a date in the upper right corner of the page, and write a dash in the margins, for checking off.

Now I stare at blank paper. WRITE the first thing that comes to your mind. This is called brain storming. You have more ideas in there than you know what to do with. I lived in New Jersey for two years, and in just those two years as a boy, I probably have enough fuel to fill a dozen books. So, I think about the topic of my novel, and start writing stuff. If I was writing a whodunnit, it would probably be icepick, wood chipper, freezer, columbo, water, fuel, burlap, tarp, death (etc.)

Now, look at your brainstorm stuff the next day. If you look at my brainstorm list, you’ve got the plot of the whodunnit right there!

If you understand the three act structure, then you’ll know how your book works. The murder happens early, chapter 2 or three. You’ve got to set things up in one. Then act two, the plot thickens, etc. Act three, the detective is getting threatened. Next to last chapter, unmasking of Colonel Mustard. Last chapter, the denouement (winding down).

Start writing. Use Scrivener to write whatever scene you’re seeing in your mind. Then open the little window showing your word deadline. Set it to 1667. That’s how many words a day you need. You won’t make it the first week. But as you become accustomed to it, you will. I often go to full screen mode with just the word per day counter showing.

No kidding, if you do the 1667 words a day, in two months, your novel is done.