The Formula to Write a Novel

by Joe Bunting | 53 comments

This guest post is by Scott Bartlett, author of The Royal Flush, a satirical novel that has just been released on Amazon. You can check out his website and follow him on Twitter (@ScottTBartlett). Thanks Scott!

There is no book-writing formula.

I love Stephen King’s On Writing—it’s half brilliant portrayal of an accomplished writer’s origin story, half writer’s tool kit. But one thing with which I’ve always taken exception is his suggestion that there’s only one proper way to complete a novel.

King compares writing to an archaeological dig: he sees stories as found objects, excavated from the literary ‘earth’, and he believes the writer’s job is to extricate the object—without breaking off any bits in the process, or leaving any parts behind.

And so King doesn’t outline—he starts off with an unusual combination of ideas, and lets his writer’s instincts carry him from there.


Photo by João Trindade

To Outline or Not to Outline?

This clearly works for him. He’s one of the most financially successful authors, and, in my opinion also one of the most artistically successful—the latter assertion being, of course, controversial.

But if there’s anything my own three novels have taught me, it's this: The suggestion that there’s only one ‘true’ way to write fiction is absolutely absurd. (Do you want to tweet that?)

I wrote my first book in high school—a science fiction novel I’ll never let anyone read. But that’s beside the point. I wrote it much the way King writes his—though I did have a vague idea of where I wanted to end up.

I began writing my third novel, Taking Stock (about a writer who gets a job at a grocery store), four years ago. I wrote the first chapter as a project for a writing class, and in the months after penned 70,000 words of a first draft.

In 2011, I scrapped it all, and wrote a new first draft—Draft 1.5, call it—in the three months leading up to a contest deadline. By this point I had a Word file full of ideas for the book. The file contained 60,000 words, most of which I didn’t use. I arranged the ideas I kept in the order they would appear in the book, and I wrote around them.

I’m now on that novel’s third draft, with plans to finish the fourth in the autumn, and then start submitting it to agents.

My second novel’s writing process was been the longest and most convoluted. It took six years, from conception to completion.

It grew from a single idea that struck me in grade twelve, as I walked from the school bus to my house. It was a scene in which a man lies on the ground, his chest bared. A woman who has recently spurned him stands nearby, and he demands that she use a surgical scalpel to cut out his heart. I wanted to write it as a comedic melodrama.

That scene became the climax of a short story called “The King of Hearts”. It was followed by a sequel—“The King of Diamonds”, after which came “The King of Spades.”

And in my first year of university, in the eighteen days leading up to a contest deadline, I turned them into a four-part humour novel, expanding them greatly and adding “The King of Clubs” as the fourth part. I called the novel Royal Flush.

After the contest, I went through ten drafts of the manuscript, over a four-year period. I finally felt it was ready, and I self-published it.

Seriously. There Is No Formula.

All of this is a roundabout way of arguing that there are as many ways to write novels as there are methods of skinning cats. It’s interesting to note, too, that in On Writing King admits he did write one novel from an outline—The Dead Zone. He also admits that of his own books, the one he wrote from an outline is one of his favourites.

I challenge you: for the next novel or short story you write, try something different. Write from an outline, or scrap the outline and write from your gut. Aim to complete something for a contest deadline. Take an old short story that’s begging to be expanded into a novella or a novel, and give it its wish.

In other words, mix it up.

How do you write? Do you outline or do you just let it flow?


Try writing in a way you don't usually write.

If you outline, try writing your work in progress without your outline. If you don't outline, try writing an outline.

Practice mixing it up for fifteen minutes. When you're finished, post your outline or outline-free writing in the comments section.

Good luck!

Scott Bartlett has been writing fiction since he was fifteen. His recently released novel, Royal Flush, is a recipient of the H. R. (Bill) Percy Prize. Buy the ebook ($3.99) or to order the print book ($12.99).

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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  1. Tom Wideman

    Attempting to outline messes with my head. How can I outline something that doesn’t exist yet? My stories are written in real time and I’m never quite sure where they are going until it happens. Maybe, just maybe, I think I know the final destination, but other than that I’m clueless. 

    So my outline would probably look like this.
    I. Write first sentence.
    II. Write next sentence and continue to final destination.
    III. Be flexible because you might not end up where you thought.

    • Scott Bartlett

       Hey Tom, thanks for reading and commenting! The trend with my novels seems to be tending toward more detailed outlines, Though I plan to write a fourth in the spring and I have yet to start an outline. So we’ll see how that goes!

      Honestly, I’m sort of excited about it. And that’s good–if I don’t constantly mix things up, with regards to theme, subject, and writing methods, I stagnate.

    • Yvette Carol

      Ha, that’s brilliant, Tom!

  2. Scott Bartlett

    Thank you for having me on the blog, Joe, and hi, The Write Practice readers!

     I’d be delighted to have a chat, if you’re game. How is everyone today?

  3. Cherryl Chow

    I’m working on a YA sci-fi novel right now. I’ve always written solo, but my husband is collaborating with me on this so we have to outline, and quite extensively. Even with a loose, rough outline, I’d often find that he’d write a scene that contradicted what I’d just written, or vice versa. But we feel free to veer off course since new ideas pop into our minds as we write. Writing this way is a lot of fun!

    • Scott Bartlett

       It sounds like fun! Personally my few attempts at collaboration have bombed, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be willing to try again, if the right project came along. I know some of my favourite books have resulted from collaborations. And I can see how writing with someone you know as well as your husband could be a boon. Best of luck to you both with it!

  4. Mariaanne

    I wish I could do plots but no matter how much i read and how hard I try I just can’t do it. They always seem either too flimsy and boring, or too contrived and predictable.   I hate it and I really feel like quitting sometimes because of my inability to finish anything of any length, but then my short pieces are usually pretty well liked.  I don’t know what to do and I am going to chuck it today and go swimming.  

    • Scott Bartlett

       Some days that’s just what you have to do!

      As for finishing a piece of length–might it be possible that you’re focusing on plot too much? I believe that the ‘plot’ of a novel should simply be a vehicle for realizing a major change. Last night I watched a Big Think video with Margaret Atwood in which she aptly observed that novels are about time and change (normally it’s the characters changing).

      As for how you get to that change–well, it’s one step at a time. One scene at a time. One conversation at a time. One event at a time. One internal monologue at a time. One expository passage at a time. I find it helps to start with a general idea of where I’m going, and then start getting there, incrementally.

      I think it’s also important to have a novel idea that you care highly about, and that feels real to you. Maybe you just haven’t found that idea yet.

      That’s my perspective, anyhow–I hope it helps some!

    • Mariaanne

      Thanks Scott.  I think I just worry about it too much and get nervous.  Margaret Atwood is great.  She has fairly simple plots too come to think of it and great great characters.  “Cat’t Eye” what a book and “The Blind Assasin” and her short stories are really good and not really intricate, but the details she uses are superb.  I just finished a book by Jess Walter called “Beautiful Ruins” and the plot is just so intricate and the lives so intertwined that I can’t imagine ever thinking of how to contrive something like that.  Thank you again. I just get discouraged sometimes but I think everyone has their achilles heel and everyone gets discouraged probably even the big guys do.  Maybe that could be a plot how a person overcomes their problems with a certain facet of art.  Huh? Well now to the pool. 

    • Brian Cobb

      I have the same problem! I’m so concerned with the plot being this amazing maze of twists and turns and peril at every passage! But that’s not realistic. That kind of intrigue is best left to mystery novelists.

      I just read a book a few weeks ago called “Off To Be The Wizard” by Scott Meyer. It was a somewhat funny book with an interesting concept/setting that the universe is a computer program, and the main character finds the file in which the entire universe is stored and starts hacking into it, and soon after travels to medieval England to be a Wizard.

      Aside from the very interesting concept, the plot itself was simple and predictable from start to finish. Meyer had a few neat surprises laying around, and those are nice, but they weren’t particularly MAJOR plot points. Knowing who the bad guy is from the start is not so bad, and even knowing what he’s up to isn’t, either. Throw in a new detail, an added terror to the bad guy’s plan that had been unknown to anyone before. Most simple plots are that way because, well, they work. Tried and true.

      I’ve only written short stories until now. I’m just starting on my first novel (which is going well, so far) but what I’m trying to do is to lay out the whole plot, simple and basic. Decide where you want your story to go, as a whole. Then, break your story into four or five sections, and each of these sections can have their own sort of MacGuffin that, once completed, signify a big step in the right direction while possibly raising new questions and concerns. Then, break those sections into chapters. What will happen in each chapter that moves towards that event? It’s all about moving forward. And if you’re a good writer, the details will come naturally as you go through it.

      Anyway, point is, you’re not alone in this. I’ve always been more of an impulse writer. I can write really great and fun short stories, because the plot doesn’t really have to go far. I’m taking a very different approach for this one, much more methodical. At this point, it’s more planning than it is writing.

      I hope I’ve helped!

  5. Missaralee

    For now, my style is to just let it happen. Strange things pour out of the pen without being censored or directed and they fill up pages and pages. I then start asking the scribbled mess pointed questions like what does the character want and how are they going to die to get it. I write miles more and repeat the question process until I have way too much material (and still no plot) and then I bring out the axe. The endings are always elusive until I run up against a deadline and then it’s sink or swim.
    With my current mystery/ sci-fi project I’m all tangled up in the conspiracy theories and techie aspects that are purely exposition and backstory, and pretty soon I’ll be bringing down the axe again. All tell and no show makes fiction a dull read…

    • Scott Bartlett

      *comment deleted (duplicate)*

    • Scott Bartlett

      Hey Missaralee, I tried twice to reply to this yesterday but my comment kept getting deleted. I’m going to try once more!

      I admire that you’ve embraced the fact that anyone writing novels will
      end up cutting much of what they write for a project. It’s something I
      only begrudgingly acknowledge in my writing process. As I said in the
      post, I initially wrote 70,000 words of a first draft for my third nove,
      and ended up scrapping almost all of it. That was extremely hard to do.

      I wish I could just spin prose perfectly the first time, and move on to
      the next project. Alas, I’m gradually learning that’s impossible–or, at least, virtually impossible.

  6. Charmaine

    Lord knows I have tried to outline–I’ve sat for hours and days in front of the computer with my head empty, empty, empty.  So I went back to my old ways of doing things–just writing, letting it flow from my mind’s eye into my fingers and then–whoa–actual words on a page! If I had stuck to outlining, I wouldn’t be a writer. I write by intuition.

     My first draft is actually an outline or a skeleton. Later drafts become tendons, ligaments, muscles, organs, flesh until I have a living being fully breathing, ready to be consumed. Sounds kinda cannibalistic, doesn’t it? Oh, well reading is mental cannibalism.

    People should write the way they are inclined.

    • Mariaanne

      You are so funny Charmaine.  I like what you said about the first draft being a skeleton.  I think maybe I should look at mine that way, fattening it up for the meal.  

    • Katie Axelson

      “Reading is mental cannibalism” I love that!

    • Scott Bartlett

       I like your skeleton metaphor too, though it isn’t that way for me! My first draft is more like a person who needs to lose weight. And editing is like the ensuing fitness regimen!

  7. Missaralee

    Oh, and here’s my practice. I can’t give you my outline because it would give everything away, so here’s just the second part. It’s a continuation of the story I started for the “How to Win a Pulitzer” prompt.
    This is the first town we’ve come to since leaving the port. Aiden breaks a shop window and climbs inside to retrieve water and beef jerky. Crusoe tries the knob on the army surplus shop. It turns easily and we’re in. Every door on the main street is unlocked, and I suspect we would find every door in town the same way, though I’m not keen to wander off alone. Crusoe says we need to stay together and keep moving. I take what I need from the grocery aisle, careful not to disturb the neat rows of goods on the shelves. The silence of Joe’s Quickie is eerie.
    I start at the sound of Crusoe’s voice and turning too quickly I knock into a ten gallon jar of beads, spilling them in a never ending cascade on the vinyl tiles, the sharp echo breaking the tomb-like stillness of the shop. It takes a few beats for the sound to dissipate. And a few more beats before I can breathe again.
    “We better be moving on” Crusoe says, his hand on my elbow.

    • Mariaanne

      The setting here is perfect, the ominous silence and then the beads felling on the floor.  It’s very suspenseful. 

    • Missaralee

      Thanks Mariaane! I watch too many of those zombie movies and love the whole “it’s so quiet, but are we really alone?” dynamic.

    • Katie Axelson

      What a disastrous thing to spill. I was right with you as I was reading. I look forward to seeing more in 15-minute increments. 🙂

    • Missaralee

      Thanks Katie! Oh, there will be more, these practice prompts have been great for getting me off my butt and getting scenes down on paper! I think I’m writing it as a collection of five or so short stories, so I’m having fun figuring out what to reveal and what to hint at from the other stories.

    • Katie Axelson

      That sounds like an awesome idea–a collection of related short stories. I’ve always wanted to do that, write a variety of short stories involving the same characters but different events.

  8. Yvette Carol

    My WIP I wrote from-the-hip, as it came to me, in other words. That was exciting, thrilling. However, the rewriting, revision process has been going on for years, perhaps because of that? The jury is out. I rather like Stephen King’s advice. As you say, there are loads of ways of writing a novel, though. I have been thinking for a while now, reading blogs on the subject, that I’d like to try crafting an outline first, next time 🙂

    • Beck Gambill

      I agree Yvette. My first, and only, novel I wrote “from-the-hip” as you say. I loved the experience as well. It was amazing how organic and revealing the process was. I hope I won’t face the same dilemma  of having to revise it for years! But I want to try an outlined novel as well and think I’ll do that for my next novel.

    • Scott Bartlett

       Like I said in another comment, some writers find outlines stifling. That said, I like to mix things up from project to project. Keeps me interested and the writing fresh.

  9. Dawnstarpony

    i’ll never be able to not feel “guilty” about writing, will i? if i feel guilty now, there will always be things in the future that are more “important” than writing. so i should just write now. 15 min a day is reasonable, isn’t it? maybe 5 min on the novel, 10 min on a short story?

    • Katie Axelson

      Even I feel guilty about not writing enough–and I write for a living. Start with 15 minutes and focus on one piece rather than splitting your time. Start with a short story if a novel’s too intimating. Take it all one step at a time.

    • Scott Bartlett

      I’ve become better at setting deadlines for myself, and that’s helped a lot with feeling guilty. I still do, from time to time, of course!

    • Scott Bartlett

      Consistence is most important! Cory Doctorow works on his novels at a rate of one page a day, which takes him around 20 minutes. If you do that math, that means he’ll write a 365-page book each year!

  10. Colton Durbin

    I took a decent amount longer than fifteen minutes, but I couldn’t help it. Too much fun 😀 And it’s not really from a work in progress, but it is off the top of my head:

     In a single, fluid motion, One disembarked
    from the car, sweeping aside his overcoat and striding intently toward the main
    entrance. I quickly followed suit, checking my pistol and hastening to keep his


    The sun was setting as we
    entered the courtyard, its vibrant, half-circle form just visible over the
    Ministry’s rooftop. It filtered down through the trees that lined the central
    walkway, steeping the world in burnt-orange and filling the air with a sense of
    tenuous calm, of fragility.


    “It’s a beautiful
    evening, is it not?” The figure stepped slowly from the shadow of the
    grand doorway, his voice deep and backed by a low, mechanical rasp. He strode
    out to meet us, carrying himself with an air of sophistication, like a man of
    high class. But he was unlike any man I had ever seen.


    He was a full head taller
    than One and me, and his shoulders were just as broad. Though he was clad in
    the uniform of a Sentinel, his was somehow…different. The phoenix patch over
    the left breast had been replaced, impeccably, with the form of an ornate,
    blackened ouroboros. What truly caught my eye about this stranger, however, was
    his flesh, or rather the fact that I could see none. Every inch of his body
    that should have been exposed was covered, and his skull was completely encased
    in bandages―fresh linen
    wrappings as pale as bleached bone―revealing
    only a single eye. It was a prosthetic, gleaming with silver and bronze and framing
    a blazing red iris. The sight of him chilled me.


    One slowed to a halt, his
    right hand drifting to the hilt of his rapier. His eyes did not widen, his
    countenance did not fall, but while his every lineament betrayed no more
    surprise than if he had just recognized an old friend, I could feel the
    apprehension in his voice, could hear the subtle shift in tone that told me
    everything would not be okay. “Zero,” he breathed.


    Zero, the proto-Sentinel.
    Our predecessor. So this man was the same one I had heard about in hushed
    whispers, the legendary warrior that One had only mentioned in brief
    recollections of prior missions. He was the Program’s first success, and its
    greatest. He was also supposed to be dead.


    “Still with the
    formalities, Vincent? Even after all this time?” Zero chuckled softly. I
    could imagine him smiling behind the bandages. “You’re not even going to
    introduce me to your friend?” His gaze turned slowly to me, the lone, red
    oculus scanning me up and down, almost appraisingly. “That’s quite
    alright. I already know who you are, Kaelin. And I’ve been expecting you.”


    My name. How the hell did
    he know my name? I reached for the pommel of my own blade, but One stayed my
    hand with a swift gesture of his own. He turned to me, and despite his
    composure the urgency was clear in his voice. “Twelve. Run.”


    Did he really expect me
    to back down now? I drew my sword partially, revealing a few inches of steel.
    “Are you serious? I’m not leaving-”


    “Twelve, that’s a
    godsdamned order. Now go!”


    I cursed under my breath
    and took one step backward, two, then obeyed. I whirled around and ran,
    sprinting back toward the car as fast as my legs would carry me.


    Moments before I reached
    the door, I heard Zero snap his fingers.


    The car exploded, keening
    metallically in protest as it was rent apart. A wave of heat, pressure, and
    debris swept outward from the blast, tossing me like a ragdoll and peppering my
    face with shards of glass. My world tumbled end over end, throwing my stomach
    into my throat, and I slammed hard into the ground. A starburst of pure white
    overtook my vision as my head cracked against the cobblestone.


    And then I was still,
    lying on my back and staring into the sky. A plume of dark smoke rose from the
    flaming ruin that used to be the car, billowing upward into the clouds. I
    coughed, my entire body heavy and numb, as if some great weight had crushed my
    lungs and cut off the circulation to my limbs.


    All at once the world
    came back into focus around me, almost too sharp, and I jerked upright,
    spluttering like a bucket of ice water had been spilled over my innards. I
    fought the urge to retch, quickly recovering my wits and dragging myself to my
    knees. The healing talisman under my sternum was working overtime, filling my
    veins with much-needed energies and adrenaline. I could practically hear my
    heart beating.


    One of my ears was still
    filled with a hollow ringing. The eardrum had probably been ruptured in the explosion.
    I felt something trickling down from my nose and swept my fingers across my
    upper lip. The glove came away sticky and red. With a shake of my head, I
    pulled myself back to my feet, wobbling as I regained my balance. But I was a
    sentinel. It would take more than that to keep me down.


    Zero simply laughed
    again. He hadn’t moved an inch, still standing across the courtyard from One.


    I clenched my teeth. To
    have unleashed that much magic with such a simple gesture was almost
    unthinkable. Zero was powerful. Frighteningly so.


    “Not so fast,”
    Zero hissed. “I want him to see me kill you, One.”


    One’s rapier was out in
    the blink of an eye, steady and unwavering as its master fell into his usual
    combat stance. “I invite you to try.”


    Zero cocked his head to
    one side, silent. And then he moved. He closed the distance with One faster
    than I could perceive, leaving only a trail of dust in his wake, and produced a
    saber from a leather sheath

    at his hip. His blade
    connected with One’s with a sharp ring, glowing with arcane energy.


    It was a dance of sorts,
    each one striking and parrying in turn. Their blades were a flurry of sound and
    motion, striking against each other over and over again, showering the ground
    with sparks.


    There had to be something
    I could do. I stumbled forward, grasping my left arm at the elbow and raising
    it in front of me. I could distract him, give One a chance to strike while Zero
    was vulnerable. He couldn’t possibly hold out against both of us at once, could
    he? The notion sounded even less convincing in my head.


    Still, I braced myself,
    gathering all the energy I could and directing it to my fingers. I drew forth mana
    from the air as well, and from the flames of the wreckage at my back. Swirling
    ribbons of fire wrapped around my arm like dueling serpents, snaking from the
    elbow to the wrist and gathering in an iridescent orb in my palm. My entire
    body shook feverishly from the effort, but I remained firm.


    In the center of the
    courtyard Zero and One came together again, their blades clashing and crossing
    into a deadlock. One pressed harder but Zero remained still, the cobblestone
    cracking beneath his boots. With a sudden explosion of force, they parted, both
    combatants sliding away from one another.


    The shockwave from the
    blast swept in my direction, blowing my overcoat out behind me, but I ignored
    it. My eyes were focused only on Zero.


    At last, I attacked. I
    drew back my arm and cast, throwing the spell toward him in a blast of arcane
    fire. I felt a piece of my essence leave my body with it, and I collapsed back
    to my knees, panting heavily.


    The fireball sped toward
    Zero with alarming speed, scorching the ground beneath it as it traveled. I bit
    my lip, waiting for it to strike home.


    He deflected it with an
    almost imperceptible twitch of his finger. As if some invisible hand had batted
    it aside, the spell sputtered and careened off course, arcing behind Zero and
    slamming into a stone planter. The explosion was blinding, decimating the
    planter and flattening a row of trees nearby, but to Zero it may as well have
    been a light breeze. He was unfazed, merely sparing me another, brief glance
    before turning back to One.


    My heart sank. Again, I
    could imagine him smiling.


    • Katie Axelson

      Woah, that was intense, Colton. I wanted to know more, like why they were referred to by numbers.

  11. Bruce Humphrey

    One of the tips in Stephen King’s “On Writing” is the one he got when he sent his draft to an editor, and the editor answered with the interesting  “remember, second draft = first draft – 10%”

    • Scott Bartlett

       That’s a good formula, and one I believe I’ll be satisfying with my current project.

  12. Beck Gambill

    I agree. I don’t think there is one way to write a novel, anymore than there’s one way to paint a picture. I started my WIP, which is in the editing phase, almost twelve years ago. I definitely followed a more organic route. I wrote just a few thousand words and shelved the project for years. 

    I picked it up again about eighteen months ago. This time I was ready to write. I had a general idea of where I was going but at times I actually surprised myself at what I wrote down. I enjoyed that freedom and expression. At times it was very powerful and exciting. But I’ve also had to correct some gaps in the story. I did keep track of the characters and settings in a separate word doc. but I didn’t actually outline anything.I have a sequel in mind but I intend to write it differently. This time I plan on outlining the book before I get started. I’m also going to try writing in chapter form. My first book is just one big story with no divisions, also a pain to have to go back and fix.  

    • Scott Bartlett

       That sounds a lot like my novels, the writing of which tends to carry on for years. I don’t know how so many writers churn out a book a year!

  13. RD Meyer

    Very well said.  What works for one person may be an anathema to another.  The key is to find what works for you, and then go full bore into it.

    • Scott Bartlett

       Absolutely. Thanks for reading!

  14. Scott Bartlett

    Hey all, sorry I fell off the discussion’s radar–my replies don’t appear to be coming through, though I attempted to post them multiple times. I’m not sure if this comment will come through. If it does, though, I want to thank everyone so much for reading and commenting! It’s truly been a pleasure.

  15. Mirelba

    Interesting.  Actually, up until now, I have always written from the hip, no outlines, but I’ve only written short/flash stories.  For the upcoming book, I have begun a VERY rough outline, because I think a) the subject matter requires it.  b) for something that long it gives some direction.  Of course I’ll be smarter after it’s done to see how well it works…

    • Scott Bartlett

       I’ve spoken to some writers who say they find outlines stifling–that attempting to write around events they’ve sketched before hand means running into writing blocks.

      I can relate, actually–that happened to me with my first book. But obviously outlines have worked for me, too!

      Best of luck with your upcoming book.

  16. Katie Axelson

    I write with a rough outline, a destination rather. The journey is by the seat of my pants. Sometimes we take the scenic route but we usually get there.

    • Scott Bartlett

       I find the scenic route normally involves a lot of cutting material later on.

      Who am I kidding? I always cut a lot of material later on, regardless of the route I take.

    • Katie Axelson

      Truth. Sometimes the scenic route also allows for the discovery of some beautiful scenes too.

  17. Chihuahua Zero

    I long-handed a practice for this yesterday, but I’m not sure if I want to type it up. Is anyone still interested in reading it?

  18. Leti Del Mar

    I loved this post and think you have to find YOUR formula for writing.  It’s a journey and everyone travels it in their own unique way.  When you find what works, go with it.  If it doesn’t work, then change your direction.  Thanks again for the great post!

    • Scott Bartlett

       And thank you, for reading!

  19. Kern Windwraith

    So the secret to writing a novel is that there IS no secret. I find this oddly reassuring, not least because it confirms what I’ve long suspected! As with everything else in life that’s layered and complex, there’s usually more than one way to find one’s way from start to finish.

    • Scott Bartlett

      Definitely! At several points in my writing life, I’ve become bogged down by preconceived notions regarding how I should be writing, how a project should turn out, etc. But I’ve come to the realization that the most important thing is to just write.

      Also, don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and try something that no one has advised you to try!

  20. rosie

    I think some writers internalize structure. So you might feel as if you’re not planning or outlining at all, but the “outline” has become such a natural part of the process that you don’t feel as if you’re doing it. Maybe Stephen King has reached that level. I personally thing going without an outline is making things unnecessarily difficult!

  21. Eduardo Bayona

    Ha! I wish I could write again for making a new formula. I should write, I should.


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