The Easiest Method for Writing Novels
How to crunch down on hours of pointless drivel
Now, I should make it perfectly clear that this is not a quick pitstop article for aspiring authors who want two-hundred-percent book for fifty-percent effort. Because, as any person would know, writing takes a great amount of devotion and bulky hours of screen time. So, if you expect to publish one-hundred-thousands words in three weeks, you may be out of luck.
If, however, you want your novel to be the best it can be whilst also taking a couple of shortcuts along the way, then take a seat; I'll map you some corners you can feel free to cut during your writing journey. And if you'd prefer to ignore them, then that's okay too. Every writer has methods they prefer to familiarise themselves with. And where some writers might frown upon others tactics, some might adapt to them and share their own ideas on how to help expand certain boundaries. Either way, there's no right or wrong when it comes to strategising with your methods.
There is a method I've been using for about ten years now, though. But it was never exactly done intentionally. It was more of a 'just get on with it' sort of deal. And before long, it just became the norm for me when booting up a new project.
This method I speak of has saved me hundred, if not thousands of hours at the desk. And whilst I do not condone skipping preparation, I do believe it is possible to achieve similar results by cutting off a specific portion of the agenda when starting a novel.
So what is this method I speak of? Well, to put it bluntly, you essentially just need to bin the notepads and chalkboards. That's right. Skip lengthy character backstories and family trees. Cut through the lore of the world you're crafting. Bypass all the nooks and crannies of the land you're building. And instead, just learn to write with nothing but your imagination leading the way.
Sink a cup of coffee, crack your knuckles, and just allow the words to flow aimlessly in whatever direction your mind lets them. That's really all it takes sometimes in order to tell their greatest stories. And by cutting out this certain segment of the process we are able to remain emotionally invested in the story. So we are not only writing the story, but we are also reading it for the very first time too.
Too many times I've encountered aspiring writers who have the ideal story, but lack in motivation when staring at a plastered chalkboard with plots within plots and side-stories stemming from backstories. That's usually when they start to lose a great amount of interest in the work. And nine times out of ten the first chapter is never even written due to the complexity of the initial structure.
So what do we do to help replenish our morales? Well, we write. And that's all we do. We just write and see where it goes. And from there, we can either question our imaginations, or we can surpass our expectations. We can cut off the fat and still enjoy the steak without the insanity that brews from overthinking.
When I wrote my first novel, I didn't know how it'd start. In fact, I didn't even know the dilemma the protagonist (whoever that was) would have to face and overcome. I didn't know the middle, the end, or even if the story had a memorable moral for that matter. All I knew was that I wanted to create something.
I started typing. And then I typed some more. Then, I had something I was invested in. I was just as interested in the next chapter as a second reader would've been. And as I poured hundreds of hours into this project, I never once looked ahead. I stuck with the present, and I just kept going until my mind told me otherwise.
As I reached the second to last chapter, my eyes could see the story coming to an end. But my brain refused to give me an inside peek as to how it would all come together. So with that, I'd be itching to see what would happen to these people my brain had created from scratch. I wanted to see the curtain call and see it through to the very end. I wanted to read my story in its rawest format.
It's funny. I remember reading those last paragraphs for the first time as my hands typed the words, and I recall bursting into a flood of tears. Not because I had just written a novel and achieved something I never thought I'd be able to accomplish. But because the story genuinely captured my heart and surprised me - even after so many hours of working with it. Somehow, it still felt fresh.
I typed the very last words and then removed my hands from the keyboard. I brushed my sleeve across my cheek and said one word.
The most important thing we, as writers, need to remember, is that we shouldn't just be copy and pasting from notes. We should learn to surprise even ourselves - even if we do become our own worst critics during later stages.
Planning ahead usually means you're already clued in on the ending. And because of that, it feels like we're just slugging through for the sake of finishing the story. We aren't emotionally entwined with it. We aren't connecting to it as much as we probably should be.
By applying this simple method, we are able to surprise the world with our imaginations. We can break our own creative boundaries and go above and beyond by killing two birds with one stone. We can become fans of our own work, and we can complete a great feat at the exact same time. And that in itself is an incredible thing, it really is.
Of course, there's no doubt you'll have to go back and make an edit or six. But that's alright. Nothing is perfect. And if you expect to strike gold on your first run-through you're either very optimistic or have a rather inflated ego. Again, that's alright. But just know that your work will always need looking back over a few times before being submitted to further stages.
The way I like to look at it is you've just had the most incredible night ever with your best friends. And despite your memory being compared to an elephants, you still can't seem to remember the night due to the various concoctions your buds forced you to sink. But there's hope. Because it just so happens that you took six-thousand pictures of the whole night. So, you best get to viewing them and deleting all of the ones that make you cringe before submitting the album to Facebook. (That was possibly the most hipster thing I've ever written...).
After you've chewed through the story several times, you'll have yourself a finished novel. And that's the novel you're going to want to share with the world. That's your masterpiece.
Pat yourself on the back if you make it this far. You've done it.
Sadly, not everybody can write. But, whilst that's technically true, it doesn't for one second mean nobody can write a book. Because, funnily enough, we all have stories that need telling regardless of age, gender, background, writing capabilities etc.
Everybody has the ability to tell the stories buried deep within their own minds. All it takes is pinch of ambition and a pocketful of devotion. With those combined, anybody can put this method to use and create something wonderful. But it can only start with you. So wipe off that keyboard and remove the padlock from your brain. You've got stories to tell, and we're all ready to hear them.
- J Tury