Novel To Do List

  1. Organize book by events into three parts. The first events in the book should go into the first part. The middle events should go into the second part. The events toward the end of the book should go into the third part. You don’t have to have finished writing for each event, but you do need to decide which scenes and events go into each part, in chronological order (more or less). List these. Then cut and paste what you have written into each part.
  2. Finish writing (this is a rough draft—it doesn’t have to be comprehensive or perfect) the unfinished scenes.
  3. Tie the scenes together with segways. I.e.: “The next time Caitlyn saw so-and-so, she was cheerful as a cricket”, or “Several weeks passed by with little change”. Doesn’t have to be brilliant–just get the job done.
  4. Look over everything. Make sure everything is in the right spot. Does everything make sense? Is there anything you need to add to make it more coherent?
  5. Sort into chapters.
  6. Add descriptions to your basic text. Set the scene. I.e.: “The palm trees cast long shadows over the lawn…”, “The air had grown cool and crisp…”, “A breeze brought Caitlyn a whiff of the neighbor’s barbecue…”, “He stood too long in one place and the fire ants found him, sending tiny pinpricks of pain shooting all over his bare feet,” etc.. Don’t obsess over making the descriptions perfect. Write down the general gist. You can go back and fine tune the descriptions to your heart’s content when working on a later draft. Do not allow yourself to be bogged down now.
  7. Re-read and re-write the novel, one chapter at a time. Do not skip ahead. Do not go back and edit a previous chapter. Fine tune descriptions. When done with each chapter, run it through Grammarly to check for spelling and grammatical errors.
  8. Once a week (or as often as you can), send “finished” chapter to one or two objective friends who will provide feedback about what works and what doesn’t work. Make necessary changes. Run through Grammarly.
  9. When you have fine-tuned the last chapter, send the book to a professional editor. Listen to his or her advice and make necessary changes.
  10. Find an agent.
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