How to Be a Successful Novelist
(according to Nancy Moser)
1. Read. Analyze why you like certain books and dislike others. Learn from them. And remember, just
because a book is published doesn't mean it’s good.
2. Write every day. Even if it’s only for a half hour. Pinpoint your creative time and use it.
3. Let it flow. Worry about making it perfect later. Keep in mind it will never be perfect.
4. Keep moving. If you're stuck in one scene, one fact, one conversation? Skip it. Don’t get distracted.
Insert XXX in the manuscript to easily find the spot where you left something out.
5. Write down every idea—as you get it. On your hand, on the back of receipts . . . an idea is just air until
you write it down. Writing is not an on-off process. Always be in the ON position.
6. Organize ideas. Use small color-coded Post-it notes to keep track of ideas pertaining to different
characters. Stick them on a write-erase board, under columns of characters’ names.
7. Keep a file of "Facts". Keep track of what Ann calls Joe, ages, pet words, their favorite drink, and other
life notes in one computer file. It saves time. Especially if you’re writing a series.
8. Keep a Calendar and a Chapter Synopsis. Print out a blank calendar and note chapter numbers on
specific dates to keep track of the story’s time line. Plus, keep a Chapter Synopsis file that lists the
scenes in each chapter for easy access when you have to change something.
9. Keep a Research file. If you research information from the internet, keep one “Internet Info” file,
complete with the website address for where you got each item.
10. Stir things up. Story=conflict. Stuck? Ask this: What is the worst thing that can happen? Then make it
11. Show don’t tell. Don’t tell me Joe is happy, show it. Don’t tell me Mary has a tough marriage, show it.
Don’t tell me it’s hot outside, show it.
12. Remove 99% of adverbs. No –ly words. Search and destroy for strong writing.
13. Remove exclamation points unless character is shouting. Hacks exclaim because it’s the easy
way out. Writers find the right word to do the work.
14. Let the characters take over. Let the story become what it’s supposed to become, not just what you
wanted to make it.
15. Keep multiple copies of your work-in-progress. Put your files on the hard-drive of your main
computer, on your laptop, on a keychain drive (a must-have.) Don’t merely back up at the end of the day.
SAVE every few minutes, and back up your files on at least one additional location every hour. Then
you’ll never be out more than one hour’s work.
16. Write your story, with your voice. Use life experiences—you didn't have them for nothing. You have
something unique to share with the world. Do it.
17. Take the high road. Less is more. Improve the world with your writing, don’t give into the world’s baser
instincts. A reader’s imagination can fill in the blanks during sensitive moments in the story to a level
that’s comfortable for them. “Fade to black” works.
18. Be open to suggestions. The competition is too fierce to be a prima donna. Be concerned if your
editor doesn't have things to change. You’re not that good. No one is.
19. Don't give up. A rejection is one person’s opinion. Accept valid comments and criticisms (if you’re lucky
enough to get any) and move on. Delay is not denial. Fate finds persistence irresistible.
20. Write because you have to. Don’t do it for the money. "The easiest thing to do on earth is not write."
Good Books about Writing and the Writing Life:
* The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Christian Fiction by Ron Benrey
* Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
* Pinckert's Practical Grammar by Robert C. Pinckert (witty and understandable grammar)
* Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass
* Plotting & Structure by James Scott Bell
* On Writing by Stephen King