Manuscript Format Template (free download)

 MS-format

Have you read my posts on Formatting your Novel Manuscript? If not, read part one here and part two here.

I surveyed forty literary agents in October of 2014 to ask them which font they preferred for submitted manuscripts. The clear winner was Times New Roman. Many agents read pages on e-readers or mobile devices, and TNR is a web-safe, system-installed, serif.  Using TNR allows them to read pages without changing formatting first, but it is also an easy font to change.

Download the MS Format TEMPLATE.

Right-click the link above and “save as.” I saved it as a Word Document, even though I personally use Pages, so if there are any issues, please report them to me! Our PC isn’t working, and I don’t have Word on my Macbook Pro.

This template uses paragraph styles, which you can import into any preexisting document. Otherwise save a copy of MS Format TEMPLATE, rename it, and begin typing or pasting your manuscript.

Read through all of the instructions on the template, and save it as-is to keep as a reference. Do not type into the original TEMPLATE—type in a duplicate or copy file.

Copyright Notice:

This template was created by me for personal or educational use only. You may share it with others—simply give them this link or share the link on social media using the buttons below. You may not pass this template off as your own or charge anyone to use it. You may not upload the template to any website or blog.

Of course, you have full ownership of your own manuscript, whether you use my template or paragraph styles to format it.

Hard-Core Manuscript Formatting

Or, Making your Typesetter Love You.

This is Part Two on my series of MS Formatting. For the basics of MS formatting, read Part One here. Get a template here in Part Three.

Remove all double spaces.

First, find and replace all double spaces with single spaces. Each period should be followed by ONE, not two, spaces.

Then do the exact same find and replace (just hit the “Replace all” button again) in case you had any rogue triple spaces lurking around.

Be consistent with your punctuation

These are the steps I go through to make sure all the punctuation is consistent. You really only have to do all of the following if you’re a typesetter, are perfectionist or anal retentive, or are trying to woo your publisher’s typesetter.

Publishers have their own style guides, but at least in terms of punctuation, it looks like American Publishers model their styles after the Chicago Manual of Style.

I recommend using the “Easiest Options” below while drafting your manuscript, and then doing a find/replace while revising and rewriting.

Ellipses (…)

  • Easiest option: three periods without spaces (d…b)*
  • Word’s auto-formatting: an ellipsis special character (d…b)*
  • AP style: three periods with a space before and after (d … b)
  • The Chicago Manual of Style‘s preferred option: three periods with five spaces (d . . . b)

*If you do either of these options, get in the habit
of typing a space before and after (
d … b).

The problem with CMOS’s favorite is that those internal spaces need to be non-breaking spaces, otherwise if the ellipsis falls at the end of the line, it might look like this .
. .

. . . which is really horrible typography. If you’re typesetting an actual book, do not use the ellipsis special character. Use periods with non-breaking spaces. (In Word: [Option][Space], on PC: [Ctrl][Shift][Spacebar], in Adobe: [Command][Option][X] for Mac or [Ctrl][Alt][X] for PC).

If you’re submitting a manuscript, it doesn’t really matter what you do (three periods, three spaced periods, or the ellipsis special character) as long as you are consistent and use a space before and after the ellipses.

However . . . when ellipses are used with quotation marks, you delete the space between the ellipsis and the quotation mark:

“Trailing off . . .” not “Trailing off . . . “

“. . . continuing.” not ” . . . continuing.”

Again, whatever method you use for ellipses, be sure you are consistent. Even if you use the auto-formatting that switches periods to the ellipsis special character, some triple-periods might still be hiding somewhere.

Em-dashes

I have a Quick and Easy Guide to Dashes if you need a primer on the differences between hyphens, em-dashes, and en-dashes and when to use them. Note that in monospaced typefaces like Courier, all dashes have the same width. An em-dash will be indistinguishable from a hyphen. I recommend using two hyphens if you will be editing or revising in Courier.

  • Easiest option: two hyphens without spaces (d–b)
  • Word’s (inconsistent) auto-formatting: an actual em-dash, with no spaces (d—b)
  • AP style: an em-dash surrounded by spaces (d — b)
  • Poorly advised attempt at making AP style prettier: an en-dash surrounded by spaces (d – b)
  • The Chicago Manual of Style’s preferred option: either two hyphens or one em-dash, no spaces. Be consistent!

Changing inch marks ″ to smart quotes “”

Say you use an online program (or app) for drafting, but you revise in a desktop program like Word. Sometimes switching between text editors really screws with your paragraph breaks and quotation marks. Quotation marks should be curved, like micro sixes and nines (“”, zoomed in: 66 99) not straight lines, which are actually inch marks (″, zoomed in: ||  ||).

If you’ve only used one word processor for the duration of your draft, your quotation marks should be consistent. You can turn on auto-format by following these instructions.

If you already have all the quotation marks typed, find/replace all automatically by typing ” into both the find and replace boxes and selecting “Use wild cards” before hitting “replace all.” Some might format awkwardly, so be sure to have a proofreader look for wacky smart quotes or replace each one at a time.

Repeat for foot marks ‘ and prime ′ to turn them into apostrophes ’ or single quotes ‛ and ’

If you cannot fix the quotation marks automatically, then you’ll have to do several Find/Replace searches. But first you need to search for all soft returns / line breaks / carriage returns (see below) in your document and replace them with paragraph breaks.

Once you are sure all of your paragraph breaks are consistent, follow the F/R searches below to manually fix all of your quotation marks:

  1. Find: [space][“] Replace: [space][left curly quote “]
  2. Find: [paragraph break*][“] Replace: [paragraph break][right curly quote ”]
  3. Find: [“][paragraph break] Replace: [left curly quote “][paragraph break]
  4. Find: [“][space] Replace: [right curly quote”][space]

Repeat for double prime ″ and foot marks ‘ and prime ′

*see below for codes

Awkward invisibles

Sometimes if we use different word processing programs while typing, the programs will use a line break instead of a paragraph break. Line breaks are also called carriage returns or soft returns.

For consistency, change them all to a paragraph breaks.

In Word, here are the codes you’d enter into the find/replace boxes:

  • Find line breaks: ^l or ^11
  • Replace with a paragraph break: ^p

In Open Office, the code for a paragraph break is [/n]. In Pages, select the invisibles from the drop down menu.

 

MS-format

Formatting your Novel Manuscript

How do I format a manuscript? | Novel Formatting from Editor Lara Willard

Contents

Choosing a Font
Emailing Requested Pages
Formatting your Manuscript
Keeping Punctuation Consistent
Receiving an Offer of Representation

Choosing a Font

The choice of font for your manuscript is one that’s been made for you. You need to use 12 pt. Times New Roman, double-spaced.

The size 12 font and double spacing is non-negotiable. The typeface is. Still, after asking dozens of literary agents about their preferences, I urge you to choose Times New Roman.

Why TNR?

Personally, as a typesetter, reader, and graphic designer, I loathe Times New Roman. But here’s why you should use Times New Roman for standard manuscript formatting:

  1. I polled 20 agents, and all of them accept TNR. Not so with other fonts.
  2. It’s standard. It’s been the standard since TNR was the default typeface installed on home computers.
  3. It’s a serif font. Publishers prefer serif fonts, and that preference has carried over to literary agents. It’s what we associate with books.
  4. It’s available on any device or browser. There are only two serif typefaces available on any browser or device: Times New Roman and Georgia. If you use any other font, there’s a definite chance that your recipient’s device won’t have the font and will switch it to TNR. You might think “Well, that’s fine. It switches for them.” But every time I get a manuscript in Cambria (the current default typeface for Word), I get a little pop-up that says “An Error Occurred” that I have to acknowledge and close. Yes, most agents will have Cambria on their computers, but Mac users might not, and it’s still not considered a web-safe font.
  5. TNR is very easy to read or change on e-reading devices. Many agents now read requested partials and fulls on Kindles or tablets. Times New Roman is easily changed into the typeface and size of their preference.

Courier has been a standard since the days of snail-mail manuscript mailing because, as a monospaced font, it yields approximately the same number of words per page. It has serifs (though it’s technically a slab serif), and it’s available on any device or browser. I prefer Courier while editing because it gives the most white space. My eyes are used to it, and it feels natural. I also know that I’m in “editing mode” whenever I’m reading Courier. However, some agents passionately hate Courier. They aren’t going to reject you because of your font, but they will switch it to something else, likely Times. Courier is also not easy to read on e-readers.

Bottom line:

Write in whatever font you darn well please. You could type in Webdings if it will help you from revising while getting out your first draft. Revise in something legible: a serif, a monospaced slab (like Courier), even a sans-serif (like Arial). Before you submit to agents, revise one last time in a typeface from a different family—you’ll be surprised how many things you catch when the words aren’t always in the same position on the page! Submit to agents using 12 pt TNR, double-spaced, unless they’ve stated differently in their agency guidelines.

Pasting Pages in the Body of the Email

Word uses a bunch of formatting that doesn’t always translate to web use, like italics, non-breaking spaces, space after paragraphs, double-spaced lines, and centered text. It’s always a good idea to strip the formatting for blog posts or emails, either by putting it into a text-only program like Notepad or TextEdit or by choosing “use destination formatting” while pasting. I hold down shift while pasting: shift+control+V

My pages will have a consistent look with my query letter, rather than be in a different font or format. Then I make sure there are spaces between my paragraphs, so it doesn’t look like one huge blob of text.

I’ve received pasted pages that weren’t stripped of formatting. Sometimes the spaces between words are gone. Sometimes the text is in one single horizontal line that scrolls on to the right, forever. Sometimes the query is gigantic or microscopic in comparison to the pages. Make it easy on the agent to read your pages. Don’t give him or her an easy way to say no.

Emailing Requested Pages

Subject Line

If you are emailing requested pages to an agent—that is, an agent asked you to send him or her pages after you queried—your subject line should be obvious that you are replying with requested materials.

A subject of Partial Request: BOOK TITLE Age Category Genre is a good starting point.

I’d reply to the email that they sent. An agent might mark your initial query email as important, reply directly to that (re: Query: CYCLES MG Fantasy) with a request for pages, and then if you reply to their email (re: Query: CYCLES MG Fantasy), your new email, because it’s part of the same thread, will also be marked as important.

However, if you’re replying to something they rejected, then your reply will also be marked as rejected. Resist the urge to send a “thank you” or “what about this other manuscript?” reply. If rejected, you can query with another manuscript in 6+ months. If you got a revise and resubmit, resubmit in 6+ weeks.

Content

Be professional, polite, and concise.

Dear Mr. Agent,

I am delighted to send you these pages you requested. Below I have included my initial query letter.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely,

Your Name

[Initial query letter—the same one sent to this specific agent—pasted without formatting]

Make sure you are following agency guidelines. Don’t attach pages if they want them pasted in the body of the email. If they request your query or a synopsis as separate files, follow their instructions!

Naming your Document

When sending a partial or full request to an agent, name your document Surname_TITLE_Partial or Surname_TITLE_Full (including the .doc extension). That way, if an agent saves your document to her computer or e-reader, she will immediately know 1) what and whose it is before she opens it, 2) the query that got her interested, and 3) where to send her response if she lost your initial e-mail.

Formatting your Manuscript

Start out with 1-inch margins all around and left (not justified) alignment.

Page i—The Query Letter

Paragraph Style: “Title Page”—12 pt TNR, single-spaced, no indent

Because many agents read requested pages on e-readers, they may have forgotten your query when they start reading your pages. I recommend including your query in the body of the email (see above) as well as before the title page of your requested pages.

Use 12 pt. Times New Roman, single-spaced with an extra space between paragraphs (like your email query). Make sure you are sending the same query you sent the agent originally. Don’t send a partial to Ms. Sally Agent with a query to Mr. Hans Agent, listing the specific reasons why you want him as your agent!

Then insert a page break.

How to Format your Novel Manuscript and Query Letter

Page ii—The Title Page

This page should be in the same paragraph style, with no headers.

1. Include your contact information, especially your email and a reliable phone number. Agents offer representation over the phone! But they will email you to let you know if they’d like to call you, so you can schedule a time.

2. After you type your name, add a tab stop with a right alignment to your ruler on the right margin. Then enter your word count, rounded to the nearest 1,000. If text keeps dropping to the next line, make the tab option a decimal alignment.

3. Halfway down the page, include your title in all-caps. Keep it in 12 pt. font, and do not bold, italicize, or underline it.

4. Two lines down (or one line, if you double-space this part), include your name as you’d like it to appear on your cover. Note that if your legal name is Steven King, you will probably need a pseudonym to avoid confusion with the famous SK.

Then insert a section break.

How to Format your Novel Manuscript and Query Letter

Your Manuscript

Page one of your manuscript and following pages will have the same formatting.

Be sure to include your header in the header section, not in the body of the page.

5. Headers should include your surname (whichever surname you have been using in your correspondence with the agent), an abbreviation of your title (if it’s longer than 3 words), and the page number (insert the page number). The page number will automatically show as 2 or 3. In your section settings, change the page numbering to start at 1. Learn how for Word. In Pages, in your inspector window, chose Layout > Section > Start at 1.

I prefer headers to be aligned on the right side so my eyes don’t have to skip over them every time I scroll down or flip to the next page.

Paragraph Style: “Header”—10 or 12 pt. TNR, right aligned

How to Format your Novel Manuscript and Query Letter

6. Manually hit “return” 4–6 times to start your chapter one-quarter to one-third down the page.

Paragraph Style: “Chapter Title”—12 pt. TNR, center alignment, all-caps, no indent, following paragraph style: “Chapter Subtitle” (if using), otherwise “Body No Indent”

7. If you have a chapter subtitle, put it on the next line down.

Paragraph Style: “Chapter Subtitle”—12 pt. TNR, center alignment, Title Capitalization, no indent, following paragraph style: “Body No Indent” 

8. Manually hit return 2 times before beginning your first paragraph. Do not include drop-caps or decorative initials.

Paragraph Style: “Body No Indent”—12 pt. TNR, left alignment, no indent, following paragraph style: Body (default)

9. Each subsequent paragraph should have a half-inch indent. Highlight this indented paragraph, right-click on the default “Body” paragraph style, and select “Redefine style from selection.” Note that if anything else had been set as Body before now, its style will change.

Paragraph Style: “Body” (default)—12 pt. TNR, left alignment, 0.5″  indent

Use the indent formatting set to 0.5″. DO NOT USE THE TAB KEY or type five sentences to indent your first line. If you have done this, set your paragraphs to indent automatically. Then find/replace all tabs by typing “^t” into “find” and leaving “replace” blank. You’ll do the same with double spaces after each sentence.

Unless you are typing on a manual typewriter, indents should come from formatting, not the tab key or the space bar.

Unless you are typing in a monospace or typewriter font like Courier, do not hit space twice after each sentence.

10. Separate scene changes with a hash (#) or three asterisks (***), centered, in either of the Chapter title/subtitle styles, whichever one has the following paragraph style set as “Body No Indent.”

11. (not pictured) For long quotes, excerpts, or letters: Indent one inch on both the left and the right side for long quotes. These can be single or double-spaced. Either way, they need an extra line break both above and below, to set them apart from the rest of the body. They can also be italicized. Personally, I’d italicize only if the text were a “letter” from one character to another.

Paragraph Style: “Long Quote”—12 pt. TNR, left alignment, right indent 0.5″, left indent 0.5”

Dear Reader,

This is a letter or lengthy handwritten note (longer than a few words). Indent 1/2 inch on both sides (I prefer 1 inch). Short handwritten notes can be formatted like signs, below.

Don’t put these in different fonts. Let your designer choose typefaces.

For signs or short handwritten notes: Include an extra line break before and after, and center the text without an indent.

FOR SALE: apples
Come ‘n get ’em!

For text, instant, or direct messages: Indent a half inch on both sides. For a dialogue or back-and-forth messages, I like to right-justify the POV character and left-justify anyone else. How you designate the characters’ identities is up to you. Note: In verse novels, authors will often continue the main character’s voice on the left and other character’s words will be on the right.

Friend: Hey.

Me: Hi.

Here’s a long message that
we’ll add line breaks to so
it looks more like a text.

Yeah. I think my phone only
allows like 32 characters per
line or whatever. But 6ish words
is about right, too. Really you
can add line breaks wherever,
like poetry.

I created a new message here
by hitting “enter” like usual.
Enter line breaks by holding
shift while you press “return.”
You’re adding a line break, not
a new paragraph.

If you’re typesetting an actual
book and not submitting a MS,
then I still recommend right-
justifying single-line texts,
like the “Hi” above, but…

For longer text messages, left-
justify and indent 4 or 5 inches. That way you avoid awkward short lines on the right side of the page, like the “like poetry” above.

You don’t have to add line breaks if you indent this far, but you might want to just in case someone accidentally removes
all indents.

Otherwise your text messages will just look like normal text again. Pro tip: write the message and edit it before figuring out formatting, otherwise you’ll be spending too much time prematurely adding and removing line breaks.

Miscellaneous

DO NOT add two spaces after a period unless you’re submitting in a monospaced font like Courier (which you shouldn’t; see above)

DO NOT hit the return or enter key after each line of prose. On a computer, the words will wrap automatically. For poetry or verse, then yes, you can manually add line returns.

DO insert a page break after each chapter.

DO NOT use the “tab” key or type five sentences to indent paragraphs (see #9)

DO NOT add an extra space between paragraphs when double-spaced (see #9)

DO add an extra [vertical] space between paragraphs when single-spaced (e.g., the query email). Hit the return key twice.

DO NOT use bold or underlining for emphasis, unless typing in Courier. Only use italics, and use sparingly. If you paste into an email, check to make sure the italic formatting transferred over.

DO NOT include epigraphs, song lyrics, or poetry set apart before the first chapter. Agents want to read your words, not someone else’s. You can discuss epigraphs and the like when writing your dedication and acknowledgments. More info here.

Congratulations! As a reward for reading the miscellany, go here to download my free template for the MS standard format.

Keeping Punctuation Consistent

Inconsistent punctuation isn’t going to be a deal-breaker, but if you want to ensure that your punctuation is consistent (specifically your ellipses, dashes, and quotation marks), read Part 2: Hard-core Manuscript Formatting.

Receiving an Offer of Representation

Read “When an Agent Requests your Manuscript”  by Susan Dennard (now a NYT bestselling author!) at Let the Words Flow for advice on what to do when an agent offers you representation, especially if you still have pages being reviewed by other agents.

Did you find this information useful?

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10 Steps to Finishing a Novel

The great thing about blogging is that you can’t hear my maniacal laughter. Oh, I’ll give you ten steps all right. Just don’t think that those ten steps will be easy or even consecutive. Think of it more as a twisted game of Chutes and Ladders. You go up a few steps, slide back down to the bottom, go up a few more steps, slide back to the bottom again. You’re basically Sisyphus.

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

A nicer title for this article might be:

The Creative Process for Writing a Novel

except it also includes processes that are critical, not creative, so maybe:

The Ten-Step Program for Novelists

(Titles aren’t really my thing.)

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen a link I posted a while ago entitled “Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge: Unlocking Our Personas to Get Unstuck” from Ed Batista. In it, he quotes Betty Sue Flowers and her approach for getting unstuck as a writer. Now, I’ve already posted on The Myth of Writer’s Block, but there’s a difference between being “blocked” and being paralyzed by your inner critic.

Flowers’ essay is short, and you should read it. But I’ll sum it up for you anyway. She says that we all have conflicting energies. One, the madman, is the creative energy.

The judge is the critical energy: the internal editor, the voice that says, “That was the worst thing I’ve ever read” or “You are a ridiculous hack.” It’s the impetus to hold down the delete key.

So Flowers introduces two more personas, ones to act as mediators between the madman and the judge: the architect and the carpenter.

Basically these four personas represent 1) creativity, 2) logic, 3) craft, and 4) perfection. Separating these processes and letting them each have their turn will allow your work to grow and be refined from start to finish. You can even select one day for each persona. Monday = Madman. Tuesday I’ll organize his mess. Wednesday I work on syntax, style. Thursday I polish. Friday I submit the work.

Sounds really smart, right? It is!

But let’s look at the broader picture. How can we apply those four personas to writing out a novel-length work?

Steps 1–2: Experience

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

Source: Hey Kids, Comics!

#1: Feed your creativity.

Read good stories. Read like a writer. Watch movies known for their storytelling (See this and this for ideas). Watch Sherlock. Listen to people talking. Eavesdrop. People watch. Go make memories. Travel. Spend time outside.

#2: Feed your knowledge.

Research. Spend time world-building. Flesh out your characters, then get to know them inside and out. Need character worksheets or exercises? I’ve got them here.

This is where many creative people stop. But to actually get things finished, you’ll need to keep moving forward.

On to the next step!

Steps 3–4: Produce

This is where the madman comes in.

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

Source: Fanpop

#3: Brainstorm

No idea is off limits. Try to come up with some themes, pitches, or log lines so you have a bit of direction for the next step.

#4: Create

Be wild, reckless. Imagine your inner critic bound and gagged in the corner. Unleash your inner child and play. Write a paragraph or a scene. If you are a pantser, you might even complete a first draft before the next step. Just get words down.

When you are ready to plan, whether you’ve written a sentence or a full first draft, move on

Step #5: Plan

5–6 correspond to the Architect.

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

Source: National Archive

Plan. Plot.

Start sketching out a roadmap. You can drive with your headlights out, sure, but it’s good to have at least some idea of a destination or what’s coming up next. This plan can be as rough or as detailed as you want it to be. Just stay flexible. Related posts:

Repeat 1-5 until you have an idea of a destination and a route to get there.

Step #6: Harvest

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

Source: Smashing Picture

Curate. Organize.

Gather what you’ve generated. Organize it. Be selective with what you keep. Cut, rearrange, paste.

Repeat 1-6 until you have a complete manuscript. Celebrate. Then take a break to read a book or two about writing. Spend some time here on the blog. Ask questions

Step #7: Critique

7–8 correspond to the Carpenter

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

Source: National Galleries Scotland

NOW is the time to start critiquing. Look for lazy writing. Find cliches. Read out loud. Underline wordy or clunky writing. Use a highlighter, not a pen. This is a time to find problems, not fix them. If you try to fix everything now, you’ll overwhelm yourself!

Take a break. Read poetry, go for a walk, go on vacation. Give your ego some time to recover. Compile a list of people who might want to Beta Read for you.

Step #8: Progress

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

Refine: Library of Congress

8a: Rewrite

Take a scene or a chapter at a time. Look over critiques, then fix them. Be a writer. Be creative, be original. Fresh language. Specific details. Show, don’t tell.

8b: Proof

Inspect your writing for grammatical or logical errors. You can do this at the same time as #8a, but realize that one is about creating, and one is about judging. They are like twins with different personalities. You can take them as a set or separately.

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

Twins: Design for Mankind

Write, critique, refine, proof your query letter if you’re looking for agent representation. 

Step #9: Invite

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

Source: Australian War Memorial

Give your new draft to other readers. Listen to their feedback. Decide if you agree with them.

While you’re waiting for their feedback, read QueryShark. Refine your query letter.

Repeat 8 and 9 until you feel ready to submit or send your work to a professional. Note that if you already have an agent or editor, you’d likely submit your work to them very early on.

Step #10: Post

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

Source: Smithsonian Apparently people mailed actual children via post. Seriously.

10a: Hire

Send your query letter and sample to a freelance editor for professional feedback. Alternatively, you could send your query to a critique group or published author friend. Consider anyone’s feedback critically, but also understand that sometimes your gut reaction is more of a defense mechanism. Don’t accept or reject changes without considering each one.

If self-publishing, you take on the financial risks of publishing rather than a publishing house or small press. Ideally you will hire at least one copy editor or line editor and one proofreader. I’ve seen multiple editors and proofreaders still miss typos!

Repeat 8.

10b: Query

If you are looking for representation, send your query letter to agents.

If no one requests a complete manuscript, repeat 8-10 until somebody does. A published writer is a writer who doesn’t give up. 

Nobody promised you a rose garden. This is a long, hard road. You will sacrifice much. But at the end, you will have learned and achieved much.

Then: Representation!

You did it! Plan on plenty more writing, rewriting, and marketing in the months and years following representation as your agent submits your book to publishers.

Summary:

  1. Feed your creativity by experiencing life.
  2. Feed your knowledge gaining experience. Research facts. Fabricate the rest.
  3. Brainstorm like a mad scientist.
  4. Create with wild abandon. Repeat 1–4.
  5. Plan. Repeat 1–5 until you have a destination, an ending, a THEME.
  6. Curate, cut, and paste. Repeat 1–6 until you have a complete manuscript.
  7. NOW you can take the gag out of your internal editor’s mouth. Critique. Then take a vacation.
  8. Refine, fix, rewrite. Unleash the literary genius. Live up to your potential.
  9. Invite others to read your new draft. Welcome feedback. Write your query and summary. Repeat 8.
  10. Send your stuff to the professionals. Repeat 8–10 until you get representation.

An even briefer summary:

10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel | Write Lara Write

——————-

Note: My husband, a Captain in the Marine Corps (now Reserves), says he only needs 6 steps to accomplish anything: BAMCIS. I can see that being adapted for novel writing. Once he finishes a novel, I’ll let him write a guest post about it.