How to Create a Literary Masterpiece

My usual beta reader, Aslan.

My usual beta reader, Aslan.

Most people think writers just pop out books and they are immediate best sellers. I would say most of those people aren’t writers, but that’s not really true. Every time I pick up a pen there’s some optimism there that maybe I will just write a really awesome first draft. Maybe I will be the next YA prodigy.

But the reality is, there’s an entire process to creating a great piece of literature. Here are some foolproof steps to get your book ready to pitch:

  • Write the damn book.
    It’s pretty difficult to keep writing a scene that seems out of place, keep giving an underdeveloped character dialogue, or keep using a setting that’s overly cliché. But the key to success on the first draft is to simply write and don’t look back. If you get through a scene and want something else for it, add that something else on top of it. Don’t go back and edit. Not till the end. Not till step two.
  • Read your book and try not to cry.
    The fetal position will help with this step. Put your book on Kindle or Nook and read it as quickly as you read the last Harry Potter book. Don’t take too long. Just get through it so you can get a big-picture idea of what you’re working with. During this read-through, you will simultaneously feel like a god and like the most untalented person ever. That’s okay. That’s normal. Chocolate helps.
  • Fix your shit.
    Ernest Hemingway says, “The first draft of everything is shit.” Well, cheers to you Hemingway, because you’re right. Your good parts will need to be better, your plot lines will need to be tied neater, and your characters will need more character. This is the part where you start to mold your clay into a shape. When you’re done with this draft, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re writing.
  • Happy trees.
    Now it’s time to go Bob Ross on your landscape. Fill in the holes, enhance the beauty, and bring out what makes your book unique. This is the time for embellishments, last minute wishes, small repairs, and validation that you’re a good writer after all. Do this in as many drafts as you need, until you can’t figure out what else to fix.
  • Let real people read it.
    Your cat is probably tired of hearing your plot problems by now, so give it over to trusted beta readers. Let them read your book all the way through and accept their criticism with civility. Keep in mind that only you know how to write the book you’re writing, but beta readers can help you pinpoint what is unclear and what doesn’t work.
  • Polish.
    Now it’s time to get your book polished until it damn near sparkles. Read it and read it again. When you get to the point that you can’t find any way to improve it, then congratulations! It’s time to query.

What are your steps to crafting a novel (or painting, song, etc.)? Leave a comment below.


-Dani Nicole



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