Lessons Learned From Writing My First Novel – Almost Human

What happens when the line between ape and man is blurred?
The full cover of the book.

I was in Baja last week and met a reader who told me he was writing a book. He paused and continued by lamenting that he had been writing it for many years and it was not anywhere near completion. I’ve met many writers who are in this same predicament. They’re writing or “gathering” but not any closer to finishing their book–their dream. Believe me I sympathize, I was in the same situation from many years.

Here’s a few strategies I’ve learned from writing Almost Human. First, and foremost, write the ending. I had been writing this book for years and my novel just kept growing. My editor and teacher, Kathryn Lynn Davis, after reading several chapters asked me, “How does the novel end?” When I couldn’t tell her, she gave me the single most important piece of advice that helped me finish my book! “Don’t send me another chapter until you’ve written the ending.” It took me several chapters to accomplish this but once I did, I had a road map to line up my plot development and character arcs. So, after many years of writing on and off, I finished the novel in the next six months! While this may not work for every novelist, it worked for me.

I set myself a goal to write three pages a day no matter what. Very often, on a particularly productive day, those three pages flowed and grew to twenty or more. But most importantly,  I wrote every day because that’s what we do, writers-write!

Also, I did very little editing as I wrote. I didn’t try to get my narrative perfect at the expense of the flow. I wrote and filled it out later. Sometimes as a warm up before my three pages.

I was fortunate to be invited to join a writers’ group that included several published authors led by a creative and insightful leader/author. The feedback and advice on how to to improve as a writer and navigate the publishing world was priceless. Just make sure it is a good group that truely critiques your work–no matter how painful. The goal is to become a better writer not participate in a mutal admiration support group. These writers were honest and skilled. I am very grateful.

And finally, I work hard at trying to live a life worth writing about. This can be referred to as “gathering” or “research,” I call it just having fun living life’s adventure. I feel drawing from our experiences makes our work ring true and gives it credibility.

I know while this worked for me and certainly is not exhaustive, it may not work for every writer. I wrote this because of how often I’m asked by readers how I managed to finish my novel.

Oh, it helps to have a worldclass, New York Times Bestselling author as your editor.  Thank you Kathryn Lynn Davis!

Autographed copies of Almost Human can be purchased directly from the author.

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For information on book readings, signings and sparkling discussions go the my Amazon Author Page.

Author: Baja Moto Quest!

I am an educator who came out of retirement to consult with school districts, but I also live to ride my R1200GSA motorcycle as much as I can especially in Baja! In fact, without those adventures into the outback of Baja, I wouldn't be able to give my all at work or write. I've written a novel, Almost Human which was published recently and am working on the sequel, More Than Human.

14 thoughts on “Lessons Learned From Writing My First Novel – Almost Human”

  1. Ken, just curious: hv u heard of AWAI, American Writers and Artist Inc. and “The Barefoot Writer”?
    If so , what do you think; worth looking in to…?
    Mike Loring
    PS Visited Riv. BMW Cycles, SAT.,had fun!
    PSS getting around to your book soon, reading “Ghost Rider, by N.E. Peart now.

  2. Great article–just ordered your book! My husband and I read quite a bit — actually, he reads to me while I crochet (no kidding, real Norman Rockwell…) Looking forward to it, and just getting into Goodreads as well, so we’ll get it on there also. Question: do you do guest posts on others’ blogs? I would like to reblog this post but also sometime possibily interview you on your blogging and creative process if you would be interested. Again, thanks for sharing your insights.

      1. Hey thanks! In truth, you would be my first “guest post” via interview, but I want to digest you book first when it comes. Lookin’ forward to it!

      2. Your autographed book will go out tomorrow by USPS media package.I would be honored to be your first! Absolutely, reblog me. I’m hoping for some reviews in Amazon, et. al.
        Many thanks for the support of my work.

  3. I am reading your excellent novel. Enjoying it a lot. Great advice maybe if i write my enjoy ding i might get my book finished. Then wirk on how to get published. Just a few thinks I noticed is whoever edited did not catch a lot of little errors. One of spot wendy is called winnie and another spelled windy. Quite a few extra the’s stuff like that . Only just got and started reading but love the story so far . When i fall asleep bec a use i do not want to put book down it is to me a great book. Sloop glad I got it

      1. It will hopefully be within this month, due to our schedule. (We just got back from So. California and Utah, oh yeah, and we read slowly….) So happy for you! Sold out first edition!

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