How to Write a YA Fantasy Novel

A writer friend of mine, Thomas Shepherd, suggested that I do a blog post about my writing process – so, here goes: How To Write a Novel Like What I Do.

1. Wake up at 3am, having had the Best Idea Ever – so good that you don’t need to write it down, as you’ll obviously remember it.

2. Wake up properly at the usual time. Try and remember the idea. Eventually decide that it was probably something about kids with superpowers.

3. Spend at least a week trying to think of a title. Come up with a placeholder that is also a dreadful pun.

4. Write the first third of the story, creating a main character who’s the most awesome character to have ever graced the page.

5. Realise that the plot is ridiculous, and main character is actually supremely irritating and deserves to be fired out of a rocket into the sun.

6. Start again.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until the character and plot are vaguely acceptable.

8. Get stuck. Stare at the screen for an eternity.

9. Read some excellent books in the hope that they will inspire you. Instead, become convinced that your writing is on a par with that of a baby orangutan. And not even a very talented baby orangutan.

10. Plan out the book chapter by chapter. Feel like a fraud because Art should be Spontaneous and Organic. Then feel like a pretentious muppet for even thinking that.

11. Start again, working from the book plan, feeling like a kid doing a Paint By Numbers picture.

12. Drag yourself to the end of the book like someone crawling ashore after a shipwreck.

13. Resolve to let the book sit for a month so you can look at it from a fresh point of view. Break resolution after a couple of days, because not writing makes you feel very uncomfortable.

14. Print out a hard copy of the manuscript while at work, thus avoiding printing costs. Put it in a folder, ready for editing.

15. Spend the next two weeks decorating the folder with pictures of comic book characters, inspirational quotes, cute animals, and Tom Hiddleston. (This is an essential part of the process.)

16. Go through and edit. Cut out all repetitive phrases and unnecessary adverbs. Realise that that’s half the book gone.

17. Pummel the book into something that’s actually not all that bad.

18. Upload to Amazon and Smashwords. Offer up a pint of beer and a filthy limerick to Loki (trickster gods are the patron gods of writers) in return for sales.

19. Sit back and watch the pennies occasionally roll in!


Alice Nuttall is the author of Spider Circus, a story of magic and dragons and scary carnivorous horses that is available on Amazon and Smashwords. She can also be found rambling on over at Twitter, and posting writing updates at Facebook.


About Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall is a caffeine-guzzling knitter who divides her time between Oxford and the various worlds in her head. She is the author of a YA fantasy novel, Spider Circus, and three webcomics, Footloose, Cherry, and Black Market Magic, as well as several short stories.
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