Wednesday, October 16, 2013


By Erin Cashman

Since my debut novel, THE EXCEPTIONALS, was published, the question I get asked the most is how I became a writer. What I’ve discovered is that most people don’t want to hear about how I used to sit up in a tree and write stories when I was in elementary school. They want to know how I wrote a book and saw it through to publication. Each author has his or her own process. This is what works for me:

1.      Write a novel. This seems obvious, but it is actually quite harder than it seems! It takes countless hours and fierce determination to see it through. At times you will have inspiration, other times you will trudge through the muck. You will be brilliant, you will be cliché. The important thing is that when you are done, you will have finished a first draft of a novel. If you are like me, when you write the words The End you will be incredibly proud and fairly certain that your manuscript is amazing and will require little revision. YOU WILL BE WRONG.
2.      Put your novel away. DO NOT LOOK AT. Leave it for at least two weeks, preferably a month. Then, read it again. If you are like me, you will be fairly certain that it is the worst piece of crap that anyone has ever written. I try to take a first pass without revising, but just marking where the story drags, which characters are really just there to move the plot, and places that don’t work.
3.      Now comes the real work – revising. Revise, revise, revise.
4.      At this point, I interview my main characters. I ask the same questions all the time, such as: What is your deepest fear? What is your darkest secret? If you could meet one person in history who would it be? I always discover that I don’t know my characters as well as I thought. You will be surprised by what you learn.
5.      Take your new found insight and go back and revise again, focusing on fleshing out the characters as much as possible.
6.      Now you have poured your heart and soul into the manuscript, and you feel that it is pretty damn good. Read the whole thing out loud. You will know immediately when the dialogue is flat or artificial sounding. You will not only pick up on errors, but phrasing that might be grammatically correct, but off for some reason.
7.      You may think you are done – but you’re not. You need a fresh set of eyes on your novel. And by that, I don’t mean your family or friends. Find a writing group or critique partner. I just did this recently, and I wish I had done it years ago. It makes a huge difference. It is not easy to sit in your writing group and listen to people pull apart your baby. You will have the urge to defend your boring or one dimensional characters, who, by now, are very real to you, and explain your convoluted plot. Bite your tongue.  Take notes. LISTEN. You don’t need to take all of their advice, but pay attention to the big picture items. If your partner or group doesn’t really care about your main character, you need to fix it. Spend a day mulling over their advice.
8.      Revise, revise, revise.
9.      When you feel like your novel is the best that you can make it, put it away for at least a week, and read it out loud again, from start to finish with as few interruptions as possible. I usually start on a Saturday morning and finish it by Sunday sometime. Are you crying during sad parts? Swooning during the romance scenes? Is your heart racing during suspenseful parts? If so, you are done. Congratulations! You finished!
10.  Rejoice! As Tom Clancy said, “Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.” Whatever happens now, whether you send out queries letter in hopes of publication, submit your manuscript to your agent or editor, self publish, or simply share your masterpiece with your family and friends, celebrate your accomplishment. You are a novelist.

      Erin Cashman is a YA author. Her debut fantasy novel, THE EXCEPTIONALS, was published by Holiday House in 2012 and named a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year. You can find her at the group blogs The Enchanted InkpotBookPregnant Blog, and on Twitter,Facebook, and her Website


  1. This is really great, Erin, and as valuable for a third book as for a first.

    1. Thanks Nancy! Sometimes I try to rush it, and I always regret it.

    He helped me with a fast cure to fibroid and infertility,and the size of it was .7cm, Then I started taking the medication for only one month, and now am completely cured from it. I was able to make it without any surgery, now I can live like every normal human and I can eat any food of my choice If you need such help, contact him via mail on for advice,i hope this also help some one out there.

  3. Looking for the best medicine for fibroid,Dr Williams own is the best, it has the ability to tackle symptoms emanating from an aliment plus even the origin of that aliment? Dr Williams medicine is a miracle cure,and is just the perfect one for you. With Dr Williams you won’t be compelled to any form of hard drug prescription or any drug with horrible side manifestation unlike many most posing natural guide on fibroid which are very much unreal and at the same time demand lot of time. Dr Williams herbal medicine is such that offers practical approach that goes with one life just in accordance to the life we live every day.
    dr williams medicine is really a life changing medication. after one month i started using dr williams medicine my fibroid is completely gone within that one months of beginning the medicine. The medicine helps mitigate a variety of symptoms, from pelvic pain and pressure, to bladder problems,all thanks to dr willams for giving me life again,for more information you can email him on for help.

  4. حوامل Great job for publishing such a beneficial web site. Your web log isn’t only useful but it is additionally really creative too.