Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tips to Turn the Stories in Your Head into Novels

Ever wonder what goes into writing a novel? How a published and best-selling author transforms a story she imagines into a book?

Well, Saturday, January 30, 2016 Karen McQuestion, a successful author came to the Hartland Library. Karen is self-published and also published with Amazon-imprints. Her novels include: A Scattered Life, Easily Amused, The Long Way Home, Hello Love, Favorite, and The Edgewood Series and others. Karen has sold a lot of books. She said that recently her editor told her she’d sold over a million books, but she is still approachable, kind and generous with her knowledge. During the couple of hours Karen spoke, she talked about her writing journey and just how she puts a novel together. She gave all kinds of helpful tips. My fingers were flying as I took notes. Here are thirteen helpful insights I jotted down.

1. “I’ve wanted to be a writer of fiction since around third grade. I think that’s when most authors decide what they want to do because that’s when reading become easier and stories get longer and more involved.”
2. “I’ve tried to plot everything before I start to write but when I do, it just seems too much like homework.
3. However, I do jot down scene or chapters I’m going to write for the day.”
4. “The joy of discovery is half the fun of writing for me.”
5. “I find it really helpful to set a goal for the day.” A number of words or pages I hope to complete.
6. “I’ve been using a dictation program just for fun, but I use a laptop for 98% of my writing.”
7. “I like to be in a quiet place when I write.”
8. I do something called cycling or looping before I start writing. I’ll go back to what I wrote the previous day and make corrections or just let it get me into the story again.”
9. “I find it easier to write fast.”
10. “Writing got more fun when I said, ‘I don’t care. I’ll get it down and fix it later’.”
11. “You don’t pick the book, it picks you.”
12. “There are three components of a perfect novel: language, storytelling and emotional connection.”
13. “None of this is rocket science. If you want to write a novel, you can.”
Karen’s talk was encouraging and hopeful. I enjoyed listening to her speak just as much as I’ve enjoyed reading her novels. Thank you for letting me share what I learned with you and happy reading.

For more information, you can visit or wait for my next post.  I'm sure there will be a part two.


  1. Most of the authors I've talked to are more like me - starting in early teens. I have no idea why.

    1. Alice Audrey,
      Hmm. I'm going to start asking my writing buddies about when they knew they wanted to write.

  2. I'm just not very good at making stuff up, too busy translating the truth is stranger than fiction stuff.

  3. Replies
    1. Yeah, I think I too dreamed of writing around fifth or sixth grade.

  4. I knew before I even started school that I would write. My second grade teacher told me I would be a writer when I grew up. It was as if I had no choice in the matter. I don't suppose I did, really. But I went into news reporting, not fiction. Hoping to make the transition one of these days. Great hints.

    1. That's cool, CountryDew. I've always thought of you as a writer.

  5. Sounds like it was a great event -- I like number 11. Mine

  6. Love #12. I think that's a great crystallization.

    1. Nicola O.
      Yep. I agree. It's great to learn from other authors.

  7. Very encouraging! I actually started a novel, but I haven't had time to really work hard on it. When I retire from teaching, that's going to be my goal.

    1. Forgetfulone,
      I'm with you. It is hard sometimes to find time to write when you teach.