Friday, February 21, 2020

How I Write a Novel - Part 2 First Draft

by Elva Cobb Martin

The first draft is actually the most difficult to finish and you should celebrate when you finish! It means you've got the main parts of your story down.

So how DO I get that first draft down? I have another series of blogs on "Planning Your Novel" in more detail. This series is on our ACFW-SC Chapter blog. Start the first one at

As I mentioned in my last blog, I was praying last week and asking the Lord to help me get started what I  call plotstorming for Book 3, Anna Grace, in the Charleston Brides Series, and right in the middle of my praying a simple outline, my novel in  a nutshell, came into mind. In about ten minutes I was able to jot down an opening/hooking scene idea, and what the first third of the book would probably need to  cover, basic ideas the middle would need to cover, and then the final third and ending main scene idea. I had my initial story line in a few minutes!

All this was jotted down in a few sentences, one page, but I breathed a sigh of relief. I now knew where I was going, some of the things that would happen in the middle and how the story should end. OF COURSE, any or all of this can change or be modified, but it felt so good to get this much down.

Now I must admit, I had already been doing a lot of reading and research in my time period and genre. That's so important to help the ideas flow. (See more on that in the "Planning Your Novel" series mentioned above).

So after I left my prayer time, I later came to the computer and opened up a new document to begin serious plotstorming of Anna Grace. I saved it as
01 Anna Grace Plotstorming Book 3 Charleston Brides series.  The 01 designation means it will be at the top beginning of my documents and easy to find fast.

This Plotstorming Document will include :

1) The opening, middle and ending scene ideas expanded to a page or more each, as various scenes come to mind.

2) Three Plot Outlines I will work out from #1: 

  • The Romance Plot - how will the romance begin, hit conflict, end happily?

  • The Adventure Plot - what exciting things will be happening to my H/H? (Shipwreck, kidnapping, surprises?)

  • Spiritual Plot - the main spiritual theme of the book shown in the spiritual arcs of the main characters as they face conflict and life. How will this progress?

3) A list of characters' names, descriptions and some photos from the net.

4) Research segments will be saved in separate files, but under the main name of Anna Grace.  ( Ex. Anna Grace - Charleston Under Siege

Next, I will begin the actual writing of the first draft. I will save that document as 01 Anna Grace ms in progress in Times New Roman, double spaced, etc.

I will also open up a new document and save it as:
01 Anna Grace Chapter Outline
Here I will do a scene by scene list as I write scenes in each chapter and with page numbers of the start and ending of each chapter. (Yes, page numbers WILL change in the 2nd draft and I'll note the changes then).

My best plan is to write the FIRST draft as fast as I can, with little editing, and not stopping to describe a gown or place in detail. I aim to get down the main plot points and twists. I usually end up with about 45,000 words of a projected 60,000 word novel. But I celebrate that I've FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT. 

Next Time: Writing the Second Draft

Thanks for stopping by. Would love your comments of how you write a novel. And please do share this blog on your social media.

Happy Valentines,
Elva Martin

Elva Cobb Martin is 2020 President of the SC Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has three inspirational novels published, Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and two historical romances, In a Pirate’s Debt, and Marisol, Book 1 in a new Charleston Brides series for  Wild Heart Books. All three novels have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. She has indie published a Bible study on Amazon, Power Over Satan, on the  believer's authority in Christ. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. She and her husband Dwayne are retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site, Twitter; Facebook;  and Pinterest  
 Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works 
on Amazon: