Whenever I am asked about how to write a novel, the best answer I can come up with is, "One word at a time." Really, there is no other way I know how to do it. You write each word and hope that when you finish putting them all together, they, 1) Make sense, and 2) Entertain those who read them.
Fire snaked into his lungs. Suffocating. Debilitating. He couldn’t breathe, his body immobile. He clawed at the air, at the coarse rope binding his feet, at everything his hands managed to reach. Why were his hands free? Smoke curled upward from the flames, dancing up the walls in a seductive swirl of lights and sound. The crackling echo of gunshots he heard somewhere beyond the steel door.
No chance of escape.
Those are the opening lines (unedited) of my current work-in-progress for the Kyndall Family Thriller series. It's fun stuff, all dark and twisty in my mind.
When I first started moving back and forth between historical and contemporary, I faced some challenges. I had to learn to get into the right "head space," which meant after I finished a historical, there was a bit of struggle to shift to the contemporary, especially the Kyndall series. They're a little darker than what I normally write. Once I figured out how to comfortably move between the genres, the writing became easier, but not easy.
Each author has their own process. We have to find what works for us, and that is often different from works for the next writer. Some are pantsers, some are plotters. Some are a little of both. Others may fall into the far left or right of either of those. Me, I fall somewhere in between. I'm mostly a pantser, meaning I write by the seat of my pants with little or no planning. But that's not the case for every book. Some books get a brief outline, others get nothing, and sometimes I will plot out two or three chapters at a time, but leave the rest to just happen.
You write the words. The words become sentences (sometimes coherent). The sentences become paragraphs (riddled with errors). The paragraphs become chapters . . . you know where I'm going with this. But it all comes down to putting those words on the paper (or computer).
However an author writes, the making of a novel is darn hard work. It is, no matter what any of us say, or how much we gush about our jobs, writing is tough. When I finish a book and it goes to my beta reader, I suffer a series of emotions, the worst being self-doubt. Is the book awful? Is it great? Will I cry when I get the notes back? It's a process that repeats itself EVERY TIME. I go through it all again when I send the book to my editor. We authors derive great pleasure from the pain we inflict upon ourselves, and we do it over and over again because the words are worth the angst.
Those precious words that make up our novels are our "babies," our carefully-tended and delicate flowers aching to bloom. The making of a novel . . . gosh darn, it's fun. So fun, I'm going to get back to it.