I've been writing for over four decades. Over the years, particularly since the rise of Amazon and the eBook, I've seen a lot of folks claiming that there is one true way to write a novel or that you must follow their rules if you wish to have a chance at getting published.
Out of all the folks who said this, 100% happened to have a book they were selling that would make you an instant author or would introduce you to the arcane handshake and silly walk one needed to do to get into the ranks of the published.
Novels are all personal stories that one creates in their head. Everyone thinks differently and everyone has a unique collective of experiences that sets them apart from every other sentient being.
What these other salespeople authors are trying to do is to tell you how they accomplished their climb to the pinnacle of publishing. If they only changed their viewpoint to let other folks know their method without claiming it was the only way to do it, I wouldn't have an issue with them. New and prospective authors are already skittish and have plenty of anxiety. Most of them go searching for some magic pill that will instantly make them the next Hemingway or Asimov. There are plenty of folks waiting to jump at them like a cheap horror movie effect to sell their ebook.
In all honesty, there are very few actual rules to follow to be a published author:
- You must think up a story.
- You must set that story down in a format usable by other humans.
- You must publish.
There are several recommendations I would add:
- Read a lot, both in and out of your genre.
- Edit your work, or even better have someone else edit it.
- Connect with other authors, with at least half above your current level of skill so you can learn.
- Write when you can but don't neglect life or yourself in the process.
There we go, nice and simple.
I could explain my rather odd method of writing novels, or how I keep my (currently) nine pseudonyms publishing regularly. The thing is, that works for me and my circumstances. I write full-time and I live alone. I tend to write all night. Most of the time I use dictation software due to carpal tunnel and I can churn out eight to ten thousand words a day. I tend to plot out my novels so I know where each scene has to end up. I usually have two or three projects going at any one time so if I get stuck on a scene in a romance I can switch to the science fiction story and remain productive.
You may say that 10K a day is amazing and you're going to do that as soon as your copy of Nuance Dragon Dictate arrives from Amazon. Understand it takes a long while to get up to speed, it takes ages to properly train your Dragon, and now you have to go shopping for a high-quality microphone. If you want to give the method a go, excellent! Your wrists will thank you.
So don't feel you have to go out and buy a ton of books on writing or the latest software/app. I have several boxes and shelves full of books I read once and forgot about. I have one shelf in my writing office that has the books that I refer back to on occasion. Save your money for your electric bill (or that new microphone) instead of buying the latest "instant author" book. The only way you'll improve is to actually write the words and read others. Ask authors who are well-recognized in their genres what writing books they recommend, discarding their own. Even better, read author blogs and watch podcasts. They're free and your bank account will thank you.