I want to thank you for the information and inspiration. I am a high school teacher who wrestles with teaching students how to write short stories. Although my students are very bright and have no problem with identifying the elements of a short story, many students struggle with applying those elements in their writing, especially developing a good plot structure. Too many times students end up chasing rabbits. I have revised my lesson plan to include my students reading your blog/series as we work our way to composing great stories. Your blog/series has been such an inspiration to my teaching that I am looking forward to picking up your book, We Are Not Alone.
Read your paper out loud, sentence by sentence, and follow Peter Elbow’s advice: “Look for places where you stumble or get lost in the middle of a sentence. These are obvious awkwardness’s that need fixing. Look for places where you get distracted or even bored—where you cannot concentrate. These are places where you probably lost focus or concentration in your writing. Cut through the extra words or vagueness or digression; get back to the energy. Listen even for the tiniest jerk or stumble in your reading, the tiniest lessening of your energy or focus or concentration as you say the words . . A sentence should be alive” (Writing with Power 135).
Gather inspiration from other novels or from media, past experiences, stories you've heard, or things that fascinate you. Carry a small notebook with you at all times and write down any words, sentences, or descriptions that come to mind. Have an idea of what genre you'd like your novel to be. Envision where your story will take place, as well as what the characters who will populate your novel will be like. Think of a central conflict and branch out your story from that issue. Make an outline and conduct any necessary research. Establish a writing routine that you can stick to on a regular basis, and create your first draft. Self-edit, share your work with a few others, and revise your draft until you feel satisfied with what you've created!