Writing Books/First Novel



I am 18 years old and just passed out of high school. I am currently working on a novel and I have read lots of books on how to write novels and some of them did help me a lot but still, I am clueless about certain things.

I have mostly finished my outline of the book and it's time for the actual writing part. My problem is that I tried to start writing the book from the beginning but it didn't work out well and after writing some 10,000 words, I deleted them all. I tried to write it from the end and this is working out fine for me.

Can I continue doing writing from last chapter to 1st chapter? I have never heard of any such thing and I am not sure whether it will affect the writing.

Also, I tend to have problems in writing romantic scenes and dialogues (the main character has a boyfriend). What can I do to overcome this? These scenes are not crucial but the main character and her boyfriend are supposed to be in true love and so, I have to show their love in some way.

The book is based on a high school student and explores the way she is confused about her character. She is 16 years old. Her boyfriend is 17. She is in her junior year and her boyfriend is in his senior year at the beginning.
Then, her boyfriend goes to college when she is in her senior year in the second half of the book.

Although I have never heard of a writer who successfully wrote the last chapter first and then wrote the next to the last, the third from the last, and onward to the front, I have heard of many who wrote the last chapter first, simply to see how to resolve all the issues they had in mind in the outline.

The fact that I have never heard of anyone writing backward all the way to the front does not mean it won’t work. If writing in order does not work for you and your method does, who am I to criticize it? The one rule about creative writing is that there are no rules. Sure, we have guidelines, but if we are allowed to color only inside the lines, we cannot call it art.

Writing good dialogue is fundamental to writing, however, and the only way to learn to do it is to listen carefully to how people really speak, take notes, and practice. Read a good book on writing believable dialogue, too. It is not a subject that can be addressed in an e-mail; it is a skill that must be learned, practiced, and honed.

Romantic scenes are some of the hardest to write well, and if the book is not a romance novel, romantic scenes will not be essential to have. The romance can take place “off stage,” as we say. The couple's other actions and dialogue will let readers know they are in love, if the remainder of the book is written well, and you can simply not put the romantic scenes in the book.

Be sure to go to my Web site, www.zebraeditor.com, and sign up for my free newsletter, The Writers Network News. Thank you for writing.

--Bobbie Christmas

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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