Got an Idea? Turn it into a Novel in Thirty Days or Less!

People can't believe I did it, but I did. I wrote my first novel, The League, in about 30 days. I never spent more than two hours on any given day, unless I wrote then went back to edit. I also found and signed with a publisher in one month (see my article, Whatever It Is, Publish It Now, for details on this). Friends, family, and colleagues are fascinated when I tell them this. It's not possible, they say. Then, I enlighten them.

The secret to writing a novel is quite simple. You don't have to be John Grisham or Danielle Steel, either. In fact, you really need basic writing competence. Although I have years of experience in writing (I was a journalist for three years), I don't consider myself on the level of the aforementioned novelists, in terms of style and eloquence. What I am is a storyteller. I look for ideas that are unique. I look for a niche. Take Grisham, for example. His niche is courtroom drama. He uses his experience as a lawyer, takes a new angle on a case, and turns it into some type of conspiracy that no one has considered.

Now, I don't know how long it takes people like Grisham and Steel to pen their stories, but they too must be fairly quick, because they're turning out novels at a crazy pace. Don't forget, the publishing process is usually six months to a year. So, they obviously write a novel or two, while a prior work is being published and marketed. So, how do I churn out my own work so fast, you might ask? As I said, it's actually quite simple. I start at the end and work my way backwards.

I get an idea in my head of how the story will end, and I outline a way to get there. This usually takes a few days, maybe 10 hours total. Then, I sit down at my computer and start typing. I let the words flow, rarely stopping, until about two hours have passed. Knowing where I have to wind up helps me develop my characters and conflicts along the way. I usually write the story in about 25 days and spend five days or so editing and revising. There you have it -- a novel in 30 days.

You can do it too. All you need is the idea. Figure out your ending, sit down, and start typing. Learn more about The League and my other work at

Mark Barnes is the author of the new novel, The League, the first work of fiction, based on fantasy football. Learn more about this suspense thriller and Mark's other work at

In The News:

What Academics Misunderstand About 'Public Writing'  The Chronicle of Higher Education
A day in the life of a romance writer  The New Indian Express
Is Hong Kong ready for reconciliation?  South China Morning Post
The writing on the wall  The Shift News
The diva is now a writer  Mumbai Mirror

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