5 Steps to Writing a Novel

For some months now I’ve been mentoring a writer working on her first novel, through CSARN (pronounced see-sarn, short for the Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network). As mentor, I am getting paid and my mentee can be reimbursed for expenses.

My mentee has encountered the usual stumbling blocks that come with writing a novel. She has at times felt overwhelmed by, and has apologized for, “the mess” she’s been making. Hoping to help her proceed with her project, I offered her My 5 Steps for Writing a Novel.

writing tips
If you are crazy enough to have undertaken this kind of endeavour, I hope you’ll find My 5 Steps helpful, perhaps even offer solace in your time of need.

Now, back to my own mess.

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson


  1. Laura Langston on January 18, 2018 at 10:48 am

    So true, Kathy! Thanks for this. It made me smile in recognition and relief. I’m not alone in creative messiness! 🙂

    • Kathy on January 18, 2018 at 12:44 pm

      You definitely are not alone! All best with your current mess!

  2. Janet Trull on January 18, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    As I was dumping all my ideas into the Amity box of my novel, the relentless thoughts cycling through my troubled mind seemed to disappear. It felt pretty good until I found extraneous characters hiding in the basement and disconnected time lines in the garage and what’s that smelly metaphor doing out in the shed?

    • Kathy on January 18, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      Sounds like you have a WONDERFUL mess happening, Janet! Write on!

  3. gabe on July 14, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks for letting me laugh at myself. It was great to meet you and Maisie at Sage Hill. All the best to you and your characters. I will follow along here.

    • Kathy on July 14, 2020 at 9:40 pm

      Glad it made you laugh, Gabe. Good to meet you too, and to share all those great Sage Hill writing chats.

  4. Jane Harris on July 23, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. So glad to have found your blog and met you. Now back to my mess.

    • Kathy on July 23, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      You have a fine “mess” to go back to, Jane. Happy to have met you too, and will check out your blog soon!

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