Huffpost Books
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jennie Nash Headshot

The Making of a Novel: 5 Ways You Know You're on the Right Track

Posted: Updated:

I decided to make a change to the start of my novel, which means hacking out a lot of pages. I'm not sure how many will have to go yet, but I will cut as many as necessary in order to make the opening exciting, fun and engaging. I'm going to start the cutting right after I write this -- armed with tea (or maybe tequila?), a sharp pencil, and an Internet connection that is shut down.

How do you know when such a move is the right move to make? I'm not sure anyone every knows for sure, but here are a few things I'm feeling right now which may be good signs:

  1. I feel a certain sense of elation. When a story is on the right track, you can feel it in your bones.
  2. The dread I feel about losing pages is not about the story (oh, I'll miss that scene) but about the time (it will take me three weeks to get back on track!.)
  3. I imagine that there will be a place somewhere else in the book for the material I'm about to cut. I picture it going into a holding pen, not a garbage can.
  4. I'm not coming up with ways to procrastinate -- laundry, a little online holiday shopping.
  5. The doubt I feel is small. It's there, but it's not taking over the room.

How do you know when you're on the right track when you make a bold move in your work?