When I first started writing, it was just for me. I met a friend on Monday nights twice a month. We used a book of writing prompts to tap into our creativity.

We had no idea what we were doing. 

We just wrote.

Some of what I did with my writing in those early days was intuitive. That was good!

Some things, however, were lacking from my writing because I didn’t understand specific writing techniques. I was in want of certain skills. I lacked finesse. 28 books later, I’m still learning. I always will be. But I’ve also got a pretty full toolbox holding a whole lot of information I didn’t know back then. I didn’t even realize how much I knew until I started creating my first online writing course. And then I was, like, WOW!, I know a lot! 

When you know stuff, you take it for granted. You (wrongly) think that everyone has the same depth of knowledge you do.
If I had spent the last twenty years as an electrician, I’d know a whole lot more than what I learned earning my certification for the job. Trial and error, tricks of the trade, and plain experience would have broadened my knowledge of my trade.
My husband and I just started watching The Resident on Hulu. It has a great cast. I’ve loved Matt Czuchry since his time on The Gilmore Girls and The Good Wife. He’s great as Dr. Conrad Hawkins on this show. Anyway, I digress…

In the first episode, Matt Czuchry’s character, Conrad, tells Manish Dayal’s character, Devon (also so great), to basically forget everything he learned in medical school. In med school, he says later, they teach you all the ways you can help people. What they don’t teach you is all the ways you can hurt people.
You have to learn that along the way. Trial and error, tricks of the trade, and experience all teach you so much more than you can imagine.
Thankfully in writing, we don’t accidentally kill people because we’re learning on the job. But we do learn along the way.
The more I fell in love with writing, the more I wanted to learn.

Eventually I began to collect books about the craft of writing. 

I scoured these book. I collected bits of advice on story structure, character development, and general writing techniques. I learned about the importance of dialogue and how it can literally make or break a story. I learned about mood, tone, and voice.

All this information was swimming around in my head. What I didn’t have, though, was an actual roadmap. How did I take all that information and put it together in a manner that would help me write a compelling story?

It’s taken me seventeen years to do just that, and it has manifested in the form of WriterSpark Academy. This online academy for new and aspiring writers reflects what I’ve learned through the process of writing 26 novels (and counting). I’ve winnowed down the key information and presented it in a way that is both clear and accessible. 

The content on this website and the writing courses offered on the WriterSpark Teachable account are ways for me to share much of what I’ve learned. Oh how I wish I’d had something so straightforward like WriterSpark when I first started!

Today I’m sharing with you the checklist for 30 Days to Craft Your Novel Checklist. The course isn’t about finishing a novel in 30 days. Rather it provides you with the tools you need in order to forge ahead with confidence and write that book. Even if you don’t take the course, you can use this checklist as a way to keep you on track and aware of all the facets of novel writing.

One of the things I learned early on in my teaching career was to value feedback. How do we grow if we don’t ask for feedback?

I DO ask for honest feedback, and students give it willingly. One bit of feedback was: Wouldn’t it be great to have all the downloadables in one book? I took that to heart and created the Ready, Set, WRITE! Companion Workbook. I am SO crazy about it! And again, even if you aren’t or haven’t taken the course, the workbook offers great tools to help you on your novel writing journey.

Here are a few comments from the online course evaluation. It makes my heart so happy to provide a resource other new writers find valuable.

“Bourbon’s class 30 Days to Craft Your Novel covers about 20 lessons with bonus material. I’ve learned more writing basics from her than I did on my college campus. She’s so very detail oriented and practical. This class is highly useful. It’s easy to understand because the examples she uses for each topic are not only plentiful, but they are also examples from books many readers have read. It’s so easy to connect with the direction Bourbon is trying to move you in. I’ve found every lesson of hers invaluable. 

I highly recommend this class. I had tears well up in my eyes when I completed the last lesson. I don’t want to part with learning from her.” ~Trace Hartman

“Through WriterSpark Writing Academy’s 30 Days to Craft Your Novel Course, I see the writing process less daunting and my personal goals more attainable.  By the end of Week 4, I was ready to start achieving my dream of writing my first novel!  Melissa Bourbon is a natural teacher, exciting motivator, and knowledgeable guide.  Her own experience as a writer is shared fully with her students in a delightful and easy-to-follow format.  The instruction, support, feedback, and encouragement she offers is of the highest quality, and I am excited to be a part of her future WriterSpark Academy Courses!” ~Annette Cutler

Whether it’s through the content offered here on this website, or through the WriterSpark courses, my hope is that you take away something valuable that will help you on your writing journey.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a few pennies if you purchase something linked from here. 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. I miss the electronic versions that were online. I’m going slowly but I have been working diligently through the worksheets. I’m happy to have the book but I miss the electronic version.

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