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Novel Doula

Posted on Wed, Jul 31 2013 9:00 am by Karlyn Coleman

This piece was first read a few months ago to a room full of writers at the Loft.

I know it has been a long nine months. Backaches, swollen fingers, mood swings, but now it is finally time to push this beautiful creation into the world. You can do this. I’m going guide you.

First of all take a breath. Breathe in. Now let it out.

Okay, now concentrate on your focal point. One. Two. Three. What does the character want? What does he want? 

Nice job. Your chapters are about twenty pages apart. Good. Good. Now work on the arc a bit more. There you go. There’s the rising action. Hold on. Don’t let go. Keep pushing. The chapters are progressing. They are looking strong. Breathe in. Let it out. Let it out.

Good job. Now take another deep breath. You’re doing great. You are almost there.

Hold on. You’re not progressing like I thought you would. Let me help you to the balance ball. Let’s roll with it. Roll. Hands on your keyboard. Type your way through this next chapter. Type. Type. Add a dash. A period. A new paragraph. Keep going. Push. Do you feel the turning point? It is coming. I see it crowning. There it is. There it. Breathe. Good job.

Okay, don’t panic, but your main character is breech. No worries. It will be okay. I’ve seen this a million times before. We can fix that. Take a deep breath. Just let go. I know it is painful, but we need to reposition this character. We need to add a little conflict. A little more tension. Okay. Here we go. That’s better. One last push.

Keep writing. Keep breathing. Write. Write. Write.

There it is! You did it. A beautiful, beautiful novel. One pound, six ounces. Let’s just tie up this last chapter for you, wipe off some of the extra wordiness, clean it up a bit.

Now what are you going to name it? And where are you going to send it off?


Karlyn Coleman is teaching “Soundtracks and Stories” this August for youth ages 13-17. She is a certified English teacher, and has taught for seven years in both private and public schools. She also is a winner of the 2009–10 Loft Mentor Series in fiction. Her work has been published in Revolver, McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, Writers' Block, and Paper Darts. Currently she is working on her first young adult novel and often she types to the Vertigo soundtrack. She lives in South Minneapolis with her husband, two boys, and a dog named Happy.