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How to Write a Novel - Ally Carter

How to Write a Novel

Hi everyone!

I know from chatting with you guys at signings, reading emails, checking blog comments (among other things) that a lot of you out there reading this post right now are interested in maybe writing a novel someday.

I even know that some of you have already started on this journey.  Some have just started dipping a toe in the water to see how it feels.  But whether you’re well on your way or just starting out, the question of how do I write a novel is one that we hear a lot around here.

Now, I’ve tried to offer advice on the subject from time to time, but I don’t think I’ve ever tackled the whole, big question because…well…it was too big.

Fortunately, literary agent Nathan Bransford just did exactly that, so your task for today is to go read what he has to say on the subject.

Thanks and happy reading (and writing!)





  1. anonymous says:

    I know this doesn’t have anything to do with your blog post but…
    A while back you posted something about renting a castle? Well, I have been trying to get my parents to do that too because I am a fairytale/princess castle junky. And I was wondering if there was a website or something for the one that you and the other authors rented out?

  2. OMG i looove writing short stories, but i have been experimenting with novels. Reading and writing are my fav subjects! I love you and your books! Please NEVER stop writing!!! <3Thanks for the help<3!

  3. Anonymous says:

    hey ally my friend invited me to the texas book festival this year and i was wondering if you were going to be ther?

  4. Hey Ally,
    Just wanted to say a big thank you for posting that link! It really helped me a lot, and from the looks of these comments, it helped other people too 🙂

  5. Adrean Clark says:

    I finished reading the first GG book last night, and really enjoyed your writing. You did a great job on fleshing out Cammie’s character and thoughts. Her friends came to life as well. I especially liked how you showed clues of Macey’s true character without making a big deal out of it. Well done. 🙂

    Also your point of adults reading YA is true. I’m a mom with three kids and sometimes the light themes and quick read hits the spot. Thank you for the good read.

  6. Hi Ally,

    I’m not sure if you read these but if you do, please read mine!

    I am a writer. I have wrote 10+ stories (some co-written) on Facebook groups. I only post a few on Facebook and the others are either in my notebook or on my desktop (incrediablly) slowly being worked on. I have read your advice on writing and how to go through writer’s block. Unfortunatly I have had both types. I totally understand the ‘Wow this is bad’ thing too. I look back at things I wrote a few years ago and laugh at how bad it is. But I have defiantly imrpoved (at least I think). I have twenty- six readers on Facebook. I know I’m ranting, *Laugh out loud*. I had a few questions that I would LOVE for you to answer.

    1) What is you advice for when you have had writer’s block on a story for months (it’s a scary mystery story) and STILL have not plowed through it?

    2) The only way to contact you is on Twitter or Myspace, of which I have neither. Could you possibilly (at least consider) join Facebook?

    3) Are questions added to FAQ or can you add question to ask?

    Thank you if you read and reply. I love you stories, you actually inspired me TONS for ideas on future stories. If you have read, please reply. Thank you so much and I am looking forward to the Fifth Gallagher Book. 😀 I love those books, I get addicted to them I read them in under a day, sometimes (depending on how long they are or if I get busy) in a day and a half (I’m naturally I good reader anyway, though, but still.) Okay I should stop now, sorry. *laugh out loud*


    Alyssa <3

  7. When you write a novel, is pacing ever difficult for you?

  8. Gabrielle says:

    Hey Ally!!
    I love your books! I am still waiting for GG4 but I have read all the others, including Heist Society. I have been writing a book and am wondering what to do when you have a really bad writer’s block. If you see this will you please reply? I LOVE your books!!!
    p.s. I love that you named Kat’s cousin Gabrielle!!

  9. Rockinskittles says:

    GG4 was the best book in the Gallagher Girl series(and GG2 was pretty epic). Can’t wait for Heist Society 2!!!!

    You rock Ally!!!


  10. Hey Ally,
    Thanks so much for posting that linK! It really helped! Currently, i am writing my own novel that I have been working on for the past 2 years, but find that lately i have been suffering from writer’s block. Do you have any tips to get over it?


    PS I loved GG4

  11. I’ve wanted to write novels and such since… 4th grd, 3 yrs ago. I’ve written imcomplete books, about 10 (maybe more… *scared look*) and gotten into around 5 chapters into each. For one tha has much potential, I have gone a full 40 pages, a.k.a 10 chapters. The link helped me a bit, and I am putting away all my drafts for 3 months so when I read them again, they’ll be fresh and messy to my mind.

  12. Just asking, because I couldn’t find an “ASK ALLY A QUESTION!” page:
    Will Cammie ever, ever meet Kat? Run into her? cath a glimpse of her?
    You’ve probably been asked this before and the answer is probably “No,” but still, just wanted to verify!

  13. i love all of your books i have read them all a billion times and i i like to write i am just starting out and i love the tips

  14. ooh my god i need this cuz ive started my book and ive got a whole plot for six books and everything but i still need to write the first chapter!

  15. Hi Ally, I love your books, but because I live in England I can only get the first two of the Gallagher Academy, I can’t wait until the third one comes out here. A friend of mine loves them too, she too only has the first two though she got them from America.
    I love reading and I’ve wanted to be a writer for years, and I’m always writing stories, but they never seem any good, I keep on getting new ideas and starting a new book, before I started reading the Gallagher Academy books I had and idea about a boarding school for spies and stuff- I’d been watching like James Bond and M.I High on CBBC, haha. The only thing that they have in common is the school, well really it’s just an ordinary school, just the teachers are all spies so teach advance stuff, the plot is completely different to yours. But since I’ve read your book, I’m not sure If I can do it, because it might sound too like yours, I’m worried, please help.

  16. Anonymous says:

    hi ally,
    iam a big fan of yours i ave started a book and eventually have gone far enough to do about 7 chapters. im looking forward to gg5 because i LOVE these books and i just cannot wait to read gg5. your advice really helped me on continuing on writing more of my book and actually your boks inspired me to write my own and im thankful for that because now i know what i want to be when i grow up.

  17. i luvvvvv ur books all of them im waiting impatiently for ur nxt book i cant wait! and plz tell me that ur gonna make a movie ?!!??!?!

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