Help, I Forget How to Write!

Gina Holmes is the founder of  Novel Rocket, regularly named as one of Writers Digest’s best websites for writers. Her debut, Crossing Oceans, was a Christy and Gold Medallion finalist and winner of the Carol Award, INSPY, and RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice, as well as being a CBA, ECPA, Amazon and PW  bestseller. Her sophomore novel,  Dry as Rain was a Christy Award finalist. Her latest novel, Wings of Glass has been named as one of the best books of the year by Library Journal and was a SIBA Okra pick and a finalist for Romantic Times’ Reviewers Choice Award. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her family in southern Virginia. She works too hard, laughs too loud, and longs to see others heal from their past and discover their God-given purpose. To learn more about her, visit

Sixteen years after I started writing with the goal of publication, I’ve had numerous articles published and am working on my 5th novel. I’ve hit bestseller’s lists, finaled and/or won many industry awards and yet, as I begin my fifth novel, I find myself googling “How to Write a Novel”. 
No joke.

Maybe it’s because I tend to take a hiatus between writing novels that I forget how to write. Maybe I’m just suffering with what most other writers are cursed with: the fear that I have no idea what I’m doing and sooner or later people are going to figure it out.

Whatever the reason behind my panic at the start of each new novel, it’s always the same. I write a chapter or two, am convinced this novel will be the best I’ve written and then after the initial set up, the honeymoon phase of each new book wears off and I’m left facing the daunting realization that I have no story to tell. There is no plot. No reason for the story. I have nothing new to say.
So, I go back to reading about the hero’s journey and countless internet articles on how to structure a novel. I take notes and feel a little better. Oh yeah, there needs to be conflict. That’s right, a romantic thread would add interest. A climax… of course! There needs to be a climax.

I take a deep breath and it begins to come back to me. At this point I set out to outline a large portion of the rest of the book…  and I always realize that I don’t have enough material for an entire novel. Short story, sure, but 400 pages? Nope. Panic sets in again, but now I remember I have brainstorming partners. They’re great at filling in the blanks, asking the tough questions and suggesting things I never thought of. So, I make a call … Ane Mulligan doesn’t pick up and Jessica Dotta is under deadline. I kick the cabinet, bite my nails, and scramble to find a novel to read for inspiration. I may read Charles Martin, Frank Peretti, Chris Fabry or one of my other favorite authors. Or I might just pick up one of my own novels which reminds me I have succesfully done this before and  each novel is written one word at a time.

So, I set about writing one word at a time until one or both of my brainstorm partners calls me. I’ve been working with my two friends long enough to know, even under deadline or broken bone, they WILL get back to me. They always have. So, we spend an hour on the phone tossing out ideas… some crazy, some stupid, some brilliant–but not quite right, and then like Goldly Locks, we stumble upon something that is just right.

Somehow, some way, I complete yet another novel, sure that this time I’ve got this whole novel writing gig down. Until, of course, it’s time to write the next one.


Driftwood Tides
Sept. 2014
Gina Holmes
Tyndale House Publishers

He made himself an island until something unexpected washed ashore.
When Holton lost his wife, Adele, in a freak accident, he shut himself off from the world, living a life of seclusion, making drifwood sculptures and drowning his pain in gin. Until twenty-three-year-old Libby knocks on his door, asking for a job and claiming to be a friend of his late wife. When he discovers Libby is actually his late wife’s illegitimate daughter, given up for adoption without his knowledge, his life is turned upside down as he struggles to accept that the wife he’d given saint status to was not the woman he thought he knew.

Together Holton and Libby form an unlikely bond as the two struggle to learn the identity of Libby’s father and the truth about Adele, themselves, and each other.