How to Write a Novel Using the Modular Form

Some writers sit down and write a novel chapter by chapter to the end. Some writers find this discipline difficult to achieve and may never write their novel because of it.

An alternative to chapter by chapter is to write individual scenes that could be placed somewhere in the novel. By a scene, I mean a moment of dialogue, a dramatic or adventurous event, or anything representing a unique segment of the story.

The scenes do not need to be in any specific order in the story. Nor do they need to involve characters. They can be long or short and do not need a beginning or an end. There is only one requirement.

Scenes should contain some type of an “arc” meaning a rise in action or dialogue, the climax, and an aftermath. The arc does not need to be dramatic, but the climax should be some important knowledge revealed or a change in a character or environment. After writing several scenes, the writer fits them into the story like puzzle pieces.

To create a flow and link the scenes, beginning and/or ending sentences may need to be rewritten. Mostly, the writer needs to create connecting passages that lead from one scene to the next. These passages should not have an arc, but give the reader a rest between scenes. As an example, they can show people moving across a landscape or thinking about what happened or setting up for the next scene.

Writing scenes provides freedom to change the story as needed by moving the scenes around to where they belong best. The writer will not see the story as a whole by looking at scenes, yet when put together they have a novel.

How to Build a Relationship

Building business relationships between nonprofits and foundations are different (and should be) from personal relationships.

The strongest business relationships are built by sharing an experience or event in a joint venture. As an example, in a local catastrophe the nonprofit and foundation can work together in recovery efforts. Later, they should have developed an understanding of how each other operates or not. Even with partial success in the joint venture, a strong relationship can develop.

Another example is a long time commitment with each other. Trust is built over the years because the nonprofit is able to spend the foundation’s money efficiently and effectively while meeting all the reporting requirements. The foundation knows they can rely on the nonprofit to manage projects and money accurately.

Other relationships are built by shared interests between the primary board members of both organizations. This interest is usually outside the mission areas of the nonprofit and foundation and could include shared work activities, similar hobbies, or family relatives.

These are positive ways to build relationships. There are also negative ways such as accumulating political capital. Politics is everywhere and not just in governments. I won’t go into specifics because I don’t recommend this, but a person builds political capital through “owing favors.”

Having a positive relationship is important for many reasons. One of the primary advantages is:

      • A nonprofit has a support system when they need help in a crisis (usually financial)
      • The foundation has a viable source they can contact when they want to help people in the community

The most important ingredient of all these examples is communication. Whether sharing an experience, knowing each other for years, or have like interests, relationships are built on conversation.

How to Self Edit (my method)

I have been through many drafts of my young adult, science fiction novel High School Rocket Science (For Extraterrestrial Use Only). (Yes, I’m advertising the book.) In what I hope will be my final draft, I developed a self-editing method that seems to work for me:

  1. After printing the novel, I use a pencil to mark changes chapter by chapter.
  2. As I finish a few chapters, I update each one in MS Word.
  3. I go through several slow reads of each chapter on the computer screen until I no longer find things to change.
  4. I review each chapter separately through MS Word’s Spelling & Grammar, Grammarly, and ProWritingAid. (The last two are by subscription.)

This self-editing method is a multi-dimensional way to help me find errors I missed in past edits. It lets me look at my novel in three different ways:

  • paper copy
  • computer screen
  • through a software program

This self-editing method is designed for final drafts. I previously had my novel edited by a critique group and I paid a developmental editor. I realize I am getting more benefit from my current editing method.

My error is that I should have completed editing using this method before having another person look at my novel. I feel the advice from the critique group and the paid editor has been wasted since I am changing their edits to fit the changes I am making.

At least I’ll know for my next novel.

Out-of-cycle grants

A secret of many foundations is they sometimes issue grants outside their normal grant cycle. These out-of-cycle grants are usually by invite only based on the relationships between board members of the foundation and the nonprofit.

I’ve written before about building relationships and nowhere are they more important than these types of grants.

Out-of-cycle grants generally have no restrictions or deadlines. They are open grants based on the foundation wanting to help the nonprofit. This help could be the result of the nonprofit’s success in local catastrophes, continued support to the community, or an opportunity for the foundation to make an impact that reflects back on itself.

Nonprofits should submit to a foundation’s grant submission process. However, the nonprofit’s board and executive director should also pursue out-of-cycle grants by building relationships with the foundation board members.

If someone wants more information on out-of-cycle grants, add a comment with your contact information.