Writing a novel is a bit like making a sword. First, you take all the raw material and melt it down in a crucible, then you take it to the anvil and hammer out as many of the impurities as possible before folding and turning the whole thing over on itself and hammering it out again. The more often you can fold it over and incorporate another layer the stronger it will be. Finally, put an edge on it, give it a handle to show to the world, and the job's done.
The result should be something flexible and elegant; perfectly balanced, of suitable length and, above all with a point to it.