So, you’re writing a novel for the first time—congratulations! This decision that you’ve made is a big one—one that could lead to success, money, and fame. Writing a novel is a serious undertaking, one that, if done correctly, can lead to many incredible things in an author’s life. That’s why we’re here to show you how to write a novel.
Our blog, as of late, has been chock-full of advice, tips, and warnings for current writers or authors. We’ve seemingly neglected to address those who are just getting into the world of writing, not just self-publishing. We’ve decided to remedy this by giving you tips and advice n how to write a novel.
Now, obviously the process of writing a novel with vary from person to person. Everyone works in different ways, and the creative process is highly adaptable to every writer who so desires to write a novel (or memoir or collection of poems). But, realistically, the following steps will be applicable to anyone, no matter what their creative process looks like.
How to Write a Novel Step 1: Have an idea.
We told you they’d be applicable to anyone. The first step of writing a novel is so fundamental—and so obvious—but it can lead to the most trouble. You may think you already know how to do this, but the idea must be completely solid. You must have a firm and complete idea for what the novel is going to be about, who the characters are going to be, and what the (general) plot is going to look like. The more fleshed out the idea, the smoother the rest of the process is going to be.
Part of your idea should stem from what you like to read. What do you know best? If you’ve spent your entire life loving Science Fiction novels, then the best option for you may be to write a Sci-Fi novel. One good way to stumble upon your idea is to think of this: what book do you want to read that isn’t written yet?
Step 2: Establish a main character(s).
Once you have an idea, it’s a good next step to pick who your main character is (or, if you’re having multiple protagonists, who they are). Since they’re going to be the central focus of the story, it’s a wise choice to select them before you plan any specific plot, since the plot will have to involve them.
You want your main characters to be completely realistic. They should be well-rounded, fully-formed, and complex. No one wants two-dimensional characters. To achieve such a character, do a character sketch! No, this doesn’t mean draw your character. (Unless you want to!) A character sketch is really just a detailed list of things that make your character who they are. Start with the basics: how tall are they? What color hair and eyes do they have? Are they thin? Then you can move onto other qualities. What does their laugh sound like? What makes them happy? Nervous? Sad? What is their middle name? Birthday? Think of everything that makes you you, and answer those questions about your main character! Doing a character sketch can be fun, and it’s a great way to get those creative juices flowing for the next step.
Step 3: Plot, plot, plot.
Now that you have your idea and your character or characters, it’s time to plot out the story. Plot is crucial to writing a book. Actually, plot is crucial to writing anything. You need to have an outline for how your writing is going to progress, or else you’ll just wander from point to point and lose your reader quickly. Now, some writers work best with a very detailed and extensive plot. Others work best with a more general or vague plot. Whichever writer you are, one thing is for certain: you can’t skip over this step entirely.
Plot will help you stay on track and give you a backbone. It makes the writing process easier. If you write without a plot in mind (which, some do, but we don’t recommend this), you have to write the novel in order, or you’ll mess up the details. If you have a well thought out plot, however, you can write chapters out of order, because you already know what’s come before and what will come after. This really helps when you find yourself in a rut – if a particular scene or chapter or piece of dialogue isn’t coming easily, you can simply skip ahead and write a different scene.
Your plot isn’t set in stone, however. Feel free to change it at will. Sometimes we get writing and find that what we’d originally envisioned doesn’t really work well with the story progression. It’s okay to make mistakes with your plot. You can fix them along the way. A novel is a work in progress.
Step 4: Actually, you know, write it.
We’re finally at that step—the step that is so harrowing it’s stopped you from doing this sooner: the actual writing of the novel. Don’t sweat it too much. Work writing your novel into your schedule (you’re a busy person). It can take as long as you need, or it can take as short as a month if you really put your nose to the grindstone. This step is really all about you finding a rhythm that works for you and your schedule.
Finished with the above steps? Stay tuned for our next blog to learn the next steps in the “how to write a novel” process. Happy writing!