If only writing a novel were as easy as gabbing for a few hours to your circle of friends over coffee. Though the flow of words is the same, the process is a whole lot more complicated. Novel writing is a process; a process that might seem as long as a cross country road-trip. You will be met with some roadblocks (writer’s blocks), stop signs, and dry spells. The hardest part about writing is to just keep going. If writing a two-page essay seemed hard enough, think about Mary Faulkner, the writer whom the Guinness Book of World Records ranks as history’s most prolific novelist — she wrote 904 books in her lifetime! While we take it you are not here to complete with that, we are here to help you get started with writing a novel. So get your pens in line and pencils sharpened, because we are going to go through the essential steps to starting and writing your own novel — and a great one, at that!
Before you begin writing a novel, you should have a lot of good and substantial ideas that you want to implement into your story. Here are the components you need to consider for your novel before you can even think about writing.
Visualize: The first step about writing a novel is to first visualize the world and environment that it will be taking place in. And, as such, you are going to need to come up with some ideas to help you do so. It may not be beneficial to just sit in front of a piece of paper, so get up, walk around, do things, and you will be slapped with ideas when you least expect them. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, try these methods:
- Think back to a favorite story of yours that you were read or told. What did you like about it, and why did it stick with you?
- Carry a notebook and write down thoughts, ideas, or quotes that can help you generate ideas.
- What is something that you know a lot about? Try to incorporate some of that into the ideas for your novel.
- Think back to your childhood and all the memories you have connected with it. There has to be some memories that would make for some great stories!
Genre: Pretend you are browsing through a bookstore or library. What genre do you feel your novel would fall under? If you are at a standstill, there is no need to worry, but just keep in mind the specific categories, such as: literary, commercial, science fiction, thrillers, romance, fantasy, and so on. If you know what genre your novel will fall under, read some relevant works from that category to help you get an idea of what that category is looking for.
Setting: A novel’s setting is important, as it is the center foundation of the story that you will come back to, or choose to stay in, throughout the book. Remember that a novel’s setting is not just a scene; it is meant to encompass the world or universe that your characters are a part of. Be imaginative but realistic at the same time – it has to be believable! Knowing your setting can also help you figure out your genre. Consider these questions:
- Will it take place in the present, future, or past?
- Will your characters be on Earth or an entirely other planet?
- What is the time span that your novel will encompass?
- What mood and feel do you want readers to get from your setting?
Characters: Creating characters, personalities, and people will likely be one of the most fun parts of writing your novel. This is your chance to be as creative as you like with creating human beings (or whichever form of life) you choose for your characters. Here are some points to remember as you slowly bring your characters to life:
- They do not all have to be likeable, but make sure they are interesting and believable!
- You do not have to immediately decide on which character is going to tell the story. You can have multiple character points of view incorporated into your novel.
- Develop your characters to a point where the reader will be able to know how they would react or what they would say in certain situations.
Plot: You are probably still unaware of how your story will entirely pan out, however, you should be able to visualize some sort of plot or conflict that your characters will go through, and eventually, either overcome or fall victim to. Knowing the plot can also help you shape your characters personalities, since you will know what they are going to go through. Know these tips while you are thinking of a plot:
- A traditional plot incorporates a rising action, a conflict, and a resolution. However, you need not follow this formula.
- You can keep your reader in the dark about certain aspects related to the plot. This helps create mystery and interest for the reader.
- Re-read some of your favorite novels and be completely aware of their plot and how it is structured.
Point of View: By now, you can start determining what point of view your novel will be written in. Traditional novels take one first or third person. Remember that you do not have to make a decision yet, sometimes your novel requires a first draft before you can decide how you want your story told.
The Next Steps
Once you have started writing, you will realize your work has just begun! Here are some necessary steps to remember to take once you start putting words on paper.
- Revise: Your novel will not be perfect the first time around. Once you have a draft ready to go, have some peers read it over, and read it over yourself.
- Take A Break: Rest your creative mind! Taking a break from your novel will enable you to read it from a different perspective later on. Also, there is a good chance that you will have some wonderful new ideas when you go back to it.
- Join A Writing Group: If things are getting tough, or you want some different perspectives, consider joining a writing group of class. This creates a space where you can help others and keep yourself accountable for your work and progress.
- Publishing: Time to get a readership! With the internet being so wide and open, there are plenty of ways that you can go about getting your novel out there for the world to read. You can go through a traditional publishing company, self-publishing, or e-publishing.
At the end of the day, remember that writing is a learning experience. It may take awhile to get what you want, but be patient and stick with it!
Sometimes, the best thing to do when you want to start a novel is just to write. Go for it and see what comes out. Once you are done writing, sit back and take awhile to digest all the ideas you have on paper. It is not essential to follow any outline, but it can definitely come in handy for your second or third drafts. So get your pencils going or your fingers typing and churn out the novel you always knew was in you! And, remember that Udemy.com offers some wonderful courses to help you get past any writer’s block or to help you structure your words. The world cannot wait to read your work!