10 Steps to Writing a Novel

Putting Pen to Paper

Everyone knows that writing is easy... right?

WRONG!!!

Writing is one of the hardest things you will ever attempt in your life! You might be good with words, and able to string together some sentences that sound good, but a novel is another ball game.

And don't even get me started on choosing a title...

However, if you really want to start writing a novel, here are ten steps you may want to keep in mind.

1. Keep author notes.

This is KEY. Regardless of what you want to write, if it's anything longer than a page or two, you'll want to keep notes. These notes can consist of a lot of things, including relationships between characters (both present and futuristic), plot developments, and so much more. Your notes are what you make of them, but they help keep your ideas organized while you write. Whether anyone else can understand them or not may be another story...

2. Know your characters.

How can you write about someone if you don't know who they are? Your writing would end up being distant and maybe even a little cold. A character sheet is a great tool to do this! Write down what they look like, how old they are, if they are shy or obnoxious, what their favorite color is, favorite flower. Do they like their name? If a stranger came up and asked you to describe them, how would you do it? These character sheets can be placed along with your notes.

3. Don't force the words to come out. Just relax.

When writing the first draft, the words should flow out fairly easy. And when that does happen, the story produced is awesome. However, as a writer, it is only a matter of time before you encounter... Writer's Block. If you a stuck, don't force yourself to continue writing. The story-line will start to suck, and you'll get mad and frustrated with it. It's OK to take a step back, or even walk away. Take your mind off writing for a little while, relax your brain for a bit. Just don't forget to start writing again.

4. Keep the end in sight, but don't fixate on it.

Writing a story isn't about the beginning, or even the end. It's the path that goes from A to Z. Keep in mind where you want the characters to end up. Is is a happy ending? A sad ending? But the path to the ending can't be all one thing. You can still have a bit of happiness in a tragedy, or some pain in a comedy. Writing a novel isn't a straight line, there are twists and turns along the way.

5. Keep your writing area free of distraction.

It's easy to tell when someone is distracted when they are talking to you. They lose focus, the things they say come out a bit more slowly or confusing, and the details don't come across the way they may have wanted them to. It's the same way when you are writing.

6. Write what you know. Research what you don't.

If your novel revolves around a nurse, and you know nothing of hospitals or medical jargon, you're going to have a rough time righting about a nurse. You probably should steer clear of nurses and doctors. But who am I to say you can't write about a steamy hospital romance. Well... if you must... Do some research. Google it if you have to. Watch Grey's Anatomy. Don't just dive head long into a story that you have no idea how to credibly write. If you don't want to do the research? Stick with what you know.

7. The Exception to the Rule: Fake It Til You Make It

Of course you should always stick to what you know, but how can you write about alien planets or 1000 years into the future? Can't really google that very well now can you? Well, fake it til you make it. There is a reason that you are a writer. You have an imagination and you're good with words. Use your talent. If you don't know what the future is going to be like... Just make it up. (Your notes will come in handy here.)

8. Don't worry about the title. Yet.

Sometimes you may struggle to find the perfect title for your book. Other times it may just come naturally. And sometimes it might change from one day to the next. Choosing a title can make your head spin around and around... Point is, the title isn't important until you go to publish. 

9. Editing isn't so bad. Just don't do it...

...At least when you are writing the first draft. Worrying about spelling and grammar can distract you from the story, and can even frustrate you to the point that you want to quit. Don't worry about editing for the first draft(s). Once you have your story refined and the way you want it to be, the final draft is where you want to watch for grammatical mistakes. 

10. And last but certainly not least... Don't give up!

So the first story you ever wrote was crap. The second one not much better... If you enjoy writing, keep going. As with anything, practice makes perfect. The more you write, the better you'll get at it. Don't let your haters get the best of you and make you stop. Instead, show them like the boss you are, and write their death scenes in your next book.

Angi Bartlett
Angi Bartlett

I am an author by trade, but life is no fairy tale. While my stories are full of fantasy, I know that real life can be so much more than what is written in books. Life is the strangest, hardest, and most wonderful story. Go live it.

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