Once in a while we all dream about becoming writers, publicists or at least famous bloggers. Sharing information with others and being useful is in our nature, so it is not surprising that courses and training programs on writing a novel are becoming more and more popular. However, the most useful advice you will ever get (and it’s absolutely free) is to be patient and persistent. No one writes an outstanding novel overnight! It takes time, learning and motivation.
In this article we have collected 15 most important steps, which will help you to become a novel writer. For your maximum convenience they are additionally divided into three phases: before, in the process and after writing your story.
The best way to prepare for the writing process is to consider it as a marathon: the more efforts you will put in it, the better your results will be. Don’t be in a hurry and don’t expect quick results. Are you ready to be heard? If yes, then let’s get started!
Step 1: Come Up with a Great Idea
Everything starts with an idea. Probably it is quite an obvious step but not a very easy one. Actually, most of the soon-to-be-writers prefer procrastinating: they buy stationary, find a calm place for writing, read a few more books. Unfortunately, without a clear understanding of what to write about it is impossible to create a novel.
However, if you don’t have the slightest idea of what to write about, you shouldn’t panic! There are hundreds of various online websites and resources that offer templates, ideas and examples of novels.
In case you already have a general idea but don’t know how to develop it, take a piece of paper and write several lines on the topic of your future book. Take your time to think about the message you want to render to the audience. This message will be the main idea of your book.
Step 2: Read Books in the Similar Genre
To understand what the reader wants, you need to get familiar with books in the same genre. Here are only some of the reasons why reading is crucial for any author:
- You’ll see what techniques and literary elements were already used and will be able to add something new;
- You’ll understand what stories and instruments have more popularity and will be able to choose a winning path;
- Reading is fun!
Step 3: Choose the Point of View
If you are wondering how to write a novel you should start with choosing a particular point of view, from which the story will be told. It is a very important stage and may greatly influence the whole course of the novel.
Below is a list of the points of view that you may take into account:
- First person. You tell the story from your own point of view or from the perspective of a narrator. The pronoun to be used is ‘I’;
- Second person. When a second person is used, it means that the audience is directly addressed. The main pronoun here is ‘you’;
- Third person (limited). In such a story narrator has limited insight to emotions and thoughts of a certain character. Pronouns are she, her, he, him, they, them and so on;
- Third person (all-knowing). Omniscient perspective means that narrator can cover everything that happens to any figure any time of the novel. Pronouns are the same as for the limited point of view.
Step 4: Create a Setting
Power is always in details, so when creating a novel you need to make sure that the context is clear and strong. It will set the tone for your novel: from the plot to the character.
If your setting covers a subject that you are not familiar with, it is important to conduct a thorough research. For example, if your novel is happening in the past, make sure you render all historical events and other details (clothes, spelling, etc) accurately. If you are talking about social groups you are not familiar with, it is necessary to work with readers’ sensitivity.
Step 5: Work on the Main Characters
While many writers think that creating characters should start with their outlooks, it is actually better to start from the inside and then make one step further to the outside. Here is the path you need to follow:
- Main goal. What does the character want most of all?
- Aspirations. Why does the character have such a goal?
- Static or dynamic. Will the character remain relatively the same during the story or will he change?
Once you figure out the above elements, you can proceed with depicting other details of the character. Here are the resources you can use:
- Build a profile that contains even the slightest details: personal characteristics, family tree, appearance and so on;
- Draw a picture of character’s history;
- Choose the most suitable name for your character. If you lack ideas, there are many generators online.
Step 6: Set the Conflict
If you want to create a breathtaking story and not a plain report, then your novel should always consist of a conflict. Basically, there are two main types of conflicts that always attract the reader:
- Someone possesses something, loses it and tries to return it (a person, a thing, etc.);
- A person gets into a trouble and tries to solve it.
Conflict is the main thing that interests the reader and shows all the obstacles the character had to go through to overcome (or not) the existing problem. If you are writing a novel, you will need to face two types of conflicts. They include:
- Internal. What treats of character will change while the person is trying to achieve the main goal?
- External. What obstacles and situations will be on the way of the character?
The best way to create a remarkable story is to include both of them. When the conflict is clear, you need to pay attention to the stakes: what happens if the character won’t be able to achieve the goal?
For example, The Avengers want to save the world (it’s the main conflict). If they don’t, humanity will disappear (the stakes).
Step 7: Outline a Novel
If you have academic background you probably know how important creating an outline is. Even though writing is a creative skill, it still requires thorough planning.
There are two main types of writers: those, who plan the whole novel ahead before they start writing and those, who only have a general idea of the plot.
If you want to finish the novel and publish it, it is better to choose the first variant and start the process with creating an outline. Once in a while you will experience writer’s block and to avoid it you will only need to consult your plan and to see what should go next.
Here are the most common and trusted ways of outlining any type of novel:
- Creating a mind map. It is a visual presentation of the plot, topics, characters, chapters and conflicts. This can be a chart or even a set of pictures;
- Synopsis. A written outline that briefly renders main elements of the novel (usually around three or four pages long);
- A bullet list. Every element of such an outline is assigned with a letter, number or a bullet;
- Skeleton. Simply write down the most remarkable things about the novel. Highlight, circle and mark key features the way you want;
- Concentrate on the characters. You can write down everything about the main characters and let them drive the story;
- Concentrate on the scenes. Write down main situations and scenes that will happen and place them in an order of appearance.