How to Write a Novel in 10 Steps

Novel writing can be a little intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. The good news is that although difficult, authoring a novel is not insurmountable. Similar steps such as brainstorming, planning the story framework, outlining, and drafting must be taken by all types of authors during novel writing.

The most incredible way to learn novel writing is by actually doing it, like learning to ride a bicycle or paint. You will not learn until you start riding or painting our first canvas. However, unlike learning to ride a bike, writing a novel takes more than one sweltering summer day. It necessitates a healthy dose of dedication and tenacity. As Octavia Butler phrased it, you don’t start off writing good stuff. You begin writing subpar material, believing it to be good, and over time, you improve.

Writing fiction can be challenging even if you’ve already written a bestseller. However, if you’re ready to dive in, here is everything you need to know about novel writing.

  1. Ideate.

If you’ve made the decision to write a novel, you were undoubtedly motivated by a plot concept. But you just can’t go and sit down to write a novel without proper planning and brainstorming. Novel writing needs a lot of planning because you have to go a long way. It’s not just a short story or essay that you can just sit and pen down. So the first step is to ideate what your story is going to be about.

Is it fiction or non-fiction? What will your characters be? How will the story proceed? What will be its title? What will be the theme underlining your story? You must prepare a rough draft. If you are having trouble getting ideas, then follow this next step.

  1. Read books of the genre you want to write in.

You might struggle with ideas or your plot during novel writing. It would be great to read some books of the same genre before starting your book. It will give you a kick start, and you will be able to get some fresh ideas.

The benefits of reading for budding writers include the following:

  • You will be able to focus on writing something fresh since you will be aware of what has already been done to death.
  • On the other side, you’ll also be aware of what has been successful in a particular genre, you’ll be aware of the expectations readers have, and you’ll be able to work out how to write a tale that will meet those expectations.
  • After all, why would you want to write novels if you don’t enjoy reading them?
  1. Begin creating your characters.

A novel can have the most amazing premise, but it won’t work until you develop characters that readers will care about. Decide who the main characters in this story are after you have a universe and a story. The most crucial of these is undoubtedly your primary character. You, as the author, will be aware of every aspect of a powerful main character’s life, including their personal history, personality qualities, and biggest accomplishments and setbacks. Your ability to communicate with an audience about your characters will increase as you become more familiar with them.

  1. Choose a point of view.

The narrative voice you wish to use will become clear once you have a solid understanding of your characters. Which tense will you use when writing—first or third person? Successful novelists frequently employ the following narrative voices:

First Person – In this style of narration, a character from the novel tells the action and frequently uses the pronoun “I.” Notably, the first-person narrators in each of these books describe events that they are not physically present. The first-person point of view (POV) can significantly increase a novel’s emotional stakes.

Second Person – The pronoun “you” is central to second-person storytelling. Few books are written in the second person because it is very challenging to do so without disrupting the narrative. Some first-person narrators, though, switch to second-person narration to emphasize certain themes.

Third Person Limited — This style of narration avoids the pronoun “I” and describes characters from a distance. In limited third-person narration, the narrator is not necessarily all-knowing and does not always share the characters’ inner monologues. This narrative focuses primarily on verifiable, objective reality. A protagonist’s thoughts can sometimes be followed in a limited third-person narrative, but not those of other characters.

Third Person Omniscient – In this style of storytelling, the narrator has complete knowledge. Likewise, information that none of the characters in the story are aware of can be provided.

  1. Determine the conflict and the risks.

You will always discover a conflict at the center of any story you pick up that piques your interest; otherwise, a novel is nothing more than a long report.

Readers will find your character’s journey to reaching (or failing to achieve) their goal interesting as a result of the conflict, which is the culmination of all the challenges the protagonist faces. There are two major types of conflict in books, and it’s a good idea to incorporate both for a truly fascinating read:

Internal conflict

What types of personality faults will the protagonist encounter as they work toward their objective?

External conflict

What types of events and impediments beyond the protagonist’s control will keep them from attaining their objective?

Once you’ve identified the primary conflicts in your book, you need to determine the stakes: what will happen if the character is overcome by the struggle and fails to accomplish their objectives?

  1. Create an outline

There are two main types of authors in the world of fiction: plotters and pantsers. As you might have suspected, plotters outline their novels before they begin to write. Pantsers rarely outline their stories in advance; instead, they simply go down to write with a basic concept of how the story will go.

If writing and publishing a novel is your ultimate objective, we advise you to adopt the plotter’s methods and make an outline. If you have an outline, you will know where to go when you eventually experience the writer’s block that almost all writers have.

There are various strategies to plot out your story during novel writing, but these are a handful that works well. –

Mind Map: Make a graph or other visual depiction of the key events, characters, conflicts, and chapters in your story.

Synopsis: A longer summary that briefly discusses the plot, characters, conflicts, and themes over the course of two or three pages.

The Skeleton: The Skeleton: Imagine it as a map with only well-known destinations listed; the route you take to get there is entirely up to you.

Sequences & Scenes: Just list the necessary important scenes in the sequence you want them to happen.

  1. Address the target audience.

Who will be interested to read your book? No, not all of them. There may be a range of books on your bookshelf, but one kind of book is typically there more frequently than others. Consider the audience of your book when writing, and write with that reader in mind.

  1. Pen down the first draft of your novel.

Plan ahead before you start writing your novel, but don’t let overly meticulous planning get in the way of the actual writing. It’s crucial to get started before you become stuck by doubt. Your first chapter may be bad when you start it, and you may have to completely rewrite it once you’re done. This draft also referred to as a rough outline, can be excessively extensive and riddled with errors or plot holes. You’ll have time to make changes.

  1. Take a break and write your second draft

After the first draft is over, take a break from your manuscript. By doing this, you’ll be able to read it back with a new perspective. While you reread the first draft, do the clarity of your story, development of the character, and flow of your story.

You might decide to edit just a few scenes, or you might decide that your novel requires significant revisions, depending on how you feel about your first draft. If the storytelling is really lacking, you may decide to start the novel from scratch and rewrite it. This process is known as a “page one rewrite.”

  1. Take feedback

Most authors send their novels to responsible readers for feedback as soon as the second draft is finished. These readers might be close friends, authors of related works, or hired editors. When taking outside notes, pay close attention to notes that are similar yet come from various sources. If the same problem is raised by two or more people, it probably merits thorough examination. Note how diagnosing a problem differs from offering a remedy. Some readers might point out a problem with a plot or character arc, but they might then suggest a solution that you don’t agree with. Take their advice to the extent that it aids in achieving your story’s vision. In the end, it’s your novel.

Novel writing can be difficult if you are a novice. But if you follow the above steps religiously, you will be at ease.

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