possibly you ’ ve tried before, merely to get a few, or respective, pages in and lose steamer because :
- Your story idea didn’t hold up
- You couldn’t overcome procrastination
- You feared your writing wasn’t good enough
- You ran out of ideas and had no clue what to do next
You may be surprised that evening after writing 200 books ( two-thirds of those novels ) over the stopping point 45+ years, including several New York Times bestsellers ( most notably the Left Behind Series ), I face those same problems every time .
so how do I overcome them and succeed ?
I use a repeatable novel-writing plan — one that helps me overhead through those obstacles. And that ’ s what I reveal to you in this authoritative steer .
Imagine finishing your first draft. Better yet, imagine a finish manuscript. Or, best of all, your name on the cover of a newly published book — does that excite you ?
imagine letters from readers telling you your novel changed their lives, gave them a new perspective, renewed promise .
If early writers enjoy such things, why can ’ t you ?
Of course this goes without saying, but first you must finish a novel manuscript .
This scout shows you how to write a novel ( based on the process I use to write mine ). I hope you enjoy it and can apply it to your own write !
Want to download this 12-step guide to reference whenever you wish? Click here.
How to Write a Novel in 12 Steps
Step 1: Nail-down a winning story idea.
Is your novel concept extra ?
- Big enough to warrant 75,000 to 100,000 words?
- Powerful enough to hold the reader all the way?
Come up with a history laden with conflict — the locomotive that will drive your plot .
I based my beginning novel, Margo, on this idea : A judge tries a man for a murder the judge committed .
Take whatever clock you need to prioritize your history ideas and choose the one you would most want to read — the one about which you ’ re most passionate and which would keep you eagerly returning to the keyboard every day .
It must capture YOU thus completely you can ’ thymine get it out of your head. only that kind of an idea will inspire you to write the novel you ’ ve constantly dreamed of.
Step 2: Determine whether you’re an Outliner or a Pantser.
If you ’ re an Outliner, you prefer to map out everything before you start writing your novel. You want to know your characters and what happens to them from beginning to end .
If you ’ re a Pantser, meaning you write by the seat of your pants, you begin with the source of an theme and write as a action of discovery .
As Stephen King says, “ Put interesting characters in difficult situations and write to find out what happens. ”
One or the other of these approaches will merely feel most natural to you .
But, in truth, many of us are hybrids, some combination of the two — needing the security of an outline and the exemption to let the floor take us where it will .
so do what makes the most feel to you and don ’ thymine eat into if that means incorporating both Outlining and Pantsing .
( I cover strategies for both types and talk about how to structure a novel here. )
careless, you need some class of social organization to keep from burning out after then many pages .
I ’ m a Pantser with a trace of Outlining thrown in, but I never start writing a fresh without an mind where I ’ m going — or think I ’ megabyte going.
Step 3: Create an unforgettable main character.
Your most crucial character will be your protagonist, besides known as your lead or your hero/heroine .
This chief character must experience a life arch — in other words, be a different, better or worse, stronger or weaker person by the end. ( I use “ he ” inclusively to mean hero or heroine )
For most novels, that means he must bear potentially epic qualities that emerge in the culminate .
For readers to be able to relate to him, he should besides exhibit human flaws .
therefore resist the temptation to create a perfect lead. Who can relate to perfection ?
You ’ ll besides have an antagonist ( besides known as the villain ) who should be every bit as formidable and compel as your hero. Make certain the regretful ridicule international relations and security network ’ thymine bad fair because he ’ s the bad guy. 😊
He must be able to justify — if only in his own mind — why he does what he does to make him a desirable foe, naturalistic and memorable .
You may besides need significant orbital frame members .
For each character, ask :
- Who are they?
- What do they want?
- Why do they want it?
- What or who is keeping them from it?
- What will they do about it?
Use discrete names ( even distinct initials ) for every character — and make them look and sound different from each other excessively, so your proofreader won ’ metric ton confuse them .
Limit how many you introduce early. If your proofreader needs a broadcast to keep them straight, you may not have him for long .
naturally, your run character will face an outbound problem — a quest, a challenge, a journey, a cause… But he besides must face inner agitation to make him actually relatable to the reader and come active on the page .
Heroic, imaginative, morally upright, and physically strong ? Of naturally. But your protagonist must besides face fear, insecurity, diffidence .
The more challenges he faces, the more potential he has to grow and develop .
much as in real life, the tougher the challenges, the greater the potential transformation .
For more on developing your characters, check out my blog posts Your Ultimate Guide to Character Development: 9 Steps to Creating Memorable Heroes, How to Create a Powerful Character Arc, and Character Motivation: How to Craft Realistic Characters.
Step 4: Expand your idea into a plot.
true Pantsers — yes, even some bestselling novelists — wear ’ thyroxine plat. here ’ s the downside :
Like me, you might love being a Pantser and writing as a process of discovery, BUT — even we non-Outliners need some modicum of structure .
Discovering what bestselling novelist Dean Koontz calls the classical Story Structure ( in his How to Write Best-Selling Fiction ) changed my write everlastingly. My reserve sales took off when I started following his advice :
- Plunge your main character into terrible trouble as soon as possible.
- Everything your character does to try to get out of that trouble makes it only progressively worse…
- …until his predicament appears hopeless.
- Finally, everything your hero learns from trying to get out of the terrible trouble builds in him what he needs to succeed in the end.
Want to download this 12-step guide to refer to whenever you wish? Click here.
Writing coaches call by different names their own suggested narrative structures, but the basic sequence is largely common. They all include some variation of :
- An Opener
- The Inciting Incident that changes everything
- A series of crises that build tension
- A Climax
- A Conclusion
careless how you plot your novel, your chief finish must be to grab readers by the throat from the beginning and never let go .
For more on developing your diagram, visit my web log post The Writer’s Guide to Creating the Plot of a Story .
More in-depth plat resources :
Step 5: Research, research, research.
Though fiction, by definition, is made up, to succeed it must be believable. Even fantasies need to make sense .
You must inquiry to avoid errors that render your report incredible .
once a reviewer has bought into your premise, what follows must be coherent. effective inquiry allows you to add the specificity necessary to make this function .
When my character uses a weapon, I learn everything I can about it. I ’ ll hear about it from readers if I refer to a pistol as a revolver or if my supporter shoots 12 bullets from a gun that holds only 8 rounds .
Accurate details add flavor and authenticity .
Get details wrong and your lector loses assurance — and sake — in your floor .
research essentials :
- Consult Atlases and World Almanacs to confirm geography and cultural norms and find character names that align with the setting, period, and customs. If your Middle Eastern character flashes someone a thumbs up, be sure that means the same in his culture as it does in yours.
- Encyclopedias. If you don’t own a set, access one at your local library or online.
- YouTube and online search engines can yield tens of thousands of results. (Just be careful to avoid wasting time getting drawn into clickbait videos.)
- Use a Thesaurus while writing your novel, but not to find the most exotic word. I most often a thesaurus to find that normal word that’s on the tip of my tongue.
- There’s no substitute for in-person interviews with experts. People love to talk about their work, and often such conversations lead to more story ideas.
Resist the urge to shortchange the inquiry process .
Readers comment geographic, cultural, and technological blunders and trust me, they ’ ll let you know .
even sci-fi or illusion readers demand credibility within the parameters of the universe you ’ ve established .
One caveat: Don ’ t clog your narrative with all the esoteric facts you ’ ve learned, barely to show off your research. Add specifics the way you would add seasoning to food. It enhances the experience, but it ’ s not the main course.
Step 6: Choose your point of view.
The perspective from which you write your fresh can be complicated because it encompasses so a lot .
Your point of View ( POV ) is more than plainly deciding what spokesperson to use : First Person ( I, me ), Second Person ( you, your ), or Third Person ( he, she, or it ) .
It besides involves deciding who will be your POV character, serving as your narrative ’ south television camera .
The cardinal rule is one perspective character per scene, but I prefer alone one per chapter, and ideally one per novel .
Readers experience everything in your story from this character ’ mho position .
No hop into the heads of other characters. What your POV character sees, hears, touches, smells, tastes, and thinks is all you can convey .
Some writers think that limits them to First Person, but it doesn ’ thymine. Most novels are written in Third Person Limited .
That means limited to one position character at a time, and that character ought to be the one with the most at stake in each scene .
Writing your novel in First Person makes it easiest to limit yourself to that one position character, but Third-Person Limited is the most park .
I ’ molarity much asked how other characters can be revealed or developed without switching to them as the perspective character .
Read current popular fabrication to see how the bestsellers do it .
( One example : the independent character hears what another character says, reads his tone and his expression and his body speech, and comes to a decision. then he finds out that person told person else something entirely different, proving he was lying to one of them. )
For a more in-depth explanation of Voice and Point of View, read my mail A Writer’s Guide to Point of View .
Step 7: Begin in medias res (in the midst of things).
You must grab your subscriber by the throat on page one .
That doesn ’ t necessarily mean bullets flying or a high rush chase, though that might work for a thriller. It means avoiding excessively much picture set and description and, quite, getting to the good stuff — the guts of the report.
Les Edgerton, a farinaceous writer who writes big boy novels ( don ’ t say I didn ’ thyroxine warn you ) says beginning writers worry besides much about explaining all the backstory to the reader foremost .
He ’ s saying, in essence, get on with it and trust your lector to deduce what ’ s going on .
The goal of every conviction, in fact of every parole, is to compel the reader to read the future.
Step 8: Engage the theater of the reader’s mind.
Don ’ triiodothyronine moviegoers often say they liked the book better ?
The cause is obvious : even with all its high-tech computer-generated imagination, Hollywood can not compete with the theater of the subscriber ’ mho take care .
The images our heed ’ south center evokes are far more imaginative and dramatic than anything Hollywood can produce .
Your job as a writer is not to make readers think things as you see them, but to trigger the theaters of their minds .
Give them equitable adequate to engage their mental projectors. That ’ mho where the magic happens .
For more, visit my mail on What Is Imagery? and Show, Don’t Tell: What You Need to Know .
Want to download this 12-step guide to refer to whenever you wish? Click here.
Step 9: Intensify your main character’s problems.
You ’ ve grabbed your subscriber with a concentrate undoer and plunged your bomber into severe trouble .
now, everything he does to get out of that severe trouble must make it increasingly worse .
Do not give him a break.
excessively many amateurs render their hero ’ sulfur life besides easy .
They give a private eye a decent car, a great weapon, a beautiful girlfriend, an upscale apartment, a visualize office, and a fat node. Rather, pull out from under him anything that makes his biography easy .
Have his car pause down, his weapon get stolen, his girlfriend leave, his landlord evict him, his office sunburn, and his customer go break. immediately thrust him into a dangerous case .
Conflict is the engine of fabrication .
( For more on conflict, read my post Internal and External Conflict: Tips for Creating Unforgettable Characters )
His trouble oneself should escalate logically with his every consecutive try to fix it .
You can hint that he ’ second growing, developing, changing, getting stronger, and adding more to his skillset through his trials, but his disturb should become increasingly frightful until you…
Step 10: Make his predicament appear hopeless.
Writing coaches have versatile labels for this all-important plat point .
novelist Angela Hunt refers to this as The Bleakest Moment. It ’ second where even you wonder how you ’ re going to write your way out of this .
The once-reprobate lover who has become a changed man and a sleep together fiance on the spur of the moment falls off the wagon the night before the marriage .
Caught red-handed doing drugs and drink with another womanhood, he sees his on-key love storm off, vowing to never speak to him again .
Imagine the nadir, the low sharpen, the bleakest moment for your run character. Your ability to mine this can make or break you as a novelist .
This is not easy, believe me. You ’ ll be tempted to give your protagonist a collapse, fabricate an escape, or inject a miracle. Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate you dare !
The Bleakest Moment forces your hero to take natural process, to use every new muscle and proficiency gained from facing a book full moon of obstacles to prove that things only appeared beyond compensate .
The more hopeless the position, the more knock-down your climax and ending will be.
Step 11: Bring it all to a climax.
The ultimate resolution, the flower emotional point of your story, comes when your hero faces his hard test however. The stakes must be desperate and failure catastrophic .
The conflict that has been building throughout now crescendos to a final, ultimate confrontation, and all the major book-length setups are paid off .
Star Wars: A New Hope climaxes with the rebels forced to destroy the Death Star .
In the original version of the movie, that setting felt categoric. So the filmmakers added that the Death Star was on the brink of destroying the maverick base .
That skyrocketed the tension and sent the stakes over the top .
Give readers the return they ’ ve been set up for. Reward their stick with you and let them experience the fireworks .
But remember, the culminate is not the end. The veridical decision ties up loose ends and puts everything into perspective.
Step 12: Leave readers wholly satisfied.
A great ending :
- Honors the reader for his investment of time and money.
- Is the best of all your options. If it comes down to clever, quirky, or emotional, always aim for the heart.
- Keeps your hero on stage till the last word.
Because climaxes are so dramatic, endings often good peter out. Don ’ triiodothyronine permit that happen .
Your ending might not be as dramatic or action-filled as the climax, but it must be every bit as provocative and rivet .
Don ’ thymine race it. Rewrite it until it shines. I ’ ve long been on read that all spell is rewriting, and this is never more true than at the end of your fresh .
When do you know it ’ s been rewritten adequate ? When you ’ ve gone from making it better to merely making it unlike .
Write a amply satisfying ending that drops the curtain with a resound thump. Your readers will thank you for it .
Frequently Asked Questions and Novel Writing Tips
1. How long does it take to write a novel?
A life. It will pull from you everything you know and everything you are .
It takes angstrom long as necessary .
I know those answers sound flippant, but remember, travel rapidly is not the point .
timbre is the point .
Spend as much time as it takes for you to be happy with every word before you start pitching your manuscript to the market .
How long writing a novel will take you depends on your goals and your schedule .
A manuscript of a 100,000 words, including revision, should be accomplishable — evening for a founder — in six to nine months .
Develop and commit the right habits, set a regular write schedule, and stick to it .
2. How hard is it to write a novel?
If you ’ re anything like me, it will prove the hardest thing you have ever done. If it was easy, everyone would do it .
Every published novelist ( yes, even any big name you can think of ) was once right where you are — unpublished and unknown. They ultimately succeeded because they didn ’ thymine foreswear .
Resolve to not quit, and you will write a fresh. I can ’ t guarantee it will become a best seller, but I can guarantee it won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate if you don ’ metric ton end it .
3. How do I know if my story idea has potential?
You ’ ll know your history has legs if it stays in your mind, growing and developing every time you think of it .
The right concept simply spirit correct. You ’ ll know it when you land on it. Most importantly, your idea must compel you to write it .
Tell your narrative theme to person whose opinion you trust .
You should be able to tell by their saying and their tone of voice whether they very like it or are good being polite .
You Can Do This
If you want to write a novel, don ’ thyroxine allow the magnitude of the writing serve to overwhelm you .
attack it the manner you would eat an elephant — one pungency at a clock time. 😊
Don ’ t let fear stop you. Use it as motivation to do your best sour .
Avoid wondering What if…?
Take the jump .
Stay focused on why you started this travel in the first place .
Follow the steps I ’ ve given you, and you may find that this time following year, you ’ re holding in your hands a manuscript that could become a print fresh with your name on the cover .
Want to download this 12-step guide to reference whenever you wish? Click here.
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