How to Write a Novel

writing a novel

Create that winning story idea

When thinking about Novel Writing you have to realize that this means you will be writing 75,000 to 100,000 words on this story. That is a lot of writing. In novel writing most writers will write somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 words per day. Let’s say you are somewhere in the middle at 2,000 words per day and you work 6 days a week on your book. You are making a commitment in the case of an 80,000 word book to at least 7 weeks of solid work.

This period is going to be the minimum amount of time that it takes to complete your book and assumes that you get no false starts and that you are able to just write and it all comes together perfectly.

Will your story sustain 75,000 to 100,000 words? Will the story keep the reader’s interest over that length of book? If you have doubts, then think again for another idea.

A great way of understanding the market, and what is selling, is to take a look at the Amazon best-sellers list. Check-out the kind of books that are selling. Learn from those already actively Novel Writing

The last thing that you want is to spend all that time writing and then have nobody buy the book.

Your technique

There are two primary sorts of writers. There are those that sit down and plan out the whole book before they start to write. They will know the entire story and what each chapter will contain. Only then will they fill in the actual writing into each chapter. Then again, there are those that like to jump straight in and discover the story as it goes along, certainly a more risky strategy and may require a lot of rewriting in some cases, as ideas fail to pan out. Author Stephen King is one of these writers and just jumps straight into the story.

In Novel Writing I suggest that you do have at least a minimal structure otherwise you run the risk of completing the story in 20,000 words.

Get your research done

Your reader must be able to believe in what you write. Even a story like Harry Potter had to have a structure within which the author set the stories. Even though the stories were fantasy there had to be a set of rules within which the fantasy played out.

If writing a story that is based around a San Jaoquin County Project Management Company, for example, you need to be accurate about procedures and what can or cannot be done in that context. If you have glaring errors, it distracts the reader from the story and makes it unbelievable. Keep your characters consistent, make notes about each main character describing them physically and mentally. Make a note about their relationships with other characters. That way, if they re-enter the story later in the book, you will be sure that they have not suddenly become a very different character.

That special character

Of all the characters in the book, there will probably be one who takes center stage throughout the book. The hero or protagonist. It is important that this character develops through the story and ultimately develops into someone with a heroic persona. They must be a better version of themselves than they were at the start.

This is not to say that the hero/heroine has to be perfect, in fact to make them more believable it helps if they have some flaws. Flaws that can be corrected by the end of the story. Your antagonist (bad guy) also has to be well thought out. Do not make him bad without showing why he is bad. If he/she is bad, then help the reader understand why.

For every single character you need to have written down in your notes, the answers to:

  • What do they want?
  • Who or what is stopping them from getting it?
  • What will they do to fix this?

Sometimes it is easy to get a lot of characters confused. Try and make each character different from all the others. Do not add too many characters in one go or the reader will just find it too much work and will quit.


novel writing

Expand the writing idea into a full length plot

All books have a structure, many of them follow a simple formula. The author simply hangs the story on this structure, Let’s take a look at a typical structure. Nearly every writing coach is going to provide pretty much the same basic structure.

  • The opener
  • An exciting occurrence that has a huge impact
  • Waves of further crises that add stress to the situation
  • A Climax
  • A conclusion

In novel writing it is the utmost importance to capture the reader at the earliest opportunity (the exciting occurrence) and then keep them hooked by employing the subsequent crises as the whole story builds towards its climax. Then after the climax give the raiders closure by filling in the gaps in the story.

Even the most well known authors tend to follow this structure, even though at first glance their writing may seem very different.

Who is telling the story?

In writing the story you will choose which voice to use.

  • First Person: I and me
  • Second Person: You and Your
  • Third Person: He, she or it

In an ideal world this means that the Point of View that narrates the story should be consistent throughout the story. If that is not possible, then only one POV per chapter. Your reader will view the whole story from the perspective of the one chosen character. You may think that this limits the writer to using the first person only, but the fact is that most stories are written in the third person.

The fact is that nothing will have more impact on the story than the point of view it is written from.

In Novel writing, switching points of view is one of the biggest mistakes new writers make. Avoid doing this at all costs. The point of view not only decides the Voice that is used to write (first person, second person, third person) but also controls whose story it is. The point of view is limited to what the selected character knows, sees, and hears. You cannot simply drop in scenes that the character could not possibly know about.

First Person

Some people say this is the best voice for a novice as it forces the author to only include what the main character sees himself/herself.

Second Person

By using the second person, you are forcing the reader into the story as the protagonist. While this is common in non-fiction, in fiction it is relatively rare. Not recommended for the novice.

Third Person

The most commonly used voice in novel writing. As you tell the story using he, she, it, or the name of the character, you are limited to what that character can actually see, hear or know.

Start when the action is underway

Novel Writing some novice authors believe that before telling the actual story, it is necessary to explain the whole situation and describe the characters and location. This makes for very boring reading. Why does the reader even care about all that stuff since they don’t know the significance? Page 1 should go straight into the story, capturing the interest of the reader.

The backstory, if required, can be filled in later on, once the reader is hooked. In Novel Writing every sentence, paragraph, page and chapter has just one aim. That aim is to ensure the reader just has to read more.

novel writing techniques

Trigger imagination

Many people when comparing a book with the movie are heard to say that they prefer the book. This seems strange, as in the movie you get to see the whole story layed out on the screen for you. How the scenes look, is very much down to the set designer. What if they design a set that looks nothing like you had imagined it when reading the book? Your mind is faced with a conflict.

After reading a book, you know how that scene should look and however big the budget of the movie might be, it can never compare with what your brain can create, Your imagination is far more powerful.

The job of a writer, in novel writing, is not to describe exactly how every scene looks, your job is to allow the reader to imagine it themselves, after you have provided an outline.

Make the storyline tough

A big mistake that novices make is to make life too easy for the protagonist. Give the hero a tough time. Your story started with the hero is a tough situation. Your job now is to make it even tougher as it builds to a climax. They give the hero too many resources to use to overcome the situation. The writer needs to start with fewer resources and ensure that he loses many of those that he does have.

Because your protagonist is going to eventually overcome the problems, do not make the mistake of making him totally inept. He can have weaknesses, and faults, but make them so that he can eventually overcome them.

Make it hopeless

Early on in the plot you need to create that moment where everything is falling apart and it almost seems impossible for things to turn around. It should seem like it’s all coming to an end, but leave just a slight remote hope that, even though it seems hopeless, is still there.

Bring it all to that big finale

As you approach the end of the story all the strands should have come together as the hero comes to face the ultimate test. Everything is individually building towards the big finale. The reader can see that all the individual stories are finally coming together and to overcome this ultimate test seems absolutely hopeless, but then suddenly the reader sees an opportunity for the hero to come through after all. Then it all turns around and the situation is resolved and the hero is victorious. Do not forget the emotional inale as well as the overall victory.

Make the end satisfying

The hero has overcome and this is where the reader gets the reward for sticking with the hero. The best possible solution has been found and the writer should play up the emotional release. The hero should not just disappear and the story peter out, keep the hero as central to the very end.

Final Points to consider in novel writing

The structure I have described can work with any time of story, whether it be a love story, an adventure, science fiction, or whatever. The same elements are present in all kinds of stories.

When you first consider writing a novel it appears to be a project of such magnitude that it is beyond your abilities. You may doubt whether you have the staying power to continue with the project for months on end. Do not be phased by all this. Earlier I gave a time in which technically the average writer could complete a novel. That is not carved in stone. If it takes you two or three times as long, do not worry. As long as each day you are working at it and making some progress, it will eventually be finished. If you start to take breaks of ever increasing lengths then you will be doomed.

You will know if you are on to a winner if you cannot wait to write the next section, if the story is drawing you in and excites you, the author.Stay focussed on what you set out to achieve. Become the hero that faces great difficulties and overcomes them.

Never let fear of failure decide your course of action. If you complete the novel and it bombs, you will still have done something that most people could not achieve. You will have grown in stature and after a short break, be ready to start again, armed with your experience and new knowledge, far better equipped to succeed.