2. Have you ever wanted to write a novel but you don’t
know where to begin? Well, you’re not the only one.
Writing a novel is difficult and complex but in the end
it’s so rewarding. I’m here to show you that if you want to
write a novel you CAN do it! Here’s how in a few easy
3. Something to write on: paper & pen,
A place where you feel comfortable enough to write
And that’s it!
Photograph by Rick Payette
Photograph by Pimthida
4. The spark for an author is the moment you find the
initial idea for your story. It’s the first bit of inspiration
that will carry you through every other step.
This can come from anything:
A cool street sign
A person walking down the street
An interesting experience you had
A picture or painting you saw
Photograph by Richard
5. Once you have an idea, you have to create a story
around that idea.
What I do is figure out where I want the story to begin
and how I want it to end. Then, you can fill in the
middle with a few key plot points you want to have.
This is creating a very, very simple outline. This will
help you later when you create the detailed outline.
6. In a novel, plot is very important – but it’s not the
MOST important thing.
In order to have a great story that people are going to
want to read, you have to have great characters. The
plot can be amazing but if you’re characters aren’t right
or aren’t likable, people are going to get bored and
never pick up your book again.
7. For some authors, characters come to them as they are.
They already have a name, an appearance, a
background, and personality traits.
For other’s, they have to build their characters from
Sometimes, different books take different methods. In
one book your character could come to you fully
formed and in another you might have to create them
as you go.
8. To create my characters, I use an index card and fill in the following
Name, age, hair color, hair length, skin color, height, weight, any
distinguishing physical features, clothes they wear
Then I write a short biography of their life, their family, relationships,
and any past information that influences their character or the plot
Then I write out a couple of personality traits, usually 2 or 3 good ones
and 1 or 2 bad ones
Most of the information on the card never gets into the novel but it’s good
for you as the author to know it
9. Once you have some of the main plot points for your novel
and have a good idea of who your characters are going to be
you have to build your world.
Is the story going to be set in a particular time period, in a
certain place? Are you going to have it be geographically
accurate or are you going to take creative liberties? Is your
story set in the apocalypse, a dystopian world, another
planet – real or imaginary?
Next you have to figure out the rules of your world. What
are the politics, the traditions, the cultures, etc.
10. Once your have your characters, your world, and some
plot points figured out you can start to create your
There are many ways to do this:
27 chapter, Three Act Structure
Or keep it vague
Photograph by R. Crap Mariner
11. The story board method is where you take regular pieces of
paper and use one for each chapter. Write the chapter on
top of the paper and lay them out on the floor in order.
Then you write out the beginning and end, and the main
plot points on the chapters you want them to be in.
At that point, you can visualize how much story you need
to come up with and as you do you add it to each chapter
until your storyboard is full.
You can also move the chapters around if you need to and
this is a really good way to visualize that.
12. For the chronological order method you could get
some lose paper and start brainstorming ideas.
Once you have a list of ideas, you could get a notebook
and start writing out the story in order.
For this kind of outline, you should have about 2 or 3
pages for each chapter. You should list out every plot
point that is going to happen in the chapter, including
13. In this method you would have 27 chapters in the
whole story and each chapter would follow a specific
guideline. Then you just build the story around each
Photograph by Katytastic
14. If you don’t need an outline you could just keep it
If you have an idea of what you want your story to be
you can just start writing.
An outline is a good tool for keeping yourself on track
but in the end, it’s all about what you need to do as an
author. No two authors are the same and what works
for one might not work for another.
15. Each novel has a different voice, a different way you
have to write it. This is because each novel has a
different main character (expect for sequels, etc.)
When you start writing, play around with different
styles until you find one that clicks.
When I was writing my first book, I had to completely
rewrite the first five chapters three or four times before
I found my character’s voice.
16. This is the part that is going to take the longest but as a
writer this is what you live for – the writing!
It doesn’t matter how you do it. You could write the
book in chronological order (chapter one, chapter two,
chapter three, etc.) or you could write the chapters you
want to write first and then fill in the others later.
The most important thing is to just keep
17. Once you have finished writing your first draft you have to edit it.
Most authors don’t read what they are writing when they are writing it
because they would never finish the book if they did.
When you edit the first draft, you should simply read through it first
just to make sure it all makes sense as a story. As you go, make notes of
any grammar errors and wrong or missing words.
Then go through the entire novel, fix the grammar and spelling
mistakes and rewrite or add anything to have the story make sense.
Sometimes authors realize that in a scene with a lot of characters, they
completely forgot to do anything with one of them so they have to add
that character into the scene more.
18. Now that you know the story makes sense and most of the
grammar and spelling errors have been fixed, you can go
through the story and fix the sentences.
You should really look at each sentence individually and
together to make sure they sound as good as they possibly
Does the wording interrupt the flow? Did you repeat
something too much?
Once you do that, you should have someone you trust read
the entire manuscript.
19. When you have someone read your novel for the first
time, have them be completely honest with you.
It doesn’t help you if they lie and say it’s good when
they don’t really think it is.
Being a writer isn’t about getting praise all the time, it’s
about getting constructive and honest criticism so you
can get better.
20. Also, when you write a novel, you are so close to the story
and the characters.
Sometimes you don’t explain things well enough because
you know it so well.
Someone else, who doesn’t know anything about your
story, can tell you when you haven’t explained something
21. Once you have a polished manuscript you can start
Publishers don’t deal with authors directly so you have
to find a literary agent.
You must do your research on possible agents. Agents
have specific types of books they are looking for so
don’t waste your time or their time by sending your
book to an agent who isn’t looking for what you’ve
22. The query letter is basically the way you sell your novel
to an agent.
Agents get hundreds of these a day so you need to
make sure yours stands out!
The query letter is kind of like the synopsis on the
back of a book. It should be about three or four
paragraphs. Sometimes they also want an author bio,
that should be about one or two paragraphs.
23. When you research agents, they will have detailed
instructions for what they want you to send and how they
want you to send it.
PLEASE pay attention to those instructions. If you don’t,
the agent WILL just throw your query letter away.
They may want you to send a few pages or a few chapters of
the manuscript as well.
PAY ATTENTION TO INSTRUCTIONS!
24. When querying agents, the most important thing to
do is just be patient.
It might take months for them to get back to you, even
to reject you. And you may never hear back.
Even if an agent expresses interest and wants to read
your manuscript, they still might not want it.
This is a subjective business. It might takes months,
years, or never happen at all.
25. Once you have an agent they will talk to publishers
and try to find one that wants to publish your novel.
At that point, each publisher is different so they will let
you know what to do next.
Photograph by PPA_Live
26. Don’t worry about your first draft being good. It isn’t going to be.
The motto I always say while writing the first draft is “it doesn’t
have to be good, it doesn’t have to be long, it just has to be done.”
You have to be okay with ditching large portions of your writing
to rewrite them. Also, sometimes your favorite sentences have to
get deleted for the sake of the story. Sometimes, the best parts of
the book are written during editing.
You have to have a thick skin and be able to take criticism, in
fact, you should want it because that is what will make you
Know when to take ideas from other people and when to stick to
what you believe your story should be.
27. When writing a book, there are millions of hurdles that are
going to pop up in front of you. It might be writer’s block, you
may become bored with your story, or hate editing.
The hurdles that come up happen for everyone who tries, and
that’s why everyone doesn’t do it. Writers get stuck at certain
hurdles and that weeds out the books that are supposed to be
written and the ones that aren’t.
If you really want to do this, don’t let the hurdles stop you.
Even when it’s hard, even when you want to give up, don’t.
Keep going and no one can take that away from you.
28. The most important thing to remember when writing a novel is
that you are doing it for yourself.
My favorite writing quote is:
“It’s better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for
the public and have no self.” – Cyril Connolly
It means that if you write something because you think it will get
published or will sell it isn’t going to be good. To be a writer, you
shouldn’t care if it will sell or not. You should write because it’s the
story that was inside of you that begged to come out. If your soul
will explode if you don’t write something – that is the best kind of