Want to write a good fiction novel but don’t know how to get started? Looking for tips on how to write your first novel and get it published online? Perhaps, you have a great idea or, maybe, a dream of writing a good book. You are even likely to sit down to start writing and get stuck, having no idea where to begin. All this sounds familiar, right? It’s really frustrating but it happens to nearly all authors who are new to creative writing. Indeed, writing a novel is a long process that requires hard work but any writer can save themselves from the risk of writing for many months and ending with a mess of manuscript if they follow some kind of a formula or a roadmap. Of course, you can follow that magic formula to a greater or lesser degree and even deviate from it and use your own method because different books demand their own structure, their own style and pace, and their own way of looking at the world.
Writing a novel or a romance is a complicated task, and the easiest way to deal with it is to break it down to manageable parts. Are you ready to take the challenge? Read this short step-by-step guide for dummies and learn how to write a novel following 7 easy steps.
1. Come Up with a Winning Idea for Your Novel
Before you write, you first need the right idea for your story. A story typically unveils the transformation of a character with deals with the tension created by their unfulfilled desire. And the key to writing a better story that can draw readers is to focus on creating more tension as your story develops. Thinking about the story idea, you have to decide on characters, setting, and situation and put all these things together in the key plot points that will drive your story. Keep in mind that when you consider the setting which encompasses the place and time, you should be as specific as possible.
What if you have too many interesting ideas and don’t know which one to choose? A good starting point is to think about the genre of the novel you want to write. In this way, you’ll be able to narrow down your ideas. A winning story idea typically involves putting ordinary people in extraordinary unexpected situations and watching how they try to cope with the challenges. If you would like to write on the topic which is not familiar to you, be ready to do research and learn about it as much as possible. When you have chosen the genre, you need to study it as well because different genres have their own rules or conventions and you will have to follow them.
2. Develop a Novel Plot
Before you start writing your novel, you need to decide where it leads to. Some best-selling writers, for example, Steven King, don’t plot. In fact, most people are not able to do it properly. Without a plot, you may write about 30 pages or something and discover that you are unable to continue. So you should develop a plot in a form of a rough outline you could work with and stay on track. A plot is a sequence of events that change the character’s life and transform the world from one state into another.
If you don’t like to map everything before you start writing, all the same, you will need some structure to understand where your story is going to. But as you go along, you may alter the parts of your plot and write by process of discovery to see where the story is going to take you. Plots of novels can be complex and include from 3 to 10 or even 100 points such as themes, scenes, parts, sections, chapters, and more. But you don’t have to make it so complicated. You may just create the simplest version of your story and think about the main parts of the story – the beginning, middle, and the end.
3. Create Believable Characters in a Novel
When you have a basic plotline, it’s time to work out the key traits of your main characters. You will need to create a clear biography for every character and think about their full names, ages, appearances, roles, and motivation. You should also include information about their history, skills, and knowledge. It’s important to create complete personas before you actually begin to include them in your plot. If you do that, your characters will appear more real and your readers are more likely to care about them. If your readers want to find out what will happen to your characters, they will keep reading your novel.
You have to create a list of characters but it won’t be complete because as you write, you may want to create additional characters and include them into your plot. If you decide to create new characters later, you will need to go through the same process and create complete personas for them as well.
4. Write the First Draft of Your Novel
With a detailed plot and the characters, you can start writing your novel. Focus on writing and don’t do any editing as you go. Your task is to get to the end of your story as quickly as you can. You should set a daily goal to write about 2,000 words a day so you will be able to finish your first draft in a month. You should divide your plot into chapters before you start writing and briefly outline what is going to happen in each chapter. That can help you stay focused as you write your chapters.
Still, as the story evolves, it is almost a certainty that you may want to change some aspects of your story. That’s why you should always compare your finished chapter to the initial chapter summary and the entire plot to see the big picture and understand whether you are going to achieve your initial intentions. Of course, it can be different but you should be aware of how it affects the entire story. In this way, you may reduce the chance of experiencing writer’s block.
5. Revise Your Work Thoroughly
Now, you have the first draft of your novel. You may feel proud of being able to finish it, but this is where hard work actually begins. You need to reread your novel carefully and look critically at every chapter. You should make sure that your plot and subplots are developed logically, and there are no gaps or unnecessary details. You should explain everything that your readers may want to know. You may also notice that some new themes have appeared and you can consciously develop them to enhance your characters and improve your plot.
Remember that all first drafts are poor so when revising, you need to improve the logic, the structure, the dialogues etc. You should also compare the biographies of your characters and their actions and make sure that everything they do and say as the plot develops is in line with their personas that you have created earlier. Now, you have to create a second draft and it will take you longer. And you are likely to work slower because you will need to take care of every word and polish your draft by eliminating wordiness, using the right synonyms, fixing grammar, spelling, and punctuation. When you finish your work, put your draft aside for a few months and start doing something absolutely different.
6. Finish with a Final Draft
You are wrong if you think that you can now publish your novel. When your break is over, you need to go back and reread everything you have written. It’s most likely that you’ll find lots of different areas for improvement and may notice some additional errors that need to be fixed. So you should keep polishing your novel until you feel that you know every word in the text by heart. When you are happy with your revision, you should get feedback from your friends or your family. They may suggest new areas for improvement and you should do something to address possible issues.
If you follow these steps, you will be able to create a successful, well-thought novel that your readers are sure to like. Although, it may seem to be taking a long time. Just make sure that you use an effective novel writing formula presented below.
7. Stick to a Novel Writing Formula
Is there a magic recipe for creating a bestseller? If we use the reverse engineering techniques to analyze the content of the best-selling novels, we may notice that all of them have some common content characteristics in spite of the fact that they belong to different genres. All great books have compelling stories, impressive characters, vivid setting, powerful themes, and more. But they are also unique. And it’s impossible to formulate uniqueness or creativity.
Computer scientists used another approach to find the secret of creating a best-selling novel. They used the statistical stylometry technique to mathematically analyze the use of words and grammar in classic books from Project Gutenberg and developed an interesting algorithm. The algorithm establishes connections between the writing style and the success and popularity of literary works. It can be predicted that with 84% accuracy a certain book will be a commercial success. The scientists also noticed several trends common for successful books, for example, a large number of adjectives and nouns and a lot of conjunctions like “but” and “and”.
There are many different ways of writing successful novels and predicting the success of literary work can be challenging for aspiring writers and publishers. All the best-selling writers use a formula for writing their own books, but they just keep their winning formulas in secret. So follow your own way of novel writing so that your fans will ask you, “How do write such wonderful novels?”.