How to Write Your First Novel (Continued!)

Note: It took me about a month to realize I wrote two blog posts with the same name and (pretty much) the same content. They even begin with the same sentence! So, I’m adding “continued” to this title because it came second, and I’m leaving them both up because they do say a few unique things. 🙂

I wrote a novel! It took me one year, three months, and twenty days, but that is honestly shorter than I really thought it would take. It ended up being just over 60,000 words, and, while it is not a grand work or anything, I’m really proud of it, and I hope to revise and publish someday.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be that great of a writer, and even if you’re not sure how great it will be, I think you should write a novel, and here’s how you’re going to do it.

Step #1: Buy a sketchbook & grab a pencil.

My first step was to outline and map and plan out how the novel would go. I also drew pictures with my really bad artistic ability. Some things you should put in this sketchbook:

  1. Outline of the plot. (Including character intros and plot twists.)
  2. Map of the area. (Maybe with certain trails highlighted or character houses circled.)
  3. Character bios.
  4. Brainstorm and inspiration.

Depending on the genre of your novel, there will be more things to add to this list. If your genre is fantasy, you may want to write about the world(s) the characters are in and such. If your genre is mystery, you’ll want to line up everything to be sure the mystery is hard to figure out, but does not contradict itself.

For me, the sketchbook helps the visual side of me to plan things out. Others might find a simple notebook or even a computer or iPhone a better tool for them.

Step #2: Begin writing.

This is my most dreaded part. I do enjoy writing, but it’s hard to work up the drive to want to sit and write out a storyline for an hour.

Do whatever will make it easier for you. Start three chapters in. Write the last chapter first. Only write in ten-minute increments until you’ve reached your stride.

Be sure to create an environment that is condusive to writing. It should be quiet, but maybe some background noise like music or birds singing outside. It should be tidy so you can focus. You might get a drink of water so you don’t need to leave your post half-way through. “Whatever works for you” is the motto of writing.

Another thing to note: Some people say to write, write, write, and edit later. I tend to edit as I write, going back a couple paragraphs every time I come to it. Again, figure out what works best for you.

Step #3: Finish it.

There’s a huge gap between #2 and #3, as you can see. But if you work hard and don’t give up, you’ll eventually come to a stopping place. Now is the time to read through it yourself once, just to check that the plot structure is stable and everything makes sense in the end. Then you’ll get to the nex step.

Step #4: Edit it.

For this step, I would reccomend uploading it to a Google Doc and sharing with any of your friends who would like to read it, since this is exactly what I’m doing with my novel now. Whenever edits are made, remember to go back and edit the original document so that you don’t have to redo them.

One more tip: Read it out loud. Somehow your brain is able to pick up on way more mistakes when you read it out loud. Even if it’s just to yourself, I have no doubt you’ll find this incredibly helpful.

Step #5: Recruit first readers.

Now is a fun part. Print out a couple copies (yes, it may be expensive, depending on how large your novel is), put them in binders, and give them to people who you trust. As they read it, they can point out errors they find and compliment you on your storyline. Then, hopefully they’ll give the binders back, and you can send them out again to be read through.

Step #6: Actually finish it.

If everything has been done correctly, there should be minimal errors, and now would be the time to send it off to a publisher or self-publish it. But the sad thing is that novels are rarely ever really done. Even if it’s publised, grammar brats like me out there in the world will find mistakes and write letters or emails, and there will be more things to fix.

If I were cliché, I would say “but that’s the beautiful part of it,” but I’m not going to lie.

If you need advice or you would like to read my novel, email me using this contact form.

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