Novel Guide

Help on Writing a Novel

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.
~Toni Morrison

So you want to write a book, the first question you must ask yourself is do you really want to write this book! Because it will involve hard work and dedication. So are you prepared to spend the months, maybe even years it could take to write your novel! Remember the more work you put into your book the better it will be.

Set your Timetable
Getting your preparations right is essential for you to write your novel, by this I mean setting a regular time, day, and place for you to write your novel and making sure you stick to these times. Many people think that sticking to a regime like this will somehow stifle their creativity and believe that writing when they feel like it is best, this does work for some but for most people they simply lose interest and give up. Sticking to a timetable that you can manage is essential as an aid to writing a book and as I said writing a good book takes work. Remember the more effort you put into writing your novel the better it will be.

So What is your Novel about?

Story Template
This may sound a bit obvious but you would be surprised how many people start a novel without knowing where the story is going and what the ending will be, believing that the story will somehow work itself out along the way. This is a recipe for disaster as your story will wander around this way and that like a man lost in the woods and it will become harder and harder for you to make sense of it, and if you can’t make sense of it then your readers will have no idea at all what is going on.

So the first thing you need to do is think long and hard about what your story is about, where does it start, where does it go, and how does it end. Let the main characters in your novel come alive in your imagination. Let your story come alive in your mind. Take as much time as you need to do this, it really is not worth rushing this stage. Try to do as much research as you can on the subject you want to write about you can use the internet or your local library for this.

Once you have made up your mind and you can picture the story you want to write try and write a sentence describing your story and keep this as a reminder for you as you write your novel. This sentence should encapsulate your whole story. Eg. ‘Man saved from destruction of earth is hunted through space by creatures who want to dissect his brain’

Once you have written a sentence describing your novel, sit down and write a page about your story, its start, its middle and finish. Once you have done this break the page down into chapters giving each chapter a title. Once you have done this you will have your novel template, remember to take as much time as possible to get your template right!

Character Template
Your characters will be one of the most important parts of your story, imagine a town threatened by a volcanic eruption but all the towns people are cardboard cut outs would you really be worried if the town is destroyed or not?

So you need to make your characters as real as possible, start with their name, make sure you pick a name that you think suites your character. Now write a short sentence about their character eg ‘John Smith, a quiet dependable man who shows little emotion’. Ok now write a paragraph on the role they play in your story what does your character do, what does he want to do, why does he want to do it, what changes happen to your character and why does he change, how does he interact with the other characters in your story.

Now do this for all your other characters and you will have now produced your character template which gives you an outline of how your characters interact with each other during the course of the story.

You will find that during the course of writing your story that you adapt or even change the path of the story that you first thought about, this is fine for you to do so long as you still know where your story is going and how it will end.

Start Building Your Story
Using your story template list write a sentence on each chapter. When this is done spend some time reading through your chapters to make sure it makes sense to you so that your story flows as you want it to.

Now write a page on each chapter, what happens in the chapter, how do each of your main characters act in the chapter, what do you want to achieve as far as your story is concerned in this chapter.

Once you have done this again read through what you have written on each chapter and again make sure it makes sense to you. If it does not make sense rewrite the parts that you feel are wrong and keep doing this until you are 100% happy with how the chapters unfold.

Remember as I said before take as much time as you can in order to get this right as the better this is done the easier you will find it to write your story and the better your story will be.

Writing Your Story
Ok there are two ways for you to write your story the first is the traditional method you write it chapter by chapter, using your story template as a guide, until you have your first draft copy. You then you make whatever changes you feel are necessary for your story and so produce your second draft and so on until you feel the story is right.

The second way to write your story and one that I believe will save you a lot of time, is to slowly build up each chapter. By this I mean that instead of writing each chapter in full you slowly build each chapter, for example you write 4 pages or so on each chapter then you expand those 4 pages to 8 pages then 12 pages etc until you have finished the chapters. The advantage of writing a book this way is that you can see far better how each chapter fits in to your story as a whole and how your characters are developing through the course of your story. This means that you should hopefully have very little you want to change when you have completed your first draft of your story.

Finally and most importantly ‘Don’t Give Up’. There will be days maybe weeks or months when you are at a loss as to what to write or don’t like what you have written. Remember this is your story and it takes time and hey every writer has and will go through the same issues as you so stick with it, when you have finally written that book you always wanted you will have achieved something that will be of great value to you and many others.

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written by Mark De Netto