How to write a novel

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 20.05.07 copyI wish I had £1 for every person who told me ‘I thought about writing a novel once,’ or ‘I’ve got an idea for a book.’

Sound familiar? Have you ever said that?

I used to say that. I used to start writing stories and never finish them. I’d get bored, distracted, forget what I was writing about, not know how to build a full length book… now I’ve written four and have a fifth in progress.

My novel writing tips:

  • Just write. And write, and write. And write some more. Regularly. If you start and stop and leave weeks or months between writing, you’ll never get anywhere and everything will be disjointed. Try and find a weekly or even daily routine, even if you can only spare 30 minutes a day. Just do it. Write, write, write.
  • Think about your characters. Who are they, where did they come from, what purpose to they serve in the story?  What are their dreams and fears? Whether it’s your protagonist or an ‘extra’, they need purpose, depth, and a reason for being in the book.
  • Do you want a sub-plot? Could one of your secondary characters have a great past or side-story to share? Bulk out the story with other interesting mini-stories that interweave.
  • Structure and plan, if possible. Think about what you want to happen, and plan the novel out. I didn’t do this for my first book, but have for all the others. It makes life easier.
  • Break it down. I always aim for around 80,000 words. I work out how many chapters I might need, and what might happen in each. Then I work out how long each chapter needs to be, roughly. So, for example 25 chapters would need to be approximately 3,200 words each. Writing 3,200 words is much less daunting than 80k, so I tackle one chapter at a time – but not always in chronological order.
  • Edit. Re-read. Edit some more. But then stop. It’s easy to keep editing forevermore, sometimes before you’ve even finished. Write the whole thing, then go back and edit. Proof read it thoroughly. Make little amendments. But know when you’re done, or you’ll never complete it.
  • Find a good beta-reader. Someone who enjoys your genre and style of writing, but is able to give you constructive criticism. Ask them to check for simple errors, but also feedback on the story, the tone of voice, whether they liked your characters. This is invaluable, if you find the right reader. Take their feedback on board, and edit one more time if you see fit.

Of course, then comes the hardest part – finding an agent and/or publisher, finding readers, promoting yourself – maybe I’ll blog about these things another time.

In the meantime: Happy writing 🙂

Find out more about my romantic comedy novels >

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