Ever wanted to write a novel but didn’t know where to start? Here is my 17 step summary to help get you started and write a novel:
- Get everything out of your head so you have some creative space. Remember the pensive in Harry Potter, you need a literary version of this. Write down every story idea, character, story outline, scene – you can do this in a note book or in a computer.
- Start putting everything into order to make a story. If you scribble basic outlines of each scene/story idea onto scraps of paper or sticky notes, you can literally lay them out before you until they start to make some sort of sense. You will likely have bits missing or maybe not even have an overall story – that is fine, any order is better than none.
- Stop! Steps (4) & (5) are interchangeable, so do whichever takes your fancy first.
4. Take time to sketch out you main characters
- Who are they? What are they like? What life events have shaped them the way they
are? What do they want? Why?
- What is their past, what are the relationships between them, what strengths and flaws do they have, how will they have changed by the end of the story?
- Ideally, your Protagonist’s (Hero) and your Antagonist (villain) should want the same thing or same goal – that way they are in direct competition. What do they want – this is the aim of your story.
- Try to make the character flaws of your Protagonist the character strengths of your Antagonist, and the character strengths of your Protagonist the character weaknesses of your Antagonist – again putting them in direct conflict.
- The flaws in your Protagonist’s character are the thinks that let them down and get them into trouble. Overcoming one or more character flaws is what leads to ultimate victory or them gaining the thing they want. So what flaws will lead them into trouble and what flaw(s) will be overcome? Jot down story ideas and scenes.
- The strengths in your Antagonist’s character are what gives them victories over your Protagonist. However, failing to overcome one or more of their character flaws is what leads to they ultimate failure or to losing the thing they are after. So what are their strengths and what flaw(s) will they fail to overcome? Jot down story ideas and scenes.
5. Take time to think about your overall story:
- What, in very simple terms is your story, (sum it up in one short sentence) – a much harder exercise than it seems.
- How will the main character(s) have evolved from the beginning to the end of the story (One sentence for each character).
- Think up some subplots which might compliment/juxtapose/parody the main story, or which show character growth (one sentence for each).
- If you don’t already know about Story Arcs, do some research, start to fit your stuff from steps (1) & (2) into your main Story Arc.
- Take out every scene and story idea that does not progress the main story.
- Use deleted scenes and story ideas for sub plots and character stories. Again, fit them into Story Arcs. If they still don’t fit, save them for the sequels.
- Fill in all the gaps with new story ideas and scenes.
6. Do whichever of step (4) or (5) you didn’t just do.
7. Start putting everything together:
8. Put everything together for your main story into one straight line in chronological order – lay them out on the floor if you have to.
9. In separate lines lay out the scenes/story ideas for each sub-plot and each character development/story, and decide where they start and finish in relation to the main story.
10. Merge all the story lines together.
11. It may have taken you hours, days, weeks, or even months, to complete this exercise, but you now have an outline plan for your entire novel.
12. Start writing.
13. Edit for story content, plot, description, setting, scene flow, and characterisation.
14. Edit for grammar and spelling. Also sentence, dialogue, and paragraph construction.
15. Edit for word flow and readability.
17. Remember, you also have to have a life while you are writing.
Of course, there is a lot more that just this summary you need to know to write a novel, but once you get started you will soon discover what else you need to research.
Get started by following these 17 steps, to write a novel, you will learn as your writing craft develops. The main thing, is to have a go.