How to Write a Novel: A Step By Step Guide to Perfection

Writing can be daunting. If you are a writer and have the experience for creative writing, chances are you have thought about writing a novel at least once. However, the thought of it can be overwhelming. You may have the idea, but its execution may take some time—especially if you have written small pieces before. You may even wonder where or how to begin.

Whether you have always wanted to become a novelist, since the beginning of your passion for reading chapter books, or it is more of a recent ambition, in this post, we will guide you step by step about what you need to do.

Step #1: Choosing a genre

When writing fiction, the genre is something that describes the different types of novels. For example, Science-fiction and Romance is a genre, and dystopian Fiction and Space Opera is a subgenre of the basic ones.

Some writers among many already know about the genre they want to dive into: they enjoy reading, for example, psychological thrillers and want to create something similar as a contribution to their favorite genre.

Others aren’t sure. Perhaps their idea of a novel isn’t really established, and they enjoy every interesting book that comes their way. If this is you, think about where you want your book to be shelved. What idea do you have for your book, and can you pen it down in an outline?

It is important to pin down a genre before beginning a novel to be more specific in writing. It can help you in creating a perfect ending for the book. For example, a romance novel usually gets a happy ending where the boy gets the girl. In a mystery novel, the protagonist unravels the story moving the reading to a suitable resolution by solving the mystery and more.

Step #2: Settle on the idea

You may have numerous ideas for your book or just a single idea that can stem into a story. If you don’t have an idea, you don’t have to force it. It can just be inspired by something unexpected.

Writing a novel is a big commitment as it takes time and energy—you don’t want to embark on something that doesn’t engage with your idea from the beginning of the journey.

An idea may be inspired by anything—a hobby, a new or a different novel, art, music, and more. All you need to need to do is wait till an inspirational idea comes to your mind.

On the other hand, if you have an idea but you are unsure if it can be turned into a novel, you can simply turn it into a short story instead of a novel.

Step #3: Develop your characters

Character development is a basic part of the novel. Without them, there is no plot or action or growth in the story. It is easier to think of the protagonists and the antagonist before beginning the novel. However, if you are writing in a plot-focused genre, then you might prefer to begin with an outline of the plot and think of the characters that are suitable for the plot. 

When developing characters, you need to think about the core characters. It is true that your characters may have parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles, but they don’t need to be included unless they have a place in the story.

One way of developing characters is to make mind maps. Think about their characteristics and working out the conflict revolving around them. It is possible that your story doesn’t have a villain, but there might be someone playing the role of an antagonist with an unpleasant and nasty side.

You can also add some supporting characters to the story. For example, the book Spouts: The Whale Who Saved Christmas has hula bears who actually help Santa reach spouts. Similarly, in the book Harry Potter, the most famous and villainous supporting characters can be Crab and Goyle or victor Krum.  

Step #4: Decide the potential sources of Conflict

A story is driven by a conflict. Without it, there will not be much room to tell a story. Conflicts can come in three ways:

  • Internal conflict – where the character struggles with their own thought process.
  • Interpersonal – a conflict between two characters.
  • Environmental – the conflict that arises within the environment developed in the story.

There is no rule that states to have only a single conflict in the story. They can overlap –for example, a financial problem can lead to interpersonal conflict and internal conflict, and environmental conflict as well.

Keep the main character in mind and see which conflicts you can throw their way to progress in your story.

Step 5: Work out a rough plot

Some authors write extremely detailed outlines. However, it doesn’t have to be too long to explain the action taking place in a chapter. It is important that you have a rough plot in mind to avoid writing pages that don’t lead anywhere. 

You can be as detailed as you like with the plan. Keep in mind that you may find you want to change things as you go along. So don’t spend much time planning it; make the changes you deem necessary along the way.

Step #6: Write the first draft

This is a big step in the writing journey. Some writers like to jump around different scenes to move forward. They write what inspires them on a particular day and piece them all together into a novel.

It is better to take your novel from the beginning to the end, especially if you are new to fiction writing. Remember that you can always edit your first draft once you are done with the story. Never aim for perfection in the first step; it can drag you down.

Step #7: Read through the draft and edit

Read through the draft and be thorough. Eliminate any mistake you come across and edit as much as you can to turn it into a great book. You may delete chapters and change details, but make sure that it remains close to the initial idea and doesn’t divulge into something new.

Hire some editors or give your initial draft to family and friends for suggestions and feedback. Edit according to it and make it more interesting.

Step #8: Redraft and Publish

Once you are done and satisfied with the editing, draft the book and look for publishers. You can opt for self-publishing as well as traditional publishing companies. Get the word out for your book or simply get an account on kindle.

Author Bio: Susan Penson is an aspiring writer and loves to write novels for children. She is highly appreciated for her work at Eden-Bancrofts that motivates her to become better at writing. She is a graduate from the University of Philadelphia and holds a degree in English Linguistics. Besides this, she loves to cook.

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