30 Novel Writing Tips.
If you are about to write a novel for the first time, we have some novel writing tips which may help you on your way. We have been helping first time novelists for many years and these tips are compiled from their feedback.
There is no definite way to write a novel and different people have different ways of doing it. However, we hope you find these tips useful and wish you every success with your writing.
It’s your novel and it belongs to you so do what’s comfortable. Take advice from wherever you can, but don’t be told you have to do it a certain way. This advice also applies to this web page.
Don’t lose sight of what you’re creating
Never forget the end game is providing a body of written work and that’s what will be judged. So don’t get too side-tracked with things outside the actual writing process.
Develop your own style
Like trying anything new, writing a novel has a learning curve, even if you have written lots of other stuff before. It is usual for your methods and writing style to develop naturally, quite quickly. The important thing is to have confidence in yourself and get stuck in!
Write about something you know
Do you want to be a writer or a researcher? It really helps if your novel is about an interest and something you know about. Of course, you will still need to do some research, but it’s good to have an existing knowledge to build on.
Write something you would like to read
Never forget your readers. If you were another person, would you enjoy reading your book?
Read similar stuff
It can be good to read other novels while you are writing yours. It helps you keep in touch of the readers side of the equation. Always be aware of the differences between the book your reading and what you’re writing so you don’t subconsciously start mixing the two up and start using the ideas of someone else!
Make it believable and accurate
There’s no better way to turn off your readers than making a statement of fact – they know is wrong! It’s also a good idea to only include things that could actually happen, even if it’s a fantasy novel. You don’t want them to say, that’s just silly!
Loosely identify the type of your novel
Is it a thriller, a crime novel, a romance. There’s lot’s of different genres and yours may be a single one or a mixture. Once you have a rough idea, it can help to look at critical reviews of other books in this area. It helps build up in your mind the negative pitfalls to avoid and the positives to include.
Outline your plot
It’s unusual for the starting plot to be exactly the same as the plot when you finish. A good way is to have a basic, flexible, outline you can then embellish with sub-plots and twists as you’re writing. Try to leave your options open as you progress and do not to corner yourself. Remember the importance of continuity and avoid threads that conflict with each other.
Outline your characters
Someone once said ‘A novel is like a good meal where the characters are the ingredients and the plot is the way it’s cooked and served ‘. Ask any chef how important the ingredients are! Don’t skimp on building up the details and idiosyncrasies of your characters. Putting together a starting set of interesting characters can often fast-track you on your way.
Get a loose story plan together
It can often help to put together a loose outline plan of how your characters and plot interact before you start writing which you can then follow. Established authors can often do this automatically in their minds, but if you’re just starting out, it can be a worthwhile exercise.
Research with the web
The Internet is a wonderful aid to a novelist. If you spend time browsing around the subject of your novel before you start, it can really help. It’s also invaluable while you are writing. It’s worth remembering that most information on the Internet is an opinion so, if you’re going to use it in your novel, make sure it’s accurate by checking it out on more than web site.
Why a routine can help
To maximize your chances of completing your first novel, it’s a good idea to give some thought to how best apply yourself. It may help to plan your routine first and try to stick to it. In the early days it can really help you focus. Writing ‘if and when’ is not ideal in keeping up the momentum.
Decide where you are going to write it and try to put some time aside, either each day or weekly, to dedicate yourself to it. Tell your nearest and dearest of your novel writing time and ask for them to understand you’ll be busy then.
Decide on the tools to use
Like anything it’s best to use the tools that have been designed for the job. Specialist, novel writing software can certainly play a key role and has distinct advantages over ‘vanilla’ word processors.
Take a small notebook and pen with you everywhere. You don’t know when something may spring into your mind which you don’t won’t to forget. If your mobile has a notes function, perhaps you could use that!
Although your software will probably have the ability for handling your notes, it’s a good idea to keep a log or diary of what you did and when in a traditional hand written diary. Just a ‘one liner’ note to yourself each time should suffice. You never know when you want to look back at what you did and when.
Don’t give up or lose heart
Writing your first novel is a personal journey. You will have good times and bad. If things get tough, don’t lose heart or give up. Persevere and you will get there! With self-publishing now an option, you will become a ‘published author’.
Don’t be scared to get stuck in
Although careful planning for a novel can be important at the start, don’t spend too long on it. Once you start writing, try to get as much done as you can, quickly. This gives you an initial impetuous and momentum. Don’t worry if it’s ‘not quite right’, remember nothing is set in concrete and you can return and change it!
Don’t over-do the ‘fore matter’
If you are going to use a foreword, introduction, prologue, about the author etc. Don’t use all of them and keep them concise and succinct. Let your readers get to the story, that’s what they want to read, that’s what they will pay you for.
Create a bond with the reader
Try and build a bond with your readers and treat them as your invisible friends. Communicate with them in your writing as you would communicate with a real friend. Try and imagine who they are and use written language that makes it easy for them to read. When they finish reading your novel, they need to leave not wanting to say goodbye. They may read your next one!
Don’t be verbose
It’s not unusual for a new novelist to describe things in too much detail. Don’t over use adjectives or adverbs as this can seriously damage fluidity for your readers.
Trust your reader
Don’t tell your readers everything, let them get involved and form their own opinions. Entice them by unveiling things as your novel evolves to keep their interest.
If you’re drying up – take a break
If you feel you are not happy or feel uncomfortable with what you’re currently writing – take a break and stop for the day. If you’re drying up, there may be more to do next time to correct things. Leave it and ‘start fresh’ next time.
Don’t bore your reader
If you’re not happy with part of your novel and you think it’s flat – rewrite it. Every novel undulates with high and lows but you don’t want your reader to get bored and ditch it. If your readers don’t get to the end, you’ve failed.
Don’t be scared of change
If things change as you progress, don’t be scared to go back and alter previous parts to fit. Try to tinker and not re-write complete blocks as you may lose the essence of what you meant when you originally wrote it. Remember continuity is key and you don’t want to contradict yourself.
Find a trusted proof reader
A lot of people like to keep the fact they are writing a novel to themselves while they are writing it. However, you will need another pair of eyes to read it and give you a frank opinion before you go for publishing. You can look at something a hundred times and not see something someone else spots immediately.
Don’t over cook it
Don’t let finishing your novel become like chasing the end of the rainbow. You have to draw the line somewhere and it’s possible to lose some of the original spark – if you keep re-writing it!
Use the web for publishing options
Ask any established author how much the publishing of novels has changed over the last few years. It’s a fluid thing so research it well and decide how you want to do it. Be cautious with lesser known online agents and try and get some independent reviews on them. Self publishing, with Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc, is a good place to start.
Try and make it a labor of love and enjoy it. A comfortable writer usually means a satisfied reader. We all do things we like, better.
How NewNovelist can help
When NewNovelist was first released in 2001 it was widely acclaimed for helping the first time novelist. With the constant feedback from our users, we have continually refined and improved it.
NewNovelist 3 Second Edition is the latest and perfect partner for the ‘new novelist’.
We have listed some of it’s features:
• Help and advice on how to write a novel from start to finish
• Helps you plan, research and outline your story
• It uses tried and proven writing methods
• Provides extensive template advice to loosely fit your ideas and get you going
• Includes a dedicated novel writers word processor
• Graphical Visualizer helps you keep it all together
• Integrated web browser for easy research lookup
• Spell checker and word analyzer/thesaurus
• Comprehensive ‘;Notes’ handling
• Facilities to build your library of characters/story elements
• Story boarding with characters/story element interactions
• Dictation and synthetic speech read-back
• Text and word count analysis tools
• Advanced search and replace facilities
• Advanced review and publishing tools.