Do you want to write a novel? Perhaps you feel you could, but think that you need some training first. Yes, that may help, but in this article I’ll share a method that you can use immediately, even if you’e a completely new writer.
Over the years, I’ve written many books. I’ve come to know that starting and completing a novel or nonfiction book just means putting one word after another, and not stopping until the end.
How to write a novel: a tiny plan — try it
Here’s my super-simple and easy method to help you to write a novel.
1. Brainstorm a title
An inspirational title can act as the compass which guides you from beginning to end.
Start by selecting a genre: mystery, romance, science fiction — your choice. Not only do readers in a genre respond to an evocative title, booksellers have expectations of titles in a genre too — they want to know in which section of the store they should shelve YOUR book.
Let’s imagine that you’re writing a mystery.
Look at your bookshelf for inspiration, or check out the bestseller lists to get into the mood to brainstorm titles.
Mysteries will often include words like: “death”, “bones”, and “murder.”
The only criterion your novel’s title needs is that it should be mysterious.
Set a timer, and brainstorm titles for five minutes.
2. Brainstorm a fantastic situation, the crazier the better
All done? Excellent. Choose a title — any title from the ones you’ve brainstormed. Remember that you can always change your title later. Your publisher my decide to change it too, so you don’t need to obsess. A title just gets you moving forward.
Now you have your title, it’s time to brainstorm a fantastically crazy situation.
Mysteries usually involve a crime of some sort, often murder. So, who’s your victim? Why was he/ she murdered?
How was he/ she murdered? Where was he/ she murdered?
At this stage, you don’t need a complete plot, you just need enough material to become enthusiastic and inspired.
3. Start writing, scene by scene
Follow these tips we offered in this article on writing scenes:
- NO flashbacks during a scene;
- No extraneous characters (limit the characters in most scenes. Battle and crowd scenes are the exception. Maintain the POV’s character’s focus. What’s he seeing and doing? Feeling? Thinking?)
- NO tangents. Maintain your POV character’s focus. Let’s say that your POV character has been kidnapped. He’s unlikely to think about a dinner party that’s coming up in three days. New authors go off on strange tangents in scenes all the time. DON’T. Be there with your character, thinking what he’s thinking, and feeling it.
- NO head-hopping: one POV per scene. Many bestselling authors head-hop. (That is, they change their POV character in the course of a scene.) You can do it too, once you’re a bestseller. It’s all too easy to confuse readers, so don’t do it until you’re selling thousands of copies of your fiction every day.
This plan to help you to write a novel is simple enough. Pantsers find it effective because they have a minimalist’s plan to follow. Outliners can refer to this when they get tangled in their outlines. 🙂
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