Writing a novel can be one of the most exhilarating but difficult endeavours you undertake. Creating something unique and engaging requires creativity, hard work, and perseverance - but it can also be extremely rewarding! This guide will teach you the fundamentals of writing a novel, from developing your plot and characters to fine-tuning the editing process.
Start With An Idea
The first step in writing a novel is to come up with an idea, whether it's a premise, a setting, or a character. This can range from imagining a unique world in which dragons roam the skies to creating a storyline centred on two star-crossed lovers or even creating an anti-hero figure struggling with inner turmoil. Explore and develop your concept until you are certain you know exactly what you want to write about. Carry a notebook and a pen (or the digital equivalent) with you so you can scribble down ideas wherever you go. Scribble down sentences, fragments, single words, or even doodles that will eventually become part of a larger story.
Do your research
Once you've decided on an idea, the next step is to conduct some research. This can assist you in filling any knowledge gaps and ensuring your novel is as accurate and engaging as possible. Research can include anything from reading up on the target audience and genre to basing your story on real-life settings, people, or events. Investigate the craft elements of writing, such as characterization, plotting, and dialogue, to become more acquainted with them.
Give your preferred genre some thought. Although not every novel fits neatly into a specific category, it is useful to consider your intended genre. Read important books to gain a solid understanding of how to write a novel in your preferred genre. If you haven't decided on a genre or are working in more than one, that's fine—read widely and, if necessary, invent your own!
Create a Persona Profile
Every good novel has a strong main character and supporting characters. Create profiles for each of your characters to begin bringing them to life. Physical descriptions, interests, and habits, as well as background history, relationships, and goals, can all be included. This will also allow you to identify what motivates each character, which will be useful when writing dialogue or constructing scenes. Once you've created individual profiles for each of your story's characters, use them as a jumping off point to ensure the plot revolves logically around their motivations and decisions.
Consider your intended audience as well. While you should not make broad assumptions about who will and will not read your novel, you should consider the most likely audience for your work. This allows you to keep your intended audience in mind as you plan, draught, and revise your work.
Make An Outline
An outline is an essential part of any novelist's writing process. It will keep you on track and provide a framework for you to work with throughout the creative process. Begin by generating ideas for key plot points, scenes, climaxes, and endings. Then use those points to structure the plot using main signpost moments, or plot points that move the story forward or reveal important details or developments in the lives of the characters. Try writing your outline from start to finish on a single piece of paper so you can easily refer back to it as you write your novel.
Make interesting characters to populate your world.
In most novels, the protagonist is the most important character, so give them distinct personality traits and thought patterns. Protagonists do not have to be likeable, but they must be relatable in some way so that readers remain engaged in the story. There can also be multiple protagonists. If you have a main antagonist to oppose and conflict with your protagonist, they must be three dimensional and relatable, even if they are the "bad guy" in your story. Secondary characters may not require as much fleshing out, but they must still be humanised to some extent. Even if you don't end up using each character in great detail, imagine them fully.
Create Your Environment
When your outline is finished, it's time to start working on your novel's setting. What setting does the story take place in? What kind of world does your character inhabit? Begin by brainstorming any details that will help readers visualise your chosen location—the physical layout of streets and buildings, the climate, culture, customs, and so on. Consider writing a detailed description of your setting so you can refer to it as you write.
Create a rough outline of your novel's plot
Most readers will not connect with a novel that has good characters but a bad plot. Creating conflict is a common theme in plot design. Tension builds until the problem reaches a climax, at which point it is resolved in some way. This is not to say that all novels have happy endings! Rising action (building the details and tension in the story), conflict (the main crisis of the novel), and resolution (the final outcome of the crisis) is one traditional plot approach, but it is not the only one. The conflict does not have to be neatly "resolved" in your novel. It's fine to leave some loose ends hanging—if your readers enjoy your novel, they'll finish it.