At least a mountain is always there in front of you. A novel can be elusive. Longer and more complex than a short story, a novel can span the course of years and involves creating a main character who grows and changes throughout the story.
However, have no fear. You can actually start writing a novel right now, right this instant, by following these ten simple steps here.
1. Get over yourself.
No, really. This isn’t meant to discourage you. Quite the opposite! Most people shy away from starting a novel because they’re afraid it might stink. Instead, act as if you don’t have a care. No one has to read it – ever. Feel free to write as well or as poorly as you wish. With that fear out of the way, you can enjoy the exhilarating process that is writing a novel.
2. Think of a character.
Don’t put anything on paper yet. Just think of a blank face. Then give your character a name.
3. Add details.
Picture this person in your head. Add clothes, a certain hairstyle, the way he walks, how he looks when he’s eating a bagel, and so on. Get a good picture. Now you’re ready to write!
4. Make your character do something.
It doesn’t matter what it is, but it should be a solid, concrete thing that he is doing – a task that involves things – props, if you will. Imagine the scene in your head, and describe it as you see it.
Remember to stick with active verbs to get the most punch out of your scene.
5. Make your character want something.
Having your character desire something is a way to get your audience involved in the struggle. Give your character something to strive for: a divorce, a pot of money, anything, as long as it involves an emotional struggle as much as a physical one.
6. Have something standing between your character and the thing that he wants.
Now we come to conflict, the meat and potatoes of your novel. Your character wants that money, but there’s a purple goblin in the way. Now what? What traits does your character possess that will help him surmount the obstacle?
7. Give your hero some guts.
Your character must be responsible for his own actions. You’ll cheat your reader out of enjoying a hard-earned victory if lightning happens to come out of the sky and strike that purple goblin dead. Allow your character to solve his own problems.
8. Put him through the wringer.
Before your character gets to that pot of money, you’re going to have to torture him first. Don’t be afraid. The pot of gold is within reach, but our hero has stepped on a twig and now the goblin’s awake. On top of that, our hero’s no-good brother-in-law has dropped in for a visit and has used up all the goblin sleeping potion on his breakfast cereal. Get the picture? The more stuff you throw in there, the more rewarding the victory. Just be careful not to make the plot too complex, or you’ll write yourself into a corner.
9. Put one word down, then another, then another…
You build a house with one brick at a time, one after the other. Words are your bricks. Just get started, and you’ll find it easier to continue!
10. Embrace the quiet.
Inspiration, dialogue, and ideas come when they will, and when they do, they tend to whisper. If you get stuck, stop. Do something else. Go for a walk. Take a shower. Re-read step one. Then close your eyes and listen carefully. Now write the next thing that comes to mind.
Writing a novel can seem daunting for sure, but with these ten steps you’ll easily get over the hump of starting, which tends to be the hardest part! And remember, above all, just let it flow. Forced writing is apparent, and the best stories come from an organic, imaginative place.
So what are you waiting for? Take the first step and start writing your novel!
Photo by Ian Wilson