How to Write a Novel

Novel writing.

Taking a little time to learn how to write a novel, before you start writing, will pay off tremendously. In the first place, your mastery of some simple novel writing techniques will result in a better manuscript. Secondly, you are more likely to actually finish your novel if you have some theory to fall back on when you get stuck.

Surprisingly, beginning writers often feel that, since they've read a lot of novels and perhaps taken some literature courses, they already know how novels work. Therefore, they conclude that writing a novel should be a breeze. Not true. To assume that novel reading qualifies you to be a novel writer is like assuming that, since you've lived in a house all your life, you know enough about houses to build one.

That's not so say you can't write a brilliant first novel off the top of your head, in one draft. There are a few writers who have done so, and they are the envy of us all. The vast majority of novelists, however, find their work goes much easier and faster after they’ve taken the time to learn a few tricks of the trade.

At the same time, we know from experience that too much theory can itself become paralyzing. Let’s face it, novels are very complex creations. They can be studied from many different angles, not all of which are useful for the writer. And even practical topics such as story structure can become overwhelming if you study them in-depth or put them too far ahead of inspiration, passion, and spontaneity.

In the articles below, we will introduce you to some of the most powerful secrets to novel writing we've been able to find and discover to date. They will help you create a well structured and emotionally compelling novel without relying on clichéd formulas.

At the same time, we have tried to present these tips and secrets simply. We aim to give you enough theory to nurture your imagination and make your novel writing process easier. Just remember that you shouldn't spend so much energy mastering the theory that you fall out of touch with your passion.

How to Write a Novel: 10-Part Preparation

Avoiding Writer's Block Two reasons why you experience writers block when novel writing for the first time. Pantsers can benefit from a little planning. Plotters must know when to stop.

How to Write a Novel Part 1: Finding an Idea for Your Novel Use this easy technique to generate an endless supply of novel writing ideas.

The Best Approach to Story Structure Traditional theories about story structure are either too general or too formulaic. Here’s the one theory that gives you the most practical advice on how to write a novel.

How to Write a Novel Part 2: Choosing a Story Goal The most important step in creating a plot for your novel is to decide on a story goal. Find out what it is and how to integrate it into your plot ideas.

Part 3: Creating a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps Using the 8 essential elements of every good story, here's how to create a brief plot outline for your novel that is emotionally compelling and dramatically sound.

Part 4: Plot Development: Climax, Resolution, and Your Main Character Story dynamics are one of the most useful plot development secrets. Learn how your main character's decision at the climax determines the most effective ending for your novel.

Part 5: Creating Archetypal Characters Discover how to write a novel using archetypal characters to fulfill the required dramatic functions and create tension.

Part 6: How to Create Characters Who Are Memorable and Believable Tips on how to make your novel's characters 3-dimensional.

Part 7: Choosing Your Main Character and His/Her Essential Counterpart Knowing the difference between a protagonist, a main character, and a point of view character gives you more storytelling options. Plus, discover the other essential character needed to make your novel emotionally compelling.

Part 8: Choosing a Setting Discover how Dramatica theory can and can't help you choose the right setting for your novel.

Part 9: Choosing a Theme A well-expressed theme can be as valuable to your novel as character and plot. Here's how to convey a message without being heavy-handed.

Part 10: Writing an Outline The final step in preparation involves writing an outline of your novel. This will help ensure your first draft is tight and emotionally compelling, with no sagging middle.

Now that you have an Outline...

Check out the Fiction Tips page for more plotting techniques, and the Writing Techniques page for help with the actual process of putting words down on paper (or into your computer).


Do you have a question about how to write a novel or any of the articles on this page? If so, visit our Questions About Novel Writing page to get the answers you need.


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