How to write a Novel

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*Editorial, *Graphic Design

Write a Novel #1

Essential simple keys for writing a novel, you have to know how to start then go step by step writing chapters to the end. I will try to explain or resume the method I followed and it’s quite possible that this method won’t be most appropriate for others.

Writing a novel is not only an action (writing) is rather a process that for some can be quite confusing by the amount of steps you have to follow which I summarize in:

  1. Create all fictional characters and develop a rounded argument.
  2. Write subplots to integrate seamlessly into the main plot.
  3. Building a credible atmosphere and decide to talk about an interesting topic.

Writing a novel is easy. Writing a good novel is hard. If it were easy, we’d all be writing best-selling, prize-winning fiction. Frankly, there are a thousands of different authors out there who can tell you how to write a novel. There are a thousand different methods. The best one for you is the one that works for you.

I like to write but that doesn’t mean that I’m actually good at it… if you’re like most people, you spend a long time thinking about your novel before you ever start writing. You may do some research. You daydream about how the story’s going to work. You brainstorm. You start hearing the voices of different characters. You think about what the book’s about — the Deep Theme. This is an essential part of every book which I call “forming”. It’s an informal process and every writer does it differently. I’m going to assume that you know how to form your story ideas and that you have already got a novel well-composted in your mind and that you’re ready to sit down and start writing that novel.

Are you struggling with a horrible first draft of your novel that just seems hopeless? Take an hour and summarize your story in one sentence.

Or are you like me staring at an enormous pile of manuscript that desperately needs rewriting? Take heart! Your novel’s done, isn’t it? You’ve done something many writers only dream about.

Not surprisingly, the first big question being asked by every new writer is …

Where do I begin? Like the construction of a building, to write a novel you must have a good idea of the whole, then trace a detailed plan and define a plan of advance.

The plan gives an overview of the whole and each component of each piece and material needed to construct the story that ultimately can leave your novel published.

The plan of advance is a guide that helps you write froma day to day, it tells you where you are today and where you should go. It will show you the progress, the achievements and the way that remains.

You have to take the required time to study the plan of advance before starting to build your novel, to keep in mind the whole; but we must not forget to return to the reference during the execution of works, when we’re stuck in a detail or lost on what component must follow. At the most basic level, writing a novel consists of only three steps…

  • Planning. This is where you resolve what you mean (in summarized form).
  • Writing. It is where the plan is transformed into prose and dialogue.
  • Review. Finally, the ideas and words are polished until they shine.

Easy, right? Well, yeah … except that it does not really tell us anything about writing novels. Then we divide these three steps into concrete instructions on what to do first, middle and end. So we come to these 15 steps:

Planning:

  • 1. Preparation.
  • 2. Decide on target: Types of Novels.
  • 3. Brainstorming: The original idea.
  • 4. Deciding the topic/theme.
  • 5. The main premise.
  • 6. Character creation.
  • 7. Point of View.
  • 8. Location and situation.
  • 9. Basic structure
  • 10. The general plan Synthesis of the argument.

Writing:

  • 11. key scenes.
  • 12. First draft.

Review

  • 13. Review of The topic/theme.
  • 14. cohesion, consistency and credibility.
  • 15. Correction of style, grammar and spelling.

 

I think this will be the longest entry I have written ever in any of my blogs please forgive me the grammar perhaps at this point you may ask yourself why in the hell is he writting how to write a novel in English well because I speak Spanish, German, English, Latin, ancient Greek (Ἀρχαία Ἑλληνική) and still learning Esperanto… I couldn´t decide…

And now, the explanation of each point from the list. This is a brief explanation eventually you will get bored, but this are the steps I followed to writte something with an acceptable quality for publication… well until I decided writing the whole project per hand…

1. Preparation

There is something necessary before starting a project of this nature you need to take time to make your head up and commit to a long and hard work, without immediate recognition.

If you are looking for the recipe to write a complete novel to a publisher in just a few months, good luck, but I’m afraid this method won`t help you. There may be shortcuts in the writing of novels. But if you are willing to work as hard as necessary for as long as needed (without forgetting to enjoy along the way, of course) then yes you will reach your goal. First, you must decide to be a real writer, not only a hobby one. Finding the engine to begin this endeavor is a personal one. Making Money with Writing is not a bad motivation but perhaps it is insufficient, there are much better ways to ensure the energy that will make you work every day on your novel. Mine was the challenge of working on a long-term project. If you finally decide to embark on this seriously there are a number of practical adjustments that you should make to your lifestyle. Set aside time for writing, prepare a specific place, get a computer (today it is essential, because it may seem romantic to handwritte everthing but corrections and deliveries will force you to have a digital copy ); if you find it difficult to send a digital manuscript to an editor try sending one handwritten and ilustrated… when you finally prepared the environment for writting just sit down…

2. Decide on target: Types of Novels.

As I have already mentioned, we must adopt a professional attitude. Forget the romantic ideals and the image of the bohemian writer. Being a writer is a creative activity, but also a work and the sale of a novel to a publisher is a business proposal. What does that mean for you? This means you can increase your chance of success if you know from the beginning what you need to integrate your book within the publishing market. I’m not asking you to sell your artistic integrity here, I just advise you to get the business suit on for a moment. You have to do some research and identify a market niche that point because it is risky to write a novel without having a clear idea of the position it will occupy in the literary market. You can get away with it if your novel fits perfectly into one category, more by luck than judgment, but if it slips between the intermediate gray areas of genres, then publishers will be disinclined to accept it, no matter how good writing is. Editing Novels is a business, not a charity for creative people. If your books are not going to make money for publishers (if not immediately, at least in the next two or three years) then they will not want to know anything about them. In practice this can be foreseen by exploring the different types of novels, deciding the type (from our creative standpoint) will allow us to express ourselves fluently and create a story both interesting and original at the same time. While there may be many types of fiction, in broad terms they can be divided into three groups:

Novels by genre

It is the most popular variety of fiction. It can be divided into categories such as mystery, police, science fiction, fantasy, black, spies, etc. If you decide to write genre fiction, it is necessary to note that each category has a particular set of rules (or conventions) that you, the writer, will have to follow more or less.

More serious literature or literary fiction

They are usually deep content novels and loaded with symbolism and ideology, with dense subplots and allegories. Usually much less commercial than novels by genre, with honorable exceptions. If your serious literary novel happens to win a major prize or receives positive review of mouth.

General action

As you may have guessed, it is located midway between the other two types. There are novels by genre, but neither seeking nor have the ideological depth artistic pretensions of most literature. They are novels that become best sellers, and have some other types but do not follow the conventions of the genre (some are in the future, but not intended to be science fiction, others speak of vampires but they are of love rather than terror, etc). Usually they tell stories more intimate and close.

3. Brainstorming: All ideas, an idea.

Well, we’re getting close to the point where the real work begins (ie, the point where you begin to plan the novel). Before you can plan, however, you need to find the “generating” idea. We will have to make the effort to find the best you can think of. After all, you are planning to devote a significant part of your time to this novel the last thing you want to do is to start on the wrong foot. Some people will tell you that good ideas are hard to get. With respect, I do not agree. In fact, I think any writer has the opposite problem: not getting old enough to turn every good idea they have in a novel.

Intermediate: Plan your novel

The ideas of a person on how to write a novel will be a little different from another person. That’s why you should feel free to adapt this process of writing novels to your own needs and workflow.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences is this:

Some like to plan your fiction to detail, before starting the stage of drafting and revising. Other writers manage to get by with almost no planning or no planning. From school writing “just sit down and write.” Which way is best? There is no absolute answer, one can only say that if a certain way of writing fiction works for you, that is correct.

But if you are unsure and want a recommendation, I would suggest that it is better to plan your novel with as much detail as you can, before writing the first draft.

What is involved in planning a novel?

Because planning a long work of fiction in particular is a very big task (not to mention that it can be potentially confusing), the best way to cope is to divide it into smaller parts. In total, there are six parts:

Theme and symbolism.

Main premise.

Characters.

Point of view.

Scenarios.

Argument.

 

4. Subject.

This is not as difficult or as confusing as it sounds. The theme is the essence of the story, the axis around which the story revolves. The theme is not something concrete, but an abstract, universal concept, something we can all understand: suffering, heroism, violence, cruelty, etc. As we see, they are all words that convey whether a positive or negative value, do not stick to a time or a given space. The theme of our history is what it is when we reduce it to a single word.

If we want to write a love story, no matter if the lovers are Romeo and Juliet, two alien made of molten lava or a toaster and a microwave, the issue of the three stories is love. To clarify a bit more the issue see what the theme in these known works:

Peter Pan, JM Barrie: childhood.

The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas: revenge.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde: narcissism.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert: adultery.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: guilt.

In conclusion, the definition of the subject is central to our planning because after all is what our novel will deal about and you will be working on this concept throughout the project.

I will end this first part with something more interesting: Star Wars, the space opera saga and culture touchstone, is acknowledged to have been inspired by many sources. So the crude simple idea behind: the good, the evil and a princess this does not sound like a masterpiece? Right? But it is an idea that has been the ingredient of many good and bad works throughout all of human history.

Producer Gary Kurtz and George Lucas both USC film school grads who met through mutual friend Francis Ford Coppola in the late 1960s, first sought to do a simple adaptation of “Flash Gordon,” the comic-strip hero who had been featured in movie serials that both filmmakers found charming. “We tried to buy the rights to ‘Flash Gordon’ from King Features but the deal would have been prohibitive,” Kurtz said. “They wanted too much money, too much control, so starting over and creating from scratch was the answer.”

Write a Novel #2

Writing a novel is an endurance sport like a marathon but well for the mind and with legal coffee doping… here the second part of writing a novel where I have outlined my thoughts so If you read this it is at your own risk…

5. The main premise.

Once you have decided the theme you will deal with the premise in your novel so you should define your personal perspective on this, your point of view. If the theme was just a word containing the essence of your novel, the premise is a phrase that states your position on the theme you choose. This is not a complex sentence, as we had seen in the ideas that originated the novel, a premise contains everything that happens in the story, but without protagonists, no scene, no dates; only the theme, conflict and conclusion. For example, if your theme is “the lie” its premise might be “lies always end up being discovered” and the story you write must comply with that premise, it will be the compass, the promise you made to your reader… But since this is a personal and subjective approach, the premise should not be (necessarily) a universal truth. It is your opinion on the subject, your thesis that you will show/explain in your novel.

Why main premise? As you might guess, in a complex tale like novels there will appear subplots and with them the secondary subjects and premises of each subtopic. The important thing here is to define our main premise, which will provide your opinion on the main theme.

6. Creation of the characters.

There are two major tasks to complete here: First, it is necessary to draw up a list of characters (Everyone, from the main character to the man who passes in Chapter 5 and ask the time) although I think that it is impossible during the planning stage to think of all the characters needed… I know that many do not exist until you start to writte, but certainly you have an idea which will be the main actors. This list of characters will start to grow and come closer to an end as the writing of the first draft progresses.

7. Decide on a point of view

You have already drawn up a list of characters and you know the most important figures in the list in an intimate and completely way. Now that they are all real to you the next step arises: Who will tell the story? You should never mix the author of the novel (you) with the narrator of it (your creation). In a fictional story the author is never the one who tells the story. If the narrator tells the story from outside of the characters you will be adopting an external point of view. In this type of view, the narrator can be:

The omniscient narrator. You have access to the external and internal world of the characters, he knows their past and their future.He is ubiquitous/omnipresent, so you can tell simultaneous events happening in distant places. He has a complete knowledge of the story and he can handle a large number of characters. He may also review the events he tells, but there is no need to always do so.

The Observer. This narrative technique creates the illusion that there are no intermediaries between the story that is told and the reader. It’s the closest thing to a movie where we can only see the actions of the external world of the characters though we will never know what they think and we will not know their emotions, or their past or their future. It’s like attending the story “live”.

The quasi omniscient narrator. It is an omniscient narrator, but limited to one of the characters. You will use the third person but tell the story from the perspective of its main character. Only access to the scenes the character sees and will only know what you what the character think and feel, not the others. If the narrator tells the story from inside of the characters (either one or more) he will be adopting an internal point of view. Here he uses the first person, see the story through the eyes of that character and we will be able to hear the thoughts. But actually there are lots of combinations that can make the game very interesting enabling us hundreds of ways of telling the same story.

8. Place and location

Once you have decided to who and how tell the story to the reader, you need to know the where and when of the story. The staging goes far beyond streets and buildings. The scenary goes far beyond streets and buildings. It is concretely the whole world that surrounds the characters. It includes things like what the characters do, a job, the weather (very important in a novel is to create atmosphere). The history of the city or the place where the characters are, folklore, habits… etc… Just as with the characters, you have to get to know the surroundings before starting to write about it. In fact, if you see the scene of a novel as a character, you can not go wrong. To do this you should do some research, collect photos, take notes in the form of short descriptions (not just visual, also of sensations, smells, touch, etc.). Internet currently leads almost anywhere and allows us to virtually walk the streets at any point on the globe. If our novel takes place today, this could be an excellent tool.

9. basic structure

Before writing our argument, we must know certain statistics that can help us a bit with the basic structure that the argument can have. In general, the novels are composed of three sections (three acts): Beginning, which covers 25% of the book, the middle 50% and the remaining 25% the end. If you consider that a typical novel has 80,000 words, the proportion of Beginning 20,000 / he middle 40.000 / the end 20.000. The begining includes the introduction to the story and the characters, it provide the status quo and creates the logical framework for the introduction of the first turning point of the plot, where the conflict that our character must resolve will be presented. A typical novel develops around 80-120 scenes or significant events. If we take the first figure and in accordance with the initial percentages, about 20 scenes shape our home. If we take the first numbers and in accordance with the initial percentages, about 20 scenes shape our beginning. The Beginning ends when the protagonist takes the decision to act. The middle, which is where the story unfolds, the action itself, will comprise about 40 scenes, around 40,000 words. Here the subplots (stories involving secondary characters will appear and they complement or operate as counterpoint to the main story).

10. The general plane Synthesis of the argument

This is a really important step, at least in terms of how long it will take. First we define: The argument is a series of events linked, in relation to a person who wants to achieve something important to him and it will not be easy to achieve. Events must adhere to the internal logic of the story and reach a satisfactory conclusion. For this, we must also understand a few more concepts, the story and plot. The story is the development of action (where our characters are involved) linear and chronologically. It is everything that happens in the novel, told from the beginning to the end in the natural order of events.The plot, however, is the way how you choose to display these events. It is the result of arranging narratively the story tha you have though. To build the plot you should take two key decisions: Select which passages are going to tell the story, because in a series of events everything is not of interest and determine in what order we will tell the selected.To the story that you choose to write it is necessary to link one or more subplots that are perfectly integrated into the main plot. You must also create intrigue by planting “signs” that will serve as reference for future events so that they will not appear out of nothing. Once you have completed the basic argument, you are ready to start writing your novel.

11. Key Scenes

A useful technique in order to start writing is to sit down and to write the key scenes of the argument. If the plot is well done, we thoroughly know the characters, scenarios and the development of the story, then we can define how many and which are the key scenes, these important, intense or emotional scenes with which you probably were already dreaming more than in one occasion while the story was brewing in your head. Starting to write from one of these hot spots will give you the excitement you need to generate pages and pages without fear of a blockade in front of a blank page. The nonconsecutive writing also sets these key points of the story as we have imagined and allows, when we begin to fill the gaps, our novel is directed exactly where we wanted at first.

12. The first draft

You had noticed that in this 15-step guide to writing a novel, the first 10 are concerned with the preparation and planning. That is quite deliberate. According to agents and publishers, most novels are rejected because of a poor elaboration. And guess what? It is much more likely to write a novel well prepared if you take the time and trouble to plan everything in some detail. I know very talented writers, illustrators and so on but they simple fail because they lack of preparation and planning and people who actually supports them. If you decide to skip the planning and jump directly to the writing, that’s fine. Most likely, however, is that the first project will end up being a structural disaster, and then you will have to apply all the techniques from the planning and structuring in the review phases. Although some people will tell you that the only truly creative part of writing a novel is the writing itself: they are wrong. In fact, taking a sheet of white paper and filling it with people, places and events, using nothing more than your imagination, is the very definition of creativity.

Some authors will tell you that writing a first draft of a novel is quite an agony. And there is some truth in this. To tell the truth it is precisely at this moment where the writer’s block can hit you.

If you have chosen and set, even written, the key scenes of your novel as we have seen in the previous step, this creative slowdown will not happen to you… Approaching it with a positive mindset, there is no reason where filling a few hundred sheets of paper with words should not be a joyful experience.

Newcomers to writing commit the biggest mistake here (I can asure it): Starting to write trying and editing at the same time (Ie, obtain a sentence on thr paper and immediately start trying to improve it). Do not do this. The first projects are simply putting the plot, no matter how terrible the quality of the prose. You will polish it in the next step.

There are two ways to write a novel, one is writing it only once directly until finishing the first draft and the second is to do it chapter by chapter and review each one before proceeding. For the second way only you have to repeat the review steps with each chapter rather than the entire novel. No matter which of the two you chose, the result should not change.

13. Review of the topic

What we will do in this step is to review what you have said. If you did a lot of planning before writing the first draft of the novel (as I recommend) you will not have too much to do here. In short, you must ensure that your novel speaks effectively the issue raised in the beginning and that this is clear to the reader.

This should also do it with each subframe, isolating it as far as possible from the main story and seeing if the theme and premise of that part of the story are understandable. Also whether the message which leaves the reading of the story fits with the premise that you have chosen to defend.

14. Cohesion, Consistency and Credibility.

The characters have the habit of getting their own life during thr writing, and that often means that what you wanted them to do ((Ie, the argument) can leave the track in some places/situations. This is actually a good thing. The change of opinion about certain minor aspects of the story, once you get to know in detail, should result in a better story. But it also means that you now need to carefully review the manuscript to find errors or inconsistencies that might have slipped in.

Cohesion is how to relate and link the different words, sentences and paragraphs of the text, so as to understand how parts of the same whole. So that it is understood as parts of the same whole. Unless a differentiation is sought on the basis of the plot, your text has to give a clear sense to integrate the novel in a fluid and natura way..

As we know, the novels have their own logic where every event has a cause and a consequence. If there are in your novel scenes, attitudes or actions of your characters that seem inexplicable, or that they do not follow the internal logic of the novel, these sections will prejudice the understanding of history. All actions, attitudes and thoughts of our protagonists have to be consistent with what has previously been written about them and so it will reach the end although it may surprise the reader, it will be a credible and logical resolution of the previous events. The verisimilitude is very close to consistency. Respecting the logic of our story, our characters must act, speak and think like what they are. Anything that contradicts their profile will subtract credibility to that character and in addition to the entire story. In the same way, if a decision ensues or action without previous cause, it will look hard to believe and this will transmit the feeling of falseness to the whole story.

15. Correction of style, grammar and spelling.

This simply means to polish the language to flow as easily as a good conversation. Or as Hemingway put it: “Getting the right words and put them in the proper order.” The best advice is simply to trust in your ear. It was a love of language and old handwritten Manuscripts that led me to write a novel in the first place, so this is the time where you need to trust your instincts.

If a phrase sounds too smart, too exaggerated, you need to tone it or directly remove it. If it sounds loose, it still needs work. But if a sentence flows effortlessly and transmits the exact idea of what it means to us, what we were looking for, do not touch it. As for the style, in my opinion, the best is a simple style that does not call attention to itself (unlike the pompous prose, which is what amateurs write when they try to sound intellectual). And the paradox is that the more simple and less elaborate you want your prose, the more you have to work at it. This is very important: Do not try to sell your novel to a publisher until you have reviewed the words over and over and over again. (And then once more for good luck.)

Conclusion

Ask a hundred writers on how to write a novel and get a hundred different answers. Everyone is unique, and everyone works in a unique way. I can tell you what had worked for me and some other writers with whom I have spoken, but if you need to adapt the prior steps to your own personal needs, that’s what you should do. I have tried to put on an simple model or an indication you can follow, you must now give it the final shape, yours. Beyond the process of writing novels, you also need to practice, practice and practice by applying those lessons to your own novel in progress. And it has to read a lot of fiction published (preferably of the same gender who is writing) so you can see examples with relative success. Studying, writing and reading, do these three things at the same time and a true virtuous circle is created. “You have to be prepared to work always without applause … no one can see what you do until you’ve reviewed it over and over again, until it has successfully communicated the emotion, images and sounds to the reader, and while you’re completing the message, the words sometimes do not make sense to you when you read them, so you will often have to re-read and re-read them. And when you finally publish the book you have started with something else, then you have everything left behind and you won’t no longer to hear about it. “Ernest Hemingway.

Your opinion and experience matters

If you have any advice or other standpoint please don’t hesitate to comment it do it also if you find any errors or if you do not understand something.

Escrito por

Founder of Lichtbild & Head of his own strange world / Vintage Enthusiast / Photographer / Graphic Designer /Typography "lover" / Book Collector / Spanish+German Mix / Lives in Coruña / Sometimes heads back home & Sleeps. /*

6 thoughts on “How to write a Novel”

    • You know the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” it is a figure of speech used in reference to a person that is competent with many skills, but spends so much time learning each new skill that he can not become an expert in any particular one. Being a generalist rather than a specialist can be helpful in many situations because you have a slightly broader view of things but it can be negative if you need a clear focus point :P Have a nice day ;D

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