If you’re like most writers, you are familiar with having a constant flow of story lines and book ideas running through your head. Taking those ideas and turning them into a novel can be quite a challenge: If you are in the middle of writing a book or ready to dive into a new novel project, then this article is definitely for you. We’ve compiled a list with our 25 favorite tips for writing a novel, hope you find them useful!
Tip 1: Use original novels within your genre as guidance
It’s been said time and again that the best writers are avid readers. Reading original novels of the same genre with your novel can help give you a solid understanding of what has and has not been ‘tried and tested’ yet. Use this knowledge as guidance to help you build an original storyline that stands out from the crowd.
Tip 2: Write what you’d want to read
When developing the idea for your novel, ask yourself, “Would I want to read this?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Try summarizing your novel in a few short sentences and read them back to yourself. If it catches your attention and makes you curious to read more, then run with that idea and get writing.
Tip 3: Develop your characters
Characters are the cornerstone of your novel and need to be fully developed. When creating the characters for your story, go deep into their personality. The most effective characters are those that are real and flawed, characters your readers can easily relate to.
Tip 4: Take your readers on a journey
People read novels to be entertained and escape into the magic of an imaginary world. When developing your plot, focus on the journey you want your readers to take. A memorable novel is one that affects your readers on an emotional level and leaves them feeling like they went through the experience together with your characters.
Tip 5: Find your inspiration
Inspiration is the lifeblood of a writer. Lack of inspiration can make translating your thoughts onto paper a tedious, frustrating process. Why do you want to tell this story? Before you begin writing, identify your reasons for creating the novel, and use this passion to engage your readers so they want to explore your novel’s ‘world’.
Tip 6: Don’t be afraid of feedback
Criticism is never easy. However, constructive feedback from people that you trust can be an invaluable tool in your writing arsenal. Just remember that one person’s opinion is just that – an opinion. Take the advice that resonates with you and leave the rest if necessary to allow you to stay true to your inspiration.
Tip 7: Draw on your own experience
Many authors find that they can be inspired by their own life experiences when developing an engaging novel. Everyone has their own unique perspective, triumphs and challenges they’ve been through in life, and you can use the emotions and knowledge gained from these to add depth and realism to your story.
Tip 8: Schedule time to write
There’s only one way to finish a novel – by sitting down and actually writing. It is easy to start a project but often hard to make time to see it through to conclusion. Avoid this pitfall by making a schedule for each day. Treat your writing like a job and keep yourself accountable for showing up.
Tip 9: Create an environment for writing
It’s tough to write with distractions all around you – whether it’s kids, your dog or a cluttered space. Create a peaceful environment by setting up a special place dedicated to your craft. When it’s time to write, you can escape there and immerse yourself in your story’s reality.
Tip 10: Take the time to pre-write
Pre-writing may be tedious, but it is essential when writing a novel. Without an outline, you can easily get lost while telling your story and wind up frustrated. While doing your pre-writing, create detailed outlines for your characters, setting and plot and develop a plan on how your story will progress from the beginning all the way to the end.
Tip 11: Resist editing your first draft
A common mistake that new novel writers make is revising their work as they go. Take it from us – just don’t do it! The only purpose of your first draft is to get all of your thoughts out on paper. There will be plenty of time for revising and editing down the road and rereading your first draft before completion can only lead to self-doubt and impede the process.
Tip 12: Don’t give into doubt
Even the best writer can struggle with doubt when writing a novel. Creating a story involves putting part of yourself onto paper, and it can be hard to silence your inner critic during the process. Trust in your talent, and let your work speak for itself. You never know how your story will reach out and touch others.
Tip 13: Avoid clichés
Every genre has stereotypical clichés – from the rescued damsel in fantasy books to the classic rags-to-riches tale. Understanding the clichés of your novel’s genre can be a valuable tool in avoiding the trap of rewriting the same old storyline. When developing your plot, consider the different ways that you can break out of the cliché mould.
Tip 14: Add depth with subplots
Your novel should have a driving plot line that carries your characters through their journey, but subplots can be useful tools to add depth. While you do need to be careful about adding too many plots, consider weaving a few solid subplots into your novel that add value.
Tip 15: Surprise your reader
Readers love a good surprise and you have full control of where your story will take them on their literary adventure. Readers of a specific genre usually have a set expectation for how your story will play out. Surprise them by creating a truly original storyline that defies these preconceptions.
Tip 16: Have a daily word goal
Having a writing schedule is essential for finishing your novel but you can keep yourself even more accountable by setting a goal for each of your writing sessions. Whether you have a weekly word count goal or plan to write a minimum number of words before ending your daily session, setting this goal will motivate you to keep moving forward.
Tip 17: When in the early writing stages, don’t worry about publishing
If you are writing your novel with the sole goal of publishing, then you are setting the stage for self-doubt and frustration. Every author hopes to get their work published but that shouldn’t be the focus in the early writing stages. When writing your first draft, focus instead on your inspiration. Tell your story simply because it needs to be told.
Tip 18: Avoid being too wordy
Subplots and detailed descriptions can add an element of depth to your storyline, but it is also easy to get carried away. As you are writing a scene, ask yourself if it adds to the development of a character or the plot. If not, leave it be and refocus on adding scenes that drive your storyline forward.
Tip 19: Keep a steady pace
Readers can quickly become frustrated with a novel that moves too slowly and creating a steady pace throughout your novel is necessary to engage your audience. Use your pre-writing guide to help you stay on track and keep things interesting for your reader by giving your characters experiences that allow them to evolve.
Tip 20: Focus on depth
A common writing pitfall is focusing on the length of your story instead of its depth. If your characters are thrown right into action, the reader can be left wondering why and how they got there in the first place. Provide enough backstory and emotional development to cause your audience to connect with your characters on a deeper level.
Tip 21: Don’t force it
Writer’s block is a real thing and we’ve all been there. When a story simply doesn’t want to be told, don’t let the frustration of a stagnant moment get you down. Forcing a story when you’re stuck will show through your words, and it is best in these situations to just walk away for the day and come back later.
Tip 22: Throw in a good plot twist
Just as readers enjoy being surprised when an author deviates away from genre preconceptions, a good plot twist is a highly effective tool when used correctly. Before you even begin writing your first draft, consider how you can lead your characters (and your readers) to an unexpected outcome.
Tip 23: Keep it believable
Whether you are writing a mystery, romance or epic fantasy tale, your story must remain believable. Yes – even if your tale involves fairies, the supernatural, or extraterrestrial events. Regardless of your storyline, having characters with real flaws, ambition, and conflict can make any situation seem relatable to your reader.
Tip 24: Don’t forget to schedule breaks
Keeping a writing schedule is the key to finishing a novel, but that doesn’t mean that you have to take it to the extreme! Make sure that you schedule time for breaks from your work. Becoming burned out on your writing can lead to writers’ block or cause you to lose sight of your initial inspiration.
Tip 25: Last but not least – don’t give up!
Although all of the above tips are important, there is one thing you must always remember – never give up! Your story deserves to be told and you are the only one that can turn your unique perspective into a novel. Writing a book is a transformative process for the author as much as their future reader, and fighting through to the very end is a great accomplishment.
That’s all from us!
Best of luck with writing your novel and if you decide to share it on Inkitt, we’re looking forward to seeing it live.
If you have any questions or need help submitting your novel on Inkitt, drop as a line at [email protected], we’re more than happy to help!