Writing begins in the mind: characters, settings, plot, dialogue. Driving to work, taking a walk, even in your sleep – your book is taking shape before you ever turn on the computer or pick up a pen.
When the time comes to translate your thoughts into an actual novel, there are many methods to help you along in the process. Choosing the method that works best for you will aid in keeping your novel on track and full of steam. Below is a list of common methods for writing a novel.
Traditional Approach: outline novel by chapter and then develop scenes per chapter. Once you’ve plotted out your story, write a summary of what will happen in each chapter. Also, writing a purpose for each scene and chapter will ensure the story progresses on track. Check these options for outlining your novel.
Snowflake method: the snowflake method starts small, with a single overarching idea, and invites the writer to begin expanding the idea from that central point. Check out the ten steps of the snowflake method for details.
Three Act structure method: the three-act structure revolves around constantly creating set-ups, conflicts, and resolutions. With this structure, a novel is divided into three acts: a beginning, a middle and an end. Check here for more information.
The Five Draft method: involves writing your story in five drafts:
- Junk draft: get all ideas on paper
- Structure draft: set the flow of the story. Make sure it is cohesive and consistent.
- Rough draft: review work as a whole (chapters, scenes, sentences). See what works and what doesn’t and start editing.
- Surgery draft: Cut content down to essential message. Remove anything unnecessary and distracting. Get critical feedback/edit from others.
- Last draft: final edit and proofread. Ensure manuscript is ready for submission.
The Jigsaw: start writing the scenes (or pieces of scenes) that interest you the most to capture the initial energy of ideas. Don’t worry about connecting them until later. This method helps you avoid becoming derailed by detail by ensuring your novel revolves around your big ideas.
Chapter summaries method: take outlining one step further with more details about what will happen in each chapter. They are usually written in paragraph form and highlight the main action in each chapter. These summaries are often less rigid than an outline, and they can be especially useful for people who like to free write about their plans for each chapter.
The End to End: start at the beginning and write the entire novel in sequence. See the characterization, pacing, and logical progression of the plot as the reader does. Some novelists make just a few notes before they start writing. Then they write the whole novel, leaving blank spots if they need to do research or get stuck on a plot point. They forge through to the novel’s end like a hungry mole tunneling through the ground. Just finishing the novel is important for the writer, and then they go back, revise, and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
Whichever method you choose, don’t be afraid to use it as needed to get the most out of your novel.