What is a novel? It is nothing else but an invented story of considerable length that deals imaginatively with human experience. Usually through a connected sequence of events. Writing it requires mostly a good imagination.
Here are 7 tips on how to write a novel:
1. Write a story you would love to read. Do not think about it as a future best seller or something that would make your great aunt Mary proud. Try to think about all the books you’ve read. Select those that made you lose yourself in it. If most of them are mysteries then I wouldn’t recommend trying to write a classic literary novel or an historical romance. Start with a list of your obsessions and things that make you gasp every time you think about them. It doesn’t have to be a specific genre though. You might love a book based on a type of story, certain voice, or even favorite characters. The secret is to write what you love.
2. There are no specific rules on how to start a story but I would suggest with creating a character. It doesn’t have to be flawless, make it real. Your main character needs to live. Give it freedom and let it guide you and take your story in different directions. If you make it flat and boring your audience won’t be curious about what’s going to happen next. You need to get to know him or her and the best way to do so is to ask him/her to tell you some secrets. Sit down, relax, and start writing as if you were the character you’ve been trying to create.
3. Give your character an interesting problem. Think of something that is going to challenge it chapter by chapter. It has to be a real struggle because that exact problem is going to define and make your character believable. After all, an interesting dilemma is the heart of good novels.
4. Keep the story going. You can create the best characters in the world and have some unique story structures but if nothing is really happening it’s already a fail. Make sure something important happens in every chapter. And if you see that one chapter stayed flat and irrelevant, cut it! Who cares about a great chapter if nothing vital to your plot happens. There are many articles explaining how to outline a novel that you can read and learn from. My advice? Figure your own way. While editing, go chapter by chapter and give it a one world description on your notes. Then get your notes out and see if the story is moving forward. That way you can also see if there are enough twists and turns to keep it interesting.
5. Make it real. I know, I know if you imagine about a story with vampires and fairies in it you might immediately think of how real and believable can it be. Well, it doesn’t have to be believable in our world, but it has to be real in the universe of the book.
6. Stick with your original project. The art of writing is not easy and you’ll be thinking about giving up a lot. Don’t. Make an effort and finish the story. When you have you story, work even more on improving it. Once you feel it’s ready to be publish send it to an agent. Don’t expect it to be published right away, it will probably be rejected a lot. The key is to keep sending it out and in the meantime write another story.
7. Finally… ignore the rules. Including the ones you’ve just read. Everyone’s got plenty of advices on what to write or what is the best novel format. There are also people who will tell you what parts of a novel you should keep or cut and what your character should look like. Well, don’t listen to them. It is your story so make your own rules and enjoy your time.