top of page

8 Steps To Writing A Novel

Over the last few weeks I have been writing about the writing process and this week I thought I would share with you 8 STEPS on how to write a novel from start to finish.

1) The Idea.

I love the Iris Murdoch quote - ‘Every Novel Is The Wreck Of The Perfect Idea.’

As a writer I find my mind buzzing with ideas that would make a great story and quite often, after a little research, I often discover that no one else has written about it. When you think of JK Rowling and the idea for Harry Potter being born, on a train journey from London to Edinburgh when a group of young students were travelling to boarding school, in that moment she must have known that something amazing was being born through her genius creativity. Ideas are everywhere and unlimited. So, take time to find the idea and allow it to breathe into life inside your mind until it becomes part of you.

2) Hard Graft.

If you want to be writer you must make it a priority. You cannot be all things to all people, so trim back anything that is going to waste your time. This process of writing a book is going to require around a thousand hours of your sole concentration. When I write, or am even researching for a book, I do so in my study with no music, no phone and no distractions. I have set times in which I write, and nothing else will take that place or time from me. I have one job and that is to create a book that people will want to read.

3) The First Draft.

One letter, one word, one sentence, one paragraph and one chapter at a time. Writing the first draft of your novel can be exciting, daunting and it can leave you wondering if you are writing something worth while. Trust yourself. If you believe in your idea, keep striving to write that first draft. It will take months and it will be littered with thousands of mistakes but you have to get it written. If I can give one hint, don’t end your day with a completed chapter, stop before you end it so that come the morning you can go straight back in where you left off - this will help the creative process flow more naturally. Then you will find yourself coming to that day when you will have completed the book and that is a major accomplishment in itself.

4) The 1st Editorial Read.

Once I have finished the first draft I read it twice. The first read I do with a highlighter in my hand and that is a quick read in which I find glaring mistakes and mark them, then I go back to the computer and correct them before printing another copy of the draft. The second read is undertaken at a much slower pace and I read it with a ruler and red pen, looking for more grammatical mistakes and spelling errors, then I go back to the computer to correct and print out a polished first draft.

5) Walk Away From The Book.

Having spent months on the first draft you need a break, maybe even a holiday. I always leave my first draft alone, locked in a cupboard and out of sight for a month. Your mind needs to become detached so that you are ready for the most important part of the writing process which has yet to come.

6) Your Trusted Reader.

When you return to your book, find one person who will read your book for you and provide you with honest and detailed feedback. You don’t want someone who will read it and pat you on the back and say, ‘well done’. You want someone who is going to be objective, critical and will give you food for thought. Every professional writer has a professional editor. A professional editor does not rewrite the script for the author, that is the author’s job. A professional editor advises on character, plot and general flow of a story. If you are just starting out and cannot afford to pay an editor, look for someone you know who will have the intelligence, the time and the openness to read your work and be honest with you. This process can be brilliant and so rewarding, especially if you are open to constructive criticism, because you will now begin to see things from a completely different view point and this will make your book even better.

7) The Editing Process.

There is a lot of advice on line about this - from my point of view, this is the process which breathes life into what you have created. You are going to find yourself cutting chunks out of your book, maybe even rewriting a few chapters or even creating new characters within the story. The editing process is not about checking for spelling mistakes, it’s about being open with the potential of your story and to bring it to a place where you will feel that the story had reached its full potential. Be like a diamond cutter, see the potential and think carefully before you make a cut.

8) Knowing When To Stop.

There comes a time when you have to let the book go and let readers own the story. Don’t be afraid. As long as you have haven’t rushed the creative process, your creativity will have given birth to something that will live in the minds of people you will never meet … and for me that is the magic for being a writer.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page