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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to Get Started Writing a Novel

How to Get Started Writing a Novel

Writing a novel is a dream for many people. There are many reasons to write a novel. You feel that you have a creative gift that burns inside of you and you want to share it with the world. It is a great form of catharsis in which you can channel your emotions onto the pages of book. It's a way to take your mind away from your everyday troubles. Or you have the belief that you can make a financial living off of your writing talents.
The number of people saying they dream of writing a novel far outnumber the people who have actually accomplished this feat. Writing a novel is not as easy and straightforward of a task as it seems.  It is helpful to follow some basic guidelines for helping you get started writing your novel.
If you are interested in educational opportunities to help you develop your writing skills, see

Writing Guidelines

  • Be inspired: Inspiration is the the fuel and fire that powers your writing. Contemplate people, events, and elements from your own life that are memorable or you have an emotional connection with, such as romantic and family relationships, personal milestones, spirituality, successes and failures, and sweeping life changes. Do things that you are you passionate about. Travel locally or internationally to give you source material for inclusion in your novel. There is no better place to write from than your personal life experiences.
  • Read:  One of best ways to learn to write your own novel is to read other novels, particularly novels with a similar style or storyline. It is also helpful to read book reviews at such outlets as the New York Times and Amazon or reading "how-to" writing books for gaining an understanding of what it takes to be an effective writer.
  • Have a writing schedule: It is helpful to have a consistent time that you write for the sake of maintaining momentum in your writing. Try to keep all outside distractions to a minimum. It is also helpful to have a consistent writing location such as a home office that is separate from your normal living space. Try to keep your schedule, but don't be too hard on yourself if you don't meet expectations for a particular time period.
  • Choose a setting: This is the foundation that the entire novel rests on, and it is usually equal in importance to the characters and storyline. Factor in both the place and time. Have an understanding of how the setting shapes the characters. Spend time to thoroughly research the locations that you include in your setting, and include as much detail as possible.   
  • Develop the storyline: Decide on what the novel is going to be about. A romantic year in Paris? An exotic train journey in India? Once you zero in on the central idea of the novel, you can write the plot, which contains three sections: a beginning, middle, and end, with some element of conflict and resolution. If you have trouble coming up with ideas for the storyline, there are many types of authoring software that are helpful.
  • Create the characters:  The characters are the glue that hold the plot together. While not always the case, there is usually a main protagonist, or someone with predominantly good qualities, and an antagonist, someone will predominantly bad qualities. It is helpful to write a list of each character's features, such as age, appearance, personality traits, profession, and personal history. Try not to make the protagonist too perfect or the antagonist completely evil. Everyone is a mixed bag of qualities and you want make to make the characters believable.
  • Make sure to take breaks: Writing a novel takes much concentration. It is easy to get burnt out or get writer's block if you sit and write for too long. Try to get up and walk around or do some outside activity in between your writing sessions. This not only keeps you fresh for your writing, but it is also beneficial for your mental and physical health as well.
  • Formal Education: It could be helpful to enroll in a formal creative writing degree program to help you hone your writing skills.  For more information, see MFA Degree.



  1. This is a great post. I have always loved reading, but never thought much about writing. I started writing last year, but then it just didn't work for me. Hopefully I can get back to it sometime.

  2. R U writing a book?! I'm starting... gonna post about it today. I think this is 3rd draft, but I've never connected all the pieces, so maybe first?! Fun post!!


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