Writing A Novel For The First Time: 10 Do’s And Don’ts

by Melissa Norman
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HOW TO WRITE A FIRST NOVEL 10 DO’S AND DON’TS

Have you been thinking to start writing a novel? When you are starting for the first time, nobody tells you how to write your first novel. It is because everyone has their own thoughts and writing procedures. Writing a novel demands focus, planning, encouragement and discipline. We will guide you with the 10 Do’s and Don’ts for writing your first novel.

THE DO’S & DON’TS

  • PLAN AND STRUCTURE YOUR BOOK AND YOUR TIME

Writing a book is a long-term project, unless you are that type of an author who churns out a book once in a week or two. If you don’t want your novel writing to drag on, plan it essentially. Planning makes sense for everything. You would know where to start, where’s the mid-point and what’s the end-point.  

First of all, decide a deadline for completing your first novel. After this, you can divide how many words you can write per day. If you have dedicated a year on your novel. Then the length of your novel can be divided with 365 days. A standard novel length is 80,000 to 100,000 words. Your word count divided per day would be 220 to 280 words per day. This makes it easy for you to write your novel without feeling stressed.  

You can also structure each of the writing session in advance so that you have a clear path ahead of you. Where it fits into the larger exposure. You have already built a story outline, develop parts of the story arc that you would work on during every session.  

  • KEEP ANY RESEARCH YOU NEED IN AN ORGANIZED ACCESSIBLE PLACE

Some books require in-depth research as compare to others. If you are writing a novel about an unfamiliar location, you can take a virtual tour on Google Street View and note down the landmarks and what are the architecture or the natural environment like.  

Another way to organize your research is to keep a master document which is like an alphabetized dictionary of your story-in-progress. Under every letter, add any relevant information. For instance, Under the alphabet “L” you could have location. Note down each of the location for your novel as your write your story and develop new ones.  

Having an overview of the individual places, themes, characters and other elements of the novel can refer back, and it will keep you focused on the information that brings your fictional world to life.  

  • WRITE EVERY DAY, WITHOUT FAIL

According to Author Steven Raichlen, “The secret to writing a novel or any book is writing. You wouldn’t turn out elegant prose every day. However, it is essential to keep cranking it out. The bad writing eventually leads to good writing a paragraph eventually added up to the pages, chapters, and a finished novel.”  

Write every day even when you don’t feel like writing at all. When you don’t feel to be in the mood to write, your writing may feel stale, forced or not even interesting for the readers. Persist and still write. You could later on read it and see if it needs a revision or transformation.  

You have to let go of this sentence if you want to accomplish writing a novel. “I don’t have time to write?” this is one of the most excuses that new author come up with. Don’t think about taking out an hour or days to write. Take our fifteen minutes every day to plan, plot and write your novel. We all grew up listening, “Practice makes you perfect.”  

  • PUT EXCUSES FOR NOT WRITING AND PUT THEM ASIDE

As humans, we are all habitual of making excuses and coming up with endless reasons about why we cannot write? “I don’t have the time” and “My writing sucks” are two of the most common. Distractions are strong but you have to come out of these distractions and write. Write down your doubts, insights, surprises, self-discovering. Do anything that helps you focus on the important task and that is to finish your book.  

  • WRITE OUR HELPFUL QUESTIONS

If you are detail-oriented, you may find yourself lost in most scenes and lose focus of how your novel would read when it’s complete. On the other hand, your focus on the whole plot arc and not on the individual characters, the motivations and scenes, your novel may meander. It is not catastrophe however you can keep a balanced perspective by making a list of useful questions to ask yourself as you write:  

  • TYPE OF HELPFUL QUESTIONS YOU WANT TO WRITE

    • Are my character different from one another? Do they have an identifiable voice and set of objectives? 
    • Am I making enough sense for the readers to smell and touch my fictional world? 
    • Am I being original enough? For sci-fic novel authors.  
    • Are the dialogue’s clear?  
    • Is my writing style understandable for my readers? 

Ensure that your story events display the cause and effects. Your characters need to be interesting. Develop intrigue and details to bring readers in. Show as much as you can without telling in a way that stops the reader’s imagination.  

  • DON’TS – CONSTANTLY CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT STORY PLOT AND START OVER.

Once you have decided about the story plot, stay focus on it. Do not change it again and again. If you keep on changing the story idea, you may feel lost about what you were writing about.  

  • DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOURSELF FOR WRITING THE NOVEL.

Most author underestimate themselves when they see a famous author. Don’t think writing a novel is something you cannot do. Practice will make you perfect. Write the way you want to and take suggestions from friends instead about the written piece at the end. Your thoughts and concepts are valuable input.  

  • DON’T DOUBT YOUR WORK

“I can’t do it,” this is something you need to stay away from. There’s nothing in this world that cannot be done. Doubt brings a lot of other concerning thoughts as well. This is why, it is important that you never doubt your work. Have the following,  

  • Motivation 
  • Discipline 
  • Focus 
  • Direction 
  • Confidence in your story 
  • MAKE IT FIT YOUR PRECONCEIVED PLOT

Sometimes, writers learn how to write their first novel. However, if the event in your novel is developed to fit a template, it could feel forced and over-caution. Come up with the main events of your novel and explain them separately. You don’t have to write them in the sequence necessarily. Combine them together at a later stage when you have a clear sense of how they would all fit together. It will ensure that no unnecessary scenes are included. 

  • TELL THE READERS ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER IN THE FIRST INTRODUCTION

When you meet someone new, they feel like a mystery to you. By the time you find details, the backstory, the core beliefs, values, likes, dislikes and details such as the favorite sayings and expressions. The same goes for the characters in a novel. Begin a character description with the details of the character’s face, feelings, beliefs, fears and wants. It can be overwhelming. It also feels less likely to leave the readers tantalized. Focus on the above dos and don’ts of writing a first book in your mind and the writing procedure would flow smoothly. 

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