Writing a novel step by step
Get my monthly writing and publishing tips delivered to your inbox. The first thing you need to know about writing a novel is ztep there are no easy answers. Every novel demands its own structure, its own pace, its own way of looking at the world. Outlines are good, unless they are bad.
The nice thing about an outline is writing a novel step by step it gives you a direction. For the first fifty pages, at least, work without an outline. See where the story is beginning to take you. Need help with this? Try The Paperclip Method http: Setting encompasses not only place, but also time. Where does your novel happen, and when? When I began writing The Year of FogI knew that this book could happen only one place: And I knew the story of a child disappearing into the fog must begin on Ocean Beach, where the summer fog is so dense, you can see only a few feet in front of you.
When you consider the setting of your novel, be as specific as possible. If it begins in a city, what part of the city? Why does the story happen here? Who is telling the story, from what distance? Do you have a first-person narrator who is at the center of the action, an omniscient narrator who is able to go into the thoughts of any character at any time, a limited third person narration that sticks here to one character? We understand his motivations from his own point of noevl, and, as a result, actions that might otherwise seem reprehensible begin to make sense to us.
There has to be someone at the center of the action. Generally, this will be someone your reader ends up rooting for, no matter how flawed the character may be. And he or she must be flawed in order to be realistic. Emma Bovary is deeply flawed, but in the end, we care what happens to her as she hurtles toward self-destruction. Every great novel is character-driven; your protagonist must be a character worth caring about.
Not everything has to be a full-fledged chapter in the early stages of novel-writing.
Writing step by step a novel releases
If you have a scene in your head that you know you want to write, go for it. But if you read article down at your computer and feel flustered and uncertain, allow yourself the freedom to think in small bits. You can piece your novel together later. For now, get some stuff on the page.
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Try a workbook like Novel Starter: Every story begins with conflict. In Gone Girl, a woman goes writingg in the first chapter, and her husband appears to be implicated in her disappearance.
My latest novel, Golden Stateopens with a hostage crisis at the VA hospital in San Francisco. Make the reader understand, somewhere within the first 10 pages, why this story is being told. What is at risk in the story?
What does your protagonist stand to lose or gain? What does he or setp want, and why is it important? The stakes must be clear if you want the writinh to care. Often, there will be more than one thing at stake, more than one big risk.
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The stakes are both personal and public. Remember, your characters do not exist in a vacuum; their lives play out against a larger backdrop. They are part of the wider world. In the spirit of discovery, allow one character to work in a field about which you know very little, or writing a novel step by step some element of the plot, or a subplot, to delve into something you find unusual.
Why not make her a welder instead? Then go online and research welding.
Take a welder out for beer. Write five paragraphs that can be sprinkled throughout your novel that embrace the lingo and shep of welding.
I call these breathers, and I go into depth on the sriting in The Paperclip Method: The No Outline Novel Workbook. When I was writing No One You KnowI had a character who was a math prodigy. Math was always my worst subject in school, and even in adult life, my limitations in mathematics have ny something of an albatross.
But the book required me to stretch myself, and I ended up writing in depth about The Goldbach Conjecture, a mathematical mystery that has remained unsolved for hundreds of years. I learned a great deal not only about that one math problem, but about the world of mathematics and the personalities that populate it. Not for the completion of the novel, but for the first fifty pages. Visit web page a second deadline, far enough in the future, for the completion of the second fifty pages.
Be kind to yourself and set yourself up for success by setting realistic deadlines. But hold your horses. Give yourself some time to get your own vision onto the page before other visions interject. Many novels are written by collaboration, but most are not written by committee. Michelle Richmond is the author of four novels and two story collections, including Golden State and the New York Times bestseller The Year of Fog. She is the founder of Stwp Attic Press. Her new novel is forthcoming in 27 languages. Did you find this article helpful? Follow The Caffeinated Writer.
I qriting this process for writing my novels, and I hope it will help you. Because it's actually composed of several smaller ideas — more specifically, ideas covering the four elements of a story Some writers make that excuse for not reading. Why lessen your chances? Read as much as you can, but not just the established writers, such as Danielle Steel or Stephen King.