Friday, January 31, 2014

So You Want To Write a Novel...

I believe I promised a few days ago that I would provide some information to those of you out there who want to write a novel but don't know where to begin. We all have to begin somewhere, and lots of times it starts with what I like to refer to as "The Idea".

The Idea: Have you ever had a dream that felt incredibly real? Or maybe a dream you wished you'd never wake from? Amazingly enough, a good dream can be a gateway to a great novel. Just ask Stephanie Meyers who dreamed about Twilight--we all know what happened after that (um, can you say bestselling author?)

So maybe you never remember your dreams, but maybe you've had an experience in your life or you've heard a real life story that touched you to the core. Use that experience or story and channel your inner creativity.

If you want more ideas on how to create the perfect idea for your next novel, check out this website which has great tips and brainstorm ideas:  How To Write A Book Now

Choose Your Genre: At some point you need to decide what type of novel you want to write. Are you a hopeless romantic and read everything Harlequin puts out? Or are you an action/adventure reader with a love for the thrill of the chase? Or do you dream of Sci-Fi and Fantasy? Maybe you'd like to write a Young Adult (YA) novel or a Middle Grade novel similar in style to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Choose the genre that appeals to you most and go with it.

Brainstorm: You will be creating an idea, a story that you want others to continue to think about, long after they've read the last page, and you want to write something you won't become bored with as well. How do you do that? First, choose your characters wisely. Who is your protagonist? What is the conflict in your story? What's at stake for the main character? How will the conflict be resolved? If you can brainstorm and figure all this out BEFORE you start writing, you will be better off in the long run.

Just Write: Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. You have to put aside time everyday and just do it. Maybe it's only an hour or two, but you make a plan that you will write everyday for that amount of time and you stick with it. You're probably thinking, "but what if I have writers block?" I don't care if you have writer's block, you still need to write something. It may be crappy, but it's better than a blank page staring back at you.

If you want to feel inspired, every November is NaNoWriMo which stands for National Novel Writing Month. Thousands of people all over the country try to write 50,000 words (basically a novel) in one month. If you sign up (it's free) online, you receive newsletters and pep talks from authors and other writers who are trudging through their word counts. It is somewhat exhilarating to know that you along with hundreds of thousands of other people are all working towards the same goal. You write. And you write a lot. Something to consider for next November.

Attend Conferences: In order to improve your craft and make yourself a better writer, I would highly recommend attending writing conferences. A conference might be able to teach you crucial skills like "telling" versus "showing", how to create natural dialogue, or how to cut your manuscript for pace. Once you've chosen your genre, it also helps to find conferences that are specific to that genre. A quick search on the internet should provide you with that information.

Critique Groups: Once you get well on your way into your novel, I would recommend a critique group (or a critique friend). It helps to have another pair of eyes look over your manuscript. They can point out gaps in your story, places that need tightening, places that the dialogue feels scripted, etc.

Contests: Once your novel is complete (and revised several times), you will want to share it with the world. But before you start knocking down the agent doors with your awesome query (more to come in later posts about queries), you might want to consider entering online contests. Amazon has one every year, and those that make it to the final round have the opportunity to have their manuscript judged by editors. This is great because it gives you a chance to receive valuable feedback from those who are in "the business."

There are other contests that are geared towards the genre of your novel. As a writer of romance, I am keenly interested in any contests that are specifically for unpublished romance writers. I hone in on those and plan to enter, with the hope that my first 25 pages will be good enough to make it through the first round of judges and have an agent see it and make a request for a full manuscript. Okay, so maybe I'm living in a dreamworld, but it happens!

Good luck to those of you attempting to write a novel! Just remember, believe in yourself and you can do great things! Happy Writing!

Any other writers out there have tips for the newbies?


  1. Great advice Krisin! Even for people who have been writing a while. We need to remember to keep it simple, get back to the basics. Grab an idea, sit down and write!

    1. I owe most of this advice to you--my mentor!! : )


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