by Laura Michelle Thomas
I am going to assume that if you want to know how to write a novel that you already have the seeds of a story in mind. So, if you know what you want to write about, how can you urn that seed of a story into a fully developed piece of writing that is ready to publish?
Today, I’m not going to focus on finishing your novel. Instead, I’m going to discuss some simple steps that will not only help you start the project but will also help you finish. This is hugely important for first-time novel writers. No publisher is going to take you seriously unless you have your manuscript completely finished. In short, the secret to finishing a manuscript is a solid start.
Step One: Start Writing
However big or small your story idea is, you can’t do anything with it unless you start getting words down on paper. I suggest spending at least seven straight days (at about two hours per day) just writing all your ideas down. They don’t have to be orderly. They don’t have to entirely make sense. Just sit down and start putting into words all the scene clips you have in your imagination. This step will help you develop your idea.
Step Two: Come up with a Title
It’s never too soon to develop a title. The one you choose now will probably not be the one you end up with, but it will give you an anchor and help you become conscious of your theme(s).
Step Three: Outline
You cannot write a decent novel without an outline. And, while some geniuses can simply hold their novel’s plot line easily in their imaginations as they do the grunt work of writing the story, most of us can’t. The novel is an imaginary world that is unfamiliar even to its creator, especially at this early stage of the writing process. I strongly recommend that you write out the entire story in summary paragraphs. I even more strongly recommend that you do not start writing your manuscript until you have the ending scene well developed on paper. I would confidently wager that ninety-nine percent of the manuscripts that are started before an ending is clearly articulated are never finished.
If you can get these three steps completed, then you have a good chance of finishing your manuscript. These same steps apply just as well to short story writing. Good luck!