How Do You Write A Novel?

It’s daunting, turning nothing into something, but it’s also exciting. So how do you do it? How do you write a book?

There are many different ways but they all boil down to same thing: write words, those words form sentences and then paragraphs and then chapters and then, finally, a novel.

Some write their main scenes, the ones they know are going to have the most impact on the story and then they find a way to connect each of these scenes with linking, expository action and dialogue.

Some plot out every little detail of their story before they begin, writing extensive character histories for each character and detailing every beat of the story, creating a sort of blueprint before they get down to the business of writing.

Some start at the end and write their final scene or final chapter before going back to the start and finding a way to direct their characters and the story to that end point.

Some get an idea and just start writing.

I think all of these techniques have their merits and I suggest that when it comes to writing your story – do whatever comes naturally to you. No one can tell you that the way you write is wrong. If it works for you then do it your way.

Personally I’ve tried plotting, I’ve tried planning, I’ve tried coming up with a killer ending and then going back to the start, and none of them worked for me. I’m a ‘just start writing’ writer. I get an idea and I just run with it. It usually makes for a very slow start to each new project I work on.

My “process” – if you can call it that – usually goes something like this: I get an idea and I start to write, it goes very slowly, maybe only 500 words a day for about five days. I realise that it’s not working and I delete the whole thing and start again, this time I find the voice of the character but it’s the wrong starting point, I delete it again after about 3000 words. i start again, this time the character is right and the starting point is right and I maybe get 5000 words in before realising that THIS is the real starting point and I delete it and start again. The first 5-10,000 words are slow and then I pick up pace, by the time I’m at 20,000 words I’m writing 2-4000 words a day and my characters and story are playing in my head 90% of the day, new ideas and twists and turns are coming to me all the time, I’m constantly writing notes on scraps of paper or frantically typing them into my phone. This is my favourite part of writing – when I’m surprised and amazed by the story that I’m telling, it’s addictive, it’s fun, it’s not work it’s play, and it’s amazing.

Your process will probably be different but if when you hit that point where you cannot wait to get back to writing the story you won’t worry about how to write a novel – the thing will be writing itself and you’ll just be enjoying the ride.


@bejamin0liver (the O is a zero)


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