I wish I could say there were step-by-step directions to writing a novel but there aren’t really. I mean authors can give you ideas about how they do it but not every method works for everyone. We have authors that plan every last detail out and others who just get in there and start writing (which is typically followed by a whole lot of rewriting).
I will say that I believe you need to do some planning before you write the first word, but I by no means am in the group that plans out everything.
Here are a few things I think need to be done before you begin writing.
- Story Idea – The first thing you need to do is be sure you have a good idea for a novel, one that can be carried out for 50,000 to 80,000 words. You should know what the problem is and how the protagonist will overcome it.
- Characters – You also need to fully develop your main characters. This means going beyond their physical description to understand what makes them tick. You need to know their history.
- Setting/World Building – You also need to know where your story takes place. And not just a general idea but as with characters, you should know where everything is (streets, stores, character’s home and work locations) and a general sense of time to travel to each location. If you are creating a fantasy world, then you also have to take into consideration magic, technology, religion and a whole other bunch of things.
Knowing these things before you begin writing will certainly cut back on the amount of rewriting you will have to do when you get to your second, third and fourth drafts. Yes, there will be many drafts of your book before it reaches completion.
In addition to the above, you will also need dedication and determination to write a novel. It is not easy to write and publish a novel. You not only have to think of a good idea, you have to write it, re-write section (or perhaps all of it), edit it, then edit it some more and finally proof it for grammar and spelling. All of this takes a lot of time. You have to be determined to see it to the end and not be discouraged as you work through the process.
Then you need to decide if you are going the traditional publishing route with an agent and publishing house or if you will self-publish. Each has its own challenges. But publishing a novel is a whole different area that you don’t even have to worry about until you have actually written your novel.
So you can see why many would-be authors never make it to the end. It takes a lot of work to actually produce a book.