On the surface, writing your first novel can seem to be all about following your creative flow. But not having a plan can quickly send any writing project astray.
According to research completed by Google, there are over 100 million unique titles published today. For every one of these, there are many that never see completion. Will your novel join the 100 million? It can, if you take the right steps.
Let’s explore 5 important steps to getting from first sentence to proudly finishing your first novel.
Whether it’s an eBook or print, 90% of formatting happens before you put your first paragraph on the page.
It may be okay to tab and space as you go in a casual document. But you don’t want to do that in a full length novel.
Ebook publishers and traditional publishers won’t accept it. They’ll have you go through the entire document, deleting the extra tabs and spaces one by one before you reformat the document correctly. This will take hours or around $200 if you pay someone.
Choose between block paragraph and indented. Then set up the formatting in your word processor before you start.
Book formatting is very easy when you do it first.
Envision Your Target Reader
You probably already have a story in mind. Now, it’s time to imagine, not only your story, but also your target reader.
Create a reader persona. What does this person care about? What gets him/her excited? What will make this person happy or sad? What emotions will they feel when they see your ebook mockup on your website?
You’ll need this clear image of your reader to create a compelling story that not only makes you happy, but also the many readers you hope will get hooked on your work.
Block Off Your Time
Don’t set a rigid schedule. Creativity doesn’t work well on a schedule. But you’ll quickly find out that once you get in the zone, the urge to keep writing will overwhelm you.
Setting aside large blocks of time when family and friends know not to bother you will allow you to stay in this zone longer, so you can complete your work faster.
Develop Dynamic Characters
Novels are often character driven. Think back to your target reader. Why should they care about this person and hate this other person?
Create a character sketch for all the important characters, including the “bad guy” if you have one.
- What do they love, hate and fear?
- What motivates? Why does the hero want to wear the crown? Is that mean girl just mean or is there something behind it?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What are their personalities like?
As you write your novel, look back on your character sketch to decide how each person will react to various obstacles, opportunities or situations.
If something isn’t working, let it go. Some persistence is important. But if it’s not working for you, the reader will feel it.
If you can’t stand to delete, cut it and save into a “scraps” document. You can go back for it later if you need it. But you very rarely will.
Time to Get Started!
You’ll never finish if you never start. Get that first paragraph on the page and then let it flow from there. You know what you want to write. It’s just about following through and getting it done. Put in the work, and we’ll be on the lookout for your first novel.