5 Things To Remember While Writing A Novel

5 Things To Remember While Writing A Novel


If you’re writing a book, there are a few things to keep in mind. In this post, we look at five things to remember while writing a novel.

5 Things To Remember While Writing A Novel

Writing a novel is a time-consuming activity that brings most writers to their knees. So, before you start, there are five things you should check to ensure success.

1. Idea – You’re One Of A Million, So Be The Best

Having a great idea isn’t everything. Ideas, good and bad, bounce from author to author at an alarming rate.

They even show up in several places at once.

You don’t always need to come up with an original concept, but if your idea is stale, your writing needs to be exciting.

There are thousands of detective stories and hundreds of tales of elves and dark lords. You can write one and why not? But it must be better than or as good as the hundreds of others out there.

You need to write well. You need to be confident in your writing voice, which means many hours of writing practice.

(On the other hand, you can get away with a little more sloppy writing and a plot hole or two if you have a genuinely new idea.)

2. Time – You Probably Need More

Writing a book takes about three to four months of writing and editing – if you work eight hours a day every day.

Some successful authors have had to get up at 4 a.m. to write before they go to work.

Of course you could take more time, but people lose interest in a long project very quickly and writing about the same topic grows stale.

Writing is also a habit you need reinforce. If you can’t keep a schedule, or don’t have the time to write, you will need to reorder your life to make it possible.

Suggested reading: The Daily Word Counts Of 39 Famous Authors

3. Plan – Plots With Plans Get Published

People who can write a book without a plan (plansters) are few and far between. Sometimes, things just work out but more often than not everything that can go wrong will go wrong.

  1. If you write in a journal, be sure not to leave it in another country just before a global pandemic cuts off air travel. (This is a purely hypothetical example that is not personal in any way.)
  2. Make back-ups every day onto a cloud storage system if you writing on a PC.
  3. But, before you write one word plan how your story ends. The first chapter you write should be the last chapter. You should know if a character lives or dies and you must know how the story ends.

You could just write the whole book first and then edit it to make sense later. Many people do this and it works for them.

The trouble is that you won’t know if the book is any good until you have written the whole thing. If it’s not worth writing that should come up in planning and plotting not as a third draft.

Suggested reading: What Is A Plot?

4. Audience – Know Your Genre And Readers

People say you should just write for yourself. Those people should keep a diary.

You need to know your audience as well as you know yourself.

If you are writing science fiction or children’s fiction, and you have never read those genres you are dooming yourself to failure.

Your genre will direct everything about your book from its tone to its terms. And, each fan of this genre expects you to be respectful of the things they love. Without this respect, you end up with dud books, and sometimes billion dollar movies that nobody went to see.

You need to know what your audience will appreciate and what will annoy them. Try attending fares and conventions to see what the people who read these stories are actually like.

For example:

  1. Young adults in general don’t read literary fiction so you need to keep the story punchy and exiting.
  2. American audiences want stories to wrap up neatly ,while British audience like stories that end in ambiguous ways. You often see extra chapters in the American version of British books.
  3. If you write for children there will be words that are too complicated or too adult to use. You will need to work within the limitations of each genre. But, limitations and flaws are what make life, books, and characters interesting. So, don’t see them as a downside, but as more of a feature.

You should always write something you would enjoy reading – as long as a few other people want to read it as well.

5. Editing – Don’t Put It Off

If you are halfway through the book and you suddenly have a great idea of how to make it better, don’t finish writing it. Change what you need to change. Adjust your plan and fix your plot. Then continue with your improved story.

Changing something after the first draft is a nightmare. It is also the point you are most likely to give up on the project.

Breaking editing up into manageable chunks makes the process quick and, if not pleasant, at least tolerable.

Remember, your final draft is only done when you are happy with the story. Everything beyond that is fixing spelling and trying to sell the book.

Of course, editors will often ask for big changes and you must listen to their advice. But, you should never submit a book you are not happy with yourself.

Written by Christopher Luke Dean (One page-turner at a time.)

Christopher writes and facilitates for Writers Write. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisLukeDean

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. Your Book: What To Cut & What To Keep
  2. 10 Mantras To Make You Grow As A Writer
  3. The Greatest Fictional World Builders: Frank Herbert
  4. Finding A Role For Fictional Fathers
  5. Describing Food In Fiction
  6. The Most Common Grammar Mistakes English Learners Make
  7. 3 Common Mistakes English Learners Make & How To Fix Them
  8. The 2 Types Of Science Fiction Plots & How To Write Them
  9. 5 Great Characters From Terry Pratchett
  10. The Greatest Fictional World Builders: George Lucas

TOP TIP: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course.