How to write a novel – tips for getting started

1. Always carry a notebook

Carry a notebook everywhere and write down everything that springs to mind, even if it doesn’t seem relevant at the time. You can do a lot with a passing thought or a little bit of overheard dialogue.
Get into the habit of looking at life like a writer and writing it all down. Don’t worry about what it is going to be yet, just write it down as a habit. Because then, when you do have your big idea and want to write a book, you’ll already be used to that process and have material to work with.

2. Think ‘what if?’ and read

Start to see the world in a “what if” way and keep your possibilities for a story. Teach yourself to take a little substance and extrapolate out into something else, have fun with it and see the potential.
It can seem tiny and insignificant but if you can sense the grain of a story there and keep your mind open to those possibilities, you will constantly come up with new ideas. Reading is vital if you want to be a writer, it’s essential.

3. Write the book that you want to read

People often think that they should write to please someone else, whether it is to please the audience, or critics, or a readership. What you can do, is think if you were a reader, what would you want to read? One way to visualise that is to go into a shop and imagine the book that would make you want to grab it off the shelf.
The chances are that if you would grab it off the shelf and be excited to read it. then other people would too. So always start with yourself, write something that will please you.

4. Just get to the end

It’s the hardest thing and it’s the most important thing because so many of us have ideas for books. The first stage is to actually write it instead of just talking about it, and the next stage is to keep going until you get to the end.
The truth is, every book is hard to write, everybody reaches a wall, whether it is a plot hole or a scene that you can’t get past. So, you’ve just got to get to the end. Even if it’s not the greatest draft, if it needs rewriting fine, at least you have a book to rewrite.

5. Plan your books

The truth is you can plan and plan but during the story, something will change, that’s just the way it is. But starting off with structure and a beginning, a middle and an end is vital.
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