Do you think you can write? If so, are you willing to get through the hellish process in writing a novel…or not?
Let’s face it.
Writing lengthy literature, a novel, isn’t something everybody does. It takes a lot of guts and commitment to start and end it without distractions. Even I, for years of writing lengthy stories on Wattpad, can testify it’s not someone’s cup of tea.
Now, you’re here because you want to know the process of writing a novel and begin your lifelong writing endeavor this year. Alright, I’ll get you through the whole thing in a lengthy process + FREE downloadable outline as a “Planning A Book Template.”
Are you ready? Let’s get started. Shall we?
What Are The Process In Writing A Novel?
Keep in mind that authors don’t have the same strategy when it comes to the early stages of novel-writing.
There are others simply sit in a coffee shop and gather as many ideas and information first before they start writing. There are some who prefer interviewing people or observe real-life situations to get started. In my case, I prefer listening to music to get the feel of the book.
Step 1: Activate Your Senses & Be Observant.
The point is, the first thing you need to do is to activate your senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. You have to be more observant than ever and gather as many ideas you could and record them in your pocket notebook or your phone.
There are 61 ways you can do to find your next novel inspirations. I compiled them based on personal experience and other writers’ anecdotes. You can check it out here and see which of these work for you the best.
Once you get the concept for your book, the next thing you do is to create a premise. This is where you consider the conflict, the main characters (both protagonist and antagonist, including the minor characters), settings, and goals.
Step 2: Build Your Premise.
This is very important when writing your story. As a writer, you need to be aware of where your story starts and heads in the long run. Crafting a premise is like creating a blueprint of your whole novel. You need to see the overall picture of your story before you begin.
Of course, when you write the story, there will be inevitable changes in between. But, the premise isn’t. Your conflict and your characters’ goals remain except how you go write the scenes to reach these goals change. Not the blueprint itself.
How do you write a premise?
Step 1: Know your “when” clause to begin a clear description of your main character.
Step 2: To create tension, add another character to highlight the purposeful intention of your main character. It can also be implied to step 3.
Step 3: You can add the word “until” to introduce the conflict.
Step 4: Add “leading to” to have a gist of the main character’s’ goal or to a situation where you want the story to head.
Step 5: Combine all the elements.
You see from the combined elements from step 1 to 4, you notice the main characters – both the protagonists and antagonist, the conflict, the setting (implied, modern times and in the corporate workplace), and the goal (implied, obviously to be released from the curse).
As a writer, you see the overall view of your story. By the way, this is the premise of my story “Titan’s Curse.” Don’t copy. Write your own. Haha! 😀
Step 3: Define Your Characters In And Out.
Your characters drive your stories. Everything that happens all throughout the novel depends on how well their decision-making is. If they choose to fight over difficult circumstances, chances to have a great resolution is high. Otherwise, you won’t have a nice ending to expect.
Most writers neglect this part. And it’s a sad thing because what happens oftentimes is the characters tend to have an inconsistency from how they behave in the beginning to the end. Changes, as part of character development, occur for sure. But, they don’t change entirely, do they?
This is why it’s important to have at least the basics of their character profile to prevent this mistake. Pantsers, as I was before, commonly fall at this section.
How do you create a character profile?
Basically, all you need to consider are the following:
- Character’s Physical Attributes (hair color, eye color, skin color, etc.)
- Character’s Personality And Behavior (tone of language, mannerisms, vulgarity, personality, likes and dislikes, interests, talents, etc.)
- Characters’ Background And Vulnerability (backstory of your villains, for example)
This is how you come up with your character’s profile. Below are the specific data, somehow like a resume, containing complete details about your characters. They fill in the following to have a vivid picture, especially the main characters.
Sibling/s, if any:
Once you define the overall character profile for each of the main characters, who will play a big and minor role in your novel, you will have a clearer sense of how the conflict spices up, given the flaws and limitations of each character. Otherwise, it will bore your readers.
Keep in mind when crafting your characters, you need to play with irony. Place them in ironic situations to test their values.
If she’s a genius, give her a dumb or clumsy best friend. If he’s arrogant and so full of himself, give scenarios wherein he’s getting insulted but he can’t fight back. Something like that.
Step 4: Specify Your Settings.
When it comes to crafting your settings in your novel, you need to inform your readers where and where does your story take place. Is it during historic times or modern times? You have to be clear on this at the beginning of your story.
To make it easier for you, others have done the same as well, they visit real-life locations to tickle their creativity. In my case, I visit places to have a feel of the overall story.
As I mentioned earlier, there are others who rely on imaginations, especially fantasy writers. For example, J.K. Rowling fulfilled her novel settings in Harry Potter while she rode a train for a long distance ride.
Step 5: Draft The Scene Sketches.
The scene sketches are the scenes you wish to include in your book. Any scene you have in mind. These are random events you want your characters experience. They don’t have to be final, rather a series of rough ideas your story should contain.
During the writing process, there are times when one of these ideas won’t be included in the story and perhaps in the next book. There are instances wherein you luckily included everything in your scene sketches.
The important thing is you note the important scenes that your book will contain. So, when you start writing your book, you won’t lose this idea. Anyway, when you create a novel outline, which is the next step, you’ll go through these ideas to make your chapter-to-chapter outline.
This is what I do with my book “Accidental Quest.” I used index cards to record the scenes I want to write. At the top portion, I write the main event and underneath are the notes or highlights of that event in bullet form.
You repeat the step until you have all the scenes you want. While you’re writing, there are times when a new idea comes out. You don’t have to panic because you have the index cards with you.
Step 6: Create A Novel Outline.
As the name suggests, it’s an outline. So, it’s oftentimes in bullet forms like I do with my books. You don’t have to so fancy here. All you need are the main highlights or the main thought of each chapter. This is where your index cards take their role in the whole process.
By the way, why do you need to create a novel outline for your works?
There are 2 clear reasons why you need to do it prior to the writing phase:
- For organization and avoid cluttered plot (most writers’ pitfall)
- For your professional editor’s reference when she takes over your work
We do the novel outline per chapter. Derek Murphy, one of the prolific authors I know, define it as the plot outline. By borrowing his idea of dividing the plot planning into 3 sections, I come up with “3-Act Storytelling Technique,” wherein you follow the 3 parts in the planning process, namely: Seek, Achieve, and Lose.
I got this idea from observing mostly used techniques published authors apply in their books. And by doing this over the years, I summarize everything with the image below.
Step 7: Choose The Best Book Title
A well-chosen book title can affect sales. This is why publishers want to make sure your book title can attract more sales along with the book design. The moment they see your book on the bookshelves, the readers will see your book and buy. This is the mind map of the publishing industry.
Of course, you can’t come up with it when you’re still writing it or you just finished the first draft. The finalized book title usually comes after a lot of self-editing and the professional editing phase.
In the end, the publishing company will have the final word on the title before they decide to have your book published. If what you have in your draft matches their expectations, they may retain the title.
The point is, your book title must speak the plot itself. This is why your premise is important, which I mentioned earlier in the post. You have to go back to your premise and review your book title if they match or not.
As a start, I have here the following book title generators you can take advantage and use as a draft. The generated titles don’t necessarily become your final book title. It’s just to give a picture of your book in words based on how you perceive the story as a whole.
But you don’t have to worry about this at the beginning, which is why I placed this as the last step in the novel-writing process.
- Reedsy Book Title Generator
- Portent Title Maker
- Fantasy Name Generators (It says fantasy, but it also has features for other genres as well).
- Serendipity (only fantasy book titles)
- Book Title Generator
Step 8: Design Your Book Cover. (Optional)
If you’re a Wattpad writer like me, then designing a book design is necessary. Before I publish my work for public reading, I have to make sure my book covers speak right to my readers (to my followers).
But then, deep down inside me, I am aware of the need for professional book designers to come in, especially if I have my works published on Amazon.
For now, you can temporarily design your own book cover if you want. But this isn’t necessary. If you want to do it, you have the following options:
- Canva (my top recommendation)
- Adobe InDesign
- Adobe FrameMaker (similar to InDesign)
Once you decide to let a professional layout artist come in and take over the book design, you can go to Reedsy, my favorite hub for professionals. They have a lot of professional editors, book designer, copyeditor, and among others for both fiction and non-fiction works.
What Is Reedsy?
Established in 2014, Reedsy LTD, simply known as Reedsy, is a company where all the professionals in the publishing industry gather to provide high-quality services for authors and publishers access for power tools and free educational content.
As part of their promise of providing quality of work, they provide the channel to connect the authors and the professionals to work together to produce great literature. That includes your novel, of course.
This is where I found my lovely editor, Sandra Haven, to work on my completed book “Accidental Quest” for professional editing. She’s been in this industry for more than 20 years and that alone gives me an assurance of the kind of collaboration we’ll have with the book. I’m super stoked.
Final Thoughts In The Process In Writing A Novel + Planning A Book Template
Before you worry about your readers and how lengthy your book is, take care of the basics first.
Go through this post once again and review the process I showed you. Because this is how the novel-writing is. The process may differ a bit, but not that much.
Everything starts when you start writing something. You can’t edit or worry about how your book performs when you have nothing to read or to evaluate.
Follow the process with patience and determination. Novel-writing entails attitude. You can’t finish anything if you keep perfection blocks your way. Loosen yourself and start typing in the words you want.
Begin with the concept, then craft the premise, craft your character’s profile, decide where you want to take your readers in the story, decide what kind of scenes you like to include in your book, create your novel outline, all the way through creating the book cover and book title.
Each step takes time. It’s not like reading this post and you’re done. I’m writing this post for you to have a gist of the whole thing. You want to get serious with your writing this year for whatever reasons you may have right now.
That said, I provide you with the necessary tools you need based on my experience, now I turn the table to you. It’s your turn to write your journey. The future of your writing career lies in your hands.
As promised, you click below the planning a book template and begin writing your story now. It’s now or never. God bless you, my writing buddy. 🙂
Just in case if you’re asking yourself why I choose this featured image for this image, it’s a subtle hint of what kind of life you’re about to enter. If you still want to commit, I welcome you wholeheartedly. Otherwise, step back and remain in your mediocre comfort zone. *winks*