The process in writing a novel is as lengthy as a long road showing you nothing but a thick fog of cluelessness. Yet, with tenacity and persistence, you can overcome the difficulty and see an overwhelming beauty you never seen before.
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. But I did. So can you.
Now, you’re here because you want to know the process of writing a novel and begin your lifelong writing endeavor this year.
Are you ready? Let’s get started. Shall we?
What Is The Process Involved Writing A Novel?
Keep in mind that authors don’t have the same strategy when it comes to the early stages of novel-writing.
Others simply sit in a coffee shop and gather as many ideas and information first before they start writing.
Other writers tend to 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.
How about you?
What do you think works for you?
I have here a few suggestions to get the feel of writing. If you may ask whether to do ever single step, no.
All you need to do is to be aware what others have done and apply some that will work for your writing process.
Do you get me?
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.
If you can’t think of what to write, I wrote a separate post in which it gleans the creative ways most authors do to find their next novel inspirations.
[su_box title=”Exercise to try”]Gather as many book concepts you have in mind today (while you’re reading this post). Write them in your notepad in bullet form to make it easier for you. The sky’s the limit. [/su_box]
Step 2: Build Your Premise.
Building a strong foundation for your book plays a big role in the writing process.
As a writer, you need to know where your story starts and ends 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.
So, how do you write a premise?
You can do this step, which I found interesting to follow. Though you don’t have to necessarily follow the steps, it’s a big help for you to start.
- Step 1: Know when “when” clause to begin a clear description of your main character.
- Step 2: Add another character to create tension.
- Step 3: Add “leading to” as hint of the main character’s goal.
- Step 4: Add the word “until” to introduce the conflict.
- Step 5: Combine all the elements together.
To give you an example, here’s a sample premise I wrote using the same steps I mentioned above. It’s a premise of my Wattpad book “Titan’s Curse.”
Step 1: “When an arrogant CEO receives a curse…”
Step 2: “When an arrogant CEO receives a curse, he teams up with his newly hired intern…”
Step 3: “Until they meet the witch, who’s responsible for the curse…”
Step 4: “Leading to the unexpected quest to search for answers…”
Step 5: “When an arrogant CEO receives a curse, he teams up with his newly hired intern leading to the unexpected quest to search for answers until they meet the witch, who’s responsible for the curse.”
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).
[su_box title=”Exercise to try”]Using the steps above, create your own book premise using the chosen concept in Step 1. [/su_box]
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, don’t expect for a desirable conclusion.
Most writers neglect this part. It’s every writer’s pet peeve. And the sad thing is it happens so often that I couldn’t help but voice it out here. For instance, their characters behave inconsistently throughout the story.
With that, defining your characters inside and out makes a big difference. You don’t have to fall into the same trap as other authors do.
So, 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)
One Wattpad author shares her strategy to come up with a solid and interesting character. Here’s how she does it. She fills in the form as you can see below per character.
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 also 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.
These will keep the readers going. They want to find out how your character ends up in the story. Keep them curious.
Keep the readers on fire!
[su_box title=”Exercise to try”]Use a separate sheet and write your character’s profile for all your main characters, both the protagonist and the antagonist, using the format above.[/su_box]
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.
How about you?
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.
[su_box title=”Exercise to try”]Decide where do you want to take your readers based on the concept and premise you have on hand. From there, describe where and when your story will take place. [/su_box]
Step 5: Draft The Scene Sketches.
The scene sketches are the scenes you wish to include in your book. Any random events you want your characters experience. It could also be 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. The important thing is you note the important scenes that your book will contain.
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.
Do you think this works for you, too?
[su_box title=”Exercise to try”]Have a set of index cards with you to write all the main scenes you want to include in your book based on the concept and premise. You don’t have to make it perfect and final. This is simply your guide to review later on.[/su_box]
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. But 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.
[su_box title=”Exercise to try”]Use another separate sheet for your novel outline. In this section, you have to be a bit specific when it comes to details to ensure the organization for your writing. Remember, this serves as your professional editor’s guide during the editing phase of your book.[/su_box]
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.
- 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
[su_box title=”Exercise to try”]Choose keywords apt for your story concept. From there, using the book title generators I provide, gather as many titles you want until you see one that speaks your story the best.[/su_box]
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.
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.
It’s up to you to get serious with your writing this year for whatever reasons you may have right now.
Now, it’s your turn to write your journey. The future of your writing career lies in your hands.
If you like this post, feel free to share it with your friends and family. Especially those who want to write their first book.
If you have something to add, feel free to leave it in the comment section below. 🙂
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