Have you ever made a decision to write a novel and when you read best seller novels like the Harry Potter or Divergent book series, you feel like, “whoa, how can I write something even close to this? Nah! writing is not for me,” and you just drop your pen? Well, you are not alone. In fact, every author once felt that way. I get it, starting a novel can be really overwhelming. You have a lot you are trying to put together in your head before you go to your table to write and you have all these characters and ideas, running around in your head. Especially, if you want to write fantasy or adventure or any other genre that will require you to create your own world, gosh! It could be very exhausting, but you are not alone! I am here to help you start.

I started writing in October 2019, since then I have published two novels and I am currently working on three others. The published books are part of a series and it is majorly a fantasy fiction series where I used a lot of elements that are not of this world, so believe me when I say, I know how you feel. I am not going to act like I know it all and give you rules on how to go about your first novel, nope! Instead, what I am going to do, is give you some guidelines that might help you start so you don’t feel like it’s too much.

The first step is, HAVE AN IDEA.

Having decided to write a novel, you need to have an idea of your storyline. In fact, let’s change that, you need to have a story before you decide to write otherwise, what will you write? So, before you put your pen on your paper or hands on your keyboard, lie down, (that usually works for me), take a walk or just sit to think (or any other way that works best for you) and build up your storyline. If you skip this step, you might write your story and get stuck, about, 5,000 words into your novel. Then your full-length novel becomes a really, short story. No, don’t be in a hurry, calm down and take time to build up your story.

You don’t have to outline every scene and get every character and every dialogue or know how the book will end, (if you do that, you will end up with a splitting headache and not be able to write.) Instead, let it be like you are watching a movie trailer. When you watch a movie trailer, you don’t have the complete movie, right? but you have an idea of what the movie will be about and so, you are eager to see the movie. That is exactly the feeling you should get while building up your plot in your head. You should say to yourself, gosh I can’t wait to write this book! And yell a little. 

Things you need to consider while building up your story are:

  1. Setting: It is very important to pick a setting for your novel and that includes a location(s) and time. Do you want to use a fictional town, city, man cave, or a real-life city? If you want to use a fictional location, awesome! But you will need to introduce the different aspects of the location’s element which is extra brain work but the advantage is that the location is yours! You can add and remove whatever you want. And if you are going with a real-life location, make adequate research about the location. Then, pick a time, when will the novel start? Forget about when it will end because at that point you don’t even know how your story will end. Having a timeline will determine a lot, so you don’t talk about Facebook in the 1990s.
  2. Theme: Have a theme for your novel. If people ask you what your book is about, you should be able to tell them, it’s an adventure romance or fantasy or action mystery about a murder….
  3. Create and build your characters: You don’t need to have a complete list of all your characters. Uhm-uhm, no. That will wear you out because you can’t possibly think of everything that will happen in your book before you start writing. All you can have is a sketch, an idea like we talked about earlier. But you should have your main characters or at least the characters that will start the novel. As much as I love creating my characters, naming them, giving them personalities, likes and dislikes, mannerisms, history, family, etc., it can be really exhausting. My novel characters are like my babies, no one knows them better than I do. Have that kind of connection with your characters, get to know them.

I have a note where I write down everything concerning my novel and I use it more when I am building up my story, in my head. So, my location is a fictional town called Meadowville- I write it down, my main character is a badass lady called Nora- I write it down. It is important to write down those details because it may be difficult, if not impossible, to keep all the details in your head.

So, I’ll advise you have a note like that and write down your character’s profile, name, age, gender, family, marital status, hair and eye colour, physical build, mannerism, frequently used words…again, you don’t have to have everything down at first. You can start with the basic, a name, gender, age… and the rest can come in later, while you are writing. You will end up not stating your character’s entire profile in the novel but it will help you as a writer, especially in your dialogue. For instance, from book 1 of my novel, Keelan and Roman had different personalities and it reflected in their dialogues. You don’t see Keelan make witty remarks in serious situations, that is Roman’s persona. Roman is a foodie and it showed throughout the novel, whereas you hardly see Keelan eat. Building a profile for your character will help you limit their actions and dialogue to their personality. If you want to write about your character, let’s say his name is Jackson, ask yourself, what will Jackson do? Or what will Jackson say? So you don’t keep mixing up personalities and mannerisms.

Okay! So now you have your setting, theme and your character, in my opinion, you are so ready to start writing! No, seriously, start writing! You have done the major brain-work, the rest is just to start writing and see where the flow will take you. Writing a novel is a really fun adventure, you are in control of what happens and it is like you are in your world of tiny people when you are writing.

It took me about two days to build up my story and conduct my research before I started writing and when I started writing, I had to stop several times to do more research. It doesn’t have to be like that for you, I needed that because I was writing a fantasy fictional novel and every fiction has to be laced with truth to make your story believable and relatable.

The reason most people get stuck on a page for months is that they skip this first step, don’t be that writer. Because you have an idea doesn’t mean you have a story. You build up your idea into a story.

And finally, I know you are probably feeling like, whew! This is a lot of work. I am not going to lie writing is not for lazy people. It takes passion to put in several hours into writing and more several hours into editing. But I assure you, as a writer or an author, there is no greater joy than seeing a finished book! The feeling is out of this word! It may— will take up your time and give you butt ache, but it will be worth it! So, start writing, the world needs to hear your story and even if the world doesn’t want to, I am super excited and can’t wait to read your book!

With love from, S.A. Trinity

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