Writing a novel is arguably the hardest form of fiction writing. It’s tough to think of something more difficult than writing a story that consists of around seventy-thousand words, that flows decently and at least makes partial sense.
That’s the head and tail of it. Writing a novel is hard.
Writing a good novel however, is one of the hardest things on planet earth. Don’t believe me? Ask every single person in the world to write a novel. Give them six month deadline. When those six months are up, tell me out of all those people, how many wrote a book on the level of Stephen King. The answer would be a resounding: not many.
So yes, writing a novel is pretty damn hard, and here is a list of five things you should always do before starting one.
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#1: Outline Your plot
Even if you aren’t much of a plotter, it’s a good idea to at least get a rough idea of the story you’re trying to tell. Even if it’s as simple as mapping out a beginning, middle and end – it’ll work just the same.
So get some paper out and get on with your primitive plot, you over-sized preschooler you.
#2: Make Sure It Isn’t a Knockoff
You’d be surprised at how easy it is to subconsciously ripoff someone else’s well-thought-out plot. Maybe it was something from a book you read years ago but forgot about, or an old movie you saw as a kid – whatever it was, your subconscious remembers these things, and can recall them quite easily.
If they’re vague enough, you might mistake these recalled memories as original ideas, and end up ripping off the plot of some poor, unsuspecting writer. So, be careful where your ideas come from, and always double check them before you begin.
Lawsuits are expensive these days.
#3: Prepare Yourself
For a lot, and I mean a lot, of self-doubt.
It’s only natural to doubt yourself as a writer. Whether you write articles or short stories, free-verse or rhythmic poems – you’re always going to have second thoughts about your work.
But when it comes to writing a novel – the satanic beast, the monstrous creation – your levels of self-doubt will soar to whole new heights. You’ll hate every single scene, every single paragraph; probably every single sentence, too. You’ll hate it all. From start to finish, cover to cover, you’ll hate every last stinking word.
#4: Ready Yourself For a Reading Break
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point.
Since we’ve already established that you’re going to end up hating your writing, we don’t have to go into that in any further detail. What I can tell you, though, is that when you hate your writing, the last thing you want to do is read the successful writing of someone else.
There’s no quicker way to get yourself down than comparing yourself and your writing to an established author with theirs. And that’s why you shouldn’t do it. There’s a reason they’re published and you aren’t…
It’s because they’ve spent time mastering their craft and now they’re extremely proficient in it. If you can’t handle that, maybe it’s time to give up reading for a while.
Try not to get too many tears on your keyboard, it was expensive!
Pray to the novel-writing Gods. Pray for their power. Because bless you, poor soul, you’re sure going to need it.
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Smile And Write
Don’t feel put off by this article – it was mainly satirical, with a dash of seriousness sprinkled in, and was in no way intended to put you off writing a novel. For all I know, you could be the best novel writer in existence…
But one thing’s for sure: you won’t know until you try.
So give it a shot. Keep the serious parts of this list in mind as you proceed with the task. Work hard and work fearlessly, and in time, I’m sure you’ll be somewhere close to writing the best novel you possibly can.
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