If you are really interested in writing a novel that will feel satisfying to you and to your readers, it’s important to start things off right.  Although you may just want to jump into your writing and see where it takes you, if you take some time beforehand to prepare, you’ll find the process of writing your novel becomes much easier and more enjoyable to you.  Not only that, this crucial step will help ensure that you write the very best novel that you possibly can.

Develop The Blueprint that Will Guide Your Writing

This essential preparation involves exploring and developing your initial novel ideas so you have a clear view of where you want to go with your novel.  By making some basic creative decisions about your novel’s characters, the world your characters inhabit, and the basic through-line of your plot, you will have an invaluable resource to guide you through the process of writing your novel from the beginning sentence through the final word.

Take Some Time To Get To Know Your Characters

To start, think about who your characters are and what inner changes they might make as they proceed through your novel.  Use the following questions to help you begin to turn your initial impressions into rich, multidimensional characters that live in your imagination.  You’ll know when you’ve done enough when you begin to feel a real sense of connection to your characters and care about what happens to them over the course of your novel.

  • Who are the main characters in your novel?  Give each one a full name that feels right to you.
  • How do they look physically?  i.e age, ethnic background, key physical characteristics
  • What is their personality like?  i.e. idiosyncrasies, temperament, habits
  • Where do they come from?  Describe their childhood as well as any other defining past experiences that helped to shape who they are today.
  • What are they key things that they love, hate, and fear in their lives?
  • How happy or satisfied are they?  Have they settled for less than what they really want?
  • What do they most want from life?  What are the inner and outer obstacles in the way of getting it?

Creating the World of Your Novel

Next, you will want to decide on the world that your characters inhabit through the course of your novel.  Starting with your initial ideas, let the details of the locations for your novel unfold until you can clearly see these places in your imagination.  To get yourself started, begin by exploring the following questions:

  • Where does your novel take place? i.e. country, state, region.  Is there more than one general locale?
  • What is the time frame for your novel?  i.e. When does it take place and over what period of time?
  • What are the specific interior and exterior locations like in your novel?  i.e. the inherited sailboat, the secluded cabin, the seedy apartment building, the magical castle
  • What seasons are experienced over the course of your novel?  Describe what they are like in your novel’s locations.
  • Are there key objects that play an essential part in the storyline of your novel?  i.e. an old letter, a magical cape, a diamond ring, a secret code

Developing the Storyline of Your Novel

The third essential step is to develop a solid outline that will guide your writing through each key plot point and result in a dynamic, compelling novel.  Now that you have a good sense of what motivates your characters as well as the obstacles they will face, you can use this information to develop the action of your story.  Although there are a variety of different novel structure formats that you can follow, at the most basic level, they come down to the following essential questions.  You can use these to get started on your novel outline.

  • Where are your characters starting from at the beginning of the novel?  What are their life circumstances and how is their life less than perfect?
  • What specific problems do they have?
  • What obstacles are in the way of them getting what they truly want?
  • What strategies will your characters use to try and overcome these obstacles?  What will they need to do to get what they really want in their lives?

Basic Novel Structure

In terms of the basic structure of your novel, here is a simple guideline that many writers find useful: To begin, you will establish your character’s current world, illustrating the ways they are out of balance.  About one third of they way through your novel, your main character is forced to make some change in their life that actually helps them move closer to what they really want, even if they don’t realize it at first.  At the half way point, complications are introduced that make the character question whether this is what they really want.  About two thirds of the way through, your character will reverse the positive change they made initially and try to go back to where they were at the beginning.  From this low point, they will find the strength within to renew their commitment to their goal.  This leads up to the final confrontation with the main obstacle and ultimate success.

It Is Really Worth It To Start Your Novel With This Guiding Blueprint

I encourage you to take the time to go through this creative preparation phase before you start writing your novel in earnest.  If you do, you will be rewarded with an inspiring step-by-step map that will guide you across the vast expanse of your novel.  By vividly imagining the details of character, setting, and plot beforehand, you will find that the writing process flows with much more ease and certainty.  Rather than just staring at that blank page each morning and wondering what to write about, you can simply look at your blueprint and clearly see what’s next.  Because you will know your novel’s essential details so well, you will feel inspired and enthusiastic about writing each day and the resulting novel will be one that is rich in detail and compelling to your readers.

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