Do you also love to immerse yourself in foreign worlds and invent stories? To come up with characters and let them interact with each other? Maybe you already have a lot of great ideas that you want to share with the world, but you haven’t tackled them yet? This blog article is intended to change that. We’ll show you how to write a really good novel that captivates your readers.
5 Things You Should Know Before Writing a Novel
- You can learn to write
Very few people are born with the talent to write good stories. Most authors have invested a lot of time in learning how to write a novel. With the right craft and a little practice, however, it is not so difficult and the step to writing a novel is not far away.
- Writing is a marathon, not a sprint
You don’t write a novel in a few days or weeks. Many authors research and write for months or years. Your text needs to grow to become really good. So be sure to give yourself the time it takes to write a good novel.
- Regularity pays off
They are full of energy and want to start writing immediately. That’s great, you can use this initial motivation to get started with your novel project. But experience shows that there will also be days when you are less motivated. This is where it can help if you build up a regular routine. More on that later.
- Planning is the key to success
Along with a writing routine, your project should also have order and a system. Good planning, perhaps even a writing plan, can help to get closer to your goal bit by bit. In addition, it helps to progress in a structured way in your novel and not to forget anything.
- Don’t forbid yourself ideas
When collecting ideas, you will quickly notice that probably none of them are completely new and reinvent the wheel. That is hardly possible. Therefore, it is all the more important that you set no limits when planning your ideas. Just think about it and don’t forbid yourself. Usually, the best ideas come about so quickly.
Writing a novel – motivation and writing routine
Regularity pays off. This tip sounds banal at first glance, but it can be the key to success. Many authors have acquired fixed writing routines in the course of their work. For example, a certain ritual before writing or a fixed writing place. Many also swear by a special selection of music that puts them directly in the right mood. No matter what your personal writing routine looks like, it’s designed to relax you and bring you to creative thoughts. This is the only way you can write a good novel and develop new ideas.
By the way: For more tips on how to develop your own writing routine, check out our blog article How to Write a Book.
Finding motivation or: forcing people to write
What may sound strange at first glance can be a good way to really stick to your novel and always find new motivation. Of course, you shouldn’t have to torture yourself at your desk every day, but sometimes it can be helpful to try. Even on days when you don’t seem to have an idea suitable or good enough, you should just write on it. Sometimes the knot loosens faster than you think and the ideas flow again.
Plan writing goals, write a novel
In addition to motivation and a writing routine that suits you, you could also record your personal writing goals at the beginning. There are no fixed specifications, but you could, for example:
Formulate personal goals
Example: Writing a novel should help me to overcome my fear of flying.
Define clear sections.
Example: In the week from January 3rd to 9th, I write at least 3,000 words, ending three new chapters.
Find the intention of the novel.
Example: In my new novel, I would like to tell other readers about my special trip to Peru and inspire them to travel to this country themselves.
No matter what your specific goals are, it can help visualize them and remember them over and over again while working on the novel. For example, you could hang them on a poster above your writing station or save them as a note in your mobile phone and look at them again and again.
For a good novel, of course, you need a good idea. Sometimes, however, this seemingly obvious one is the biggest problem. Many authors are familiar with the problem of having no or far too many, unordered ideas. We introduce you to two creativity techniques that will allow you to develop new ideas.
The Walt Disney Method
Ideen entwickeln, Roman schreibenThe filmmaker and source of ideas Walt Disney is known today above all for his numerous animated films. Many of his ideas came to him when he allowed himself to dream and consciously took positions other than his own. This can also help you with writing a novel. Consciously ask yourself the following questions and put yourself in the role of the following people:
The dreamer – doesn’t think about how to implement this idea. If you could come up with everything and achieve everything, what would it be?
The doer – how can you implement your idea? Which specific questions should you consider?
The realist – what problems could you encounter in the meantime?
The ABC technology
This method is very simple and supports you significantly in writing your novel. Take a sheet of paper and write down the letters of the alphabet from top to bottom. Then write down a thought or association for each letter that comes to mind spontaneously. Maybe the brilliant idea for your novel is there?
Tip: This method is also suitable for practicing writing short stories. For example, you could try to write a story using words and phrases. For more tips on writing a short story, check out our blog article on writing short stories.
After you have certainly developed some new ideas, it is time to collect them. For example, you can use certain writing and note programs for this purpose. In these, you can sort your ideas thematically or in a certain order, and later, when you write your novel, you can fall back on them again and again.
Need it a little more visual? Then a handwritten mind map is recommended, in which you collect and write down different topics according to certain categories. You can view these during the writing process and check them so that you have not forgotten any idea.
Writing a novel – research
Extensive and multi-layered research is one of the most important things when writing a novel. Depending on the topic, this of course varies greatly but is in any case an essential component to make the story seem believable.
It’s best to start by creating a detailed plan for your research.
Where do you want to research
Which questions are particularly relevant?
Which themes should not be missing in your novel?
Many authors plan a research trip for their research. This can sometimes be longer and more complex and sometimes shorter and closer to your home. Depending on where and what you want to research, it is advisable to plan enough time for this. In the best case, after this trip, you will have all the missing information together and can start writing.
Not all questions can simply be asked on the Internet, some things you should ask directly on site. Perhaps you are particularly interested in the work of a certain professional group or the construction of a particular building. Here it is worthwhile to ask appropriate experts. They will certainly be happy to provide you with information and tell you about their everyday working life. This is often closer than research on the web.
Write a novel – plot or just go for it?
Are you a plotter or a drauflos writer? However, both are legitimate ways to write a novel. Nevertheless, you should think about it in advance.
Just start writing
Many authors simply write on it and thus develop the best ideas when writing. If you talk to them, many say that above all they enjoy the freedom to observe their history as it develops. Many also report that their characters develop a certain life of their own and sometimes react unexpectedly. If you also just write on it and you come up with the best ideas, you should definitely try it.
However, other authors also swear by classic plotting. For them, the novel should develop in advance and they would like to know in advance where the story leads in the end. They say that they can think about the characters in advance and only have to concentrate on the right formulations and appropriate descriptions while writing.
Most of the time, these authors use certain methods to plot their stories. We present two of them in more detail in our blog articles The Snowflake Method and The Hero’s Journey.
Twists & Suspense
When you write a scene, it has to fulfill a certain task in your novel. No scene should simply be meaningless. To ensure this, for example, you can work with different twists and a large arc of suspense. That doesn’t mean that every scene should have a new twist, but these can help to set a new focus in your story and move the characters to different actions.
But be careful: The best twists are not necessarily the ones you construct in a single scene and then present to your readers. The best phrases are those that the readers do not see coming at the moment, but seem quite logical when thinking for a long time.
The main conflict
Your novel should have the main conflict on which the story is based. This is then the trigger for many side conflicts that can be written within your scenes. Examples of major conflicts may include:
- A girl and a boy fall in love. They are both terminally ill and do not know how long they will live. (as written in John Green’s “Fate is a lousy traitor”)
- A dark wizard wants to take over the world and has to kill a boy for it. (as written in Joanne K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter”)
The aforementioned conflicts trigger other conflicts in the further course of the book or books, resulting in a framework that carries the story. Strong conflicts have a particularly big impact on your characters. You can question the entire story in a moment. Your readers will hardly be able to put your novel out of their hands.
Tip: In order to find a suitable conflict for your novel, you can first look at which conflicts other authors use in your books to create suspense.
How to find your own writing style
Now that your story is planned, you’re really ready to write. But where to start? And with what? How do you find the right words?
If you become unsure about these questions, you will be like many other authors before you. It is not so easy to find your own unmistakable style. Even great authors did not succeed in this immediately. They first had to find their style, their choice of words, and clear language and establish them among the readers.
Your advantage: You have a white sheet of paper in front of you and can first write everything you can think of. So let’s go!
Tip: Writing also includes reading. You will have heard this sentence from many authors before. It says that in order to find your own style, you should first look at how other authors build their stories. Maybe you like a stylistic device particularly well or you notice another trick in the novel that the respective authors have used. It is good if you also use this in your book. Of course, modified and as you like it and fits your novel. Gradually, your own, the very unmistakable style will develop from the different styles. If you have more questions about the topic, we also recommend our blog article on Improving Writing Style – 10 Effective Tips.Ort und Zeit eines Romans.
Place and time
Surely you have already thought about the time and place in which the story should take place. Depending on what kind of novel you’re writing, this can be of greater significance. In particular, you should classify a historical novel for your readers from the outset in a concrete way in a time and a place. This also gives the first indication of the possible behavior of your characters or certain social norms that you write about in your novel.
Sometimes the most important thing about your novel is the characters. They should be authentic and act comprehensibly for your readers. This includes dealing with you extensively in advance. Perhaps you can also create fact sheets for your main characters, so-called character sheets, on which their most important characteristics and motivation in the novel are noted. The following questions can help you:
- What does the figure look like?
- Does the figure have certain characteristics or characteristics that distinguish it?
- Does she have a certain language behavior? Does she speak very modern or in a special dialect?
- What motivation does the character pursue within the novel?
- Will the character be confronted with a special twist?
- Does the character have friends or enemies?
- How to develop unique figures
- If you are engaged in writing a novel, you will always read the hint: Develop unique characters. All well and good, but how exactly
- Can you do that when almost everything already exists?
A keyword here is authenticity. Your characters should act realistically, comprehensibly, and authentically at all times. This does not mean that they should always act as you personally would. Your characters are subject to your dramaturgy and you as an author should immerse yourself in them and ask yourself at every moment: How would my character react in this particular situation? For example, if you have conceived an anxious and reserved person, he will certainly react differently than a fearless hero in the face of great danger.
Special properties and features
Every human being has special characteristics and characteristics that make him or her unmistakable. Your figures should also possess such qualities. This can be a certain piece of clothing that must always be with you, a certain gait, a particularly concise voice that you describe again and again, or a dialect. No matter what you choose, it makes your character more believable and helps you in the later writing process to differentiate her from other people in a few words.
Example: Heinar Schmidt was the loudest person she had ever known. When he rumbled into the room, he quickly got the attention of the whole quorum. This was also the case on this Monday when he announced his closing time and the unsuspecting intern at the table next to him winced in horror.
No one is perfect – not even your novel hero. In addition to strengths, always give him weaknesses. These can be material weaknesses, such as particularly beautiful handbags, psychological weaknesses or illnesses or other people. These weaknesses give your characters rough edges. In addition, you can use them specifically throughout the novel and confront your characters with them. Keyword: conflict potential.
Writing a scene
Depending on whether you’ve plotted your novel or not, you already know what’s waiting for your characters in the next scene. When designing a scene, you should make sure that your characters act comprehensibly within it and that you do not lose sight of the big picture. Keep asking yourself the question: What did my character do before, what should he do afterward? This will ensure that she does not suddenly act unexpectedly in your novel or that you overlook a certain plot role in her.
In order to describe a scene and its characters authentically, emotions are an important stylistic device. Again, they should be well dosed. But if they are, emotions in the decisive moments provide suspense and breathless excitement for your readers. For example, ask yourself the following questions:
- how does my main character feel about having to go through this difficult situation?
- how does my character feel today after experiencing this joyful/sad/frightening news?
- What emotions does my character feel if I would do this and that to him?
Show, don’t tell – an important aspect of writing a novel
An important point when writing a scene, writing dialogue, or describing emotions is the rule of thumb: show, don’t tell. This means that you should rather show things or let them experience your characters than describe them extensively. Above all, you ensure that the story remains dynamic and that the readers’ imagination is stimulated. So instead of writing, for example, She felt great sadness.
Could you also write: Her face warped painfully and he saw the suffering in her eyes, which slowly filled with tears. Her hands trembled as she reached for his and her voice shook as she spoke softly: …
The spice of a scene is dialogue. Her characters talk to each other indirect speech. You don’t have to describe much but can concentrate entirely on the words of your characters. Dialogues are also a good way to consider the concept of the show, don’t tell. With a good dialogue between two characters, sometimes much more is said than if they describe something for a long time. However, this is also true the other way around: sometimes there is much more meaning in what a character does not say than in what he says. Keep this in mind when writing your novel.
Congratulations, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve written a novel. After the writing is before revising, so your work is not over yet. First, gain some distance from your novel. Give yourself a few days or even weeks to start the revision with a fresh look. Scene by scene, you go through your novel and check it.
- are there scenes from the beginning that suddenly become illogical at the end?
- do all the characters act comprehensibly at all times?
- is the novel written in an exciting way?
- have you always choose the right language and style?
- are grammar, spelling, and sentence structure right?