Novel Writing Tips for Beginners: Steps for Writing your First Novel

If a story is in you, it has to come out

-William Faulkner



We all get a great idea once in a while which we think can become the next best selling novel, but rarely is it that we find the confidence to actually sit down and pen our ideas. The hardest part about becoming a novel writer isn’t getting your book published, but it is actually sitting down to write your book.

It all begins with writing a sentence, which then becomes a paragraph and then maybe if you are able to build it up, it becomes an entire chapter. Writing always happens in bits and pieces, and the process is such that at the end it all comes together.


How to write a book ?

If you are really serious about becoming the best selling author, then you need to have a structured plan to guide you through your entire writing process.

We have broken down the entire process into 10 simple steps that can help you finish writing your first novel:

Phase One : Getting Started

1. Decide the theme : As a writer, you need to know what your book is going to be about. Write down the central theme of your book, which you then stretch out to a paragraph and then further into a one-page outline of the book. Use this outline to decide on the chapters that it will have, this will help you stay on track with the story line. Always remember any story has 3 parts to it : the beginning, the middle and the end. If you try to do anything more complicated you are bound to get confused. 


2. Decide a daily word count : Writing one page a day is around 350-400 words. You don’t need to have the pressure of writing a lot every single day. You just need to ensure that you write often. Whenever you set a daily goal it will give you a chance to work towards something. Always set goals which are achievable so that you can build a momentum for yourself.


3. Set a time to write: Consistency will help you get work done easily. Having a daily deadline will help you finish the work. You can even take days off from writing, but schedule them ahead of time. Setting a daily writing time will ensure that you don’t have to spend time to think about when you will write.


4. Identify your writing space: It can be any place from your desk to the kitchen table to the corner seat in a cafe. You just need to ensure that it is different from the space where you do any other activity. You need to make your writing space special, so that it always reminds you of the commitment to finish the book. Always remember, the goal is to just start writing.

Phase Two : Getting the Work Done

5. Set a total word count: Once you kickstart the writing process you need to identify how long you want it to be. Think in the multiples of thousands so that you can break it down into chapters with roughly the same lengths. Here is a basic guide of books and their word counts :                     

a. 20,000 words : a short eBook. Read time : 1-2 hours .                                     

b. 40,000 – 60,000 words : a novella. Read time : 3-4 hours. The Great Gatsby is a great example of this.                                                                                                                         

c. 80,000 – 100,000 words : a long non-fiction. Read time : 4-6 hours. The Hobbit is an example of this.

d. 100,000+ words : an epic-length novel / biography. Read time : 6-8 hours. Jane Eyre is an example of this.


6. Set weekly deadlines: You can keep the word count as a weekly goal, so that things are more objective and you are able to track the progress. Celebrate the progress you make while also being honest with yourself about the amount of work left to be done. The only way to get anything done is to set a deadline for it.


7. Get feedback in the early stages: Nothing is worse than writing a book and having to rewrite the entire thing again. Always have a close group of advisors who can provide you feedback on your writing. It can be your friends, family or even editors. Just ensure that you have someone who provides you honest feedback, so that you stay on the right track.

Phase Three : Finishing

8. Showcase it to the world : No matter what happens, finish the book. If you are not able to finish in the first set of deadlines that you set for yourself, then make a new schedule and get it done. Then release your book. Reach out to publishers, or get into self-publishing but showcase it to the world. Share your story with the world and don’t keep it locked away in your drawer.


9. Embrace failure : When you come towards the end of the project, know that it will be hard and that not everyone will have a positive response to your book. Just be okay with failing in the first attempt and give yourself credit for finishing your first book. That is what will help you work on your next idea – the determination to keep on writing and not some elusive expectations of perfection.


10. Write your next book : Without your first book, you will never learn the lessons you need to if you want to keep on writing. So it is okay to showcase your work, fail in the beginning and try again. That is the only way you can keep on getting better. Just show up everyday and write.


These are some basic steps to help you get started, but every writer eventually finds a method that they trust and that works for them. The writing process matters a lot not only so that you can finish your book but also so that you can gain confidence in your writing. 


Everyone needs some help to stay motivated, so here are a few tips to keep you going in the process

  1. Start small : The thought of writing a book with 80,000 words can be very daunting. Start with writing a short story and then build onto longer projects.
  2. Take breaks : Plan your breaks ahead of time, in your writing process. If you constantly feel stressed about not being able to meet the deadline, then you will break your schedule. Take breaks to give yourself time to breathe and stay fresh.
  3. Never edit as you write: When it comes to the first draft, don’t worry about it being correct. Let your ideas flow and write the first draft, then go back and edit later when you have penned it down. Editing in bigger chunks will help you get things done better and faster.


Are you looking for guidance from published authors to help you start your journey as an author , then signup for the Novel Writing Workshop with MyCaptain

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