How to Write a Novel…

I am so thrilled to have Louise Dean here to share her insight and ninja tactics – if you are taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge, this might be particularly helpful x

Ten Commandments for Writing Your Novel

 

One
You need to journal you writing progress. If you haven’t already, start one right now.
It will be invaluable throughout your writing journey to see that yes, you suffered and worried and yes you found a solution and got through it. Many great writers found this a necessity. Try it.

Two
You need to write every day, same time, same place.
You also need to read every day.

If you do those two things, then your day job will leaven your bread and bring a healthy reality check to you and your writing, and your writing will flourish thanks to the titbits you bring home from your labours and time in goodly society.

Three
Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t over-indulge in binge writing. You’ll upset your system. A solid hour a day will see you right. Keep faith with your novel. Don’t miss a day.

Four
If you do find yourself running out of steam, remember you have two pedals. One is writing, the other is reading. When one runs out of juice, use the other to take the pressure off and hey presto you’ll be moving again!

Five
Keep your notebook with you all day every day for 90 days to catch novel thoughts and insights gleaned from daily life.

Six
Write into a notebook, then type up for a very first early doors edit.
Creating material freely is what this first draft is all about and heading back to the notebook of your childhood, the secret diary, the handwriting of your first scribblings is very freeing.

Seven
Don’t fret the plot, think character and problem; think ‘what does he or she want?’

Eight
Tempted to go back over the work and tweak it? Don’t. You need to get the story down before you know what to include and what to leave out.

Nine
Great novels come in all shapes and sizes, so stop worrying about your word count!

Ten
Remember that your novel is a jealous God. Put it first for 90 days. That’s just 0.3% of your life. Only children or emergencies come before.

And one last tip just for luck:

If I were to leave you with one ‘prose tip’, it would be this:
Write a terribly good sentence that no one has written before, that is true for you and you alone, beautiful, sad and funny, perhaps controversial or contentious, and also understated. Write the next sentence.

Delete the second sentence. I can be almost completely certain that in the second you went too far, exaggerated, and spoilt the effect of the first. I see it all the time, in my work and in my writers’. It’s the most common error. Catch it sooner rather than later and your work will improve rapidly as you learn to train the wayward growth of your prose by tying it to a strong trellis.

Louise Dean is an award-winning author published by Penguin and Simon & Schuster and nominated for The Dublin International Literary Award, The Guardian First Book Prize, and the Man Booker Prize. She is the founder of Kritikme.com, an online creative writing course which teaches people how to write a novel in ninety days. You can get a 10% discount on this course by using the code MYNOVEL10 at the check-out.
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