- Prior to Starting Your Book, Put Together Plot Sheets and Character Notes–A couple weeks before you’d like to start a new novel (or your first novel!), sit down and figure out the plot. The best book on the subject is Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks.
Having a plot outline makes writing a novel much easier because you have a guide to go off of and you know where you need to be at the end of each chapter. (Of course, if you sit down to write and ideas just take off, feel free to stray from the outline. The idea is for it to be a guide, but imagination rules!)
Also, it’s a good idea to get to know your main characters. You can do this through character sheets. You can find plenty of them online if you search for them. Or you can create your own by just writing down everything you currently know about your characters.
Doing this will ensure your characters are always doing things that fit who they are.
- Start Writing–Once you have your plot and character sheets finished, it’s time to start your novel. Try to set a daily/weekly writing goal, such as writing a certain length of time or word count everyday or finishing a certain number of chapters by a specific day of the week, every week.When I worked with my writing coach, I wrote two chapters a week. For me, this was the perfect amount. Not too much, but just enough to keep me motivated. Play around with some writing time everyday and see what is reasonable for you. Don’t go for too much in one day/week or you’ll burn out quickly.
- If Your Plot Changes, Continue On–What that means is, if you start with a plot in mind, but then three chapters in you get a brilliant idea and your plot strays and now your first three chapters need to be rewritten, don’t go back and rewrite them. Just continue on like the first three chapters already fit and finish the book.Doing this will keep you forward-writing instead of backtracking. Backtracking is a waste of time because you never know how much your plot will change as you go through the rest of the book. If you keep going back and rewriting things, you’ll most definitely get tired of the book or at least you’ll never get it finished.I know it’s hard not to rewrite everything to match, but that’s what editing is for. And when you continue writing and reach the end, you’ll realize you have a lot less editing to do. If you had kept going back and changing everything the entire time, you’d have done a whole lot of editing.
This is a very efficient, effective process to make writing a novel a lot less work than it has to be. Try it out and let me know how it goes for you.