Edit Your Novel: How to do it Right

You finished your book. Congratulations! Now it’s time to edit your novel. This may seem like a daunting task.  You might have no idea where to start or how to go about the process.  Read on for some tips on how to best edit your novel.

Edit Your Novel

Take a Break Before You Edit Your Novel

Once you’ve finished writing your novel, you might think that the best thing to do is immediately jump into editing. After all, this is your pet project.  You might want to get published someday, or you might want to self-publish.  Before you can do that, you need to edit, right?

You’re right, of course. Every novel needs a good polish before you send it out to readers. Before you can edit, though, you need to take a break. You need to give the novel some time to breathe. You can’t edit what you just wrote unbiasedly.  You’ll be less likely to catch mistakes or find plot holes.  So, before you start editing, hit the pause button.  Put the novel in a drawer – whether that’s a drawer on your desktop or an actual drawer somewhere.

When you’re ready to go back to editing, you’ll be able to do it with an unbiased eye.  You want your novel to feel strange and fresh, even to yourself.  This means that you can read it like someone else would. You’ll find out if there are plot holes that don’t make sense, or if there are words you overuse.

Don’t be Afraid to Kill Favorite Scenes

You might have written a scene that you absolutely love. Unfortunately, these scenes don’t always make sense.  Sometimes, you have to feel comfortable deleting something that you once loved with all your heart.

It’s a strange feeling to take out something that you slaved over.  You might have tried rewriting a scene a hundred times, but it just hasn’t come out right.  So, take it out.  If something doesn’t fit a character’s personality, take it out.  One of the most important things you can do while editing is have an unbiased perspective.  You don’t want to force a character to do something simply because it fits the plot.

Use the Proper Punctuation When You Edit Your Novel

It goes without saying that you want to use the right punctuation.  I’m going to say it anyway, though. If you’re unsure if something is written properly, take the time to research. Nothing distracts from a good book more than if something is misspelled or uses a semi colon improperly.  This will distract readers from the story, which is what you want them to focus on.  When it doubt, use an automated grammar and spelling checker. We get used to seeing the squiggly lines under our words, but our readers won’t like it if they found out that you used ‘too’ instead of ‘two’.

Get a Professional’s Opinion

If you’ve written your novel, you’ve let it rest, and you’ve done your best job at editing, but you’re still unsure, it might be time to get an expert’s opinion.  You can send your novel in somewhere to be edited.  It can be somewhat expensive depending on who you use, so make sure you research appropriately. If you can’t afford a professional, ask a friend or family member.  They can read your novel and tell you if everything makes sense.  They can also look for misspelled words and bad grammar choices. There’s no shame in getting a second opinion, after all.

 

 

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How to Get Better at Writing

Have you ever looked back at your writing and grimaced in horror? If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for ways to improve your writing.  There are a few things you can do to hone your craft and become a better writer.

Books

Become a Better Editor

One of the first things you can do to become a better writer is work on your editing skills.  This means that you need to learn how to edit. What does that mean, exactly, though?  The first step is knowing what to cut.

It’s easy to cut something if you don’t like it. If the sentence doesn’t flow well, cut it.  When the paragraph doesn’t make sense, cut it. Scene sucks? Cut it.  What happens when you come across something you absolutely love, though? This is where most writers fall short. They end up in a trap where they love all their writing. They don’t want to change a thing.  Sometimes you must scrap something that you worked hard on.  Sometimes you must gut something you love. This is an important part of being an editor: knowing when something works and when it doesn’t. Don’t assume that because you love something, your reader will too.

Another part of being a good editor is rewriting. You can cut all you want, but sometimes you just need to rewrite something. If the scene works, but it sounds clunky, it’s time for a rewrite. There’s no shame in needing to rework a scene. Maybe your characters have developed a different way than you originally thought. Make sure that all scenes fit your character’s personality. You can’t force a character to do something simply for the sake of plot.

Read More to Become a Better Writer

One of the most important things you can do as a writer is read more.  Read everything! Pick up a magazine in an airport and browse the articles. Read writing blogs instead of browsing Facebook.  Most importantly, read more books.

In this modern age, it’s easy to find yourself wasting your time in front of the screen or the television. This can be a killer to creativity.  If you’re planning on becoming a writer, you need to read more books. Constantly. When you take a bath, take a book with you.  When you’re snuggling on the couch under a warm blanket, do it with a good book. Read aloud to your kids. Read aloud to yourself.

Find books that fit the genre you want to write in. They can inspire you. They can teach you.  You’ll learn a lot about characters and a lot about plot.  It’s one thing to binge-watch Game of Thrones for the third time, but why not pick up the books and read them?

Great authors make story-telling look easy.  Think of Stephen King or JK Rowling. They have enthralled millions of readers throughout their careers. It wasn’t always easy for them to be great writers. Just like you, they spent tons of hours doing research. They spent tons of hours editing and rewriting.  Just like you, they started at the beginning.  So, pick up a book of theirs instead of watching a movie and learn something about the craft.

Work on your Writing Every Day

If you want to improve your writing, the absolute, most important thing is writing more.  Every single day.  You want to make sure that you’re practicing your craft. You don’t get good at something overnight. It takes years and years of practice to become great at something.

If you want to turn your writing into a career instead of a hobby, you must learn practice.  Once in a while, take a look at some of your old work.  Compare it to what you’re writing now. Makes notes on what you’ve improved on and make notes on what still needs work.

Then write more and more and more.  Trust me, the longer you write, the better you’ll get. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work.  It’ll get easier to get past those scenes you were once stuck on.  Making romantic connections in your novel will become simpler.  Most importantly, you’ll learn how to actually affect the reader with your emotional scenes.

Writing can be a challenge and improving your writing might seem difficult. With enough practice, enough editing, and enough reading and research, though, you too can learn how to make your books really shine.

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Before You Start Your Novel

Are you ready to sit down and start typing out that great American novel that everyone’s always talking about? Perhaps you’ve had a story in your head for years.  It’s time to start writing, right? I mean, there’s no time like the present! That’s true in the way that you’re never going to write a book unless you actually start writing.  Before you start your novel, though, there are some questions you should ask yourself.

Before You Start Your Novel

Why am I Writing?

This is probably the most important question a beginning writer like yourself before beginning.  Why do you want to write a book? If the answer is because you want to become rich and famous, perhaps you’d be better suited off doing something else.  Writing is not the best way to make money.  Sure, plenty of people have done it.  You might have heard of independent authors making money of Amazon. You know all about traditional published novelists like JK Rowling and Stephen King.  This is not the norm.

The truth is, you may never sell a single copy of your work. You might write until your fingers bleed and your eyes tear up. You are not guaranteed success.  Nobody is. So, before you start your novel, find a better reason to write.

A few good reasons to write are:

  1. You must write. You live and breathe at the keyboard.  Your soul and passion are connected to your stories and without them, you’re nothing.  If you can’t imagine doing anything else with your life, then get writing!
  2. You have a story to tell. There is a great, fantastic epic story inside you that you feel must come out and see the light of day.  Nobody can tell the same story that you can.  Remember that, and if you want to be a writer, you’re on the right track.
  3. You want to change the way people view the world. This is an important one. If you want to write because you want to evoke change in someone, then you’re on the right path.  Emotion is hard to come by these days and if you can bring it out in a reader, then you’re in the right career path.

 

What Story am I Trying to Tell?

Before you start your novel, think about what kind of story you want to tell.  Pick your genre and think about how your book fits into it.  What sort of novel is it? Are you writing a fantasy story with a great, spiraling world? Is it a horror story where things lurk under the bed? Are you writing romance where star-crossed lovers end up together at the end?

Whatever kind of story you want to tell, make sure you plan it out in advance. There’s something to be said for being able to sit down and just write, but there’s also something to be said for having an outline to follow.  Getting lost in your story sounds romantic but it won’t feel that way when you’re a hundred pages in and have no idea where your plot went.

 

Before You Start: Can I REALLY do This?

The answer to this one is tricky.  I want to say yes. You can do this. The truth is, though, not everyone is cut out to be a writer.  There are a million people out there who want to write a book and not even a small percentage of them actually do it.  So how can you improve your odds of sitting down and finishing your book?

Write.  Every single day, write.  Make it a priority and you’re going to find out soon enough whether or not you’re cut out for the writing industry.  Read my post on ways to stay motivated, and then begin that novel.  There’s only one way to find out if you can really do this, and that’s to try.  Try your hardest, and make sure that you put your heart, soul, and passion into your work. Without that, you’re just filling up pages on a screen.

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Romantic Relationships in Novels

Whether you’re writing an actual romance novel, or fantasy, or horror, there’s going to come a time when your characters enter romantic relationships in your book.  Learning how to navigate these tricky relationships can be fun and interesting or daunting and straining. Learn how to make the best out of your characters getting entangled in romance.

Romantic Relationships Are Important in Novels

Romantic Relationships: Who Chooses Who

Sometimes the choice between who’s going to end up with who is quite clear.  You have it planned from the beginning. You build up chemistry between two characters so that way their path to romance is really easy to follow.  This can be a great way to gratify readers when the two characters they’re rooting for end up together.

However, sometimes it’s not so simple.  Sometimes a character has multiple people they’ve fallen for and must decide on who it’s going to be. Romantic relationships in books can be just as complex and tangled up and dramatic as real life.  So who does your main character choose? Who do they end up with in the end? Ultimately the decision is yours.

 

Let it Be Organic

While the choice is yours, as I just said, you want the relationship to feel organic. You want to build up hints and clues as to who your romantic relationships are going to be with and you want to make sure that it doesn’t seem forced for the sake of the story.  Even if it’s an arranged marriage, you can still put in little tidbits in there to make sure it seems like it didn’t come out of nowhere.

Nobody said your characters have to get along. In an arranged marriage, they might hate each other. This must be organic too. You can’t just decide to say that the characters automatically hate each other because of the sake of the story.  Let their personalities, quirks, and personal preferences dictate how they get along with each other.

 

If it’s Not a Romance Book, Don’t Let it Take Over

Unless you’re actually writing a romance novel, be careful not to let the tangled web of romance completely eclipse your story.  For example, if you’re writing a fantasy novel, you want to make sure the story is still centered around that, and not just about who is sharing someone else’s bed.  The same goes for any sort of story that’s not romance.  In a horror novel, two characters might organically fall in love because of circumstance, but make sure the story is still about the horror or the psychosocial thrills.

Let the romance work for you.  Let it add flavor to the story without taking away from the main plot.  Everything is great in moderation and characters fall in love. That’s part of human nature, so don’t worry about putting it in there as long as you don’t make it your main focus from then on out.

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Publishing Mistakes for Independent Authors

So you finished your first book. It was a grueling, heart wrenching process. You slaved over it for days, months, maybe even years. Now it’s done, though, and you’re ready to share it with the world. Unfortunately, you may not be. There are a lot of publishing mistakes that new time independent authors make that you want to avoid.

 Publishing Mistakes for First Time Authors

Cheaping out on Cover Design

You’ve all heard that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. In a perfect world, this would be true. However, we don’t live in a perfect world and being cheap on your cover design is one of the worst publishing mistakes you can make.

It sucks to spend money, but this is one of those times when you want to make sure you spend the cash to get a professional looking cover made. You want something that’s eye catching, something that will make readers take a second look. It needs to be something that not only represents your book but represents your genre.

 

Not Editing Enough

Don’t flake out on making sure your book is properly edited. If you write a wonderful, deep, complex story, that’s fantastic. However, it’s not fantastic if it’s full of typos and misplaced words.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on editing. You can absolutely find a professional editor who will look over your book for grammar errors and inconsistencies if that’s what you want to do. However, friends and family exist for a reason. Make them read your book and check it for mistakes.

When you have someone you know or someone professional edit your book, be prepared for feedback. Editing isn’t always just about catching the fact that you keep starting every sentence the same way. They’re also going to be checking for inconsistencies and plot holes. Take what they say to heart. If they notice something wrong, then your readers definitely will.

 

Not Researching Marketing Tips

You can’t just put a book on Amazon and hope it will sell. You need to research the hell out of ways to market your book. If you want to truly get readers, take the time to do some research and avoid publishing mistakes such as releasing at the wrong time, or selling for the wrong price point. You’ll even want to research what genre to set your book as.

Social Media is a great place to market. You can use Facebook and Twitter to your advantage. Check out some articles on blogging and guest blogging as well. You’ll want to research how to go about creating traffic using paid ads as well.

 

The Biggest Publishing Mistakes: Giving Up

So you wrote your first book, got a cover, edited the hell out of it, and it’s still not selling. A lot of authors just give up there. The figure if all the tools in their arsenal haven’t worked, its time to return to their day job.

Don’t give up. Write more and more and more. Most successful independent authors have dozens of books up online. Keep writing and keep yourself from making these publishing mistakes. Good luck and happy publishing!

 

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Sympathetic Villains in Your Novel

Whatever book you’ve decided to write, you probably have an antagonist in mind.  It’s important to drive the story and give your protagonist someone to fight against.  In a lot of cases, it’s black and white on who’s good and who’s the bad guy.  What happens when you want to make your story a little grayer, though? That’s where sympathetic villains comes in.  In this article, I’ll discuss ways to make your bad guy seem like someone you might not necessarily hate.

Sympathetic Villains in Novel Creation

Consider What Your Villain Wants

If you’re creating a story that’s not supposed to be completely black and white, then you need to spend as much time fleshing out your antagonist as you do your protagonist. In a lot of cases, a bad guy thinks he’s doing something good, or he believes his cause is just.  This can make for a compelling character that has a lot more depth and complexity.

Think about it for a moment. Imagine you’re creating a fantasy world where your villain wants to take over all the different kingdoms. Why does he want to do it? In a pure story about good versus evil, he may just want power.  In a story where you want to create a sympathetic villain, however, you might consider why he wants that power.  Does he want to unite the world to end suffering? Does he believe that he can provide the empire that the world may need?

 

Give Him or Her Good Qualities Too

If you want to create a character that’s sympathetic, they need to have some good qualities. They need something that redeems them in the eyes of the reader.  Readers should be torn on whether or not they’re purely bad or if they’re just misguided in whatever their agenda is.

Some examples would be if your villain is nice to children.  If he truly cares about them, perhaps he builds orphanages for the homeless. Perhaps he provides money to poor families. Perhaps he provides education to the illiterate. There are hundreds of ways you can make your villain seem more sympathetic while still making sure the readers know he is the antagonist of the story and that while he might have some good qualities, he’s still making the wrong decisions.

 

Look at Sympathetic Villains in Modern Media

There are hundreds of shows out there that portray sympathetic villains.  Take Game of Thrones for example. While Cersei is clearly an antagonist of the story, there are moments when you find yourself actually caring about her character.   She loves her children and always puts them first and foremost. That’s a redeemable quality right there, even if she makes horrible decisions that eventually lead to their deaths.

Another good example is a Handmaid’s Tale. This story is riddled with antagonists who truly believe they’re doing the right thing. Aunt Lydia tortures and abuses women while condoning rape but you know that she does it because she truly wants to save the human race from extinction and that she cares about the children that are sired.  Serana Joy helped create the dystopian world the story takes place in, and yet you find yourself caring about what happens to her while still rooting for Offred/June.

Whether you decide to make your villain sympathetic or purely evil, it’s important to make sure that you still take the time to make sure the character is fully rounded out and well developed. Nobody wants to read a story about a one-dimensional bad guy after all.  Take your time to find out his or her personality, their driving motives, and the things that make them tick.  Bad guys were once just normal people after all.  Happy writing!

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Independent Authors: Making Money Off Your Work

Maybe you write because you love the idea of telling a story. You love creating intricate plots and deep, complex characters. However, if you’re like most independent authors out there, you’d love to make money off your work as well. In this article, I’ll discuss how authors make money independently.  Independently means making money without using a traditional publishing company.

Independent Authors Making Money off Their Novels

Independent Authors Versus Traditional Publishing

If you’ve done any research about the publishing world in the last few years, you’ll see that independent authors are actually capable of making more money publishing themselves on companies like Amazon than using traditional publishing companies.  Why, though?  Because of royalties.

Traditional publishing companies know that new authors are desperate to have their work published, so they can ask for whatever percent royalties they want.  They can ask for high numbers like seventy to eighty percent while offering you minimal upfront payments.  If you publish your novels yourself, using the numerous methods out there, you can keep anywhere from fifty to seventy percent more of your book sells. That’s a huge bonus.  Sure, you might not have the resources of a publishing company but there’s no reason you can’t do the same things a publishing company would. It just takes a bit more time and effort.

Making Marketing Your Friend

If you’re going to independently publish your work, you need to take the time to research. There are literally thousands of articles out there about how to market your book. Look into it. This may come in the form of release your book for free for certain periods of time to drive readers and reviews. This may come in the form of creating a blog to drive traffic to your novel. You might release snippets on a site about your book.

Make sure you investigate paid ads, guest blogging, and social media as well. Twitter can go a long way! Also, make sure you edit your book. People who professionally edit their books sell more. It’s just a fact. Nobody wants to read something that’s riddled with typos and inconsistencies.  You know what else sells? A good cover. People do judge books by them, and you want yours to stand out. So, make sure you get a professional looking one made. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on it, but you do need a good artist.

Write More and More and More

The key to success is writing more! There are independent authors out there that are making over one hundred thousand dollars a year! How are they doing it? They’re treating their writing like a career. The average 100ker spends at least 40 hours a week writing.  They typically have about 25 to 30 books published on Amazon.

If you want to be one of these people, if you want to make yourself a success, then focus on writing. This doesn’t mean you have to quit your day job – we all have bills to pay. It just means that you need to make writing one of the priorities in your life.  Read up on how to stay motivated, good luck, and happy writing!

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Career Creation: Keeping Your Passion Alive

Don’t let anyone fool you: being a writer is hard work.  If you’ve decided to make it into a career, it can be even more difficult. Once you no longer see it as a hobby, it can turn into something that you see as a mundane job. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of turning your passion into work.  In this article, I’m going to offer ways to make sure you don’t lose your love of writing just because you decided you want to someday make money at it!

Making Writing into a Career while Keeping Passion

Career Making Music

If you’re anything like me, you have playlists you listen to while you write.  For me, my music choice is influenced by what type of writing I’m doing.  If I’m writing a horror novel or a psychological thriller, I’m more likely to turn on instrumentals that have no words. If I’m working on building a fantasy world out, I’m going to turn on something upbeat with a lot of drums.  You can also individualize your playlists per character you’re working on.  Choose a genre that matches your character’s voice to get into the mood to write for that person.

 

Write Every Day

I’ve talked about this in a previous article, but it’s important that you write every single day. No matter what’s going on in your life, sit down and write at least a little. You need to stay connected to your characters and not lose their voices.  If you write every day, you’re well on your way to making your writing into a career.  It can be difficult to stay motivated, but if you follow the steps in my motivational article, you should be able to sit down and get some words out each day.

 

Join a Writing Club

If you’re looking to make your writing into a career, getting input is important. Sometimes it can be difficult to get unbiased criticism and critique from the people you love. A great alternative to asking your husband, wife, or siblings to look over your novel is to join a writing club.  You can then get honest feedback from strangers who have no obligation to make you feel good about yourself.  Who knows? You might learn something, and you might make friends in the process.  Just because this is your job doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself while you’re at it!

 

Remember Why You Love to Write

If you decided you wanted to be a writer purely so you can be rich and famous, you’re probably not going to last long in this career field.  Writing is about having a story to tell.  It’s about having characters in your head that speak to you and want a chance to tell their tales.  There’s no reason you can’t make money off your novel. However, that shouldn’t be your sole motivation for writing a novel. You should write because it’s your passion and passions are important.  There’s a famous quote that says that if you choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

 

 

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Character Creating:  How to get Started

After you’ve decided on what sort of book you want to write, it’s time to work on your main character.  This usually serves as the protagonist of the story, though you’ll want to create an antagonist as well.  Don’t worry: if your book has several main characters, you can still use this guide to work on making three-dimensional people for your readers to either love or love to hate.

Character Creation Can be Fun

 

Character History

It might seem unnecessary to have an entire history for your character but another way to think of it is to consider it a backstory.  You need to know where your character originated from because that’s going to contribute a lot to their personality, their skill sets, and their hopes and dreams.

Take a character who comes from a farm in a fantasy world for example.  He’s never done anything but buck hay and tend the fields.  His parents are nice people who want him to run the farm by himself someday but he’s poor and their family struggles.  In town, though, the rich have everything they can ever want.  War comes to his kingdom and he’s drafted into military service. There’s a rebel group that’s trying to recruit him as well, to overthrow the rich and spread the wealth.  Knowing the history of your character can help you decide what he’s going to do.

Another example of importance of history would be if your main character lost a spouse before the novel started.  If you’re writing a romance novel for example, knowing that your main character’s husband died is going to influence how she learns to love someone else. She may feel guilt and confusion, and other complex emotions!

 

Relationships

It’s important for you to know your main protagonist’s relationships. This doesn’t necessarily mean romantic relationships either.  How’s his relationship with the people who raised him? Does he have brothers and sisters? Do they get along?  Who’s his best friend? Is there an antagonist already that he has strife with?

Just as knowing protagonist and antagonist history can be important in determining motives, so can relationships.  This can help define your protagonist’s personality.  What’s the most important thing in their friendships and family ties? Is it loyalty, honesty, bravery, or simply the ability to enjoy the same types of things?

 

Character Likes and Dislikes

To have consistency in your book, it is important to know the likes and dislikes of your character(s).  This list can include everything from watching the sunset in the morning, to reading a good book.  It can also include favorite foods, and beverages.  On the flip side, knowing what your character dislikes is important too.  If you mention in chapter one that they hate cheese and then have them with a grilled cheese sandwich in chapter seven, there’s problems.

Trivial likes and dislikes aren’t the only important things though.  You want to know what it is that makes your character tick.  Do they hate the wealthy, or do they dislike the poor?  Is it possible that they hold a grudge against whatever government your book has? Are drugs a trigger for them, whether in a good or bad way?  Do they find certain crimes more heinous than others?

When in Doubt, Do a Personality Test

You can answer all these questions about your character and still be confused about who they are. Luckily, there are hundreds of personality tests out there on the Internet.  You can take one, answering as if you are your character, and it will give you a good overview of the sort of personality your character has, including things they’re more likely to excel at, relationships they’d be good at, and what jobs they should avoid.   Making a good character can be hard, but with the right tools, it can be just a little bit easier. Happy writing!

 

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Novel Writing: How to Start Your Book

The idea of starting a novel can be both exhilarating and terrifying.  It’s a huge undertaking: you need a story, you need the proper motivation, and if you’re writing in the fantasy world, you need to know how to build that world.

Sometimes the very idea of sitting down and writing out a novel can so frightening that some people never even start.  However, you don’t want to be one of those people.  If you have a story you want to tell, only you can tell it.  So how do you get started?

Novel Writing: How to

Brainstorming Your Novel

The first step to writing any book is to brainstorm what your story is going to be about.  What genre are you writing for? Do you have an idea for a romance novel?  Are you planning on writing a fantasy book?  Is the book going to be horror, post-apocalyptic, young-adult, coming of age, or several other plot genres?

Who is your main protagonist? It’s important to know who your main character is going to be.  Will they be female or male? Young or old? Are there several main characters or one specific character that the story follows? Take Harry Potter for example:  Harry is the main protagonist, but there are important supporting characters like Ron and Hermione.

You want to figure out what world your story takes places in next.  Is it modern day? Are you planning to set it in the future? In an alternative world? Take the time to figure out what kind of world your novel belongs to.

 

Setting Up an Outline

Another important part of writing a novel is to make sure that you create an outline.  You want to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  There needs to be conflict in any story, and you need to figure out what that conflict is, how it affects your characters, when it will take place, and how it will be resolved.

Your outline can be as detailed or as non-descript as you’d like. If you want to plot out every scene, that’s perfectly acceptable. In fact, it can help you when you’re writing and you get stuck on a section. You can jump ahead to another section and come back to your problem child later.

On the flip side, you can leave your outline vague, and fill in as you go.  If you don’t know exactly how your novel is going to happen word-for-word, this might be a good idea for you.  Let your intuition take over as you write and let characters evolve and act according to their evolution. You might be surprised at the twists and turns your novel takes that you were never planning!

 

Write, Write, Write

 

The absolute most important thing you can do when starting your novel is to write. The words won’t come if you’re not typing them.  Don’t worry about making mistakes: this is your first draft, and you can always edit later.  You want to get the keys clicking and the words filling up your page.  If you have decided to follow an outline, check in once in a while to make sure your story is staying on track.

Just remember that this is your story.  Nobody can tell it just like you, and would you really want them to?

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