Are you thinking about writing a novel? Crafting a spectacular story takes great dedication, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you could ever do. If you’re approaching your first attempt at writing a novel, these tips will help you create something people will be interested in reading.

book and coffee

Design Deep and Dynamic Characters

Every amazing story begins with awesome characters. You can have an eye-catching premise and an excellent plot, but characters seal the deal. The reader won’t care enough about their success to remain engaged with the story if they are flat and boring.

Your characters don’t have to be likable. There are many great stories that have evil or unlikeable protagonists. The key is making your characters feel believable. Real human beings are complicated.

Their views and perspectives shift as time goes on. They have strengths and flaws, and those qualities affect the way they respond to various challenges. If you want to create characters that interest people, make sure they’re more like real people than stereotypes.

Side characters are also important. While you don’t have to flesh out your side characters as much as your main characters, you can still make them feel real. If you need help figuring out who your characters are, consider writing a character profile for each of them.

Avoid Overdoing Description

The reader should be able to imagine the textures, scents, sights, and sounds of the world your character is experiencing. The only way they can do that is if you describe the world properly.

However, here’s a fine line between describing something and going too far. When you walk into a room, you don’t notice every aspect of the room at once. You notice the things that stand out to you. If you ramble on about the color of the walls for three paragraphs, your reader will grow bored. Instead, consider what your character might notice and why.

Start with a Solid Outline

You don’t want to spend weeks writing a story that you can’t think of an ending for. Stories always evolve throughout the writing process, but beginning with a solid outline will save time and help you remain on track as you write.

There are many methods you can use for outlining. Some authors like using index cards to describe various scenes. This method allows you to rearrange the events in the story to figure out what works best.

You can also type out an outline on the computer, detailing the events of each scene. This allows you to figure out what’s going to happen in the story before you deal with the complexities of the writing process.

Write Amazing Dialogue

Terrible dialogue can bring down an otherwise good novel. The key to writing great dialogue is to balance readability with the reality of how people speak.

Not everyone is a great speaker, and if you were to transcribe an actual conversation word for word, it wouldn’t always be easy on the reader’s eyes. It’s okay to use slang and other realistic forms of expression but limit “um” and other such filler words.

Another important aspect of how to write dialogue is considering the character. Always keep your character’s personality, views, and tastes in mind when you write for them.

Seek Feedback

An author experiences a story within their own imagination long before they type it out. This can make it difficult to understand how the writing comes across to someone who knows nothing about the story. Beta readers and editors can help you discover plot holes, stereotypes, clichés, and other problematic aspects of the story.

Social media sites have expansive author communities, and you can also find critique groups that meet in person in your local area. Be wary of services that provide paid critiques for authors.

Some of them might be legitimate, but it’s difficult to get an honest opinion from someone you’re paying. You’re better off swapping critiques with another author who also needs opinions on their work.

It’s important to remember that you can’t please everyone. Some people are going to hate your book no matter how wonderful it is. Look at any bestseller, and you will find plenty of one-star reviews. To gain something of value from critiques, you must consider whether they’re coming from a difference of opinion or a valid problem with the work.

Do the Research

Even if you write a fantasy set in another world, there will likely be subjects you need to learn about before writing. If you’re writing about a real group of people or period in history, then you’ll need to do plenty of research to ensure accuracy.

Google Maps can be excellent for researching landscapes and locations, and PubMed is great for medical information. University websites also offer a wealth of information on everything from history to the sciences.

Keep Reading

If you want to be a good writer, it helps to do a lot of reading. Look for novels that are similar to what you’d like to create. Read a wide variety of authors, and pay attention to which books pull you in and which leave you feeling bored.

When you’re drawn into a story, you can study that author and their style. Pay attention to the little things that stand out to you as you read. Is it the author’s descriptions? Is this author great at dialogue? You can learn something from every book you love.

It’s Worth The Effort

Writing a novel will be no easy feat, but if it’s something you dream of doing, now is the time to begin. The days and weeks will pass either way.

If you devote time to writing every day, you’ll eventually end up with something beautiful. It’s a long, slow process, but when you hold your finished book in your hands, it will feel more than worth it.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.