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10 Tips for Writing a Novel

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We know writing a novel can seem like a daunting task at first. Just starting can seem intimidating!

Fortunately, there are many ways you can simplify writing a novel to make it easier. This list of 10 novel writing tips will help you stay focused, motivated, and organized throughout the writing process.

These 10 Tips Will Help You Write Your Novel

tips for writing a novel

1. Choose Your Deadline and Writing Goal

When there’s no deadline or goal to finish, it can be very hard to complete your project.

This is why this is the #1 rule on the list: Set a measurable deadline and writing goal.

Most novels are between 50,000 and 100,000 words. Because it’s easier to add words than cut them out, it’s often better to set your word count goal lower than 75,000 words for your first draft.

To determine the best writing goals and deadline for you, think about how many words you can write in a day. I can generally easily write between 2,500 and 4,000 words a day, so setting a goal of 75,000 words in 30 days is reasonable for me.

A deadline will push you to your limits and write even when you’re not motivated to write.

2. Prepare Before You Write

While some writers just sit down at the keyboard to write with no plan or idea, it can be difficult to keep a story going or you may hit writer’s block. By preparing a basic synopsis, mind map, or outline for your ideas, you’ll have something to reference to anytime you come across a roadblock while writing.

There’s many different ways to prepare for writing a novel.

Here’s just a few examples for ways you can prepare:

A little prep work can go a long way in helping you stay focused and on task while writing. Having all your research and ideas in one place can also be very beneficial for keeping thoughts and ideas organized.

3. Know Your Characterscharacter interview questions novel writing

The better you know your characters, the easier the writing will unfold. Get to know your characters as well as you would know a close friend.

You don’t have to write every little detail about your character in the story – but the more you know about your character the more you will be able to imagine new scenes and develop the story.

Need help creating strong characters? See our list of Character Development Questions and How to Develop Strong Characters in Your Novel.

4. Use the Right Tools While Writing Your Novel

novel writing help

If you’re using Microsoft Office or Open Office to write your novel, you’re likely going to get frustrated during the process. While these programs are great for some writing projects, most professional writers use software specifically made for writers.

There are a lot of great programs and tools that can help you easily write your book. The key is to make sure that whatever you use is productive, reliable, and efficient.

Beyond just software and hardware, there are a lot of other important things – like being comfortable while you work! Never underestimate the importance of a good Ergonomic Office Chair!

5. Schedule Time to Write – And Actually Write!

make time for writing

There will never be a perfect time to write. Waiting for when you have more time is a surefire way to never start writing your book. Finding motivation to write may not be easy, but sometimes scheduling time is just as hard!

Schedule a time during the day when you can write with minimal distractions and sit down. Try to disconnect from the internet if you can and force yourself to write. Do it one word at a time. Making time for writing will help you complete your novel.

6. Write First, Edit Later

tips for writing novel first draft

One of the biggest mistakes new writers make is to edit while writing. Don’t worry about making your first draft perfect – this can be done in the revision stage AFTER the first draft is complete.

Try to avoid reading what you just wrote and just keep moving forward. You can always edit sentences and cut out scenes or add scenes later.

Our post on How to Write 2,500+ words a day also has many tips and techniques for writing more efficiently.

7. Write Fast

If you’ve set a deadline, writing fast will help you reach your goals. It also helps you stop second-guessing your work while you are in the process of writing.

Write from a stream of consciousness where you just write whatever comes to mind about your story. Don’t worry so much about it making sense. The important thing is to get words down.

8. Connect With Others

Writing can be lonely. Joining a writing group can give you a lot of support! Your group can be the place to ask questions, stay accountable, and share tips and resources with others to keep you motivated and encouraged.

9. Take Creative Breaks

Writing is a creative process and sitting in one spot all the time staring at a screen does not do much for exercising the creative muscles.

Try drawing, painting, sketching or go for a walk or take your notebook to a coffee shop or park. Getting out and doing something will help you greatly in re-energizing you to keep writing.

10. Don’t Give Up!

You’ll feel like quitting many, many times. But persistence and diligence is key in finishing. Stick to your deadline and writing goals and keep at it. You CAN do it!

And of course, when you are finally finished writing that book, you are ready to learn how to publish your book!

Do you have any tips for writing a novel? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!

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59 thoughts on “10 Tips for Writing a Novel”

  1. Hi think written.com,

    I have loved to write creatively since I was a little girl. I am now in high school and am very busy with sports, school, and homework. I have tried to find time to write but once I get back to an idea I don’t like it anymore. How can I stick to an idea? I also have been told that I have a stream of consciousness; I want to be able to take advantage of this, but how do I go about this? I have been told to start thinking about my future and what I want to do. I am a very ambitious person, but I fear writing a novel or book won’t have an impact on other people’s lives; I want to have an impact on people’s lives for the better. I want to write a great book like Brave New World, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, or To Kill A Mockingbird but how can I have a great idea and have it transform into a piece of art?

    Reply
    • I agree with you about thinking of your future, but you could always create stories and images in your mind, hold on to those ideas and write about them when everything in your life calms down. Going back and spending time on your writing may be all you need to get back on track. When you really wanna do something, you will make time for it.

      Reply
    • I extremely relate miss. I also loved Pride and Prejudice and To kill a mocking bird and like you, I also want to move the world with my writing like them but I always get so much ideas in my head. I actually have written over 50 synopsis and plots varying in many genres but I after chapter one the fire of writing in me extinguish. I was really thankful for this post because I realized many wrong things that I’ve done. I just really hope I can now defeat my constant writer’s block.

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      • Ally, it is EVERY creative person’s struggle to try and get everything “together” into a creative body of work. For me, sometimes just exploring an idea far enough out through to the outline and a synopsis is enough. Some ideas I really DO want to bring to full production. Sometimes I just want to play with words, and that creative freedom to play is enough. A couple of writers who have inspired me to find the balance between creating and actually publishing are Barbara Sher @ http://www.barbarasher.com/index.htm and Emily Wapnik @ PuttyLike https://puttylike.com/ – maybe that will help give you some “ideas” to find a good channel to give yourself the freedom to file away the ideas, explore them, play with them, and then just gloriously push on through life with the confidence that all of your work is good enough, it just might take some time and a focused effort fueled by motivation for why it’s important to sit chained to a computer to get it put together.

        For now, I’m just keeping my notebooks for the same reason I started this very website. If I put something online, somebody might read it. Somebody might like it. Somebody might find it useful. I’ve got LOTS of critics who haven’t liked what I’ve written, but it just takes one email or a comment from a reader for me to know the things I’ve written were useful to someone and so I found the strength to continue pushing on to add to this work.

        If you look at this blog today, I have 55 blog posts. I sure would like a lot more. But, slowly, over the course of the past 6 years, I have done my best to constantly keep working towards making this website better and better. I’ve added to, edited, and updated things that I started with. The slow and painful path of just writing 5 minutes here or 5 minutes there a day can be a beautiful one. Comments like yours are the ones that inspire me the most to write a thoughtful note in response.

        Oh, and when I can’t write a full novel, I also just like to write flash fiction and really, really bad poetry. Writing bad poetry on purpose is actually the focus of what I’ve been working on the past year. And it’s blissful, to write terribly knowing nobody in the world wants to read bad poems, and there is very little viable market demand for all the bad poetry out there in the world.

        I hope for you {and every reader of this website} the best of success in your writing journey!

        Reply
        • Hey there, I just wanted to add something about the creative process.

          Bottom line (TL;DR) —- Put crap down. Start with that. If you’re writing a romance novel, start with something absurd like this.

          “It was a tin can. A fucking tin can.”

          Or if it’s a science fiction thing:

          “I hate the soup. That’s the reason.”

          Just looking at those ^^^^^^ things makes my mind launch into all kinds of inroads.
          —————ANALYSIS (boring, so run for cover)—————
          Looking inward, I’m fairly sure I’ve discovered what writer’s block is, and it’s based upon this principal of progressions:

          Nothing->something —— This is an infinite delta.
          Something->the next thing —— This is a small delta.

          The only only ONLY thing that works for me with writer’s block was to recognize what my mind was doing:

          1. idea, reject, because it wasn’t a good start
          2. idea, reject, because it wasn’t the right order
          3. idea, reject, because the first two ideas might have to come first
          4. repeat at #1 until I give up and do anything I perceive as less painful, like watching netflix.

          It was always fixed when I threw down something I couldn’t imagine made sense.

          Reply
    • ive always wanted to write i never had the patience to but now im in high school and really want to do what ive dreamed of i might not accomplish that goal but at least i would have tried i want to write a story about people falling in love and their friends falling in love bascially i want to write a romance novel.

      Reply
    • I’ve dealt with the same problems, once, as well. I’ve found that writing from your heart is the best. You have you put a little bit of yourself into the story, whether its a character that acts exactly like you or a theme that you’ve connected deeply with over the years. Or, maybe, you can discover how to write freely on your own.

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    • So you’re probably a working woman now, Jasmyn. But don’t forget about your book. Write it, no matter what. You can do it. You can.

      Reply
  2. I appreciate it when you suggested joining a writing group since they will not only make writing more fun, they can also share tips in case I am running out of ideas. I will be sure to do this since I am looking forward to publishing my first book. Currently, I am running out of ideas for the plot twist, so maybe asking a group can help me.

    Reply
    • Alright, first write down the story however you can once put every main event chapterwise. When you think you are done with the first draft you have to start with editing. just write down your plot kind of like summarizing it know what each chapter comprises of. List down all the characters in the first chapter and give backstory and description about them. Description as in interests, dislikes, behavior, character etc. Also add in some physical traits. If you already had added some of these in your first draft, good job . Instead of writing “they went to the park and ate food” narrate how they went to the park and ate what food and how was it. Keeping aside the main event, try to put in other small incidents. Try giving a backstory to all characters. Do the same for every chapter. Remember reading is the best teacher on how to write. Write down all your ideas as imaginations fade with time. Do not give up. Fall in Love with your story and your characters. Email me if you have further questions or need help. Don’t give up, James. You will do great!

      Reply
    • Hi James, the only way to become a writer is to start writing! The more you write the easier it will get and the more you will enjoy it. I would not worry so much about proper grammar or form – just get that idea on paper and see where it goes!

      Reply
  3. Hey, thanks so much for writing this, it has helped a lot with my writing process. I have to two problems when writing my stories: 1. I have so many ideas that it is difficult to stick to just one (which I have learned to keep under control in order to finish the main ones) and 2. is that I am never sure whether or not my material is good enough for publication, if my writing makes enough sense, if my wording is good enough, et cetera. Your article has certainly helped, thanks again.

    Reply
    • So I agree with you. I downloaded Grammarly on my phone to help me better my sentences. Maybe try that. I’m also a new writer. But hopefully, you don’t give up. I am writing a book I Inkitt. Called “The Hybrid”.

      Reply
  4. Hello. I really loved all of the information you have given. Ever since I was little I would sit down with my little notebook and a pen and write down short stories. I love to write, in fact a few years ago I wrote my first novel. It wasn’t really good and looking back I realize there were so many plot issues, but that did not stop me from writing. As I have gotten older and smarter school has gotten in the way and other non academical issue too. Somehow writing out stories or simple ideas have gotten tough. Whenever I sit down at my laptop with a great idea set in my mind I would start typing and no words would flow out the way I want them to. I have had this amazing novel idea in my mind that would look amazing in actual sentences and paragraphs for over a year now. It just breaks my heart how much time has flown and how much older I have gotten and how many great opportunities have passed for my writing. I would love the achievement of writing a great novel. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and so many other novels have really inspired me. I just want to have that thrill of finishing my novel and being able to say that I did it. But sadly I cannot do that because I can’t simply write down the words I see in my mind. Do you have any ideas on how I could achieve my goals? Thank you so much for taking your time to read this long message. And any information you could give could really influence myself and my writing.

    Reply
    • Hi Breanna! It might be helpful to maybe try recording yourself talking the story out. Sometimes it’s easier to talk out a story than to type it because our brains think faster than we can type – and then once you record it you can type it up and have a place to start editing from.

      Reply
  5. Hi, i’m currently starting my first real book, but i’m not completely sure how to start it off in a way that captures the reader’s attention. Anyone got any tips???

    Reply
    • I would say just start writing – you can always fine tune the introduction once you are in the revision process!

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    • Try making a sad or happy or romantic ending because it can give more interest to the readers from all the world ( once you got famous though ). Even I am just a beginner but I love helping people about tips. I hope this work! ^~^

      Reply
  6. This really help me A LOT! I finally can write a novel even it not real because its a competition event in my school. Thank you so much! Even though I am just a student but I am one of the smartest kids in my school but I never got in any activity in my school, so today I joined a Writing Novel Competition event! I just started writing since I was a small kid, now I stopped. But I decided to give it a try again! Thank you now I can improve my skill in writing a novel! For the last time, THANK YOU SO MUCH,THINKWRITTEN!!!!!!!!! ^_^

    Reply
  7. Hi everyone, so I am about to start writing my first book (I have written a prologue and thought through the whole story) but I have decided to do something different – I am not going to use a computer at all. I am only young and grown up with computers however I have always felt I find it much easier to translate ideas to paper than by typing. Is this something ALOT of authors do? I feel like it might take slightly longer but if I can get a first draft on paper I feel it will be much better.

    Reply
    • Hi Joseph, I’ve started lots of books on paper. My most recent book began in a beautiful Moleskine notebook. You can always type it up later. Typing it on your computer is great for editing and revising! 🙂

      Reply
    • I’m currently handwriting two novels at once. I agree with you on handwriting your first draft. I get intimidated by using a device to type up my work. I keep checking the pages. I get eager and anxious asking myself,“When will this be completed?” Computers and devices feel like peer pressure. I used to type short 20-50 page stories on my phone and type it over on my computer. It wasn’t a smart idea at first. After I started realizing I was wasting my time, I took out my old Diaries. I started handwriting in them which made my life easier. I’m planning on typing both novels so I have a back up just in case I loose my drafts. I created 56 short stories within 3 years. 27 of them are episodes with the length of 2-15 pages each. The rest out of the 56 have 20-50 pages besides one(which is 89 pages). The funny thing is, I have 9 story ideas that I haven’t gotten to yet but I keep forgetting about them. Silly me…

      Reply
  8. It is interesting, I have this place I go too, an imaginary land where I create elaborate stories, however, I don’t know how to begin, I have simply been excreting my ideas in a fumbling way on my word processor. I know, in there somewhere is a great story, but it is just where and how to start. I have searched many a page, and I end up feeling pretty overwhelmed. But, this is the first one that lays down a good chronological chain that I can understand and work too. Thank you for this helpful advice, I feel a little more armed and ready for my first novel.

    Reply
  9. I read that I must go out for Sketching, drawing or painting to have more creative ideas. Guess what? I’m not just a writer , but an artist as well , so I do the sketching and painting almost everyday 😂😂😂

    Reply
  10. I really think that this can help me a lot. For the past year or so, I’ve wanted to try writing a novel similar to ones as big as Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, so I’m thinking of Fantasy or maybe even Sci-Fi books. But, whenever I think of a good idea for a story, I just get bored with it and put it aside. I’m only a freshman in high school right now, so not much would really work for me since I’ve been feeling a bit pressured lately and all. I’ve already made a point of this, but I want to be an author, and just don’t know how to start, keep going, and finish writing a book. Again, as I said at the start, this will hopefully be able to help me and thank you for writing this if the one who made this is reading my comment. To all other inspiring writers out there, good luck, and keep with it!

    Reply
  11. What writing book and or books would you prefer to help you with writing novels? I’ve bought at least 15 books on writing, proper grammar and how to get your book published. I’m not sure if I have the right books to help me improve on my skills. May someone offer me some advice?

    Reply
  12. Hello
    I love reading novels especially fiction ones. I have completed some of their series. Recently I just got an idea to start writing a book.The information on this website helped me a lot. I have got some ideas like characters, mission as the base but I have difficulty in finding challenges and their solutions. Please recommend and suggest me some ideas for it. Also how to keep up with the challenges so the book doesn’t turn out boring and keeps enthralling the readers. Please tell some ideas.

    Reply
  13. I love to write stories. This has definitely helped me continue to write and I hope that someday my dream of creating a book comes true. I am currently attempting to write a book about me and my friends but in a more dramatic and magically unrealistic way. This website has totally given me ideas on how to pursue my dreams. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  14. I need help!! I want to publish a book my first book in the future, but I have so many ideas swimming in my head! any ideas…??????

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  15. I am only a middle schooler, but I have been working on writing a novel (currently it would be considered a novella) for over a year. I still love my initial idea and, right now more than ever, ideas and plot twists are thriving. I feel like I write often, but there is still so much that needs to happen in the story. I don’t feel like it is in the place to be separated into two books yet either. Otherwise, the first one wouldn’t exhibit the character vs. character conflict that makes the climax in the plot, well, the climax in the plot.

    I am not the kind of person who would put a deadline on something like this, schoolwork or small projects, yes, but this story, no. I would feel pressured to work on it constantly and make incredible progress without exceeding an initial word count. Right now, the word count is around 25,000. What should I do?

    Reply
  16. I have wrote many articles about attitude but procrastination is the great bottleneck that stand on my way of success. Please what will i do to free myself from this procrastination? Thank you!

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  17. umm… so those tips are really good and motivating and all . but i feel like i might not be as good as others in writing cause there so many amazing writers in the world. plus i get distracted very easily. maybe that’s just cause I’m just a teenager but i would love to learn more about writing novels 🙂

    Reply
    • You never know until you try! I wrote my first novel when I was 14. It was horrific, but now 20-something years later I can look back at a fulfilling and meaningful writing career. Yes, there are a LOT of writers, but everybody has their own story and perspective. You can always start with short stories as well if the novel seems daunting.

      Reply
  18. Excellent post Chelle! Reading and writing always go hand in hand. Generally, you cannot become a good writer if you are not a reader. If you want to be able to write an amazing book, then you need to have a sufficient knowledge about writing books. One of the best ways to achieve this is to read a lot of them. Reading a lot of books allows you learn many things from other authors, Read my blog about Basic Tips for Writing an Amazing Book

    Reply
  19. Alright , so I don’t know much about writing a novel, and I really appreciate and thank this blog for the tips. Since 8th grade I started reading books and enjoyed them. Then I thought ‘How about I write one?’, so i started. But I literally failed. Then in Pre-university , i started again. And I’m liking it. But you see , sometimes I just feel useless. Like it’s no use writing this , then I read my story and I think some chapters are really good, I mean beyond my own expectations, but some chapters are…weird. I read them after a week or two and I think , ‘It’s really shit’ . So what the hell should I do?
    I don’t even know if you got what I’m saying. If you did , I’d like some help here.

    Reply
    • These are totally normal feelings about writing, and the secret is to keep going! Perhaps joining a writing group could help you get some feedback? We are always our own worse critics!

      Reply
  20. Hi THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST! I have sooo many ideas and no idea how to put them down on paper but this helped! Thank so much!

    Reply

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