If you have a burning desire to write a novel, go ahead and act on it. However, be smart about it and do your homework. Novelists are not born; they are made. Here are suggestions to get you started:
- Write what you love to read or what you can't find that you would like to read. If you can't find the kind of story you enjoy, consider that you might be in a minority, which means not that many people will want to read your book! There is nothing new under the sun, so it could be that the stories you like to read have fallen out of favor. Maybe it's time to see if readers would be interested in that type of tale again. For example, gothic romances used to be the most popular romances of all, but their time passed. That doesn't mean that they won't be popular again. Timing is everything. Be sure that the time is right for your story and that you bring something fresh and exciting to the industry.
- Enroll in classes. Just because you like to write, doesn't mean you know how to write a book. Check out your local community college and enroll to take classes in fiction writing. Read writers' magazines. Go online and look for how-to articles. Learn all you can! Join a local writers' group and attend the meetings. Immerse yourself in novel writing!
- Go through your favorite book as you would a textbook and take note of these things: What page is the protagonist introduced? What page is the antagonist introduced? What page is the first inkling of conflict introduced? What page is the first hint of romance introduced? When is the main conflict made clear? What pages are minor conflicts introduced? When does the "darkest moment" appear when all seems lost? What is the "red thread" or main theme that runs from the beginning to the end of the story?
- Outline or write a synopsis of your novel. If you don't know how to write a synopsis, look it up and study it. Don't try to "wing" your first novel. It's best to write a synopsis and extensive character sketches the first time out. You will save yourself a lot of time.
- Write the first 50 pages. Have someone who is a writer and NOT related to you read what you've written and offer constructive criticism. Don't argue with the person. Just listen, take notes, mull over what was said, and make the corrections you think are necessary. If you don't know someone who is a writer, enter your novel in a contest. There are many, many writing contests for unpublished writers. The judges often critique the submissions.
Follow these five steps and you will be well on your way to writing your first novel. It is the first step in a long, arduous, and exciting journey!