A Few Basic Steps Before Starting a Novel

1. READ

Read as much as you can. You’ll learn by assimilation and best of all, without particularly noticing. So devour those pages.

2. PICK A NARRATIVE MODE AND STICK TO IT.

Look, your narrative mode is not the reason why your novel isn’t getting anywhere. Changing it over and over is not the solution. So pick whatever is best for you: third person limited or omniscient? First person? Second? You can even change narrative modes from chapter to chapter, but I’d only advise this if you’re a seasoned pro. Also: don’t abuse it.

3. DEFINE YOUR GOAL.

Nothing is written in stone, but you do need a general outline to figure out how you’ll structure your story. This can change as you go, but having a general, structured idea will do wonders for you.

4. DON’T BLAME THE MUSE.

Once I met a writer in a conference, and she told me, “I’ve been trying to write a story for months, but I can’t find my muse!”

I looked her straight in the eye and said, “Lazy ass.”

Look, if you are not inspired to write a book, write a short story, or create a blog, or flash fiction, anything. Just write, Forrest, write. Experience is the best teacher.

By the way, muses are major assholes. Mine in particular loves getting drunk and flying to Vegas every weekend, and she once slept with my boyfriend, so I can’t rely on her at all.

You suck, Britney! (Yeah, I named her Britney, but only because she hates that name.)

5. LET IT FLOW, LET IT FLOW.

If you read the title above to the tune of Frozen’s “Let it Go”, you’re awesome.

But basically, what ‘let it flow’ means is: write until your fingers bleed and write fast, without second thought. Get that first draft done. Only then will you be ready to start applying rules like ‘show don’t tell’, or ‘hook the reader from page one‘, or ‘no back-story drop’. For now, don’t worry about them.

Cheers and until next time!

C.S. Wilde writes about fantastical worlds, love stories larger than life and epic battles. She also, quite obviously, sucks at writing an author bio. She finds it awkward that she must write this in the third person, and hopes you won’t notice.

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Posted in Editing, Publishing, Revising, Writing, Writing craft
12 comments on “A Few Basic Steps Before Starting a Novel
  1. Caroline says:

    Great post! And I think I must be awesome because I definately sang let it flow in my head haha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marquessa says:

    Lol! And I am awesome too since I have never seen Frozen but know the song!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very much agree with this post! Lots of good stuff here. I also agree that a person blaming the lack of their “muse” not being found is hilariously lazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also find the slowest consumption of alcohol keeps things flowing perfectly.

    Oh but the editing….now that’s the worst torture
    😏

    Liked by 1 person

  5. nicvas says:

    These are some great pre-writing tips! Though I’m not too hard and fast on sticking to a POV if it isn’t working for a novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • C.S. Wilde says:

      I’m in favor of changing POVs in a novel (though I myself don’t do it much), but it needs to be done at the right moment. For example: Switching POVs during the same scene is a huge gamble that almost never gives you the desired result.

      Like

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