Let me jump right in and say if you are thinking of writing your first novel, well done! You are about to start a hefty task that is going to require a lot of your time and dedication. I salute you for your courage and self-belief.
So you are about to write that first novel. Put simply, you’re writing a story or a tale that is going to be about 80,000 to 100,000 words long. This is something like 300 to 400 pages. Quite something. However, before you give up at the first hurdle and conclude you cannot even start your first novel, I’ve got a top tip for you. Writing a book is simply you telling a story. Even school children can do this, so there is nothing to stop you!
Okay, unlike a story told through the eyes of say an eight-year-old, adult fiction is more complicated, but there are ways to break it down and make it more achievable.
First things first, you need to establish a strong character who can engage your readers and carry your story through to the end. Draft your main character as if you are writing about a real person. Throw in everything you can think of from looks to family background, jobs, hopes, dreams, nightmares, boyfriends, girlfriends, the lot. Interrogate your character to see how they may behave in any given situation. This will help you know them better and should make writing about them that much easier. Top tip: make your main character larger than life and exaggerate aspects about them, after all, where is the fun in reading about Joe average!
You then need to follow a similar outline for your minor characters, especially those characters that block your protagonist.
Then, you need to think up a plot. Ideas for plots are everywhere. They can come from everyday life, or something you have read or heard about from friends or family. Plots could also stem purely from a vivid imagination. For example, aliens are threatening to take over the universe and it’s your main character’s job to stop them. Easy enough outline. Could be the beginning of a science fiction or fantasy novel.
So you have got your main character, a skeleton of a plot but like all good fiction or any long journey there are going to be obstacles. This brings me nicely to the third major aspect of fiction writing, conflict. I don’t think it’s even possible to write a book without a huge helping of conflict, and if you could it probably would’t sell many copies. Actually, you probably couldn’t even give your book away…
See conflict as something that stands in the way of your main character from achieving what they want. In the above example your main character wants to stop an alien takeover. However, the aliens have other ideas! This is the stuff of conflict. Clearly, in a full-length novel there are going to be lot of obstacles along the way. How the book turns out in the end could depend on your mood!
Do you want your main character to be triumphant or do your aliens conquer the universe? You have to work out what is going to make the most exciting read. After all, you want to write a book that people are going to really enjoy.
Keep reading! I’m not done yet!