How to Write a Good Novel
Writing a good novel is similar to building a house in that there is always more work to be done, no matter how much planning and effort you put into it. There is no such thing as a perfect novel; it takes enormous work to create believable settings, complex characters, and a gripping story.
You might wonder how you can fit all of these needs into 300 pages if you're here. How to write a good novel is a topic that many writers eventually ask themselves.
This article will provide a solid understanding of how to write a good novel, whether you're anxious to begin writing a novel for the first time or interested in the novel form but don't know where to start.
Although there isn't a single, universal blueprint for writing a novel, using these suggestions as a starting point will help you quickly get through the writing process.
What is a Good Novel?
Let's first clarify what a novel is before getting into how to write one. A book is a book-length fiction that uses fictional elements to portray a whole story (or several storylines). Novels imitate actual life and impart knowledge about the human experience by engrossing the reader in a world with rich characters, settings, narrative elements, and themes.
Some would object that a novel always attempts to mimic real life. After all, many fiction subgenres neglect what everyday life is like. How could a book about secret agents, one set on Mars or one told from the perspective of cats, possibly capture the human condition?
Instead, books depict a fragment of human experience. As a result, even a book about cats will feature characters who must make difficult choices. Even a book about a far, faraway galaxy might include conflict resolution, love, and life philosophy.
These components—character, scene, and plot—often serve as metaphors for human experiences, portraying our common challenges in imaginative settings. This is the charm, the charisma, and the purpose of creating a novel.
How to write a Novel: Components of Fiction
The novel works best when it effortlessly knits the numerous threads of your fictitious world together, as with any complicated creative form. What different components and methods do you need to understand, improve, and eventually master?
The coordinated interaction of these factors is necessary for good novel writing.
Your protagonist is your major character, and readers will care about what occurs because of how much is at stake for them. What exactly does this entail? A minor issue may be significant to one character but not to another.
The context is what makes it effective. The character's context impacts their needs, desires, aspirations, etc. We consider conflict when considering a character's role in the narrative.
Fiction is driven by conflict. Some tension is necessary for creating a novel, yet not all conflicts make for good fiction.
However, not every figure must have multiple dimensions or go through change. Characters who are secondary are an exception. Make them as genuine, if not fully realized, as you can. Who are the supporting characters? They could be close friends or coworkers.
An adversary could be a minor character. They could act as the protagonist's counterpoint, bringing out aspects of the protagonist that aren't revealed elsewhere.
Point of View
The lens through which the story is told is called the point of view. Another factor is the option of who comes first, second, or third. All books are "filtered" through various views or points of view.
Not other characters' heads, but these characters. Typically, the protagonist serves as the window through which we see the novel's events. In other words, the narrator is defined by the protagonist.
The decision of who to choose is another. The third person lacks the immediacy that the first person provides. You can choose between a fully omniscient, a limited, or an effaced narrator (where the author does not seem or have a presence) with different third-person points of view while using the third person.
Another perspective is objective or dramatic, in which we only learn about characters through what they say and do. Consider this more or less a playscript, with only conversation and action.
The infinite point of view poses the greatest danger when writing a novel since it is simple to slide into telling rather than engaging the reader. The second person, or "you" POV, is a novelist's unique point of view.
The Plot and the Structure
The what and the why of a plot. A causality issue exists. Of course, this can be complex, but if it is, your reader will become overwhelmed by the various narrative lines and storylines.
An excessive amount of complexity is preferable to simplicity. Conflict, which involves reversals, is the plot's foundation. The presence of thoughts, situations, etc., that hint at or presage future developments is sought after by readers.
In addition, they search for repetitions or echoes of past events. A novel's structure is created by foreshadowing and repetition.
Three fundamental sorts of narrative structure should be kept in mind while we discuss how to construct a novel:
- The plot development is in five stages: exposition (with inciting incident; rising action; climax; falling action; resolution). Likewise called Freytag's Pyramid.
- A three-act structure like in Screenplays.
- Episodic style, like in adventure stories (e.g., Adventures of Huckleberry Finn).
When there are two protagonists, things become more challenging. You must choose how you will switch between characters' points of view in addition to deciding on the overall framework of each character's plot.
The setting involves both place and time. Characters in fiction, just like in real life, are somewhere when they act or speak. Whether it's an apartment, a workplace, a restaurant, a bar, or the middle of the woods, you need to install your reader there. Choose the details that help set the mood if you need to.
The setting plays a significant role in certain books but not in others. The setting could be essential to comprehend the challenges the protagonist encounters in a book set in the workplace.
To make the harsh setting in an Alaskan wilderness survival novel seem realistic to your reader, give it plenty of growth. Suppose your book is set on a college campus. In that case, it might be sufficient to provide what is known as an "establishing shot," or a broad image of the campus, along with perhaps only a few facts about the classroom building where the main character takes the majority of her lessons.
Style and Tone
Style is the way you express yourself. You'll discover that a novel and its style are linked as you learn how to write one. The book's tone affects how we perceive the protagonist, the setting, the atmosphere, etc.
Some writers use exact, verbose language in an utterly minimalistic manner. Using figurative languages, such as metaphor, simile, and analogy, is also related to style. Style and tone have to do with how the language sounds.
Is it sentimental, biting, or sarcastic? Tone—the perceived attitude that the work conveys—is influenced by style. However, the technique isn't merely tied to fashion. Everything in work, including the protagonist's personality, the plot, and the atmosphere from scene to scene, influences the tone.
Theme or Idea
The novel's theme is the broadest concept. A variety of plots can suggest the same fundamental idea. The tempting nature of chasing wealth might be the topic, or perhaps it's the rite of passage from youth to experience. Numerous plots have developed from well-known thematic motifs. Should you begin with an issue in mind while writing a novel? Some authors do this, although many writers contend that doing so results in authorial intrusion and manipulation meant to convey a point. In other words, the topic shouldn't be the main emphasis of the narrative but rather an inevitable byproduct.
A word of caution: stay away from didactic books. Educate rather than preach. The latter may be effective in some nonfiction works, but a reader of a novel wants to experience the novel's universe, not be told how to do so.
Tips for writing a Good Novel
Other writers influence writers' styles. The novels we read as kids shape our tastes and frequently affect how we write as adults.
By reading extensively and attentively, aspiring writers might pick up writing skills from some of history's most renowned and adored authors. In a way, writers mold us almost like unofficial mentors.
Make detailed checklists.
Make a list of the specifics you want to be sure your story contains after considering your setting and writing goals. Your to-do list can take up one page or the entire notebook. It won't always prevent you from writing poorly, but it's still a helpful tool.
The last thing a writer wants is to finish a manuscript only to find that they have neglected to include half of the original inspiration for the work.
Create ethical behaviors.
Most starting writers will need to juggle their writing with other obligations. The first step is to schedule regular chunks of time for writing.
No matter what time you write—early in the morning, late at night, or during your lunch break—remain consistent and insist on giving that time top priority.
Make the most of your limited time.
Make a mental strategy for what you want to accomplish during that writing session or brainstorm ideas before you sit down to write. You may also remember where you left off in the novel. Some authors aim to produce 2,000 words each day.
Others don't care about word counts and prefer alternate reading, planning, or research days. Setting daily goals is an excellent idea, no matter what you decide.
Establish a connection with an editor.
Editors play a crucial role in your publishing process. If your novel gets interesting, you'll want to take every precaution to ensure a good fit. A skilled editor will improve your writing, but a poor editor may stifle your creative vision.
Verify the references of potential editors, peruse their catalog, discuss your goals with them, and try to strike up a personal connection. Consider the qualities you seek in a partner for collaboration. A strong working relationship between the writer and editor is crucial to the editing process.
Don't worry about the initial draft.
Creating the first draft is a practice of writing down everything you can. Later, you can always go back and review what you've produced. Avoid the temptation to repeatedly search the thesaurus or to check your word count frequently. A book's initial draft must be the result of inspiration.
Write for the art's sake; leave the business analysis for later.
Publishers and literary critics invented the idea of genre, although it isn't always valuable for working writers. Being unaware of the genre to which your book belongs can be advantageous since it gives you more opportunity to deviate from expectations and experiment with form and subject.
Your task is to create the most compelling version of your book inside its made-up world and set of laws.
Accept that the Rules are made to be disregarded.
Every great author has a unique process for writing. Some authors complete their projects from start to finish. Some people work from sentence to sentence, while others work in bits that they assemble later.
Don't be hesitant to experiment with various methods, voices, and styles. What works for you, keep and throw away the rest. You'll develop your own set of guidelines based on the material you use and your creative process. Theoretically, anything is fair game.
Be aware that these guidelines for writing novels also apply to other types of literature, such as short stories and screenplays.
They aren't just applicable to fiction novels; they may be used to create an exciting nonfiction book. If you keep these writing suggestions in mind before you begin, you may maintain your voice and point of view while also exercising the discipline required of all writers to finish a fiction piece.