We get it: writing your first novel is hard. You’ve got a killer idea, you’ve come up with an absorbing cast of characters, but, perhaps, you don’t know how the story ends? Or, it could be that you know the whole narrative but don’t have the characters to bring the story to life?
Either way, writing a novel was never meant to be easy. But there are some great tips you can incorporate when writing contemporary fiction novels that can help you iron out those brain-blocking kinks.
Check them out below…
1. Relax your style
Young writers often think that a great novel relies on an expansive lexicon – this couldn’t be further from the truth! Are you trying to write an engaging story or an academic thesis on dark matter? Use clear, succinct sentences that have a clear purpose and are not just there to make you sound hyper-intelligent.
2. Make your craft a comprehensive craft
If you’re set on writing short stories, why not try writing a short film? Into fiction? Why not write something biographical? By mixing up your styles, you will develop a comprehensive craft that will eventually help you with your chosen style.
3. Always write
Writing, like other creative forms, needs constant work and tuning to develop, and maintain, the skill. You should aim to write at least 1,000 words a day without worrying too much about whether it’s the start of the next Ulysses or not. It’s just about writing regularly and developing your craft, something that can be incorporated into when you’re writing your magnum opus!
4. Drop passive voice
You want to follow the basic noun-verb-object structure known as “active voice”. This voice is better as it uses fewer words (thus making your sentences clearer), makes the narrative move quickly, reduces risk of mistakes and simply makes the sentence sound sharp and engaging. It reads well and is straight to the point – something which is important for creating an awesome page-turner!
5. Try the “iceberg theory”
Ernest Hemingway coined the theory as a means of omitting all the details that readers would enjoy filling out themselves. By only providing the necessary information in one moment, and not all the unnecessary minor details, it makes the reader want to think about those details themselves and this makes for a far more enjoyable read.
6. Set goals
You shouldn’t come out of the blocks aiming directly for that 100,000 word masterpiece. Instead, break your novel down into smaller, achievable milestones and watch as you reach each individual milestone with quality writing.
7. Know story structure
There are different forms of story structure of which a writer should have an idea. From the three-act structure to Freytag’s pyramid, there are different structures that create different narratives – find the one that suits your idea the most and run with it.
8. Believe in your story
Just because you have a list of story ideas on-hand it doesn’t mean you’re passionate about them. You should always go with the idea that you’re most passionate about as this is the one that will invigorate your author’s appetite.
9. Understand character development techniques
Your main characters should have backstories that serve as motivation for their actions, goals and worldview. This kind of information compliments the story and adds tension, as well as allowing readers to either dislike or sympathise with the character. Whether your main novel character is a hero, anti-hero or villain, they always need motivation for their actions – you should always create a backstory for them that answers why they are the way they are.