A Silent Killdeer Publishing — An Independent Book Publisher

How to Write a Novel, Part I (Getting Started)

by Russell Dyer
published:  aug 23, 2017;  revised:  dec 27, 2017;  readers in past month:  909

Many people who have experience writing fiction are interested in writing a novel, but they don’t know how to do it. Either they cannot fathom how to write two to three hundred pages of a fictional story, or they’re not sure of the steps to take, how to start.

There are many approaches you can take. You have to find the one that’s best for you. Those who find writing to be a chore tend to try rigid methods: they write a detailed outline; they make sure they spend at least thirty minutes every day in front of the computer to write — but usually they write nothing or very little.

The approach described in this short series of articles is a more fluid, creative one. If you’re a natural writer, you may find this the best. Even if you’re new to writing and not sure if can write fiction, you may find the methods suggested here will produce the most material and the best results.

When would-be writers decide they want to write a novel — or a short story — sometimes they will sit with a blank page in front of them and pen in hand, or in front of a computer screen with their fingers lightly touching the keys, waiting for inspiration. They have been cursed with the term, writer’s block. That implies some sort of physical problem that blocks the writer. The term inspiration suggests that an external spiritual force will tell them what to write. Since there is no inspiration and they cannot think on their own what to write, they sit and write nothing.

Their problem is that they misunderstand how to write and what is writing. To resolve this problem, you need to understand the problem, as well as what you’re doing. To make this easier. let’s consider a close analogy.

Suppose you want to tell someone something, perhaps a friend about something that happened to you. To do this, you just start talking. You tell them what happened. You start by setting the scene, saying when the event occurred and where. You go on to tell them what you did, what others did, and what was said. You maybe end by telling of the outcome, the results, what you learned and other such things. However you tell your friend what you want to say, you start by just talking. You don’t sit there and stare silently at your friend, maybe muttering occasionally to yourself, “I don’t know what to say.”

A writer is someone that has something to say and for some reason decides to say it in writing. Many writers are shy people who write because it’s an easier way for them to express themselves. Other writers talk plenty and write because everyone they know is tired of listening to them or because they want to tell more people whatever it is they want to say.

When you don’t know how exactly to say something to your friend, you just start talking: “Hey, I want to tell you about something that happened to me...” One sentence leads to another and in time you tell the story. Maybe you can accomplish this more easily when talking to a friend because they already know some of the background of the story. The also ask you questions as you’re telling the story when you forget to include something or when you’re not being clear. However it comes about, talkers tell stories every day.

By the same method, when you don’t know what to write, just start writing: “This is a story about a boy living alone on the streets of Aleppo...” You won’t have the advantage of watching a reader read your story as you write it, but you do have the advantage of editing and deleting and expanding your story before anyone reads it. When you finish the first draft, you can ask friends to read what you’ve written to get feedback to improve the story before submitting it to an editor or publishing it. There’s less pressure, not more when writing.