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Journey of Words: Crafting Your First Novel

4 Mins read

Alright, so you've decided that you're going to take the plunge and write a novel. That's stellar! Look, I know it seems like you're standing at the base of Mount Ever-Right-A-Book (yep, I just made that up), staring up at the towering peaks clad with the snow of plot points and character development, but chill. We're in this together. Let's break down the steps to writing your very first novel, keeping things as jargon-free and straightforward as possible.

Step 1: The Idea Vortex
Before you do anything else, you need to have an idea. Not just any old idea but something that you can turn over in your mind like a newly discovered gem and find fascinating from every angle. It doesn't have to be intricate; sometimes the simplest ideas make for the most compelling stories. Just think of something that excites you because you're going to eat, sleep, and breathe this concept for the foreseeable future.

For instance, "What if a barista discovered they were serving lattes to undercover aliens?" or "Imagine a world where your social status was determined by the number of bookshelves in your house," whatever floats your boat.

Step 2: Characters that Pop
Once you have your idea-gem, it's time to populate that world with characters who feel more real than your awkward interactions at family gatherings. These characters need dreams, flaws, quirks, and perhaps a penchant for late-night taco runs.

Start simple. Name them. Give them a problem (because let's face it, no problem equals no story). Then make them squirm by figuring out what they would hate to confront and shove them into exactly that situation.

Step 3: World-Building – Not Just for Fantasy
Hey, even if you're writing about a small midwestern town or the hot streets of Miami, that's world-building. Dive into details that make the place breathe – think sights, sounds, smells (yes, smells are big), and then get so specific that your reader can't help but be there with you.

Don't overlook the power of visiting similar real-life locales or doing some virtual trekking via street views online – research is your undercover BFF.

Step 4: Plotting… or Not?
Now we get to the age-old debate: plotting vs. pantsing (writing by the seat of your pants). Some folks swear by creating detailed outlines before they start writing their novel—every chapter mapped out like a cross-country road trip on Google Maps.

Others? They just start writing and let the story grow organically—more of an off-roading adventure across unmapped terrains.

There's no right answer here; it’s like choosing between pizza or tacos – matter of personal preference.

Step 5: Get Your Butt in The Chair
This step is straightforward but brutal – sit down and write. It's called BIC (Butt In Chair) time, and without it, novels remain neat ideas tucked away in brain folders marked "Someday I Might".

Set goals. Could be daily word counts or time blocks spent writing distraction-free (I'm looking at you, Twitter).

Step 6: The First Draft
Your first draft is not going to be perfect. Let me say that again for those skimming – your first draft will NOT be perfect. This is about getting it down on paper (or screen). Think of it as laying down raw clay before beginning to sculpt.

Remember Anne Lamott’s concept from her book 'Bird by Bird' – give yourself permission to write a "shitty first draft". That takes off so much pressure it’s unbelievable.

Step 7: Rest then Edit
Once your first draft is done? Walk away. No, seriously, go watch Netflix or learn knitting. Give it at least a few weeks then come back with fresh eyes ready to tear that draft apart like an overzealous raccoon in a trash can.

Editing is where good becomes great—tighten dialogue, flesh out settings, fix any plot holes big enough to drive a truck through.

Pro tip: Tools like Grammarly can be lifesavers for catching those pesky grammar blips.

Step 8: Beta Readers are Gold
These brave souls are sacrificial lambs who read your work when it's still raw and bleed all over it with their feedback. They'll catch things you didn't and offer fresh perspectives – essentially helping you polish the diamond that is your book.

Get a diverse group if possible – readers who dig your genre can tell you if you’re hitting all the right notes and those who don’t usually read it can tell if you’ve got broader appeal covered.

Step 9: Edit Some More
Yeah, after beta readers have had their way with your manuscript it’s time to dive back into edits. Like scrubbing floors after a muddy dog has been through—edit until those floors shine… I mean pages…edit until those pages shine.

Step 10: Consider Publishing Options
Traditional? Self-publishing? Both have their pros and cons:

  • Traditional means finding an agent who loves your work enough to pitch it to publishers.
  • Self-publishing means taking on all roles—or hiring others—from cover designer to marketing guru.

Either way demands dedication and more research than a high school term paper on Shakespeare’s use of iambic pentameter.

So there we have it—a bat-out-of-hell dive into novel-writing for newcomers dipped in reality sauce with a side of enthusiasm fries.

Now comes your part—I'm dying to hear where you are in this bonkers ride of writing your novel! What’s been easy-peasy or harder than convincing my cat she doesn’t need midnight snacks? Don’t leave me hanging—drop a comment below and spill those word-infused beans!

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