How to write a novel

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Want to write a novel?

Writing a novel is extremely hard work. The words don’t just jump on the pages as some would believe. Very few writers can write books off the top of their heads, in one go. Writing, more often than not, is a case of trial and error, and tiresome rewrite after rewrite. You spend hours in solitude, slaving to arrange and rearrange words and paragraphs so they hopefully make sense and tell a convincing story.

Ask writers how they write and you get a myriad of answers. Some swear they sit down and start typing whatever pops up in their heads. They don’t plan ahead and are just as surprised as the reader as to what their characters get up to and where the story takes them. Others insist on laboriously scheming and plotting preliminary outlines and character sketches before they even pen one word to paper.

Many aspiring writers search for articles on how to write a novel. They read all about planning and structuring their first draft. They learn about setting and plot, conflict, and how to keep up the suspense. In the end, they spend so much time reading about how to write a novel that they never actually get to the point where they start writing their novel.

There is no magic formula when it comes to novel-writing. George Orwell, author of Animal Farm (1945), had the following to say: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible (1998), advised: “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”

The best recommendation I could find on how to write a novel is stop procrastinating and to start writing. Keep at it no matter what and finish sentence after sentence, page after page, and chapter after chapter. Get the story out of your head and onto paper — that is the first and most important step in novel-writing.


Petit, Z. (2012, June 22). 72 of the Best Quotes about Writing. Retrieved Aug 9, 2015,

Quotes about writing. (n.d.). Retrieved August 9, 2015, from is heaven