Writing a novel can be a huge undertaking but there are so many important things to consider before putting pen to paper or fingertips to keys. Here are my top 8 writing tips I always consider when I start a new project.
Make Sure Your Protagonist Has an Overarching Objective
It may be something you hear all the time but in all honesty, I believe it’s one of the most important things any novel needs and it just so happens to be one of the things most aspiring writers tend to miss. Regardless of what happens in the novel, your main character will want something by the end of the story. This something has to be tangible, and by that I mean physical, like getting a promotion or getting a girlfriend.
If your protagonist has no objective, it can often feel like they’re just going around in circles and doing really meaningless things, only to allow the plot to happen around them. This kind of storytelling can feel pretty boring and lazy. Make sure your protagonist is being proactive and striving for that objective.
For example, your main character may want a girlfriend because he or she wants to feel loved. See how easy it is there to think motivation is the same as objective? Some writers may feel like “wanting love” is an objective in itself, but it’s too emotional and abstract and it needs something physical to finish it. Motivation deepens your protagonist and makes them more believable.
Make Sure Your Protagonist has a Backstory
The backstory must always be the leading cause of a motivation, for example, a character may be motivated to find love, because their parents were never loving to them and used to beat them up all the time. It’s dramatic, heartbreaking and terribly entertaining to have a protagonist with a scarred past. And with a dramatic back-story it also leads to…
Give Your Protagonist a Plot-Affecting Cause
Make your character difficult to get on with or make them cowardly so they shy away from danger. Good storytelling is all about drama and bad things that happen, and your protagonist has to be a cause of some of that.
By doing this, we as the readers can feel satisfied with the outcome at the end. If you have a character who stumbles and makes mistakes and terrible awful dramatic things keep happening to them, it’s fun at first but towards the end, if they fail to overcome a flaw or show no development whatsoever, the reader may feel cheated for having stuck with your novel the whole time only for their to be no satisfying emotional pay off. Is your protagonist stingy and mean? Perhaps make him kind and giving at the end.
In Scenario 1, if bob misses the bus, the stake is he’ll be late for work, oh dear, can you feel the tension? But in Scenario 2, if Bob misses the bus, the stake is he’ll be late for work and he’ll get fired because it’s happened too many times and his boss has threatened him. And if Bob get’s fired he won’t be able to pay his loan shark, and if he can’t pay his loan shark then Bob will be murdered! Oh deer, poor Bob. As you can see, the more bad things that will happen (stakes) the increase there is in tension.
If you can think of the ideal ending to your story, it can be an easier task to work backwards from that. A big problem for amateur writers, myself once included, was not knowing where their final destination would be. Many writers have a cool idea at first but won’t know how to finish it and therefore may write a book that’s way too long, or give up not knowing how they’re going to end the thing.
I may as well have written a book about my walk to school and back. The reason why we hear this so often is because writers always produce their best work when they are well informed about the topics they’re writing about. But that doesn’t mean writers don’t have interests in other topics. I for one have an interest in robots but goodness me I have NO idea how they work. But that isn’t to say I will never include them in my novels, it’s just worth taking some time to research them so you can portray a certain topic accurately.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas at how you can also start your own novel. I know there are many more elements to writing a book, and this here is only a fraction of them. But in all honesty, if believe if you have these elements at least considered, then your writing will be more organic and you’ll enjoy the writing process more so. Happy Writing! x