Where to Start when Writing a Novel

So you want to write a novel? That’s awesome! Prepare yourself for some hard yet satisfying graft. There are a few things to consider when writing your first novel and I’ll do my best to talk you through them. Bare in mind this is not a tutorial on how to plan a novel, this is a guide on how to prepare yourself for the writing and planning process. If you’re interested in how to get into the nitty gritty, you can check out my Novel Writing 101! So, let’s get started. ๐Ÿ™‚

My name is Christopher Sergi. I’m a novelist and a blogger going through the same journey you are: being a writer! Feel free to comment your thoughts below on the topics that come up in this tutorial, for not only do I want you to be a better writer, but I do too! We can learn and have fun together. Want to know more about me? Click here to read my bio, or follow me on Instagram to join me on my adventures. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Why do You Want to Write a Novel?

First of all, let’s discuss why you want to write this novel in the first place.I know, you want to get stuck in, right? But hold your horses, the fun is to come I promise. To start, first ask yourself: are you looking to make a career out of writing?Do you have a story you’ve always wanted to tell, or do you want to convey a particular message to your potential audience?

Whatever your goal is for writing this novel, jot it down and make it a focal point for when you get to the main planning stage. This will help you identify the direction you want to take things when you get to creating your manuscript.

What is Your Novel’s Genre?

Before you start writing your first novel, another important step is to identify and categorise the story you wish to write. Oftentimes first time writers feel that categories and genres restrict their writing, and that being too specific may in fact dictate the direction they want to go in.

books on bookshelves
Photo by Mike Bird on Pexels.com

But allow genres to help you. Genres are mainly created for marketing and commercial reasons because they help your customers choose exactly what adventure they wish to immerse themselves in, and if your novel idea is too broad, say, a horror action sci if that also happens to be young adult love story, you may be biting off more than you can chew.

Your best option will be to select a simple genre to begin with, one that you can easily see on the shelf of a genre specific book shop. Try not to let this put your off. Too often I’ve known first time writers to have a huge complex novel idea, only for them to run out of steam before they’ve put pen to paper. Start small to begin with and work your way up.

Dedicate Time Each Day to Write it

Writing a novel is no easy feat. It will require you to be proactive and committed. Remember why you’re writing this book in the first section of this tutorial. If it’s just for fun you don’t have to be too strict on yourself, but if you want to be serious about your writing, you’ll have to get in the habit of sitting down each day to work on it.

The best way to do this is to create a time table for your week. Firstly set aside all the important stuff, like work or college, consider your commute, how long it takes you to cook dinner each night and prepare your meals and weather or not you want to prioritise your social life.

Once you’ve established your timetable, that’s when you can find gaps in it to work on your writing. It’s time to get committed, and try your best not to get distracted by trivial things life televising shows, which although entertaining, are easy to binge and can really take up valuable time.

Consider Your Book’s Length

Another important thing to consider is how long the book will be. You don’t have to be exact with this, but having a rough idea of how long your novel is going to be will help you determine how much time it will take to create your manuscript.

blurred book book pages literature
Photo by Caio Resende on Pexels.com

Take a look at your book collection and consider the genre that your book will be in. How many pages do they have? Try and imitate what length these books are so you can have a guide. If you want to appeal to as many readers as possible, this will be a good idea since book lengths, depending on genre, are usually based on reader expectations.

Children’s books are seldom ever over 100,000 words, for example, but JK Rolwing  broke the mould when it came to children’s book with Harry Potter, since the first book was considered at first too long for a children’s book, but as a general rule it may be a good idea to play it safe for now.

ConsiderYour Writing Duration

Once you have deduced the length your manuscript will be based on its genre style, it’s time to make a game plan for how long it will take you to create the novel. This should be considered a fun part of the writing process. By committing to an end date, it will really help you envisage the final product or the first draft at least.

As a general rule, depending on whether you work or study full time, I would say a first draft (not a complete novel) manuscript can be created in around six months. Does that sound surprising? Some of you may think this is not enough time, others will think it’s too much.

Bare in mind a manuscript should take you as long as you are comfortable. It’s important not to rush yourself, but again, if you want to be a professional writer, it may be a good idea to start challenging yourself when it comes to deadlines. 12-18 months is usually a good amount of time to create a reasonable length novel that’s ready for the market.


Hopefully these methods should have helped you to better understand the ins and outs of preparing yourself as a novelist. Remember, the book your going to write won’t be perfect right away and you may find faults in certain places, but your efforts here should be focussed on having the right mindset.

Too often first-time-writers have launched into chapter 1, lost themselves and ended up running out of steam and giving up, but if you mentally prepare yourself firsthand you’ll have a better chance of avoiding these pitfalls. Writing is fun and it’s hard! But if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

I really hope this has helped you envisage yourself as a writer and novelist. I for one love writing, there is so much opportunity for creation and freedom, but sometimes it’s best to take a step back and take stock of your resources. What do you know and how prepared are you for creating this product? It’s okay to feel a little lost. Hit me up by messaging me, comment below, or better yet, sign up to my monthly newsletter to hear the latest. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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