How to Write A Novel

There are as many ways to write as there are people.  I’m going to tell you the best way to write you will ever find.  Pay attention now, this is the only secret to writing you’ll ever need to know.  The secret to writing a novel is to write in whatever way works for you!  That’s it.  You will hear all sorts of ways to write but until you actually put words on paper you aren’t writing at all.

There are plotters, pantsers and those in between.  I will explain.

Plotters are those who will start by taking sticky notes or notebooks or whatever tool they prefer and they’ll start with bits and pieces of characters or plot.  They will take a Character chart and fill it out for each of their characters.  They will take a scene chart and plot out each of the scenes of their story.  They will take a plot chart and plot out each of the chapters, turning points, black moment and realization leading into the happy ending.  Once they know every facet of their story, they will then begin to write it.  A plotter must have everything in place and know each detail in their story before they begin to write.  They leave nothing undone.

Pantsers write by the seat of their pants.  They will sit down at their computer, or with pen and notepad or whatever their tools of the trade and they will start out “Once Upon A Time” and the story unfolds before them.  They may have an inkling of a plot that’s been sparked by something they saw or overheard.  For instance, walking through a cemetery I saw a beautiful headstone.

The headstone was black with a beautiful silver design carved into it and was absolutely stunning.  It was the gravesite of a male.  I stood looking at it for quite some time before I noticed the headstone to the right of it.  It was the same beautifully carved, black headstone bearing the same last name as the original stone.  I noticed it was also a male a few years younger.  Looking to the left, there was another of the same headstones.  Beautiful black stone with silver carvings and again, another male.  There were a total of five tombstones, all black, all silver carvings, all males.  Each a few years difference in age.  I stood looking at those five graves and wondered why?  Why had all these males from one family died within a few years of age from each other?  Some deaths had occurred a year apart while others only months.  Then my imagination kicked in.  “What if?”

“What if” is a game a lot of writers play.  Something you see or hear trips your imagination and you begin asking “What if” this happened, or “what if” that happened?  For me, it was “What if” one of the females in this family was killing the males.  Kind of like the Black Widow Spider.  Or what if several of the females in the family were killing the males?  “What if” this happened or “what if” that happened?  So I began to write all those “what ifs” into the computer and before long the characters began writing their story.

After Plotters and Pantsers comes the In-betweeners.  These are people who do some plotting and then begin to write letting the characters take over.  They don’t do an all-out plotting but they may know a scene or two or they may know the ending or the beginning.

If you don’t know where you fall, you can try doing all three.  I am a pantser but I did try plotting once.  Once I got all the scenes within the story plotted out, the excitement of the story lost its appeal for me.  I knew what was going to happen all the way up to the happy ever after.  That was my last attempt at being a plotter.

You may already know how you write, where you write and the time of day or night when you can write.  If not experiment to see what is best for you.  Try plotting out the story during your commute time, late evening or early morning.  Try writing in an office atmosphere, on your bed, in a coffee shop, in a park or wherever you think you can write best.

So, your first challenge here is to determine which style of writer are you?  Where do you write the best?  What time of day or night do you find your imagination soars?

1 Comment

  1. JanineCatMom · October 19, 2014

    This is interesting. I am not a write, but I enjoy reading the different methods. I have often seen questions (on various blogs) asking an author if they are a plotster or a pantster and I had no idea what they meant and didn’t have the nerve to ask. Thanks for sharing this.