How Do I Write a Novel?

You’re a reader and you’ve got a creative spark. An idea has been brewing in your head. You’ve decided to write a novel. You sit down at your keyboard, or open a notebook and uncap your pen, and then you stare at the page. Why? You’ve read hundreds of books over the span of your life, but no one has taught you how to write one.

Should you go back to school and get a degree in creative writing? Sure, if you have the time and the money. If you don’t, the good news is, it’s not necessary. There are plenty of best selling and even obscure writers out there who write really well, but have degrees in other fields.

One thing you can do, is take online classes or go to a community college and learn the basics. A good writing class can be a solid foundation. Many universities are offering courses in non-credit creative writing for free, often providing a certificate upon completion.

Another thing you can do is borrow or buy books on writing. I have my own personal favorites:

Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron
Story Genius, by Lisa Cron
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni and Dave King
The Ten Percent Solution by Ken Rand

I went to Twitter and got this list from authors and editors in the publishing industry:

“On Writing by Stephen King is entertaining and full of great advice. I also like Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott. I re-read these each time I start a new writing project.” –Vicki Olsen-Author

“Brody’s *Save The Cat Writes a Novel* is still my favorite, and Snyder’s screenplay one before that. I refer back to the genres regularly in Brody when I am doing a new story. I use her more detailed beats for Act 3, so 20 beats instead of just the 15.” –Cornelius Q. Kelvin

“Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg & Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Rico” –Kate Evans Writer

“Cliche, perhaps, but I really liked Stephen King’s On Writing.”–Sarah Strix

“The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne improved my writing SO much.”–Christie Kenwyn

“The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. A very short how-to book on writing, but I consider it an essential guide on how to make one’s writing go from mediocre (over-written, confusing, pacing issues) to great. It’s specifically focused on making your writing publication-ready.” –Allison McBain

“Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King” –Sadira Stone

“If we’re talking craft and you’re a plotter and/or like exercises: K.M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel, and James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure for starters.” — Jaime Mayer

“Just Write by James Scott Bell.” –Dianne McCartney

“Writing the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.” –Lacy

“Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. The chapter on Shitty First Drafts is worth the price of the whole book.” -Trish MacEnulty

“I recommend Rachel Aaron’s book ‘2,000 to 10,000′”–JJVors

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

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