How To Write A Novel Step By Step

Step by step novel writing guide

For a new author, writing a novel is similar to climbing a mountain. It’s worthwhile asking yourself how you might do that, if you had to?

Like all large projects, it needs to be done in a structured way, if the project is to be completed. Novel writing is a step by step process, and although formulae exist, there is sufficient flexibility to cater for an author’s particular tastes and way of working.

Some authors are ‘Pantsers’, so called because they like to fly by the seat of their pants, using the flow of consciousness to create the story. This can (and does!) work, but for most of use a step by step novel writing template or guide is absolutely invaluable.

The two videos below show that professional authors rely heavily on structure and planning, but that doesn’t mean that the step by step approach is a straight-jacket to creativity. Each author adapts the way that they outline a novel to suit their own needs and working style.

Step By Step Guide To Writing A Novel – Melanie Anne Phillips

How To Write A Novel Step By Step PDF Melanie Phillips

Video Transcript:

Hi I’m Melanie Anne Phillips, author of ‘Write Your Novel Step by Step and this video series is intended as a companion piece to the book, so that step by step we’re a little more conversational, bring in a little more contextual information and help you get from concept to completion of your novel.

So step one describes what’s different about this system. Now what’s different is that instead of looking at with the story needs, it looks at what you the author need. In other words, what is motivating you to write in the first place? What interests you in the story?

Why did you decide you wanted to write a novel. Maybe it’s just a piece of dialogue that you will have running around in your head. Maybe it’s a setting or a genre that you’ve always liked to to read and wanted to write in.

Maybe it’s a character that you’ve developed that you’d really like to see what they were doing in certain situations. Whatever the reason that you’re wanting to write your novel, we focus on what’s motivating you and that becomes step one, inspiration.

So inspiration in the first stage is what are all the ideas that you have bopping around in your head. As long as they’re flowing freely, as long as you keep free associating and have a new idea about this or new thought about that, you really don’t need any help at that point.

You just need something to help you open the floodgates and keep it going as long as possible. When you have finished with writing down everything that you know about your story already and new ideas are kind of getting down to a trickle, because you’re starting to think more about how am I going to fit things together.

How am I going to make this idea work with that idea in the same story? Do all these things belong in the same story? How do I fill this hole? What happens an app to all of these kinds of issues? You’ve moved on to the second stage of story creation, of novel writing, which is development.

Now in this stage, this is where you start working on the details. You start figuring out how to plug the holes and see what fits in the same story and what doesn’t. And logistically, structurally, all all of these interesting topical ideas or subject matter, setting, or mood ideas that you want to work with. How many of them can be incorporated into one single novel.

Well, when you finish that second part you move on to the third stage of novel-writing and that’s exposition. In exposition you need to work out, you know, what you’re serious about. You know what your novel contains.

You’ve got a law worked out in development based on the ideas. You have inspiration but now how do you reveal it to the audience? How do you unfold it? At what point do you tell them things? Do you hold it back on certain parts that, like in a mystery, do you reveal it bit by bit, like in a conspiracy theory.

Do you want to mislead them by telling them that this is what’s going on, only to turn out something else later without making them feel violated. You need to work that out. Once you’ve got it figured out, then you move on to the final stage, which is story talent.

Here’s where you figure out moment by moment exactly what’s going to happen in your novel. So that by the time you’re finished with the book or with this video series you’ll end up with probably a 40 to 50 page treatment of your novel, which will contain everything except the dialogue.

Unless the dialogue’s absolutely essential to say it this way in order to get the point across. In other words, it’s like the blueprint for your novel. Something that you just sit down and write from, you know, everything that’s going to happen.

What your story’s world is. Who’s in it. What happens to them and what it all means. And it’s in sequential order and then you’re all ready to sit down with your word processor and just put it into your own literary terms.

So the book focuses on what will keep you going. What will keep the ideas flowing. Other systems tend to focus on what the story needs. You have to have a protagonist. He has to have some kind of a motivation, a ghost to drive an internal issue or problem.

You have to have a goal for him to try to achieve. You have to have obstacles in the way. An antagonist is essential. Maybe there’s some sort of a philosophically opposed character that represents the thematic issue that is troubling the main character.

Well if you start focusing on all those things, as important as they are to a story, if you’re looking in that direction you’re going to lose yourself. You’re going to lose your muse and you’re going to get all tied up in the process of the structuring of your novel rather than in the joy of writing it.

So step one describes all of these stages – inspiration, development, exposition and storytelling a little more fully, a little more clearly than I’m doing extemporaneously. But the whole purpose is to say ‘let’s try an approach where we take our focus our interest and turn around what makes you want to write what makes the process enjoyable, so what you write will be interesting to you and therefore the words you write will be more interesting to your readers.

how to write a story step by stepNow if you want to follow this through step by step you also have my website. You’ll find that we put a new step up every week and we’re serializing the book, so that people who can’t afford it or just want to go through one step at a time and not be bothered with the whole book all at once, can get it right on the internet at no charge.

But if you do want to order it, you can either buy it through our website or go to and look for me Melanie Ann Phillips or for the book Write Your Novel Step by Step and you’ll find available both in paperback and for the kindle.

Well that’s it for step one. In step two we’re gonna move on to how you get your head clear of all these ideas that are clogging it up because most authors come to a story with a lot of work that they’ve already done and they’re afraid they’re gonna lose some of these ideas if they don’t keep rehearsing them their head over and over again.

So they end up cramming in more and more stuff and spending more and more time trying to recall it all and how it fits together that they end up closing the valve on new ideas. Because there’s just no place to put them. So in step two of running your novel step by step, we’ll give you some suggestions for how to avoid that problem, or if you’ve got it how to get rid of it. That’s it for now and we’ll see you next time in step two of writing your novel step by step.

How To Write A Book Step By Step – Another Perspective

Hi literary nerds. I’m Meg LaTorre-Snyderand today I’m here to talk to you about the nine practical tips to start writing your novel. According to The Huffington Post approximately 80 percent of Americans want to write a book. That’s 8 in every 10 people but let’s be honest -writing a book is hard, really hard.

It’s hours of gruelling work, so before we talk about how to write a book, let’s talk about if we should write a book and some ones can tell you that you shouldn’t write a book and you believe them then maybe it’s not for you.

So if you hear that advice and you realise that, no you’re actually still like, you know, you’re supposed to read a book, then my friend keep watching. So writing a book, where to start.

Number one, research your age group and genre. A lot of people mix these two together, each group. So we’re thinking about middle grade, young adults adults. These are the groupings genre, so this is like fantasy, contemporary historical fiction, the overarching umbrella of what type of writing it is.

step by step guide to writing a bookSo these are two separate things, so you want to research both. If you’re writing adult contemporary, you want to read adult contemporary novels to see what’s the tropes in the genre. What’s been overdone. What’s selling. What’s not selling.

So you’re trying to research the market but any person means when they say research a novel is you want to read, read and read some more. You want to know the tropes and what’s going on in books these days but that’s how you learn actually how to write a novel, by reading the people who have written novels.

So an example in the fantasy genre – right now a lot of people are probably saying vampires and werewolves are way overdone. So you just want to be very conscientious of trends and overdone trends because you don’t want to like hurt yourself before you even start writing a novel.

Alright, so number two, outline your book. Okay now hear me out. I’m not saying outline the whole thing in every single plot detail, I mean outline the big plot point so you know where your arc is going to be in your novel. A lot of people have heard of architects and gardeners by that famous george RR martin quote and so basically the architects, they plan out everything in their novels, where gardeners they kind of write as I go and see what where things take me.

But essentially what I recommend is outline your book, just so that you know where the action is going to be because you do want that pretty plot arc in your novel. Number three, outline your characters like your plot. You really want to be very intimately familiar with your characters.

What are their desires, goals, greatest fears? So I’m not saying you really want to outline every single thing about your characters. However I do recommend making a couple of bullets and writing down things like their appearance or their impulses, so that way you don’t make an oopsie mistake.

Number four, set a daily word count goal. This is to kind of keep you in order and keep you running and keep you moving. It doesn’t have to remain the same indefinitely but set yourself a goal and then just keep at it. So you might do something like 500 words a day approximately.

That might be like two pages or you might be say something like 5,000 words a day. So do what you’re comfortable with and go for it in your workout goal every day. You do also want to be very conscientious that you do want to write every single day.

writing a novel step by stepThere’s tons of people who want to write a book but the difference between the people who want to write a book and who do write a book is that the people that do write their manuscript right even when they don’t feel like it.

So if you make a habit of writing every day, even when you don’t feel like it, then you’re well on your way to completing that manuscript. Number five, write in the same place every time. For me, I love writing either at my office or at a local coffee shop and that’s like my go-to spot.

But whether yours is writing at home, running at the kitchen table, going out somewhere, find that special place that you like to write and try to write there consistently. Because a lot of times your creative juices will start flowing just because you get to that place where you’ve been writing many times before.

Number six, set a total word count goal for your whole manuscript. In each age group and genre there is a word count expectation. You can check out some of the links below for those expectations but essentially you want to know if you’re writing a fantasy why a the work and expectation might somewhere around 75,000 words, and if you write something that’s 200,000 words long you might hurt yourself and have less literary agents and people interested in reading your manuscript.

Research, as we said before, for how long you want your manuscript to be. Okay number seven, give yourself weekly deadlines. So this is to kind of make make yourself very accountable. I think I’m 50 and my face you want to make sure you’re accountable.

So if your goal at daily goals to write, let’s say a thousand words, you want to make sure by the end of the week you have written seven thousand words. So maybe one day you write 500 words, the next day write 1500 words, make sure you hit that weekly deadline.

Number eight, make friends with fellow writers and get feedback. In my humble opinion this could be one of the hardest ones because, let’s be honest, a ton of writers are introverts and we are so awkward when making friends with other writers.

step by step writing a bookSo get yourself out there go on Meetup. Go on Twitter. Meet some awesome people. They’re really not as intimidating as we introverts like to think. Get some feedback, shove them in your manuscript and don’t be afraid if people are gonna say ‘they don’t like something’ and that’s the only way you can get better.

Number nine – edit, edit, edit and edit some more. So the first draft of your book should not be your final draft. The first draft is just you telling yourself this story and that’s so true. The first draft is you getting that awesome story that’s bubbling up in your brain onto the page. So that second, third, fourth, fifth draft is when you’re preparing it for the reader, so that they can see that epic story that’s inside your mind. Just keep editing.

Alright. A couple of other tips that aren’t in the nine – eliminate all possible distractions. That includes social media. Consider starting a blog or a column or write a few articles. Novel writing is a very, very long process but you do also want to get your name out there as a writer.

Consider checking out other forums or places that you can write and get published. Other than writing, go on a walk, go for a run and get those creative juices flowing. Don’t just be a little rating machine. Turn off your inner editor when you’re writing. You can’t have both editor and the writer coexisting. If you write creatively at the same time, the editor kills the creative urges of the writers.

So write – first go crazy and then maybe edit the next day and you might delete every single thing that you wrote, but make sure you keep those those two things separate. Don’t be afraid to scrap that entire book and write another.

On average, writers tend to write four novels before they hit the road and get a literary agent. Keep a glass of wine handy when you do start submitting your novels. You read, read a lot. Absolutely everything that you can because that’s research and it’s fun.

I shouldn’t have to tell you to read! This has been the nine practical tips to start writing your novel. Thank you guys for tuning in. If you like what you saw, subscribe below and like the page comments. Tell me what you want to hear about next time. Keep writing you.



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One Reply to “How To Write A Novel Step By Step”

  1. Step by step is the only way to write a great novel IMO – ’nuff said. Bit of a silly title. Everything is done step by step. You can’t write a novel in one go can you? It’s not instantaneous!

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