It’s been said that everyone has a novel inside them, and for most people, it should stay there! I think that’s a bit harsh. My own opinion is that you should go for it, whatever ‘it’ is. If you firmly affirm to yourself ‘I want to write a novel’, where do you start?
Let me say, right from the beginning, that anyone can do anything they set their mind to, but it’s much more satisfying if you know how to go about it. When it’s a novel or any kind of book you’re considering writing, you should know that it’s a big undertaking and needs planning. More than planning, actually.
Jacqueline Eubanks was an award-winning when she was 12 years old, or thereabouts! In the video below, the first of a series, she describes the process she goes through when writing a novel. It’s interesting for one so young that said emphasises the need for careful research before putting pen to paper.
Want To Write A Novel? Don’t Know Where To Start? Read on …
Hey guys. My name is Jacqueline Eubanks and I am the award-winning, best-selling author of the Last Summer series, which became an award winner and bestseller when I was in high school. I wrote the very first graph of the first novel, I published when I was 12, so I am now documenting my whole step by step process from like my first idea, to plot diagram, to first draft, to publication and I’m just gonna document the whole thing in these like vlogs.
So I want to teach you how I’ve done it two times before and been really successful and if I can do this in middle school, in high school, honestly anybody can. So I’m gonna teach you my step by step way of doing this. To start off I just wanted to talk about the three things that you need to do before starting your novel.
Now really there’s four main ones that I’ve done that I think are really critical but we’re gonna start with just three for this video. So the first thing is, it’s time to go back to basics and hand write your first draft of your story.
Now here’s where I’m coming from – it’s way easier to write a first draft on the computer in the sense that it makes it a little more timely. You can get it down quicker and it’s easier because you could just backspace things, edit things, really quickly but hear me out on this.
When I went to first start writing the new novel that I’m working on now for this this vlog diary I got really scared and I kept going to the word document. It was blank. The cursor was blinking at me and I would get really scared, and just freeze up, and I feel like all this pressure on my shoulders.
Like I have to do really well. Like ‘oh my gosh, this is so hard’. Like I don’t even want to write and it just sucked all the energy out of it, but then I realized when I was in seventh grade and first wrote the first draft of my novel I use a notebook that I carried around with me everywhere.
And of course, a great pen, so I’m proposing that we all go back to basics. There’s actually a science behind how handwriting your story is better, which I’ll probably end up making a vlog about that too later. But right now I propose back to basics. Get your notebook out.
Get your favorite pen and it’s time to hand write the first draft of your storey. Second of all I want to talk about research. So I have a method for researching that I think is probably the best and I think it’s the reason why I was able to win awards for my novels, because I came up with a research method that just brings the setting to life.
So here’s my secret. I have a system where I specifically research slang of the time period or the place that my story takes place. I research fashion. I research technology. I research music, TV shows, movies and current events. So those are all the things I research for the the place, the time period, the age group of my characters of my story.
So this story that I’m working on now takes place in the 1990s, specifically 1998, so what I did to prepare, I got myself a specifically designed storybook folder for this project. And I went off, searched a whole list of slang words from the 1990s and printed them off to keep in a folder.
That way I can refer back to them while I’m writing. Then I went and researched a whole bunch of like fashion of the 90s, so that I could accurately portray how people would look and dress then. I made sure to find out all the different technologies that were really popular in the 90s.
That way, people, when they read the story, can tell based on even just mentioning like a Nintendo 64 or a Gameboy color, they’ll know exactly when I’m talking about. Also popular bands at the time. For examples, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Counting Crows, the Goo Goo Dolls.
Those are all really popular bands back when, I during the time period that I’m writing and their bands that my characters would be interested in. So I also ended up making a Spotify playlist of different songs that I think both fit the time period and match the characters and their age groups, and their personalities and moods.
So that is actually gonna put the link to my website to a blog post I wrote specifically that compliments this video and it also has a free worksheet, of research worksheet that you can download, print off and fill out, specifically for any of your writing projects.
Now the importance is then knowing where and when to use all this research that you accumulate. I found something that’s really key, is before hand planning. Okay, here’s my list of slang words. I’m gonna go through, highlight ones that I actually think my characters would use.
Like they’re not too outlandish or weird. You highlight those and then on the research worksheet that I will provide for you, you actually write ‘okay I can use this slang word when this character is talking’, with that character or this slang word can be that character’s catchphrase.
And you write that down. You actually plan out, ‘this word is gonna be used by this character probably in this context’. And then the same thing with like, we’ve had technology you actually set up beforehand, situations in which you can slide that in.
So for example, I was thinking of a situation where I could make the setting though the world more realistic by mentioning like a Nintendo 64. So I had to think of ‘okay what am I going to use? what situation, what character am I going to use?’ to insert that into the story.
And I thought of ‘okay, wouldnt it be perfect if maybe the little brother characters just in passing in the story, not a main plot event but just in passing’. Mention like that my main characters little brothers were playing a brand-new Nintendo 64, you know stuff like that.
Like thinking about where you’re gonna insert it in which context. Where it would make sense. And then the third thing is getting beta readers. So when I was in 7th grade, first writing my first draft at the last summer I kept it around in a notebook, would write in it at school.
And actually I had like a sign-up sheet of people who wanted to read the next chapter after I’d written it and like there would be a list like a line of people wanting to read it. And that was so important because that allowed me to get feedback and also be motivated to keep writing.
So I would say get beta readers. Find friends, family members or colleagues, or teachers who are excited about your project and want to read the next section of what you’ve written chapter by chapter.
So get those, get those friends, family members to basically sign up to read each chapter as you write it and then ask them questions. Like ‘was there anything that wasn’t clear? what was your favorite part? did you think I included enough character development? or was the dialogue, did it flow well or was it choppy?
You know, ask them real questions to get their feedback because those are gonna be invaluable when you’re making the second draft. And the fourth tip which I’m going to cover in a different video is plot diagramming, which is so crucial to the pre-writing process.
Thank you for listening to me speak on this. I’m really passionate about this topic especially because this is now my fifth novel since I was 12. Then I’m going to be going from beginning to end with and even though not all five have been published yet, this is just a really exciting process to share with you.
So be sure to go to Jacqueline Eubanks com the link below this video and read about this process and download the research worksheet and fill it out. I promise that’s gonna help you. Thank you so much for listening. Bye guys. For more tips on how to write publish and build an author platform for your novel, visit Jacqueline Eubanks com and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and like this video.