I’m sure all my fiction writer friends agree that one of the questions we get asked the most is, “How do you write a novel?” First, because readers are curious as to how a story that is fresh and exciting and filled with true-to-life characters comes out of an author’s mind. Second, because they have an inkling to do it themselves.
The truth is that almost anyone can write a novel . . . but (did you guess that was coming?) it takes a lot of time, persistence, and skill. Much more than I thought when I first started writing. <click to tweet>
I sat down to work on my first novel in 1994. I had a notion for a story, and the first three chapters came pretty fast—fast enough for me to submit it at the Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference. I was worried when I attended because, “What if more than one publisher wants my story?!” The story was fresh in my mind, and the writing was exciting. I thought I was well on my way. (I laugh at myself now, but at least I did it. I put the words on the paper!)
The truth is, I was dipping my toes in a tide pool when the ocean of publication awaited. I had a lot to learn, and it took me almost ten years to learn it. My first novel From Dust and Ashes was published by Moody Publishing in 2003, and it’s still in print.
How do you write a novel? First, you have to start. If you’re waiting for permission, here it is: Sit down and begin that book, even if you don’t know much about fiction writing. The best thing you can do is to start getting words onto paper. 1) You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it, and 2) you’ll also be surprised by how much you need to learn.
How do you write a novel? Next, pick up a few good books on novel writing. These are ones I recommend:
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
A Story is a Promise by Bill Johnson
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass
How do you write a novel? If you’re really serious, attend a writer’s conference. Here is a list of hundreds of them all across the country.
Why should you attend a writers conference?
- There are professionals who tell you want you need to know. Yes,they are literally training you to be their future competition.
- You can often submit your writing for critique and key advice you can trust . . . unlike hearing from your friend, spouse, or mother who tells you it’s perfect just as it is.
- You start to build relationships with key people in the industry. Need I say more?
- You can build a network of friendships with other writers for support and help.
I have become good friends with many of the editors, agents, and professional writers I met at my very first writers conferences. Knowing the right people has brought me work. When an editor gets a project from me on their desk, I have the upper hand over someone they’ve never met.
My writer friends have also been my support throughout the years. We’re encouraged one another and prayed for one another. We’ve critiqued our work and brainstormed books. I guarantee I wouldn’t be where I am today without attending conferences.
Think that writing a novel will take time, money, and effort? You’re right. <click to tweet> But I’m here to tell you that if you put in the investment, you just might be holding your own book in a few years . . . and you’ll be well on your way to fulfilling a dream and launching a career!
So, what are you waiting for? Today is the perfect day to start a novel!