How to Write a Novel

Tips to Get You Started

Many people have asked me how to write a novel since I wrote my first one, Malicious Intent: A Sam Parker Mystery. And to be honest, I really didn’t know how to answer it.

Sure I wrote one, but I’m pretty sure that all writers have their own style, especially if you hadn’t studied another writers process, and I hadn’t. I have always written and as long as I can remember I enjoyed writing stories and I have always had a very good imagination. So writing novels didn’t seem like a foreign for me. I know that’s probably not something you want to hear.

It's not easy, and there is more to it than most people think, but I absolutely love it and with each new book, I'm learning to do it better.

I can say that my second book in my novel series, Malicious Secrets: A Sam Parker Mystery is better than my first, as I have made an effort to learn more about the story telling process and how to create a good one.

But to me, it’s a fun challenge to create an interesting plot and fascinating characters and since I write mysteries, I find it extremely exciting to craft a good story that will keep me interested.

So now, as I plan my latest novel, the third in the Sam Parker Mystery series, I think I can finally offer some tips about how to write a novel. This is just how I do it though, and I don’t believe there is any one way that is right and all others are wrong. Ultimately, you just have to find what works for you.

  • Find Inspiration – This is how I begin. I may come across a case or see news story that intrigues me and then I let my imagination take it for a while. I take notes and pay attention to any details that come to mind and I let the storyline show itself to me. It's the first step in how to write a novel.


  • Imagine and Plot – I have found that allowing my imagination to take it is freeing. I pay attention to what’s happening and make any changes as needed to keep the story moving forward, but I don’t try to stifle it or force things. Creating the plot should be fun and if it’s not working, I know, as the writer, I have the ability to change anything I want.


  • Choose a Setting – Once I have an idea about what the main storyline will be, I choose a setting where it will take place. I am a big believer in writing what you know, and having the setting take place primarily in the town where I live makes it easy to visualize the movement as the story evolves.


  • Character Development – This is something I am always doing. Whenever I meet someone or have a conversation with someone, they or part of them may end up as a main character in one of my books. I am also a people watcher and I can take bits and pieces from various people I see or hear and create a character. And sometimes I just have an image of what the character should be like and create them from there.


  • Write – I have read that some novelists create a very detailed outline of the whole story and then just fill in the details. I don’t do that. I write a short outline, create my characters, setting, problem & solution and begin writing. As the story moves forward, I refine and polish and sometimes even change a few things in order to make the story better. I also do a lot of research, while I'm writing. I have discovered that if I know exactly what is going to happen beforehand, I’m not all that excited about writing it. This works for me but it may not work for you.


  • Feedback – Ask someone you respect to read your work. I usually ask several people in different professions read it. I also recommend an English professor or writer if you know someone. You want honest feedback so don’t ask anyone that is afraid to hurt your feelings. You need to know the truth. Criticism is helpful and although it can be painful, it will make you a better writer. You can learn how to write a novel and with experience get better at it, so don't be afraid to keep working on it.


  • Read & Re-write – This is vital. Once your novel is done, it’s still not done. Re-writing anything that doesn’t work is really important because at anytime, if your reader loses interest, they will put your book down. You want it read so do whatever you have to do to make sure it is.


  • Edit – This is the most important thing you can do. I have a professional editor who specializes in the mystery genre edit my books. It can be expensive to hire an editor, but if you have a good editor like I do, it’s well worth it.


  • Celebrate – Writing a novel is something to celebrate. You work hard to create a good story and it takes a lot of time and dedication to finish it so when you do, you need to celebrate it. Splurge on something like a nice dinner or a weekend away because, once you’ve come this far and discovered how to write a novel, there will be a lot more work to do! This is not the end, it’s just the beginning.


  • Publish - Publishing, whether you go the traditional route or decide to self publish is a big project and I advise you read up on it.  Knowing your options and the process will ensure you do what is best for you. Today, writers have more opportunities than ever before. Just do your research.


I recommend these books as the best ones I have read.


  • Market - Your book has been a big part of your life, and just having written it shouldn’t be the end. You want others to read it too and in order to make that happen, you’re going to have to let the world know your book is available. There are several books that are excellent for fiction and not only have I read them, but I use them to market my own books.


Take a look at them and get started putting your plan in action right away!



I hope these tips have helped to answer any questions you have about how to write a novel. Best of luck in your writing adventure!

More Information about How to Write a Novel

How to Get Writing Ideas

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