The FIVE Basic Steps Before Starting a Novel

It’s time, isn’t it? You need to put on paper the story that has been lurking in the back of your head. The need to tell this story echoes inside you like a thousand jungle drums. You’re ready to become a WRITEROh hail yes! Lemme hear a Hallelujah brothers and sisters!

The moment you decide to write a novel is a beautiful thing. It’s like going into labor, in a way. At first it’s scary and intimidating, and you’ll have a painful road ahead of you, but in the end, you’ll hold that story in your arms and know that it was totally worth it.

But before you being your journey, let me give you a few tips that will save you a LOT of time. And I mean a WHOLE  LOT of time.

The FIVE Basic Steps Before Starting a Novel


Seriously, READ A FRIGABOB LOT. Wanting to be a writer but not a reader is insane. Reading other people’s work is THE BEST way to improve your own. You’ll learn by assimilation and best of all, without particularly noticing.

Some will tell you to read all genres so you can bring a fresh approach to your book, and that’s 100% valid. Personally, I read mostly the genres I work with because 1) I exist therefore I benchmark, and 2) depending on the genre you read, you might end up with Frankenstory, a  novel with aliens, Victorian ladies, and a guy whose farts smell like cheddar cheese.

On second thought, that would be pretty awesome.


Take this step with a grain of salt. A bunch of people go free style and it works for them, but I’m one to believe that knowing the beginning, middle and end of your story, before you start, is extremely important.


Who is telling this story? Is it Bill, the old shop-owner with a drinking problem? Or his wife, Dorothy, a recovering Zombie? Maybe both?

I wouldn’t choose a bunch of different POVs, though. My limit is four, even if you’re writing in third-person omniscient.


There’s so many people who start and end a story in third-person past, and then switch everything to first-person present, or whatever, and it’s a HUGE waste of time.You basically have to change your entire novel, so please get it right the first time. You’ll thank me later. And if you don’t know what narrative mode is, check this.


You need to let it flow and create your own experience. Don’t edit meticulously, just write and write until you can’t write anymore. From time to time, I like to check if what I’m writing matches with my outline, and then decide what I should do. But I’m a control-freak, so you don’t need to follow me on this one.

Once you’re done, let your manuscript sit for a while, then pick it up and edit the schnitzel out of it.

Good luck!


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2 thoughts on “The FIVE Basic Steps Before Starting a Novel

  1. Pingback: The FIVE Basic Steps Before Starting a Novel | Pinches of Madness

  2. Great insights Clara. It is funny how often the simple “Read” suggestion is overlooked. Digesting books and studying how good authors build stories and develop characters is essential.

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