The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days
The idea of writing an entire book from start to finish can seem like one of the most challenging tasks any writer has faced in their life. So much so that most of them give up even before they get started. And a majority of them, who push through their initial inhibitions, gradually start losing their motivation at some point due to a poor execution plan. Let’s be honest, writing a book is not easy. If it was, then everybody would be an author. However, this seemingly daunting task can be made much easier by incorporating a structured approach and breaking the process down into a series of simpler and easily achievable steps. Here is a simple 6-step approach our experts have come up with to help you write a novel from scratch in just 30 days.
Step 1: Building the complete outline and structure for your book
There are 5 essential aspects of every Fiction novel and you need to work on these even before you sit down to start writing your book.
Theme : The theme of the book is essentially the main idea that connects all the elements in your book. For example, the central theme behind Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series is good vs evil. Your theme is the subject running throughout your book.
Setting: The setting of a book indicates when and where the story is taking place. Put down the exact background, time period and the location where your story is taking place in this step. You can even create a map and a timeline or a sequence of events in the order you want them in.
Characters: In this step, you can create a list of all the important characters in your story. Create detailed character profiles for your protagonist, antagonist and all the supporting characters in this step. Ensure you include important aspects about your characters like age, appearance, likes, dislikes, background, strengths and weaknesses etc. Remember that no character is perfect. A character with no flaws is one dimensional and often, boring.
Premise: The premise of the book is the foundation of your story. It defines the concept of your book. Basically, the premise reveals important points of your book strategically, without ruining the end for everyone. No spoiler alerts needed for this one! So you can set up the rest of your book by getting your premise right.
Plot: The plot of a story contains all the main events that make up the story. These events are usually related to each other and they affect each other in a pattern or a sequence. The plot captures the important turning points and the rest of the story is built on the basic plot. You have to construct your plot carefully as it will determine how your entire book will turn out. It is wise to spend some time on your plot.
Step 2: Create a storyboard
Once you flesh out the outline of your book, you will clearly visualize the individual scenes from your book in your head. Jot down your ideas for the scenes in the form of Scene Cards. It doesn’t matter whether it fits or not at this point. Put it all down. Once you have put down everything, you can start building a story around them.
Step 3: Create a plot graph
Use your scene cards to build a basic progression for your story. Your plot graph helps you plan your whole novel ahead of time so that you know exactly what to write when the time comes since you already know how the story pans out. Get this step right and 90% of your work is already over. A storyline for a Fiction novel can look something like this:
- Introduction to the characters and setting – You can introduce the characters, the setting and show your readers a glimpse of the main characters in setting of the book
- The turn of events: Describe the one significant event which disrupts the daily lives of the characters involved and pushes them onto the premise of the book
- Introduction to the premise of the book: Show how the main characters respond to the turn of events.This gives you a chance to explain the premise of the book clearly to reader
- Plot execution: Describe how the characters set out to solve their problem or achieve their goals and the difficulties they face in the process
- The Conflict/One Significant moment: Try to include one highly significant moment which changes the course of the storyline and puts it on a fast track towards the conclusion
- The Climax: Describe how the story ends and the role of the main characters in it and ensure you tie up all loose ends.
Step 4: Create your writing schedule
A typical Fiction novel is about 180-200 pages long. That works out to about 45,000 – 50,000 words in the entire book. The thought of writing 50,000 words can be stressful even for the best of us. But here is an interesting way to look at this. Your objective is to hit 50,000 words in about 30 days, which equates to about 1667 words per day. To put that into perspective, this article which is a little more than 1000 words took me just over an hour to complete. Suddenly when broken down, the seemingly improbable target of 50,000 words seems a lot more easy to achieve.
Set yourself a daily writing target and allocate as little as 2 hours in a day for you to achieve this target. This structured approach helps you keep up your motivation and focus levels to help you achieve your daily objective.
Step 5: Put down your first draft
By now you should have the basic outline of the novel, good sense of the characters, a storyboard and a simple plot graph for your story. Now all you need to do is get your ideas on paper, as per the writing schedule you create for yourself. Do everything in your power to stick to your schedule and even get a good friend or someone from your family to follow up with you and keep you on track.
Step 6: Edit & finetune your manuscript
It is critical that you do at least one round of editing and proofreading before you try to get your manuscript published. It is also essential that you get a second pair of eyes to review your manuscript once. The good news is, if you did everything right with regards to your storyboard and progression, your manuscript won’t require a major overhaul. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to clean up and finetune your manuscript. So set aside adequate time and check for phrasing, tone, consistency and grammar issues in your manuscript. You can also save a lot of time by using tools such as Grammarly for this.
90% of the issues authors face while writing their book boil down to the planning and lack of a structured approach. Spending enough time in the planning of your book can go a long way in helping you finish your book as per your schedule.
To sum it all up
Spend enough time on drafting the outline and structure of your book carefully, break down your writing process into a series of smaller targets, set yourself a writing schedule, do everything to stick to it and finally edit, re-write and finetune your manuscript before you send it out to a publisher.