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Good first novel writing resource?

Discussion in 'Writing Resources' started by Cheydinhal, Jul 20, 2016.

  1. Cheydinhal

    Cheydinhal Acolyte

    Hello everyone,

    Just a quick question. Could anyone recommend a website or thread that simply details how to begin writing a novel from scratch? I've written probably a dozen short stories in the past and I want to get started on my first novel to self publish, but I haven't been able to find a good reference point to start with.
  2. Hi!

    I probably shouldn't be replying since I don't really have a specific resource to provide. I also don't know if you already have an idea or just want to write a novel, or if you have already started, or where you are in general in your writer's journey. But, I will tell you that by far the hardest thing about a first novel is getting from the beginning to the end. Usually you end up with lots of failed beginnings without a middle or end before you can write an entire novel.

    How to get all the way from the beginning to the end? Well, some would say outline, but to make a good outline you need to know some basic stuff about what makes a story a story and what propels is all the way from the beginning to the end. In my opinion character is at the center of it. If you can figure out who your main character is, what they love, what they fear, and what they want more than anything else in the world, they will lead the story. At its most basic a story is a character pursuing a thing (goal) because of a need or desire that they have (motivation) and the things that are keeping them from reaching that thing and becoming fulfilled (obstacles.) But, there are a million ways to look at it. You have probably already experienced a lot of this when writing short stories. However, though a story is defined as a "novel" because of length, novels aren't just like short stories except longer. (And vice versa, which is why I fail at short stories.)

    If I were you I would start my search looking at articles and stuff about character goals/motivations, character development/arcs, and story structure. Learn about how to handle subplots. Pretty much just learn about what propels a story. Oh, and read lots, but pay attention to how the author does things. You can look at outlines of books you've read and movies you've watched on the Internet. That will help you see the structure that holds up the story.

    You don't really need an outline on paper. If it helps you, do it, and at least try it even if you think it won't help because it helps a lot of people. However, some people, like me, prefer to keep the outline in their head so it can change and adapt as needed. What you definitely need is an idea of where you're going. Some people (they call themselves 'pantsers') just make it up as they go, but I doubt anyone could finish a book on their first try like that and I still don't feel comfortable doing it that way myself.

    But...there really isn't a right or wrong way to do it, and in the end books and articles can't help you with everything. You have to figure out your own way on your own. I guess my advice would be to GET IT FINISHED because finishing is the hard part. By the time you're finished you will have learned so much you will feel a century older.
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    One method I like for it's simplicity is the Snowflake method.
    I think it's a nice enough frame work to work with.
    Here is one explanation of it...
    How to plan and write novels using the Snowflake method | Self-Publishing Author Advice from The Alliance of Independent Authors

    Possible the simplest in concept is Pixar's rules of story telling #4
    Once upon a time there was ___.
    Every day, ___.
    One day ___.
    Because of that, ___.
    Because of that, ___.
    Until finally ___.

    Now that's succinct!

    For me, the tricky bit actually doing the writing.
    I have half a dozen [probably a lot more] stories that I got just-so-far with and then ran out of steam.
    Russ likes this.
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Mythic Scribes has lots of articles on writing. I wrote a few articles on structure. You can find them on the main page under the category of Plot and Structure.

    For myself, when I first started, I found that most How To Write a Novel books and articles weren't all that helpful, at least not in the beginning. Why? Because I really didn't know what I didn't know. Now this isn't to say writing theory isn't helpful, because it really is.

    To me the biggest help writing my first novel was to take the attitude that I'm going to finish this thing no matter how badly it sucks. And that's just what I did. I pushed through to the end, and boy did it suck.

    But I learned tons from the experience, and while I was writing that first novel, I was reading up on writing theory. And because I was actually writing the novel, the theory made more sense. It wasn't so abstract. I had something, my novel, to relate it too.

    Any way, my two cents.
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    If you do an image search on "Novel Structure" you can find some good infographics to get you started.

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