How To Write Your First Novel
‘I’m going to write a book one day.’
How often have you heard that – or heard yourself saying it to someone else. But it’s the ‘one day’ that might make the difference between you being a best-seller and a ‘might have been’!
If you want to write your first novel, you need a great idea that will make an agent read more than the first sentence. You need believable characters whom your readers will identify with. You need a problem that your characters can get their teeth into and which has the potential to develop into another problem (or two) just when you think your characters have solved their difficulties. And you need to work out whose viewpoint you are telling the story from.
That’s just the beginning! Because even when you do have all that and more, you need a publisher who is prepared to invest time and money, to make sure that everyone knows about your book.
But there’s something else too. You also need a four-letter word that most of us feel we are short of in our lives. Time. Which brings me back to the ‘one day’ problem.
The truth of the matter is that some irritating people believe that writing a book is an easy option to ‘proper’ full-time work with a monthly salary and a pension. In their heads, it involves having a leisurely breakfast and then heading to your study or even the sofa for a few hours of writing, which will, before long, create that book that they would have written years earlier if they hadn’t had to earn a living first or look after the children or both. After all, their story is so interesting that providing they can find the time to do it, it’s bound to be an instant best-seller!
Then there are the would-be writers who dream of writing that book but are secretly scared of rejection so find every excuse under the sun, to put it off. When they’re retired, they promise themselves, they’ll start that novel. Or when the children are older. Or when….
And that’s when you have to stop right there and make a date to yourself. A promise. A vow which you will have to keep if you really want to write that first novel. If this sounds serious, that’s because it is. You have to promise yourself that you will write something – even if it’s just for five minutes – every day. You need to make it a habit, like cleaning your teeth. And you need to do it even if there is something else that you ought to be doing.
Only then will you find the key to entering an imaginative world and get to know your characters so well that before long, the book starts to write itself. If you only write something every week (or month), you will lose the thread in your head just as a reader will lose interest in a book if he/she only picks it up every few days instead of every day.
That’s all very well, you might sniff but where do I find the time? Start by stopping the newspaper. Get up half an hour earlier. Go to bed half an hour later. Write in your lunch hour. Write on the train to work. Just do it.
Writing isn’t easy. It’s emotionally draining. It’s infuriating at times. But if you’re a real writer (as opposed to the ‘one day’ sort), it’s the best thing you will ever know. Five minutes a day. That’s all. So start now…
By Sophie King, author of How to Write Your First Novel, visit www.how-to-write-your-first-novel.co.uk ; How to Write Short Stories for Magazines, visit www.howtowriteshortstoriesformagazines.co.uk ; and How to Write Your Life Story in Ten Easy Steps, visit www.writing-your-life-story-in-ten-easy-steps.co.uk