Writing a book:
Your three-stage process simplified

Nail your three-stage process with Now Novel

  1. Use our set of tools to complete each stage successfully.
  2. Use the central idea finder to hone your novel idea and find characters and themes to include in your outline.
  3. Get helpful insights and motivation from other writers while you draft and revise.

Want to know a bit more about the book-writing process? Read on:

1: Beginning a book: Finding your central idea and preparing to write

A: Finding your best idea

Writing a book from start to finish begins with finding an idea that gives you motivation to write - even when the going gets tough.

There are many places to find inspiration: News headlines, the lyrics of songs, overheard snatches of conversation. Read these 15 simple methods for finding story ideas for inspiration.

Sometimes finding a great idea for a novel means having to choose between multiple options. If you need to choose your best idea out of many, ask yourself:

  • Which of these ideas excites me the most?
  • Are there enough seeds for interesting scenes within my idea to sustain a whole novel?
  • Which of these ideas is most marketable (are there many books on this topic currently in bookstores or will there be less competition for a reading audience)?

B: Preparing to write your first draft

Once you have a great idea that will make writing a book easier, you can start putting a helpful, organized structure in place. Even if you tend towards being a pantser, writing an outline is sensible because:

  • It’s harder to get stuck when you have a signposted path through your story
  • The outlining process will make it clear if your central idea needs work - it will reveal any flaws
  • Having an outline to refer back to will help you focus on bringing out the most important elements of your story, its core characters, plot events, characters and themes

It’s easiest to outline your novel and create organized structure when you use an outlining method that works for you. Have a look at these 7 methods for outlining a book. Choose according to how much story detail you think you’ll need before you can write your novel’s first draft in earnest.

2. The bulk of writing a book: Writing your first draft

Now that you have a central idea you can flesh out, you can get your story written. There are several core things you need (besides your central idea) when writing a book:

  • A consistent writing routine (advice on establishing one here)
  • A step-by-step method (like the Now Novel process)
  • An external source of accountability such as a writing community and (if you’re especially committed) a mentor who’ll remind you of your writing goals and provide feedback and advice. These will help you keep progressing

There are challenges that could trip you up along the way so be sure to have some solutions in place. If you tend to criticize your work a lot, here is practical advice on silencing the "you can’t write" voice. If you’re finding that you don’t have time to write, divide the task into smaller increments and try other practical solutions for getting more writing time out of every week.

When the draft-writing process comes to an end, the equally rewarding revision process starts.

3. Finishing a novel: Reviewing and revising

Drafting and inventing characters and scenarios is exhilarating. Many writers see it as the most fun part of the entire novel-writing process. Revising your first draft into polished manuscript form is vital, too. It will give your book a much higher chance of publication. During this stage, keep an eye out for:

  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling errors: Use spell check, and when in doubt look up answers in a reputable online dictionary or encyclopedia
  • Inconsistencies of character, plot and setting: Egypt shouldn’t morph into Australia inexplicably and your characters shouldn’t change names, professions, personalities or goals with no explanation
  • Style and concision: Is the writing verbose (wordy) in places? Does the style of narration match the mood and atmosphere you want to evoke?
  • Craft: Is your story structured and paced well? Are readers in your target audience (or general readers) likely to want to keep turning pages?

These are all elements that your writing community, coach or editor can help you improve. Although it is advisable to hire a professional editor to help polish your novel to a high standard, here is advice on editing your own work that will help get you closer to a succinct, compelling and polished final draft.

Now that you understand the three stages of writing a book, it’s time to get started.

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