Many aspiring authors start writing a novel, but very few actually finish. Why? Are they afraid of failure so keep re-writing every paragraph? Did they bite off more than they could chew? Did “life” just get in the way? Don’t let your novel become the dusty stack shoved in a drawer of forgotten dreams. Use these 3 tips to get started and finish your book!

Tip # 1: Know Your World

Even if you are writing a novel about something familiar, it is essential that you do the proper amount of research. If you’re writing a story based loosely on your hometown, for example, you may still have to find out what birds are in the area during April, or whether the leaves start turning in October or November. Adding these details will add richness to your novel and make your characters’ lives believable. Keep your research journal with you at all times to jot down notes and questions for future research.

Tip # 2: Decide on a Voice

One of the main reasons novels either never get started or stay unfinished is because the author can’t decide on their voice. A novel’s voice is more than whether or not it is told in the first or third person. The voice you give your characters and story creates a genuine relationship with the reader. Elements of voice include a character’s accents, mannerisms, culture, dress, and even their slang. Think about how real characters like Tom Sawyer and Scarlet O’Hara appear to you. Can you see what they would be wearing? How they walk and talk?

Tip # 3: Know Your Conflict

One of the most common causes for a novel to never get off the ground is because the author hasn’t decided on a central conflict. Start at the beginning with generalities, then quickly move into the specifics. For example, “Penny has a fight with the mayor” is more general than, “Penny accuses the mayor of condoning employee election fraud.” This is also a good opportunity to employ Tip #4.

Tip #4: Show, Don’t Tell

If you’ve done any research at all into novel writing, you know the phrase, “Show, don’t tell.” This is where you give a description beyond just what others may see. For example, you may be describing a police car pulling someone over. You can describe the car as, “The lights on top of the police car were flashing red and blue in my rear-view window.” Or you can show the reader the picture and emotion all at once. “The blue bubble atop the car behind me suddenly lit a fire of anxiety from the depths of my stomach.” Now, I didn’t specify it was a police car, but did you get that feeling by showing the anxiety the character was feeling?

Tip #5: Write!

The best course of action you can take is to just write. If you get stuck, don’t worry. If you find something you need to research more thoroughly, make a note of it and move on. Give yourself time limits and then see if you can break them. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Start writing and don’t let yourself stop until your alarm sounds, even if it sounds like gibberish to you. Try increasing your time in 10-minute increments until you’re writing for one hour without stopping. This exercise will help you develop a habit that will only benefit your novel, even if you end up going off on a tangent during the process.

Use these five tips to help start and finish your next great novel. Take the time to research, determine your voice, choose your central conflict, re-write to “show, not tell,” and just plain write! This way you’ll have an easier time finishing the next bestseller!

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Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.

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