When it comes to writing a story, I believe you need a few key ingredients.
All stories, short and long, take a great deal of time to write. Years, in most cases. So, of course, if you’re going to dedicate so much of your life into this novel, it must be a story you love. This novel will be one of your children. As one of your children, expect it to drive you crazy sometimes, and don’t expect it to be perfect. Your mind needs to be in the right place when you do this. Writing novels isn’t as easy as non-writers think. There’s more to it than just putting words on paper, the same way making food is more than just turning on the stove.
The process is simple, but not easy. If you follow these simple steps, which helped me a great deal in publishing my novel Remnant, you might just get done faster than normal.
Step 1: Know the story.
I don’t just mean know what the story is about. I mean you need to know this story. With this step one, I will divide it into three sub-steps. Know how it begins, know how it ends, and know what it’s about. Every single thing that happens in the story is trying to arrive at a single point: the end. Will the guy get the girl? Will the villain be defeated? Will the meaning of life be discovered? Will they survive? The entire point of the story is about where it will ultimately end up. Now, you may be asking “how do I know where to begin?” Well, now we get to step 2.
Step 2: Start as close to the ending as possible.
Your novel could be a romance. However, if you start the book 3,000 years ago in ancient China, when all your story is about is two unlikely people falling in love in modern-day New York, that history segment is nothing but filler. Of course, that is an extreme example, but I’m sure you see my point. If not, I will say my point. Don’t make your story longer than it needs to be. Your readers will notice. Every single chapter should have at least one of two things happening: advancing the story, or developing necessary information. If you find yourself trying excessively hard to make the novel longer just for the sake of making it longer, than your story might just belong in the category of ‘short story,’ which is just fine. Not everyone wants to read a mountain-sized novel anyway.
Step 3: Chart out the entire story backwards.
Yes, you heard me right. Backwards. Now, just to clarify, I do NOT mean your story should actually be played out backwards Memento-style. Unless that’s exactly what you want to do, I’m only referring to planning here. When you’re having multiple plot points all converge upon a single conclusion, that’s a lot of details to work out. To make sense of it all, write the story backwards, starting at where it ends, then list what directly led to that event, then list what led to that event, and so on. Trust me, it helps a lot.
Well, these are my tips. They help me, and I hope they help you.