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How to write a novel – Top tips from published authors

Did you know November is National Novel Writing Month? Writing a book is a goal for many of us, but getting started can seem like the hardest part. If you’ve always wanted to put pen to paper and struggled to make it happen, we’ve gathered some top tips from published authors to help you make your literary dreams come true…

Have two ideas

Katie Khan, author of Hold Back The Stars and upcoming title The Light Between Us, says the writing tip she lives by is not to start writing a novel when you’ve had one idea… but when you’ve had two: “the best writing experiences I’ve had are an unexpected combination of two different ideas – and if you start too soon, you may find you run out of steam”.

Plan each chapter

Gillian McAllister, the Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author of novels including Anything You Do Say and No Further Questions, says planning out each chapter of your story is essential, so by the time you sit down to write it, you know where it’s going. 
Bethany Rutter, editor of Plus+: Style Inspiration for Everyone and author of Young Adult title No Big Deal which is out next year, agrees: “just write a one-sentence description of what is going to happen to move the plot along from beginning to end, so you can get going with the writing without feeling like you don’t know where it’s going”.

Do a little bit every day

Writing an entire book is a huge task, but breaking it down into small chunks helps make it more manageable alongside daily life. Bethany recommends getting into a rhythm of writing every day (or as close to every day as possible) so you’re always moving forward and making progress, even when life gets busy. 

Check in with online communities

The official hashtag for National Novel Writing Month is #NaNoWriMo – a quick browse on Twitter brings up thousands of tweets from aspiring writers and established authors alike, sharing tips for getting started, recovering from writer’s block, developing characters and even pitching your book to publishers. Being part of this friendly online community will make the writing process feel much less lonely. 

Just keep swimming 

Don’t be tempted to get lost in editing before you’ve finished – get your entire story down on the page before you go back and make changes. As Gillian says: “finish a full draft before you edit: so many first-time writers get bogged down in over editing and it’s best to go through to the end, first.”
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