Have You Made this Mistake When Writing a Novel?

When you get the idea to write a novel, it seems to just jump into your head. You have an “Aha!” moment; a brilliant moment of inspiration. You can see the entire novel played out in your head. Now all you have to do is write it down on paper.

The mistake most people make when they try to write a novel is that they immediately start writing their novel. That moment of inspiration is actually a bit of an illusion. That moment of inspiration is absolutely necessary, but it is only the seed of the novel. Everyone that’s ever planted a seed in their garden knows that a lot of things need to be done before that seed becomes a full-grown plant.

After that first moment of inspiration, the next step in writing your novel needs to be a planning step. You wouldn’t want to build a house without a plan and you shouldn’t write a novel without one either. Some writers don’t like the idea of planning their novel. They say that it takes the creativity out of the process. I disagree. I believe that it gives your creativity structure so that you can actually get your novel finished in a timely manner.

Here’s what typically happens if you don’t plan. This is the story of a fictitious writer named Jane. She started writing a brilliant first scene. She got the first chapter done in two days. Then she got stuck. She wasn’t sure what should happen next. She set the novel aside while she figured it out. A couple of weeks later, she did figure out what should happen in chapter two. She dusted it off and wrote two more chapters. Then she got stuck again. She put it back on the shelf again. She got busy planning a baby shower for her sister and coaching her son’s soccer team. She thought about going back and writing some more on her novel, but she realized that at this rate it was going to take her several years just to finish the rough draft. That was pretty discouraging. She was busy and decided it just wasn’t worth the time or the trouble. Her novel became another novel that no one will ever read.

Each of the major parts of the story should be planned out in some detail.

•The Characters—You should know who the main characters in your novel are. There should be a protagonist and an antagonist. Your plan should include some details about their lives.

•The Main Problem—This may seem obvious, but many novice authors that I’ve talked to couldn’t tell me what the main character’s problem was in their novel.

•The Major Plot Points—Before you ever start writing, you should have the major event in the story planned out. These major events will usually involve the protagonist attempting to solve the problem and then being kept from success.

•The Ending of the Story—Make sure that the main problem and all the smaller problems introduced in the story are resolved. Readers don’t want to be left hanging.

A complete plan can easily be finished in a week. This will allow you to finish a high quality first draft of your novel in six months to a year.

This is the power of having a plan for your novel.