An author's top tips for writing a novel

An author's top tips for writing a novel

If you're looking for tips and tricks to help you write a story or even your first novel, author Lady Thérèse Robinson has this advice to offer.

1. Get writing

Turn up. Carve out a time for yourself. So you’re already busy? Set your alarm half an hour earlier, or forgo that episode of your favorite soap. Write freely about one character without self-criticism or editing. Bring the character to life. Write their biography. Get to know them. Give them a name. You can change everything on a whim further down the line, but this character will emerge and the more you give them life, the more your story will take shape. Enjoy every minute of this. It’s not a school essay. Nobody will critique you.
2. Keep a notebook with you at all times.

From now on, everything that happens to you or that you observe is potential writing material. For example you see a woman at the bus stop, she drops her bag and someone helps her. Ask yourself: ‘What’s in the bag? Are they strangers? What happens next?’ and scribble a few notes. You’ll be amazed how these little incidents, noticed with a writer’s eye, will weave themselves into your story.
3. Allow yourself plenty of time.

Yes soon you will need a plot outline and a story arc, you will have to edit, cut and rewrite, but make these first stages as pleasurable and unpressured as possible. I guarantee that once you are sufficiently in flow, it will be impossible for you to stop writing. Your voice will become stronger as you slip into the mindset of each character. Move things along by introducing dialogue. Enjoy the process.
4. Create an antagonist.

At a certain magical point your characters will take on lives of their own. This is when you need to challenge them. What is their greatest fear? What would they do if there were a crisis? Do they have enemies? Are they honest? Put them in an uncomfortable situation and watch how they behave.
5. Remember this is a process.

There are many phases you will go through before you complete your novel. You will have days when the well is dry, days when you will get frustrated, run out of time and feel there is too far to go. Remember this is the point where many people give up.  If you have thoroughly delved into your characters, they will have become too real for you to abandon them and you will keep coming back to finish your story. Your voice is unique; never doubt that your story needs to be told.

Read more about Thérèse’s adventures or read her latest novel Letter from Paris

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