How to write a novel – the one big tip!

Hello there guys and gals!

After straying off track with my rant about the terrible treatment that Belfast City Council have dished out to Lennox (it’s still not too late to sign the petition at, I am back on the straight and narrow this week as I reveal the one big secret to writing a novel!

Everybody has a novel in them so they say and (other than David Beckham, oh please spare us that) I do believe that to be true: I myself have successfully completed two novels – the thriller ‘The Girl On The Bus’ (published in 2007) and my new children’s novel ‘Tortoise Soup’ (coming soon, fingers crossed). If I can do it then so can you!


So here it is, the one big tip to writing a novel that will allow you to proudly and truthfully proclaim yourself a novelist: write. That’s it. Just write. Or possibly type. Now don’t be disappointed because if you follow that simple advice then you will complete the novel.

The biggest enemy of the wannabe novelist is procrastination (and it’s twin evils ‘the internet’ and ‘television’). There are so many distractions around today but if you allow them to gain the upper hand then you will never ever finish your masterpiece.

Don’t get too bogged down too early on in the minutiae of the novel. This will come to you as you write. I advise spending around a month getting the basis of the story going round and round in your head: what are the main characters names? What is the basic idea of the novel? How does the novel end? At this point don’t write or type a single word – just let it stew there for a while. When it feels as though the characters are about to burst out of your head then finally relent and start working.

I wouldn’t advise having too much structure initially. All I have when I start writing is the idea for chapter 1, a few incidents that will occur at some point in the book and how it will all end. You will be amazed how it all comes together as you start to create the book itself: new plot lines will come to you, new characters – you are keeping an open mind to endless wonderful possibilities. If you are too structured from the start, too inflexible, then writing loses its art, its ‘magic’, and can quickly become boring. If you’re bored writing it then how bored is a reader going to be? Even worse, the deadly procrastination could rear its head again and you might spend so long planning the novel that you never get round to actually writing it.

So be strict with yourself – make sure that you write something every day. Even if it’s just one paragraph. On a good day you might write a dozen pages. Very quickly the first draft of your novel will be complete, and you can sit back with a feeling of elation and crack open the bubbly to celebrate. And it really doesn’t matter at this point whether what you have written is brilliant or a little creaky because you are then going to start editing the material: don’t edit as you go, this will again slow you down – editing is only to be considered after you have actually typed the final word and finished your novel.

But editing is a different story altogether, and will be covered in a different blog entirely. So here is my summary of how to write a novel: create, in your mind, a loose framework including the start and the end  – the middle will sort itself out; write or type something every single day, even if it’s only a paragraph – do not switch on the TV or internet until you have done this; don’t be too critical or start editing while the work is in progress; keep an open mind – maybe characters and plots will turn out differently to how you imagined them? Believe in yourself – you are wonderful and so your book will be as well!

Good luck in your novel writing, please hit me back anytime with comments and any progress that you are making. If I can help then I certainly will do 🙂

Seriousness out of the way, I will leave you with a joke. The Bee Gees were great weren’t they? (That’s not the joke, that’s on its way) I was very sad to hear about the loss of Robin Gibb recently (that’s not a joke either, patience!) so here is my favourite Bee Gee related jolly:

I walked past the fridge earlier and I thought that I heard an onion singing a Bee Gees song, but when I opened the fridge door it was only a chive talking. I asked the chive if it wanted to be an onion but it said ‘I’m stayin’ a chive, stayin’ a chive, ah ah ah ah stayin’ a chiiiiive!’


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. ms spider
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 18:08:45

    thanx for this!!! I am stuck at only NINE THOUSAND WORDS—-!
    I edit a lot, I rewrite, rework, these are 9000 quality words I feel.
    praps I need to DC from the net & go out to my Meccas & do bad things that can inspire me & drive me on…… 😉 😉

    milan kundera says something intereesting in his Laughter & Forgetting I quoth:

    “Graphomania (an obsession with writing books) takes on the proportions of a mass epidemic whenever a society develops to the point where it can provide 3 basic conditions:
    1. a high enough degree of general wellbeing to enable people to devote their energies to useless activities
    2. an advanced state of social atomisation and the resultant general feeling of the isolation of the individual
    3. a radical absence of significant social change in the internal development of the nation (IN this connexion I find it symptomatic that in France, a country where nothing really happens, the percentage of writers is 21x higher than in Israel. Bibi was absolutely right when she claimed never to have experienced anything from the outside. It is this absence of content, this void, that powers the motor driving her to write).”


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