Writing Fiction & Poetry : How to Write a Novel


So you’ve got that novel inside of you and
the doctor says it’s got to come out. What are you going to do about it. The first thing
you have to do actually is read a lot of other novels. You don’t want to wind up rewriting
something that’s already been done. And in fact you are going to learn a lot just by
reading and thinking about the novels that other people have written. Novels that are
somewhat similar to the one you are thinking of writing, novels that are completely dissimilar.
It doesn’t matter. Just read a lot and keep reading while you are writing. Because remember
while it is possible to write a novel in a week, it’s probably not going to be very good,
and it’s not going to be very long and you’re probably not going to be able to do it. I
couldn’t do it certainly. Understand that you are in it for the long haul. Anthony Trollop
who wrote more novels then most of us, said that what you most needed was cobbler’s wax.
Cobbler’s wax is very sticky, it’s used for holding the shoe together while you are making
the shoe, and said apply it to the bottom of your pants and then sit down in the chair.
And stay there. Persistence counts for an awful lot. Know you characters. If you don’t
know you characters you won’t be able to see them behave as they are going to behave. They
won’t be able to behave like human beings. They have to become people to you. Take them
on walks. Take them to dinner. Spend time actually conversing with them in your imagination
of course. There’s a questionnaire called the Proust questionnaire which you will be
able to find on the Internet, a series of questions that Marshall Proust asked himself
periodically, ask your characters these questions and when you can answer them then you know
them well enough that you can put them through their paces and they will behave as individuals.
Don’t stick just to one story, the best novels don’t have just one story that’s very, very
long, they have a number of stories. What we call subplots that are related to the original
story and embroider on it, it’s like a braid. A braid is not just one strand of something,
it’s one strand coming down the middle with other stuff braided around it. The other stuff
is what helps make it beautiful and make it stronger. Subplots will also do that for your
novel.

69 Replies to “Writing Fiction & Poetry : How to Write a Novel

  1. has anyone got their novel published by these tips or where they personal projects? just wanted to know for personal reasons.

  2. i have lack of confidance too so gave what i had written to my brother and he said it was very good, altough after reeding the seven chapters i had back to my self i thought the sub plots were good but the main story seemed to much like david gemmell, i started something else and put that to one side and i am very happy with what i have so far. but confidance is always an issue with me, i accidently left the story on the screen and a friend red it an wont stop naggin to reed the rest

  3. Just came across this video and thanks for the tips man. I'm trying to write my own Science Fiction Novel. The tips you gave were useful.

  4. Wow, this man has "WRITER" plastered all over him. Absolutely fantastic.

    I agree with most of what he says, except the bit about "rewriting other works". Originality is overrated. No matter you come up with, someone, somehow, somewhere has thought of the same. Some scholars even argue that there is only a limited set of stories floating about. Try to give existing ideas your own spin and you will be well underway.

  5. great advice! I'm just starting but it'scjust a hobby so there's no deadline. I've got all the time in the world to create my masterpiece….and at the rate I'm going, it may take a lifetime lol

  6. I need to know how to copyright my stories and my characters, because I post my fiction stories on a certain messageboard, and each "part" only gets a few views. I am worried that one of the few people who do read it may copy and paste it to Microsoft Word and then print it out as their own and send it to a Book Publisher, and make money off of my story and my idea. Basically, I am worried about story Plagarism.

  7. read, read, read this the first thing you get told in any writing class. Stephen king says if you don't have time to read you don't have the tools to write. Read as a student take notes as you read on style, and technique.

  8. This is some amazing advice, I already have a good Idea for a book, and I sit 5 hours a day, at night conversing with these characters as you say,

  9. I'm willing to ignore your pink shirt and cluttered office because what you're talking about is pretty damn good. Ah well, you know what they say, right? Real men wear pink, huh? Real men also drink tea.

    Who came up with that stuff anyway?

  10. Wow! Thank you so much! I usually type in stuff on here or Google search, and cannot find anything that helps. But you, sir, are a genius! 🙂 I can now start writing without difficulty, even though I slip up a few times and have writers block but, that's nothing that can't be cured with fresh air and an open mind 🙂

    I have everything mapped out, now! Thanks 🙂

  11. I am a high school student and have become extremely interested in writing in these past few years. But what I've noticed is not only that my writing skills are not very good, but also when I look back at some of my writings I absolutely dread the sight of them. I have written an over 50,000 word memoir filled with grammatical errors and stories of myself that have become lies as I've grown older. And when I try to read I can never find a book of pure interest me. Please somebody help me!

  12. Thank you so much! This was very helpful, but I have a personal question. Since English was always my weakest class in school and I was never that big of a reader, should I give up on writing and forget my stories?

  13. @allxtar How is he a joke?

    Please explain what you have don ein your life, what you have achieved that makes this guy here a joke in your eyes.

  14. @Sm00th727 Stop worrying – you're a teenager. Not a lot is going to "purely" interest you right now. And teenage years are the wrong years to write a memoir – you're changing all the time because these are the years you're becoming an adult. What you've written probably hasn't become lies so much as it now describes a different person to who you are now. Don't worry, live your life a little bit longer and then think about writing

  15. I wrote a novel that's historical Fiction

    My inspiration was :

    Crime and Punishment

    My novel is here :
    lulu.com/product/hardcover/les-punis-les-exonérés/16339993
    Punished and exonerated

    also, it's in french.

  16. so on the part with writing mini stories within the main story , did he says its like diharea with sub plops? thumbs up? yes no? , "highfive!"

  17. There is this free app in the app store called APP TRAILERS. It is free and you can get points for watching videos and use those points to get gift cards for iTunes, Amazon, Starbucks, and more. I use my points to get money on Amazon. Enter this CODE: —appthiss— to get a 50 point head start. 🙂

  18. You can write whatever you want. There are a lot of books based off of or like the fallout games. There are even games that were inspired by fallout like Rage. If you use something from fallout just get the permision from the company that currently owns the rights to the games

  19. You can even write stories in the fallout universe but unless you have permission to profit off it you can't make money off the story. There is fanfiction sites for people who want to writer their stories for things they are fan of which you should look into.

  20. As a matter of fact, Fallout 3 bears extreme similarities to The Road by Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Road." The story of the father and son in the post-apocalyptic world was started there. Plus, several other novels have used that same environment, dating all the way back to Mary Shelley's "The Last Man."

    Good luck!

  21. I once had an idea for an epic fantasy-adventure novel that takes in 1880's London, England where a 15 year old girl and her 7 year old little brother run away from the home of their wealthy but very strict and conceited aunt and uncle. The two then meet a clever, teenage pickpocket and magician, who is also secretly a wanted infamous masked burglar who they embark on a perilous quest with to find a key to a magical artifact that a dark and evil wizard wants, so he can gain immortality.

  22. furthermore, while the three children are on this life-threatening adventure, a relentless police inspector would be chasing them as well, mainly the thief, who he will stop at nothing to catch. They also explore mystical lands and dimensions, meet strange creatures/beings, and encounter deadly obstacles. After some time,The girl and the thief fall in love and by the end, they defeat the wizard and his minions, find the key, and the inspector has a change of heart. Any feedback?

  23. I see why you would say that and you're right. I was just putting a idea out there to see if anyone had any creative input on it or to see if anybody liked the idea, that's all. It was a raw idea I had about 3 years ago. Not sure if I'll actually write it but do you like it? What is you're input? Please, be honest!

  24. It sounds really interesting. I'd definitely read it if I came across it, and it'd be interesting to see how you pulled off all the different dimensions and stuff. And go ahead! Three years is nothing! I had an idea three years ago. Started it two years ago and stopped after three chapters, continued it this year and now I'm nearing the end of my second Arc. I fear the editing process but I can only hope for the best!

  25. I wish you the best! As far as my book, I came up with the idea around spring of 2010. I took parts from other classics like Narnia, Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Series of Unfortunate Events, Aladdin, Anastasia, and even Raiders of the lost ark and formed one story. I had a silly dream that if I wrote it that it would make the New York Bestseller's List and sell millions of copies and then one day, some famous film director would want to turn it into a major motion picture!

  26. Also, one other thing, just being curious, what part did you like the most in my story and what part would you change or dislike? Like I said, just being curious!

  27. That's a wonderful metaphor to think of weaving in your subplots as a braid that makes your plot stronger and more beautiful. I love it.

  28. "It is possible to write a novel in a week, it probably won't be very good. And you're not going to be able to do it." – On the Road to 3 weeks to write. lol. 

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