M.A. Wohl

Writer on a Quest

Thinking about writing is one thing. And writing down ideas on a notepad is another thing.
Actually sit down and start writing a novel is a one really big thing!

In this post, I share all the writings tips I find the most useful to help me get ready to start a new novel.

3 prepping steps

I toyed with an idea for a paranormal novel for young adults for several months before decided to take the leap.
I said before, I wanted to make sure I had a shot with it before starting to draft.
Not a super artistic nor romantic approach to novel writing, hey?

Well, after several rejections and disappointed hopes, I’ve learned to be cautious.
Publishers need novels they can sell. Not the novel you pour your heart and soul in and, therefore, they should be selling.

Before I start drafting a new novel, I make a point to :

  • I make sure I have more than a plot twist in mind.
    A great idea for a novel is – hum, I should I put it – great, but it is not a novel.
    I write a very basic synopsis, just to see how the idea could develop.
    It is at this stage, for me, that I choose the literary genre for the novel. (with me, it is always in the Fantasy Realm, so it’s never hard to figure out, but it can be tricky.)
  • I decide to whom I want to tell the story too: young adults, middle-graders, tweens.
    (Side note: nope, I am not interested to write for an adult audience, in the literary sense of the way, even if I am now 35 to 44 years old. What can I say? I love dragons).
    My goal is always, always, always to write a good novel that will please every reader, from 8 to 108 years old. But having a specific audience in mind helps make choices down the writing road.
  • I do some research on the publishers (or literary agents if you live anywhere else than in a small francophone bubble in Canada) who might be interested in the type of novel I have in mind.
    I also go back in time and look for novels in the same genre, sub-genres, age categories, just to get an idea of what has been done. Also, I wanna see if readers are still interested in reading the kind of novels I wanna write.

A great writing cocktail of tips to get started

I made the mistake once of starting a new writing project, like, two days after sending off another manuscript in the query trenches.
Lesson learned: now, I make sure I have the energy, the « mental-space » and the time to work on a new novel.
The time part is always tricky though because I am working mama, but it is do-able.

My writing cocktail of tips recipe is exactly what it is: a recipe.
Not a miracle.
I am just sharing what works for me and what seems to work for many other writers in one happy little post.

It goes like this:

  • Create a writing space.
  • Schedule time to write (and ask for help from loved ones, especially if you are a brand new parent – true story.)
    No, no, a thousand no, it doesn’t have to be an every single day thing.
  • Set a deadline within a year (or two, or three!) from when you wanna start drafting.
  • Set weekly or monthly writing goals.
  • Make yourself accountable (for a YA WIP, I’ve decided to do an online writing diary; so far, there’s one person reading it, but it’s enough for me to feel like I have to push through, so I have something to journal about!).
  • If possible, I do research before my schedule writing time.
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Then what?

Outline if you may, discover the story while writing, it is up to you.

After trying different methods (not the snowflake one, oh big G, no!), I settled on doing a little outlining and a lot of writing without a plan.

Many writers also give their take on How to start writing a novel, like Isadora Felix. Here Erica from The Busy Writer Notebook has a post with lots of resources, like books on writing craft and creative writing class.

I also tend to write by hand the key scenes (or the kissing scenes!) before I start drafting on the computer. It helps with figuring out the characters and to get a clearer vision of the whole story.

That’s about it.
I really hope you find something useful in there.

Thank you for reading, friends! Find me on twitter or take a look at my Pinterest Writing Boards, or keep in touch and subscribe to this blog.
If you like this content, feel free to buy me a little ko-fi.

Until next time!

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