How to Write a Novel

Step 1: Talk to yourself

Handwrite or type an overview of the story, translating from emotional concept to concrete story idea. Expand on the story and subplots.

Step 2: Outline the story

Break the story into inciting incident, problem, and solution. This outline, which will be broken into three acts, will trace the threat, the fight, and the conquest.


Join a writers club, or take an extended learning class on novel writing class.

Step 3: Create the protagonist

Create your lead character or protagonist and other principals, working out the back story or history of that person, their wants and needs, friends, family, schooling – everything you can imagine

Step 4: Detail protagonist

Detail the protagonist’s philosophical and immediate motivations. What is the conflict within? Who blocks his efforts in the real world? Then build your villain, the one blocking the protagonist, in the same way.

Step 5: Build characters

Build each supporting character and their back story. Write a treatment tracing how each plays into the main dramatic action, with one event leading to another.

Step 6: Redraft the idea

Redraft your original idea and story arc to adjust for what you have learned so far. Include only information that adds to the story or enhances the characters.


None of this needs to be perfect, nor does the novel have to remotely resemble your plans and outlines. You are charting a path to tell the story.

Step 7: Write every day

Write five or six good pages every day, even if you throw most of it out the next day. Quality in writing is achieved through rewriting.