Steps to Building a Novel


By Britney Pieta

            Hope you enjoyed November’s National Novel Writing Month! The excitement may have worn off, but writing is a lifelong process that never ends, especially for those who could write all day if they had nothing else to do.  If you didn’t have the time to start a novel last month, are continuing writing a novel, or want to start a new novel and need some more advice—here is one person’s steps to building a novel. I will mention some other resources at the end. Keep writing!

According to

1.      Think of an idea for your novel. You will need to have a plot, climax, characters, etc. already thought out. If you can’t think of much, try basing some of your characters on people you know or taking settings, plot info, etc. from real life.

2.      Separate your idea into three parts: the beginning, middle, and ending parts of your novel. Write a couple of sentences to summarize each part. Don’t make them very descriptive, but make them tell more about the events that happen. You want to make it short and sweet.

3.      Split each part in half, and make a paragraph about each of the six parts. This way you can summarize each half of the beginning, middle,  and end parts, leaving more room for details.

4.      From there, go into separate descriptions for each chapter. You have planned out events in six parts, so now you must divide those into chapters.  Write 1-2 sentences about each chapter.  Write only about the main event in the chapter.You want to start out small, then grow from there.

5.      Go back through your chapter outline and double the length of the chapter summaries. So, you should add an additional  3-4 sentences this time for each chapter summary. Again, only write about the big things in the chapter events.

6.      Go back again and double that, making 7-8 sentences for each chapter summary. This is when you can start adding minor details about the events in the chapter.

7.      Now start adding dialogue and descriptions. Make each “chapter” 20-25 sentences, adding only the important quotes and descriptions to only the major events in the chapter. The rest can be a plain summary. It will be a bit choppy and inconsistent after this step, but keep in mind that it’s not the resulting chapter.

8.      Now change all the “plain summary” parts in the chapters into descriptive writings with dialogue. Remember to only add the most important quotes and descriptions. After this, each chapter should be about 500 words.

9.       Next, add a few more quotes and descriptions to each chapter. You’re still building the body, so don’t add anything too minor. Just get everything important in there first. When you are done with this step, each chapter should be somewhere around 1000 words.

10.      Finally, add all minor details, dialogue, and descriptions to your chapters. Each chapter can be anywhere from 1500 to 3000 words, depending on how many chapters you’ve created. When you are done doing this for each chapter, you should have your finished novel.

More resources:


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