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How to Improve Your Story Writing Skills to Start a Novel

Updated on July 19, 2020
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Writing fiction was always her first passion and therefore she loves to provide her readers with writing tips out of personal experience.

If you have somehow stumbled upon this article then most probably you are an aspiring author, or you've a passion for writing but can't figure out how to jot down that brilliant idea you have into a novel, or you simply need some tips to sharpen your writing skills, either ways I might have something for each one of you, so stick with this article till the very end.


The key to a great story is an unique and interesting plot :

The backbone of every novel either big or small, is the plot, so it's necessary for that plot to be original and unique. It should be interesting, attractive and grab the reader's attention very quickly.

You will also have to consider and decide in advance things like, When and where does the story take place? As the area and time period can limit the technology present in your novel and change the mood of the story. If your story is set in the 20th century, your characters shouldn't carry an iphone and listen to 21st century music. The time period may also affect the way your characters speak to one another. Obviously, we use more slang today than in the past, but If it's set in the future instead, then you can make your own slang or ignore it all together.

The mood of your story also plays a very vital role in the development of the plot, so it is important to consider it carefully as well. For example, the mood of your story won't be happy if it's taking place in sad surroundings. You have to get all such information before you begin to create the first draft.

The beginning and end of the story should be pre-planned :

It is important to have decided in advance how you want your story to start and how you want it to end, so you can just work your way into the middle. But be sure to not make a detour of what was your original idea for the story. Make sure the idea stays intact and in relevance. It might sound absurd right now, but at the end of the day, keeping track of a fully fledged novel can be a very tough and tiring thing to do, so the best thing to make it easier is, have it all pre-planned to sort it out.

You should also decide in advance, from where you want your story to begin?

I'd recommend starting with a short prologue with either an important piece of your character's past, or an excerpt from the climax that hooks your readers, but don't forget to not reveal too much. Afterwards, you can start your first chapter from the beginning of the main plot.

The genre should not be overlooked :

Next important thing is the genre. People usually prefer to skip mentioning the genre of their novel but I believe having a genre that suits your forte could also be a key into making an amazing novel. For example, if you are good at a specific genre then you'll definitely have experience or knowledge about it, as a result making it very easy for you to write anything related to that with very ease.


The main conflict :

What is the main conflict? Why is this the main conflict and how does it affect your main character? In any story there needs to be something that drives your character, something that will keep your readers engaged. You'll also need to understand why something is your character's goal. A character shouldn't want anything ‘just because he does.' There should be a clear cause, at least to you, as to why they set that goal for themselves.

The main characters, this is somewhat self-explanatory :

You'll really need to brainstorm yourself when it comes to your characters, ask yourself questions like Who are they? What are their beliefs? What kind of personality do they possess?

When creating a character, you first need to explore different personalities and backgrounds; don't be afraid to look into the internet for guidance. You can find many characteristics you never knew about, and one of them might just click. Your character's personality shouldn't be contradicting, unless they're bipolar. Meaning, you can't say someone is shy, but outgoing. When describing their personality try to steer away from ‘but.' Generally, a person's traits match one another, but that doesn't always have to be the case.

Your character's background is most likely the cause of their personality, so keep that in mind when writing either of the two and no matter what, you absolutely cannot forget their background once you've mentioned it in your story. For examples Your character shouldn't have a younger sister in chapter one, and fast-forward to chapter ten when that same sister is suddenly older. Most importantly, make sure both the background and your character's personality stay relevant to the story and it's main conflict.

Naming the characters and creating the side characters :

Now It's time to name your character, right? Well, not necessarily. You don't need to start naming them until you're ready to start writing, unless of course you'd prefer to do so. It's not as important as the character themselves. But if you do decide to name your characters beforehand, it sure will be helpful to keep a list of their names.

Side characters are beneficial for keeping your story interesting and filled; they are also sometimes required for keeping your main characters emotionally fulfilled, but don't overdo them and put more than necessary side characters into your story as this can cause commotion and turn your story into a mess.


The types of Antagonist :

There are five types of Antagonist your novel can have and most of the times, a story includes more than one of them, an antagonist has a very direct and huge impact on the success of your novel, sometimes an antagonist has more power over readers, making them much rooted character than the actual main character of the story, the best example of such is, The Joker of The Dark Knight series. The antagonist not only has a huge role in providing a good climax to the story but it also over the time helps in the character development of the protagonist.

1. The Malevolent or the main Villain of a story: A villain motivated by malice and hunger
for power or other negative impulses.

2. The Ally-Antagonist
A friend or ally of the protagonist who then betrays him/her or makes bad choices, hence becoming an opponent.

3. The Interfering Authority
The person who uses or abuses authority to impede a character's progress towards his/her goals.

4. The Force of Nature
An opponent that creates challenges
or conflict without any motivation for doing so.

5. The Inner Saboteur
The Internal opposition of the main character (e.g. addiction).

Research, Research, and do more Research :

Although the real meaning of fiction is to write whatever your imagination and creativity can think of but to succeed and make place in readers heart, it should be somehow believable and even if we are talking about the fantasy genre, it should also make sense.

For example, if your character is suffering from a mental health issues in the novel, it's very important for you to do a complete research on that topic before writing anything about it, as spreading false information about a serious issue won't really be in the favour of your novel, and doing such thing might also offend some of your readers as well.

Check this amazing book out for more detailed information :

The Everything Guide to Writing Your First Novel: All the tools you need to write and sell your first novel (Everything® Series)
The Everything Guide to Writing Your First Novel: All the tools you need to write and sell your first novel (Everything® Series)
This Book will provide you with detailed knowledge on everything you need to know for writing your first novel.

Choose your voice :

It is very important for you to determine the voice that you are going to use in your novel. This step highly depends on the author's own preference, writing style and sometimes it might even depend on the plot and mood of the story.

For example, some authors prefer to narrate their Novel in the point of view of the first person. Some prefer to write in the second or third person.

"From the messy chestnut brown curls that were falling below, covering almost half of his forehead, to his eyes that were the absolute personification of molten gold, everything about him had inhuman perfection written over it. His right brow arched in confusion presumably waiting for my reply, decorated with two different sized piercings. The defined jawline and sharp features of his face with the tan skin made him look so perfect that it should be illegal for anyone to look so breathtakingly beautiful, from his eyes to his lips that held a mischievous grin, from the messy hair to the sandy skin, from the piercings on his brows to his lips, everything about him screamed 'devilishly' handsome but there was something in his eyes saying he was rather an angel in disguise."

In the above excerpt, the female protagonist is trying to describe the male protagonist. It may seem like the excerpt is written in the second person but it's actually written in the first person. As newbie author; you should prefer to write your first novel in first person as it is very easy to connect with the characters and plot in this way of writing, instead of second or third person which some of you may find somewhat complicated to begin with but with time and more writings, you'll soon find the type of voice that best suits and compliments your writing style.


Bring it all down to a breathtaking climax :

The peak of your story, when your protagonist must face his biggest fear, the challenge that kept building up throughout the entire story, the ultimate face off that will either make him or break him entirely. All the struggles, all the emotions, all the decisions, basically every happening big or small has been directed for this climax only so, It's the sole duty of the author to provide his readers the climax that would have an impact on their heart, a climax they won't easily forget.

Other small tips :

Try not to cut short the sentences by adding the I word again and again in your paragraph, try your best to ignore the "I" word too many times as it interrupts the connection between reader's mind and the flow of your story.

Keep your spelling and grammatical mistakes at bay, as not only does it make you seem like an unprofessional author but it also distastes the readers and makes them uninterested and finally Stop reading your novel.

Thank your readers for investing their time and money into your novel, the best way to do that is by giving them the ending that keeps them not only satisfied but an ending they would love and not forget.

In the end, I would say, just like almost every skill and art out there, the best way to master the skill of writing fiction is by getting up and writing that first draft, it may not be a masterpiece but practice sure will make it perfect one day. So just start somewhere, anywhere.

Thank you for reading my article and bearing me till the very end.

Will you start working on your first draft now?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Natasha


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