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Is Writing a Novel a Learned Skill?

Updated on May 11, 2018
Nadine May profile image

Nadine joined Kima Global publishers as an author & creative director while she keeps practicing to improve her storytelling writing skills.

Can Anyone Write A Novel?


We are all Storytellers.

Writing a novel can be quite a challenge, particularly if you haven’t worked on a full-length book before. The thought of churning out more than 80,000 words, not to mention getting them into some sort of structured order, is terrifying. However, it can be done… with the right approach!

The more we read and write the better we get at it. Everybody has a story to tell, even if its their own story and if the interest is there to do so. How good a person is at their writing skill is an altogether different matter. A writer of any topic MUST have a passion for writing and for the topics they a need to share. Then they will succeed.

One of the best storytellers I have come across is Robin Hobb. She is a Fantasy author, and her trilogies are emotionally rich, full of magical events and her background descriptions are phenomenal.
Her advice is: If you want to become a writer, do a bit of writing today, no matter how short. Even keeping a journal, or reading on a topic that relates to your long-term goal can give me that encouragement toward a long-term goal.
It’s a trick that works for me.


The Multidimensional World of Literature

Having a natural ability from a young age in a particular skill is clearly an advantage. These children are born gifted, often in the fields of art, music or mathematics to name a few.
Writing is different for everyone. Storytelling, poetry, or article writing on all kinds of topics is approached individually depending for what market we write for.

I've written several full-length novels and a workbook but I'm still learning. My writing skills grew over many years of practicing, and it’s still improving all the time. The content of my novels came from personal experiences and a lot of research on esoteric and metaphysical sciences.
Hopefully, by sharing what I've learned so far, plus a few tips and tricks along the way, your road to publication will be far smoother.


An author must be a reader. I cannot imagine that writers do not read.

Books like: A course in miracles, The Keys of Enoch by J.J.Hurtak, the work of Rudolf Steiner and The Gnosis and The Law: by Tellis S. Papastavro were a great inspiration. So did fiction authors like Ayn Rand, Carlos Castaneda, Carl Sagan and Richard Bach were my inspiration before the internet.

The Genre of a Novel

A novel must fall under a category like romance, crime, fantasy, science fiction, historical or in my case visionary fiction.
A novel must have a 'plot driven hook' from the first page.

  • The first chapter of a novel is the most important. It must have all the elements in the plot to keep the reader wanting to find out about the how, why, where, or who.
  • A novel must stimulate our imagination through descriptive physical backgrounds that keeps us grounded.
  • The emotional and stimulating dialog in a novel can be humorous and witty, intellectual and stimulating, or informative and believable.
  • The main characters (not too many) must feel, look and behave realistically.

By establishing realistic plot driven goals throughout the novel, the reader will finish the novel. Make sure the reader is satisfied at the closure of the novel, even if it has a sequel.

Let the characters tell the story
When I started my own attempt at creative writing, it felt as if someone else was taking control of my hands and fingers on the keyboard! Here was I, a woman who could not even write a short note to her children's schoolteacher unless they wrote it first, so she could copy the text! (The World of a Dyslexic)

All my life I avoided writing, instead I drew and even taught drawing skills, teaching people to draw their own portrait in eight weeks! All I did was teach them to SEE!
Was I writing from a group soul consciousness? Like someone who does automatic writing, but through the fingers that were typing on a keyboard?


Mind Mapping

The structure of a novel.

What is your novel about? (Think of a title even if you change it later)

  1. Write down a general summary of the key events in your note book or in a MS document. I personally used my notebook and created a kind of "mind map", which grows as I develop more sub-plots etc.
  2. Create a cast of Main Characters - ages, gender, race , looks (fit,healthy...) The more characters, the more difficult for the reader to remember who is who)
  3. If needed include some minor characters - ( I've created a cast of characters and a family tree)
  4. What is the background of your story. Where does it take place, what year, what season.
  5. Create some chapter headings - (not that you have to use them, but it will help with the structure of your novel) Tip: try to keep chapters of a similar length, say 1500+ words.
  6. The main plot of your story - ( spread out in each chapter) (your chapter headings are important to give you some structure - you do not have to use it)
  7. Try to imagine that your first chapter and your last chapter almost link like a string of beads!

Cast of Characters

A tip for writers is to shape their characters by studying the Enneagram.


Once you, the author, find out your own personality type, you will understand why some people in your own family see the world very differently and why, so your readers will experience the same.

  • The Enneagram personality type system is a handy tool to create fictional characters in ways their readers can relate to.
  • The Enneagram is a model of the human psyche. It refers to the nine different types or styles, with each representing a worldview and archetype that resonates with the way people think, feel and act in relation to the world.
  • The Enneagram is a 3 x 3 arrangement of nine personality types in three Centers. There are three types in the Instinctive Center, three in the Feeling Center and three in the Thinking Center.


Writing from our Higher Self

Life gets more fun and inspirational when a writer connects with their higher self, and not from their EGO personality who only wants to stand out, or thinks about becoming famous or making a lot of money with their first book! As publishers, we get a lot of manuscripts that lack authenticity.
We become more creative and focused on a particular goal if we write from our soul!. We will become more open-minded, and reconsider things we once thought we could never do, like writing a novel.
Creative writing through the Higher Self.

When my son was at college, he allowed me to play on his computer, his proudest possession. He had given me a floppy and later a stiffy disk to store my writings on. We were still operating a Dos system. I kept my creative writing very private, also because I knew that it was full of spelling and grammatical errors. I was using Corel Word Perfect 5, which showed lots of red and green underlines.

Only years later did I understand that when our Soul wants to awaken, embody or exchange expressions of the other dimensions, then our Higher Self comes through in our creative writing. Then we can truly say that we have experienced moving into a new storytelling dimension. We as writers have arrived in the illusion world of fiction.

Can Anyone become a Published Author?

The answer is YES and today it is a lot easier than say ten years ago. Create space at is one of the many ways a writer can publish their own book. The only criteria are that a writer MUST have life skills, a passion for their topic and a determination to succeed; that is if people want to write for the adult market. Writing for a younger readership uses an altogether different formula.

The general school curriculum in public schools, especially in South Africa is currently outdated when it comes to the individual needs of students. Many young children these days are almost forced into learning a skill in order to be assured of a good income. Unless parents can afford to send their children to private schools, or a Montessori school, youngsters are already doomed from a very early age by learning to conform; being brainwashed to follow rules that are not conducive to their own happiness in later years. They are groomed to become the property of the state!

Encourage young people to follow their dreams

I hope this article will be read by parents who have young children who love to read. In these times it’s important to encourage young people to follow their dreams, and support their passion no matter if it might not be fit in our commercial society. Humanity is moving into a new era that will follow totally different rules. The children of today will become the leaders of a world where individual integrity on all levels is more important than having wealth, intellectual knowledge or good connections!
Dishonesty, corruption and lack of empathy for others will not be tolerated in the new world.

Listen to what Gregg, in his book Fractal Time, has to say about the New World Age.

Happy reading

Gregg Braden


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    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi Charito please let you son pursue what might be his passion. NEVER let him get trapped to go for the JOB trap to earn money! You had to do that yourself and that in itself is very sad. Move into our transition stage on out planet by .for now. keeping your job but go for it to write your novel. Do Never purely write for the money, just do it because it make you feel good! Doors will open for you!

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Hello, Ms. Nadine. I was a full-time journalist in the late '80s till the year 2003. I enrolled in some workshops on creative writing and enjoyed them! I managed to produce a few short stories which were later on published.

      Lately, however, I haven't been writing much since I entered the corporate world in the late 2003 to earn a higher income. (You see, I'm a widow. I lost my husband to lung cancer in 2005.)

      My son is now pursuing a creative writing course in college. Lucky for him, he has already published several of his short stories in magazines and anthologies. I'm a little worried, though, about his job prospects when he graduates. You see, a writing career - at least in my country - is not financially rewarding.

      I have been dreaming to write a novel which has long been in my bucket list. I don't know if I'll ever get to accomplish it.

      Thank you so much for this hub. It gives me much encouragement.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your comment DDE.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great writing from you and writing a novel is a learning skill. Useful and informative.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi there I'm so glad to see your reply. I will have to read some more of your hubs. It still takes me a great deal of time to produce a hub. I'm amazed at some of you.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from North Dallas, Texas

      I like the attitude you've shared both in the article and the comments section about overcoming negative feedback on our work. It is devastating when someone slices up your work and makes it seem insignificant or wrong in some way. You've proven your talent and refined your efforts and it's paid off. I will be back to read this hub again as it is quite deep into new areas for me.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Kim the individual who made you feel that way is probably very insecure themselves, all what they can do is dishing out negative remarks about others their work. I've come across many in my day. I had entered an artwork into a local art gallery when I was an art teacher at a college in South Africa in 1980. The next day to my distress I read a whole negative critic in our local newspaper, just on the art work I had entered. I was so ashamed. The next morning I dragged myself out of bed to go to the art collage. I was called into the principal's office and I already expected to be fired. Instead she complimented me on the large piece of writing in the art column just on my work. When I said that is was so negative, her reply was; "Oh that is just the job of the critic. The fact that he used your work to write about, instead of the 20 other participants that I see as a very positive response.” I never saw it from that angle. I was relieved but only when my artwork was sold the next day, did I fully recover. If I would have been more secure about my own work, it would not have had such a devastating effect on me at the time. Later I realized that this incident prepared me for the journey to become an author.

      My own first husband was my most negative critic about my writing ability. After five years hearing nothing but horrible remarks about my dream to become a published author, our 33 years of marriage ended up in a divorce. Two years later I met my publisher and life partner!

      I hope that my story gets you back on track writing. I will now visit your pages.

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 

      7 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      I used to hover in the shadows of a writing forum about 15 years ago. I knew I had a story in me and soon started writing. Finally, I took the leap and posted it. Many of the responses were full of help and encouragement and I appreciated anything offered. Until, one person went up one side of me and down the other, saying so many unkind things about me and my story, calling me nothing but a joke. I put down my pen after that and never picked it up again until I came here. Even now, I pause before I hit the publish button. I still have that story packed away in a plastic tote in the basement. I think I might get it out and revise it and dedicate it to that son-of-a-bi%ch. I'm ashamed I let him have that kind of power over me. But I decided I loved writing too much and everyone here has been so wonderful and helpful. I appreciate all my HP friends. Some of their comments have made my day!



    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for that comment. I was not born with a writing talent but I'm now making up for it. I only now spotted the /my/hub/comments page. Sorry about responding so late.

    • Monis Mas profile image


      7 years ago

      I think writing is a talent, you can be born with, but without excercising it, and developing a skill, there is not much hope :-)

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your comment billy Today children are growing up in such a different world. I feel that there are more opportunities due to our technology like the internet with all its facets. I feel that we can't compare today's reality with the one we have been brought up in. We had no internet or computers even. All we can do is encourage whoever is reading our hubs to follow their dreams and not get lost by being to programmed, if you know what I mean.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is so important to encourage children to follow their dreams. I have serious concerns about the state of education in the dreaming allowed in today's schools...just preparation for the future, but I'm not sure any school official can describe what that future looks like.

      Here's hoping more children find the freedom to fly with the angels and realize their dreams.


    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Well thank you Reynold. I was about to close down when I spotted that I had a comment. Yes writing is indeed a "mind wrenching experience " to use your words. Is it getting better? I'm not so sure. I'm getting more and more critical about my own writing. It's never good enough. But yes, I have to persevere. So in between work I will delve into Tulanda's journal "Parallel Realities" and she will materialize, I'm sure.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 

      7 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Now this HUB had a lot for me! Almost too much for me to go over every part of it. I was a teacher of special ed for three decades so everything you say about teaching--the state etc. was right on target. Like you I had art talent, however I found my true creative niche should have been WRITING!!! Here I am in my senior years discovering this wonderful gift I had all along and never knew it. Can it be learned? You Ask.

      Yep-- you understand that very well. You just get better and better as you do it.

      Each book I write I always tell myself that is the last one. It's a mind wrenching experience to write a novel. However, I get the spark of inspiration and I just gotta write another one. I suspect it is somewhat the same for you. Well done HUB.


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