A ‘How to’ Guide to Writing a Novel

1. The Novel Has a Clear Purpose

  • What is the novel’s intention?
  • Are you achieving it? Designing the concept helps to begin writing, your ideas are driven by that purpose.

Novels help people connect with stories on personal levels. Whether you’re writing about family values, paranormal romance, a memoir, your novel’s purpose helps readers understand your theme or subject.

2. Novel Titles Reflect the Author’s Intention

The novel title should reflect the purpose of the novel. The title is usually based on the information being portrayed in the novel, by the theme, character, main event, or life lesson. Of course, it may be driven by other factors.

3. Use the Appropriate Template

Some companies and organizations have guidelines for how to organize your novel. Createspace, for instance, has guidelines and templates for download. Throw in your writing from a different source like Microsoft Word document into the template, change the headings and other characteristics that are present in the templates. Novel organization made easy.

When selecting the template, keep the novel’s purpose in mind – fiction or non fiction.

4.  Add a Dedication page

Chances are your novel will be dedicated for someone or a lot of someone’s. I have dedicated my novel, Deity’s Soulmate, to 13 important people in my life because my character goes through the journey of learning about 13 days of creation. Be creative.

5. Ensure Correct Page Extent and Coverage

Novel templates help us to view how our writing will look like in print. Understanding how your novel will look like in preview mode is important. When I was working on my novel, Deity’s Soulmate, I deleted a couple of blank pages in the template which was a mistake because letters were cut off due to margins. I had to resubmit my novel after adding blank pages back in to make sure the writing matched up to the margins.

Pay attention to the page extent and coverage. Do your paragraphs look alright? Poems? Images?

 6. Display the Correct Content

You cringe at the thought of having typos and mistakes in your writing. Be a writing technician and revise your story until it’s deemed final. In the end, you have to ask yourself – am I uploading the correct file? Did I give my publisher the correct file? I have a ton of versions of Deity’s Soulmate and my fear was uploading the old version. Look for the date on your file.

Do the extra detective work to ensure the correct story is being shown. Readers will thank you for it.

7. Give Perspective with a Map and/or Guides

It’s one of the essential story elements. A key map puts your geography or your imagined world into perspective to the reader. If your character travels all over the place, a map would be a good thing to include at the beginning. Think, Lord of the Rings books.

Guides are used to show list of characters, places, list of vocabulary words that one needs to know to understand the story. Guides focus on areas of interest to the reader. Readers love extra material. Deity’s Soulmate has several guides at the end of the story.

 8. Glue Readers in with Neat Fonts

Neat fonts are good at keeping readers glued to your story. Exploring fonts for novels is not necessary. If you are using a template, use that template’s font. Chances are that the creators of that template have a good experience with that font.  Readers eyeballs become locked in because they can read the content easily. Leave the ‘fun’ fonts for graphics and blogs.


9.  Order Events by Importance

Story events need to be ordered properly for story writing. The correct hierarchy of events in a story determines whether or not readers will continue reading. Try not to confuse your reader by making a mistake, especially if you are writing a historical romance, for instance. Do the research. Does it make sense?

Some novels are of a character being followed for a week so ‘time’ aspect is not an issue. However, when you get to a novel like mine, Deity’s Soulmate, a lot of time goes by. It was a challenge to figure out what goes where and in what time frame, but I believe that I did okay. Do not give up.

10. Know the Time Frame in your Novel

This is different from step number 9. Is your story written from the character’s point of view of today or from an individual point of view during the Civil War, for instance? Do you have that individual talking on their cell phone when cell phones didn’t exist? Do you have an individual talking in slang when it’s unappreciated?

Things are always changing in our world. Research of the time frame for your novel eliminates reader confusion. It’s surprising how often readers will put down a novel if something doesn’t seem right.

11. A Good Hook is Important

Authors use synopsis to grab the readers attention. Synopsis is like having a narrator tell readers about the story. It’s a summary of the novel and a hook at the same time. Don’t be afraid to rewrite your synopsis. At the back of Deity’s Soulmate, the hook is different from what one can find on Amazon or at Goodreads. That is okay.

 12. Fill in the Void in your Book Cover

An artist’s first lesson is to never leave white space on the canvas, to always fill it. Same advice goes here, unless you have a similar idea for a book cover to me.

book cover

There is a lot of white space on my book cover, but that white space has a purpose. Add a purpose to each part of your book cover, but don’t over do it. By filling in the white space with chalices, I make the reader think about their purpose. There are 7 chalices in Deity’s Soulmate. I loved writing about them.

 13. Research Copyright Laws

It’s easy to mention things in your novel from the real world, like song artists, authors, and lyrics. But, can you do it?

There is a crime fiction novel that I am working on and I had a scene with karaoke. The girls sang to Britney Spears and I had the full lyrics until I researched copyright laws. What ended up happening was me scratching all the lyrics that I had in my story and me creating a fictional band. Writing songs is hard, especially if you do not know how to read music, though it is fun.

When one studies in college, you have reference page and are allowed to use the sources for educational purposes without having copyright issues. Creative writing and novel writing is where you may be able to make some money, so laws apply to you. Do the research.

 14. Use Appropriate Words

They have to be intuitive. They describe information to the reader.


Words are sometimes exaggerated in writing so readers can quickly understand, however too many fancy words can make the reader put down your novel. Don’t over do it. Just because you have a high understanding of the language, does not mean your readers do. Don’t make them grab a dictionary on every other page.

 15. Think Outside the Box with your Novel

Remember that you are the author. If you want illustrations inside the novel and it is not a manga or children’s book, that is okay. Chances are that the readers will love you for it. Readers love it when they read a truly inspired novel. Authors have added food recipes at end of their fiction stories, illustrations, jokes, quotes. Readers eat it up. Think outside the box.

2 Color illustrations from Deity’s Soulmate:

dragon race Dragon Race

witch One of the Fates brewing a potion to make her look beautiful again

16. Find Balance & Harmony

You learn about story balance and harmony with experience. It’s not something you pick up after your first story.

When you learn to organize your character and their journey, you start figuring out balance. Well-balanced story is formed with a character learning something, growing as a character, and not loosing oneself.

If you have a question on an element that I forgot to mention, please comment and I will try to explain it from my point of view. 

Thank you for reading!

4 Comments on “A ‘How to’ Guide to Writing a Novel

  1. Pingback: A ‘How to’ Guide: Graphic | Where Dragons Reside

  2. Pingback: Feature Friday #5 (Bloggers & Books) « Quintessential Editor

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