How to Start a Novel That Both Readers and Publishers Will Love

Start Your Novel Now

How To Start Your Novel

If you are really serious about wanting to write a compelling, well-written novel that will have the best chance of being published, there is one very important thing you must do to start your novel… before you even write one word.

Create a Compelling Vision

To start, you must first create a clear, step-by-step map for your journey through your novel.  It’s essential to go through the process of exploring and developing your initial ideas for character, setting, and plot.  By clarifying these key elements of your novel before you begin writing, you will actually be able to finish it without getting lost somewhere in the vast middle section wondering where to go next.  Everything will fit together in a unified vision that will inspire you to move forward and get your novel on paper.

Get To Know Your Characters

To start your novel, the first step in the process is to get to know your characters deeply.  You want to develop them from your vague initial ideas into rich, multi-dimensional people that live in your imagination.  You want to explore the essence of your characters so thoroughly that you and your readers feel genuinely interested in who they are and compelled to join them on the journey through your novel.  You can begin this process by asking yourself some basic questions about each character:

Get To Know Your Characters

Get To Know Your Characters

  1. Who are the key players in your story?
  2. What do they look like, how old are they, etc.
  3. What are their idiosyncrasies, habits, personality traits?
  4. Explore their background, family history, and defining past experiences.
  5. What do they love/hate/fear?
  6. What do they want most out of life and what is keeping them from achieving this?

Let yourself go deeper and deeper into your characters’ lives and passions until you have a real sense that you know who they are and are intrigued by them.  Then you’re ready for the next step.

Create Your Novel’s World

Next, you’ll want to take some time to decide on the key details of location and setting for your novel so that these, too, will come alive in your imagination.  Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Where does it take place: country, state, region?
  2. When does it take place: present, past, future?
  3. What are the key settings for the novel? the house, the business, the ship, etc.
  4. What season(s) will be portrayed?
  5. Are there important objects for the story?  Heirlooms, treasured gifts, magical talismans, etc.

Map Out the Journey for Your Novel

The next step in getting a good start on your novel will be to work out a tight, compelling plot and overall structure that flows logically from point to point and culminates in a page-turning climax.  The character work you did in step one will help you understand the basic conflicts and issues that your novel will address.  There are a number of helpful story structures that writers can use as a foundation for writing, but essentially these plot outlines help you clarify a few key questions:

Find Your Path Through Your Novel

Find Your Path Through Your Novel

  1. Where are your main character(s) starting from?
  2. What is their overall goal?
  3. What are the obstacles in the way of achieving this goal?
  4. How do your characters overcome these obstacles?

Often your character will have some initial success about a third of the way through the story.  Then, complications are introduced and things begin to fall apart about halfway through the novel.  Next, your character(s) will have an experience of failure or loss about 2/3 of the way through your novel.  This then leads to a deeper re-commitment to their goal and final push which eventually climaxes in the greatest effort and ultimate success.

It’s Really Worth It

Every great novelist knows that this process is really the place to start a novel that’s worth writing.  I really encourage you to take the time to create a detailed blueprint for your characters, setting, and plot before you dive into the vast sea of your novel.  Completing this essential first step will give you a reliable compass to guide you on the wonderful creative journey of writing your own novel.  You’ll know your characters deeply, you’ll be able to clearly imagine the details of your setting, and you’ll have a reliable map to follow that will give you peace of mind and inspiration as you begin to write each day.

For Step-By-Step Guidance

If you would like more guidance about how to go about each of these steps as you start your novel, there are many good books and novel writing software programs that will walk you through the process.  For a review of three very helpful novel writing software programs, please see my novel writing software review here at  The top three novel writing software options that I review for you there are all designed to help you develop a clear, easy-to-follow blueprint for your writing that will result in a compelling novel that is rich in character and detail.

Finally, let me say that the most important thing is to enjoy the process of writing your novel.  Taking the time to create a blueprint such as this will help you do that and you’ll end up with a novel that you, your readers, and your publisher will love.  Enjoy!

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