How to Write a Novel in 30 Days

Updated on July 23, 2019
rgasperson lm profile image

Robert is an Author, Artist, Graphic Designer and Photographer. He writes about Survivalism and Futurism.

Why Would I Want to Write a Novel in 30 Days?

This is a fairly simple question. I want to write a novel. The 30 days does not hold any significance other than it gives me a definite time to complete the first draft of a book. Honestly, it should not take longer than that to write a story.

If we can get that story on paper in thirty days, we will be able to get it edited over the next . . . few months.

Step One (Day One): Choose a Storyline

You Probably Already Have a Dozen or Two

If you have a storyline of your own, that is great. Go with it. If you are like me, you tend to write down ideas as you have them, hopefuly all in one place so you can come back to them at a later point.

I find if I can figure out how a story is going to end, then I will be more likely to finish it. Think about the story's ending and how you will want to get to that ending. Then work backwards to get to that ending.

For this exercise you may want to find a random storyline. Why? Because this novel is going to be a way for you to practice writing. Feel free to write that story you have always wanted to read, but you are trying to write a novel in one month. This book is going to need a lot of work once the first draft is done (unless you are a genius writer).

No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days
No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days
I love this book. I read it every October to get myself ready for National Novel Writing Month which is the entire month of November. It is full of great tips to keep you writing for an entire 30 days writing 50,000 words or more. I have attempted this goal every year for the last 8 years. I have some great stories because of the contest and I suggest anyone who loves to write should attempt it.

Step Two: Name Your Characters

Do This on Day One

You can always name your own characters, but I find names that fit a character's personality a little cliché. It works if you are doing come kind of cult piece, but for the most part people rarely match the meaning of their name.

Make sure you name all your main characters. Remember, you can always go back and change a name later. The reason you want to do this is so you can refer to them in your outline or when you discuss them later in a brainstorming session.

How to Choose a Character Name—Watch This Great Video

I have my own ways in choosing a character name. I have found there are many ways to do this, so I thought I would post some of the other ways people choose the names for their characters. This video has a few tips on how to choose a name.

Step Three (Day 2): Outline Your Entire Book

You Should Know Where You Are Going

Outline the basic idea of every chapter.

It would be preferable if you have a chapter for every day your writing. In this case, 25 chapters. Make sure each chapter has something important to contribute to the overall plot. If it doesn't, then the chapter is more a stand alone short story and not part of a novel.

Different Ways to Outline

I have always outlines the traditional way, you know... 1, 2, 3, a, b, c and so on. For the longest time, I had not idea there were other ways to outline a story. Here are a few of the other ways I have found. Take a look.

How to Develop Your Characters—They Need to Have Some Depth to Them

You may just start writing your novel without doing any kind of character development. Eventually you will need to sit down and decide who your characters are. You will need to know them and how they will react in certain situations. Personally I like to interview my characters to see what comes out in their personality. Ask them important questions about what is going on in the story and what they would truly do as your changes in plot start to take place.

Step Four (Days 3-27): Write at Least 2000 Words Each Day

Make Sure You Set Your Goals

The easiest way to do this is to write a chapter everyday. Write about 2,000 words for each chapter. Of course you can write more or less than this for each chapter, but you want to stick to your 2,000 word count for the day. If you don't, you will not make the 50,000 words in a month.

Note: Don't edit as you go. your job is to write. You can edit when the first draft is finished. The idea is to write as fast as you can. sometimes you just need to get the story out of your brain.

Note 2: If you find you need to go back to add something in a previous chapter, write a note where you are now and highlight it so you can come back on Day 28 to add it.

Step Five (Day 28): Fix the Plot Holes

Those notes you made a long the way? Go back and add that information to fill in the holes. Holes are something that take time to fix. When you find them, you will most likely have to change something else in the book to make things correct. This is when having a first reader or someone who is an editor read your book. They can usually catch the holes and inconsistencies you made that you might not have seen on your second pass through the book.

The easiest way to make sure you catch them all is to read through the entire manuscript with a red pen or red type on your word processor and then mark it as you go, making the changes as you go or making notes about larger changes to come back to to fix.

Then when you have more time, come back to fix those bigger problems so you can complete the manuscript and start sending it out to agents.

Step Six (Day 29): Spell Check and Briefly Look for Grammar Errors

Do a full spell check of the entire document. It may take you a while. As you go look for easy grammar mistakes that you can fix now that will make the major edits later easier.

Step Seven (Day 30): Print out the Book and Relax

Print out your entire manuscript and place it somewhere you can come back to in a month or so.

You need a break. Pop a cold one and sit back and relax. You just wrote an entire novel in 30 days.

"How to Write" Books: Remember to Write No Matter How Much You Read

Sometimes you just need a little guidance. I find books about writing is something that will help you over humps in your own writing. Don't get me wrong, I would not buy a bunch of different books about writing. I would just find one or two that fit your personality and read them; keep them on your bookshelf so you can go back to them when you need them.

To be honest, no one can tell you how to write. Only you can make yourself write. The only thing these books might be able to do is give you a few tricks that might make the process of writing a little bit easier.

What are your Favorite ways to Outline? - Everyone Does it Differently

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    • wpcooper profile image


      12 months ago from Barstow

      Great topic and good tips...would like to start on my book but I hit a speed bump and navigated towards the doldrums.

    • rgasperson lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert T Gasperson 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      @John Dyhouse: I like yWriter as well. The only problem is that I don't have it on my iPod where I do a lot of writing. So I end up using Google Docs.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      I do a lot of writing but nnot much fiction. however outlining is quite similar for all writing. Up until now I have simply used the feature in Word (I am sure many other WP's have the same) but recently i embarked on my first novel and have found that yWriter is superb for this aspect of the task

    • Katyusha profile image


      7 years ago

      I like it very much

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      helo there. great advice on writing a novel.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very helpful lens, thanks!

    • HomeDecorKnight profile image


      7 years ago

      Really very much informative lens with a great article. I knew a lot of by this lens. I like the lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I must say that elements you put here look awesome...and steps are very well described.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I must say that elements you put here look awesome...and steps are very well described.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      first to make a quick skeleton of the topics and blueprints ..then add in the information with logical reasoning

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 

      8 years ago from Missouri

      I use clustering mind maps to outline my writing. It works great.

    • bikerministry profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm fired up to write a novel now!! Thanks, and blessings.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very good advice. I love to write. Great lens thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      good advice, enjoyed reading this tonight.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hey thanks for the advice! EXACTLY what i needed! an outline works best for me...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like to write a narrative summary of my story as a whole and then break that into my outline. I like to really get into the story when I am outlining so I know what I am going to write. Great resources here!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I work with a general idea of the beginning and end but the real fun is the twists and turns that simply appear out of nowhere while writing. What a roller coaster!! Inspiration, anyone?

    • cdevries profile image


      8 years ago

      A loose, rather skeletal outline is a must!, but, for me, a very detailed one kills the book dead. I have to feel that I'm still inventing as I go along, or else I get bored.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 

      8 years ago from New York City

      I hate outlining and avoid it like a plague. Still got four books, including three novels done and selling on Amazon.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Really good lens, chock full of information. I plan on one day writing a full novel. I will be checking back with these resources.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I've actually used this method and now write novels within 1 to 2 months several times a year! It's very helpful and if you're starting out it's good to find a nanowrimo group near you and meet others doing the same thing as you. Great article!!!

    • nadjaiskeniskie profile image


      9 years ago

      3 Walls of my office are painted with whiteboard paint. I use these walls to outline, brainstorm and mind map on - usually whilst listening to trippy 60s/70s music.

    • annieangel1 profile image


      9 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      I let the characters take over most of the time :) - great lens - thumbs up - I'll feature it on my angel blessed in may lens when I republish it next

    • linhah lm profile image

      Linda Hahn 

      9 years ago from California

      Keep breaking it down is what I do. This would be a great contest.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Read a book that made reference to "Dreamstorming" which fits me perfectly. I like to sit down and dreamstorm an outline before starting to write. Great lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I use a version of the snowflake method when I outline articles for my website and blog, I don't think I ever heard it called that before, it's an interesting title.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is a very nice lens. I don't have time to write a book with School, so I will be back in about 3 months to read this completely. Thanks.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      These are some great tips!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm so bad at outlining and brainstorming. My husband thinks I should write a book, but I wouldn't even know where to start. Thanks for the tips. I'll let you know when my book is underway ;)

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 

      9 years ago from Burbank, CA

      I want to do this so bad. Just not sure what to write about. So many options. Favorited it so I can come back and learn.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      9 years ago

      Its on my list

    • rgasperson lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert T Gasperson 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      @auntjennie: No problem. I hope it helps.

    • auntjennie profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for sharing these steps for creating a manuscript in 30 days.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love to write!

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 

      9 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Interesting lens! I like writing but I do not call myself a writer. Thanks for the info!

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 

      9 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Great lens! I'm working on a few books (one, a novel) of my own. But I work professionally as an editor/writer. Once you get your book written, you might want to get it edited and critiqued to make sure you've not let any embarrassing typos or grammatical gaffes get away. ... I've liked, favorited, thumbs-upped, and lensrolled your amazing lens! Congrats on a great job!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Writing a novel in thirty days is possible. I wrote the first version of My Mother's Shoes in six weeks (while working full time.) Once an idea takes root, it will flow through your fingers and onto the paper in no time.

      Thanks for sharing.


    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      10 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Congrats on your Purple Star!

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 

      10 years ago from Burbank, CA

      great tips. I want to do this but am sort of stuck. Not sure what I want to tackle first. Do you have published books? (now I am going back to your profile to look!)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Useful information, but nevertheless I believe I will not be able to write my next novel in only 30 days!

      5 stars.


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