How to Write a Novel in 30 Days
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).
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.
- The Snowflake Method
This one you should definitely read
- How to Brainstorm (wikihow.com)
Simple ways to come up with ideas for your chapters.
- How to Brainstorm Short Story or Novel Ideas (ehow.com)
Simple but Useful
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.