The Best Strategies for Writing a Novel



Christopher Vasey is a novelist and author. His bibliography includes fiction and nonfiction. Here he provides us with a guide into how he writes a novel and long form in general. Christopher is the first to inform us that this is his process and personal preference only and it may not be correct for everybody. These impressions serve as a valuable blueprint for an approach to working on full-length novels, especially for any writers who are making their first  attempt.



1. Chose a time and location


People often feel like writing at different times of the day. It’s an observable fact that many are not in the enviable position of choosing their preferred writing hours. Some good advice is to organise your day around the hours that you prefer to write in. Whether that is within the early hours of the morning or in the middle of the night. Inspiration can appear at different times depending on the passions of the writer. The best time to select is when you feel most energetic and the creative mood sets more readily. Once that time period is decided on, make sure to dedicate all of the hours to writing. It could be four or five hours or eight or nine.


The location is also important and should be chosen carefully. Some people prefer the bedroom while others remain vigilantly at the writing desk, experimenting with an open air venue may be a good idea for some. Once this preferential system has been determined stick to it while writing your novel. This will create a rhythm and pattern to your writing that over time will become consistent and comfortable.



2. Take your time


Sometimes a journey will take a few minutes and other times several years. I was talking with a friend who had spent many years travelling across Asia. Her approach was to enjoy the experience and not be too concerned with the destination. Her reasoning was that eventually she would arrive at the location wherever she was supposed to be. It’s the same thing with writing a novel. Creating the manuscript will take however long it needs to. Rushing will not improve the quality of the final version.


An aspiring writer may discover that they are prolific, while others take several years to produce a first draft. Learning to relax while crafting the material will not only be more enjoyable but is the best way to produce an optimum draft. Make enough time to invest in each stage, from research to writing and editing. Enlisting the support of writing or literature enthusiasts you are acquainted with will provide a network that can encourage and motivate you.



3. Editing after writing


The task of writing should always come before editing, both tasks should never be attempted simultaneously. Once work on a particular paragraphs or chapter is complete, take a break for a while. Allow sufficient time for your mind to have focused on other things. Then come back at at later date to begin editing the text. If writing and editing are attempted at the same time this only unnecessarily complicates matters. Writing will take longer and you may discover that creativity and imagination become more difficult to realise. They are two very different skills that require separate focus and concentration. Similarly, save obsessing over punctuation and grammar to the editing section, it has no place being present during the writing stage.



4. Finish the first draft


A good strategy is to prioritise completing the first draft. Some authors make several drafts of a single manuscript, others require only one draft. It doesn’t matter too much how many drafts are prepared, finishing the first full and complete draft is the most important thing. If a writers prefers several drafts, think of them as practice dry-runs that will be crafted into the final product. But concentrating your energies on finishing that first draft will create a more seamless journey.