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Once Upon A Novel: Getting Started

Writing a book often sounds like a swell idea. Putting together tales that could spark revolutions, inspire civilizations and give birth to dynasties. We dream of a narrative so strong that it breaks down long-held barriers between cultures or one that creates generational feuds. A story richly dipped in hope that it peels back a society’s insecurities and soars a wallowing tribe or nation to greater heights.

That’s of course until the enormity of it all sinks in and you recognize that revolutions and dynasties need a wee bit of time, patience, and supreme work. Sadly, this is where most of those noble dreams come to die. Most people are drowned in the enormity. Others lose enthusiasm once they start thinking about publishers, editors, and sales. Some still become discouraged by how fewer and fewer people actually buy books. By the time you mention the long hours and patience writing a book actually entails, no one is left in sight.


Once Upon A Novel: Getting Started
Once Upon A Novel

Immediately after releasing my first novel, I attempted to deliver a sequel. Two years later and I’m no closer to finishing. Sure, I’ve made strides, but the sheer magnitude of work has been quite overwhelming. Thus, I’ve set out to make this journey less taxing for me by sharing my knowledge and having you trod this road too. Up rose the idea of Once Upon A Novel, where I’ll be attempting to walk you through writing your first novel. And without more to do, let’s dig into the first bits that will ultimately be your novel!



  • Choose theme/genre

One of the first things you need to decide is what type of book you want to write. Self-help books, travel guides, poetry, religious books, children’s books, action, drama are all on the table. Choosing which type of book largely depends on the amount of material (knowledge) you have on the subject, your ability to research further on the subject, your passion for the genre and (controversially) how well the genre is perceived in the market. You may be an expert, but writing about toad hygiene may not attract a whole lot of readers.

Remember, the genre or the type of book you want to write will most likely determine the number of words you need to put down for your novel to be considered a bonafide novel in that genre. For example, your book must be above one hundred thousand words if you want to be thought a serious fantasy fictional author, by general acceptance.

  • Brainstorm Ideas and seek inspirations

So you’ve settled on a genre you’re comfortable with, what next? Attempt a short punt. Jot down a page or two and see if the genre you chose is comfortable with you. Don’t bother with fancy words and sophisticated grammar, write naturally. Give it out to a few unsuspecting readers. Publish it on your social media pages. Get honest feedback.

Re-read and rewrite the piece until it’s near perfect. Play around with the story. Make one of your characters have a deathly flaw or an angelic power. Write about a cooler version of yourself or an alternate world. Pen about a topic you completely abhor. Invent a disease and describe it in detail. Get inspiration from your favorite books, shows, and movies. You don’t need external inspiration fyi. Be your own stimuli.


  • Plotlines.

Once Upon A NovelYou’re all inspired now. Nothing can hold you back. You’re oozing with machinations of intriguing tales that will be adored across the world. You have a deep understanding of the story you want to share. It doesn’t have to be a complete story. All you need is a compelling idea. But before you start writing, you need to plot out your story.

First, plot out the story in general. Then plot it chapter by chapter. Lastly, plot your story sub-chapter by sub-chapter within each chapter. Keep in mind that as you develop the story further, even as you write, plotlines will constantly change and you will need to adjust and tweak it as you move along. NB; Train yourself to use just one sentence for plots.

I will have a more robust outlook on plotting and more in the next Once Upon A Novel post.

Happy Writing!


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