How to write your first novel in 2024

Is one of your new year’s resolutions to write your first novel in 2024? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Read these tips to set yourself up for success when it comes to writing your novel this year.

2024 is the best time to write your first novel

Find your best story idea first

Although finding the right story idea is just one step of the whole novel-writing process, it’s the one that lets all the other steps happen. How would you even fill those pages if you had no story to write?

The first step to writing a novel this year

Although you need a really good story idea to be able to finish writing your book without hating the whole process, I don’t want you to overthink it. It’s better to start with something than to put off your writing indefinitely, even if it meant scrapping your idea later on. At least you would have got something written and you might even learn something from it.

When you’re still deciding what to write about, consider these questions: Is this something that I truly want to write or is it something I think I should write? Am I genuinely interested in my idea and the subject matter? Do I know how to make the idea my own and not just a copy of someone else’s idea? Can I see someone else being as excited to read this story as I am?

Related reading: How to know if you’re story idea is the oneGood conflict ideasStory ideas for different genres

What if you have no story ideas to write about?

It’s tough having the dream of writing a book without actually knowing what to write about. I hear you.

That’s why I created something cool that I call Your Best Story Idea: Find out what to write about with the Idea Mining Technique. It’s a free workbook on Google Docs that you can use to find exactly what your next story should be about even if you currently have no idea. You’re going to find a story idea that truly speaks to you.


Know what a good story needs

Don't start writing before you know what stories are made of

You might already have some ideas that you want to work on, but if you want to write a novel, you need enough elements for a full story and not just a snippet. To make it a good story, you also need a few special ingredients.

What all stories are made of

These are the bare bones of a story: you have a protagonist who suddenly has to face a problem that changes everything. Through different trials and tribulations, they change as a person and learn a lesson and finally solve that big problem that got them into this mess. (Note: this is mostly true for Western stories but there are different story structures in Eastern literature – I’m just personally not qualified to talk about them.)

If you just have a character and a setting without any story goals and no change, you don’t actually have a story. You could write hundreds and hundreds of pages about this character’s friends and daily routines, but that still wouldn’t make it a story even if your writing was really, incredibly good. When you’re an experienced writer, you can try experimenting with different kinds of stories and structures, but you truly need to understand what you’re doing before you can do that.

Fortunately learning about story structure doesn’t have to be hard. If you’d like to learn about it more than you can learn from this blog, you should get my video workshop for structuring your story.

How to make readers care about your story

Although it’s important that you love and care about your story, you still need to think about your readers, too, if you’re writing for other people. This doesn’t mean copying stories that are popular or trying to be “the next Suzanne Collins” or whatever, but having something for your readers to care about.

People care the most about characters that they can relate to. It doesn’t mean reading about characters who are exactly like them and it definitely doesn’t mean that your characters should be so general that anyone can relate to them. It’s almost the opposite.

It’s the thoughts, feelings, situations and actions that people relate to – not superficial things like appearance or education. Things like feeling like an outsider, regret after making a hard decision and trying to impress your father are things that could happen to anyone whether you’re a young dragon rider, an accountant in the 1950s or a preschool teacher reading this blog post.

Another thing that makes readers care about your story are stakes. What does your hero have to lose if they don’t solve their problems or reach their goals? If you can’t answer the question “so what?” when you’re writing your story, your readers definitely won’t be able to answer it and they likely won’t ever finish your story.

Think about your goals before you start writing

Why you need to know who you're writing for

So now that you have a solid story idea, you need to know what your goals for your story are. What are the genre and the tone of your story? Are you writing a fun and entertaining story or do you want it to be serious and thought-provoking? Or perhaps entertaining AND thought-provoking?

You also need to know your intended readers. Is this a story for teenagers or adults? People who don’t mind reading spicy scenes or people who want to read cute and innocent stories? Are you going to share your story on Wattpad or will you pursue traditional publishing?

I know that thinking about someone reading your novel can feel a little cringy, especially if you’ve never shared your stories before, but I still want to imagine your ideal reader. What are they like? How do you want them to feel when they read your story? What do you want them to say when they write a 5-star review of your book? Knowing all these things will help you stay on track when you’re writing your novel. (My Author Mindset Workbook can help you figure out some of these things.)

Plan your story well before you start writing

Why you need to plan your story before you start writing

You might think you can finally start writing your novel, but there’s one more step for you to do: plan your novel first. Yes, I’m talking about outlining.

It’s up to you to figure out how extensively you need to plan your story beforehand. If you’ve never written a novel before, you’re better off starting with a little too much planning and then paring down later when you understand yourself and your writing process better. I have written a blog post with different methods of outlining, so do check it out and pick anything that works for you.

Having a good outline, whatever that means for you personally, helps you with two major things: you get a bird’s eye view of your story which will help you fix any major issues beforehand and decide whether you really want to work on the story, and you will save so much time when you don’t get lost writing your story and you have fewer issues to fix during editing.

To reiterate what I just said, here’s one of the lessons from my course Writing Your First Novel that tells you exactly why you need an outline.

Decide where and when you’re going to write

What you need to decide if you want to write a novel this year

We have different lives which is why our writing routines should also be different. It doesn’t matter how much or how little time you have to write – you can get it all done as long as you’re committed. I tell you, I see so many writers who have loads of time to dedicate to their writing do very little else besides procrastinate, and then there are the busy parents who still manage to write entire novels because they’ve chosen to use their time wisely. Don’t let perceived lack of time stand between you and a finished novel.

If you can manage a regular writing routine where you sit down to write at a specific time every day, do that! And stick to your routines even when you don’t feel like it. But if you’re like me and it’s nearly impossible to write regularly at a set time, be a writing opportunist instead. Write whenever possible and remember that ten minutes is never too little.

The important thing to remember is that if you want to write a novel, you can’t sit around waiting for inspiration and motivation. Those things are definitely very nice to have, but they’re not required. Often they appear only after you’ve already started.

How many words should you write per day?

You should write as many words as you can, and it’s for you to figure out how much that is. Sorry if that’s not the answer you wanted to hear!

You can have a word count goal, especially if it helps you stay accountable to yourself. It just has to be something you can actually achieve. I’m all about pushing yourself, but feeling shame about not reaching your goals will not help you reach them. Use your goals as a tool and not as a weapon to make yourself feel bad.

If you frequently struggle with reaching your writing goals, make them smaller. Like, tiny. Something like 100 words per day. You might protest and tell me that you can’t write a novel that way, but do you even realise how easy it is to keep writing after you’re past your goal? And how much harder it is to keep writing when you constantly fall short of your own goals? Just try it.

Don’t judge your first draft

So now you’re writing, and when you look at what you’ve achieved… you feel a little cringy. You might even feel like you’re not a very good writer. Listen to this because it’s extremely important: feeling bad about your writing is not a problem. It doesn’t mean anything about your skills as a writer or the quality of your story, it’s just a normal part of writing.

Your first draft only needs to exist because without it you’d have nothing to edit. It does not have to be “good writing” and you shouldn’t be editing it or even reading it before you’ve written it all from start to finish. If you’ve planned your story well, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that your story is going in the right direction even if your writing sucks. That’s true creative freedom.

You also don’t need to share your first draft with anyone because it’s not yet supposed to be readable. You don’t need someone to comment on a pile of clay, saying that it’s not a vase, so keep your story to yourself until it’s fully formed.

Know that you won’t finish your novel in 2024

Depending on how fast you write, how much time you can dedicate to writing, how well you planned your story and whether you’re an under-writer or an over-writer, you can finish your first draft in a few weeks or in a few years. Again, probably not what you wanted to hear.

But what I want you to understand is that while you can write a first draft pretty fast in the right conditions, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to finish your novel within the year even if you started on January 1st. The magic of writing really good novels is in editing, and that’s going to take time. Professional authors who work with professional editors can go through the process faster than beginners who work on their own, but even they can spend years writing their best novels.

Who cares if it takes you five years to write a novel? Nobody is going to give you an award for being the fastest writer in the world, while your readers will definitely notice if you’ve rushed through the whole thing. If you don’t want to write disposable and forgettable stories, you need to take your time and edit your novel as long as is needed.

The best way to actually write your first novel in 2024

Writing a novel might not be easy, but I promise you I can make it so much easier than it would be if you tried to DIY the process.

My course Writing Your First Novel 2.0 answers all the questions you might have as a beginner writer and gives you a path to follow to turn your story idea into a finished novel. Even if you think you can’t plot an entire story, I’ve developed methods and questions that make sure every writer knows exactly how to craft a story that’ll keep their readers turning the pages. Your book will become far more than just a door stopper.

This updated course is more laser-focused than ever and we’ve added a module that helps you prepare yourself and your book for the publishing journey. You could even start earning money with your writing once you’ve finished a novel you can really be proud of.

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