Things you should know before you begin your debut novel

Just a fun post for today, based on what I have learnt during my writing journey. It’s been three years since I started my current WIP, and although I’m not deterred by the length of time it’s taken me to reach this point, there are a few things that would have sped up the process a little, had I known them before I launched in. But alas, it’s too late for me, but perhaps they may be of some help to you…!

1) You are not going to complete your finished manuscript within 6 months

Yep, Naive Heather did actually believe she could have a polished, completed and awesome novel within 6 months. Don’t get me wrong, you could easily finish your first draft in that time but your manuscript will be nowhere near as good as it could and should be. But why? This question leads us nicely on to point two…

2) You will improve with time

And with practice. Even if you think you know enough, you will never know everything, hence there’s always room for improvement. If you write consistently, you will be constantly improving. This is a good thing for your novel but a bad thing for your deadline. Please bear in mind that as you learn and improve…

3) You will likely stray from your outline

Even if you’ve spent months outlining, chances are, as you’re writing (and hopefully getting better at it), you will encounter flashes of inspiration that you didn’t have when you were planning. That plot device you loved? It doesn’t fit your character as well as you thought it might. That character you thought was necessary? She’s dead weight. But remember, straying from your outline isn’t a bad thing, as long as you bear in mind that…

4) Story structure is important

Don’t worry, structure won’t inhibit your creativity. Like it or not, satisfying stories follow certain structures – beginning, middle, and end, with rising tension, conflict, climax and resolution. For this reason, it’s vital to understand structure before you begin, so it’s wise to read widely on the subject. But don’t just stick to reading about structure…

5) Find out as much as you can about how to write a good novel

There are so many awesome websites and books on the subject so just Google it and get going! As stated before, you can’t possibly know everything before you begin, but it’s good to get a solid handle on the basics: POV, structure, character, tense, genre etc. I have beta-read for several writers before, some of whom didn’t even know how to use full-stops (there were none in the entire novel…!), let alone understand what POV was and why it was important. I wish I was joking…

6) Bonus point: no matter how ‘finished’ you think your book is, you will pick it up several weeks later and realise that long-standing scene you love is actually rubbish

To be honest, it’s pretty blindsiding. You’ve been sure about said scene since day one, so why is it only now, on day 700, that you realise it doesn’t actually make sense/is written terribly/doesn’t fit with the rest of your tweaked manuscript. It feels a bit like having the rug pulled out from under you – I mean, you were practically finished, and now you have some major restructuring to do?! It is scary but it is normal. So don’t worry, you got this!

5 Comments on “Things you should know before you begin your debut novel”

  1. Brilliant post. Very informative thank you – I am about halfway through my debut novel at the moment… it would definitely have been more helpful to read this at the start. But I am glad that I’ve read it now, it is useful to me… particularly point number 6! I was so upset when I had to scrap a whole scene from my lovely novel (my baby) because it just didn’t fit/sound right… but reading this post shows me that that is perfectly normal and I don’t need to worry about having to do that xx


    • So glad you found it helpful! Cutting scenes is totally normal – I had to cut 20,000 words from my most recent draft, which was so painful as I felt it was some of my best writing! Good luck with everything and apologies for the mega late reply – we had taken a little break from updating our blog, but will make sure to check it more frequently now! Thanks for your comment xx


      • Thanks for replying – don’t worry that it was late. I do that too sometimes, last time I viewed anything on WordPress was beginning of Jan so I’ve been off it for a month now, nothing happened for me in that time it’s just easy for life to get in the way and to sort of forget about blogging/reading other people blogs or comments.

        My novel has taken a bit of a backseat too over the last few months, but I’m gunna get a bit more focused on that again now. And I’m gunna write some more blog posts I think. I’m glad you’re back to this blog because I love reading your posts.

        Happy writing πŸ™‚


      • Yeah, life has a way of taking priority over writing/reading/blogging! But I guess that’s what’s so good about writing – you can afford to take a break, and sometimes it’s a good thing…I often find that giving myself some space from my WIP actually helps me feel more motivated, and it also makes it easier to spot issues and areas that need improving πŸ™‚ and thank you so much! It’s lovely to hear that you enjoy reading our posts, and you’ve inspired me to get planning some new ones πŸ™‚ have a lovely day, and good luck with getting back into everything! Keep us updated as to how you get on πŸ™‚ xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree taking a break can be very beneficial to the writing process. Thank you, I will do. And I hope you have a lovely day and week also πŸ™‚


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s