5 Novel Writing Tips…

Each week I will post up some tips for writers based on my  own experience. Every writer follows a different process so I hope these ideas can help someone.

The Writers Journey – Starting out…

A novel has three important components that make it a good story, plot, scenes and characters. Knowing how to make these key components work together is vital in writing a successful fiction novel.

#TIP 1 – Spend time thinking about your story and make it as original as possible. If you have more than one idea in your head, pick one. Don’t attempt to write more than one book at a time. Pick one and nail it. Create a chapter outline (structure) with key focus on the beginning, middle and end. At least start the book with the idea of them, it may change later but it helps flesh out the storyline.

Here is an example of mine:

Chapter Description Key Characters Ending
Prologue Tuesday May 24th, 2011. The spirit Kin’ah sees Andrew in the rainforest. He is the chosen one. Kin’ah (main)Andrew (secondary) 

Baxter (secondary)

Afi (secondary)

Kin’ah spoke. “Lelo’ Andu u k’aaba.”
1 One year laterAndrew falls into the tomb. 


Andrew (main) Andrew had found a Maya Codex.
2 Thursday, December 20th, 2012Kathryn arrives at grandmothers house. Set the scene. Kathryn (main)Father (secondary) Her exhaustion would save her life.


#TIP 2 – Genre. Write what you love to read or a subject you know most about. Read, read, read. What is your favourite book and why? Analyse it. Why couldn’t you put it down? What did the author do to keep you engaged? Learn from reading.

#TIP 3 – Always carry a small pad and pen wherever you go. Some of my greatest ideas have come to me when I’m not sitting in front of my computer and I need to capture them quickly. You can often find me scribbling notes in the supermarket, meetings, out with friends, doing the dishes or stopped at a red light. It’s a never ending process. The story is always in your head.

#TIP 4 – Know your characters. Know them as well as you know yourself. Stand beside them. It was during my first chapter, when Andrew was standing in the rainforest, I understood. I had to walk in his shoes, smell the environment, hear the sounds, feel his reaction and emotion when he fell into a tomb. So I started a “Character Description” document. 1/2 page per character.

It contains fields like Name, Physical Description (age, height etc), Role, Relationships to other characters, strengths, weaknesses and personality key words etc.

#TIP 5 – Dialogue. Easier said than done. In my very first 10 chapter review someone told me some of my dialog was “stilted and stiff.” So I learnt to write dialog by speaking it aloud to myself. Then I sat with someone and talked through some conversations, like a play. Keep the conversation casual and natural.

In summary

Writing a novel is hard work. Writing a great novel is extremely hard. If you have a dream to write a book and see it to publication you want it to be the very best you can achieve. And always remember, even the best selling author had to write their very first story. Mine took six years from concept to publication. I re-wrote my chapters about 20-30 times each. When I finally held the physical book in my hand, I knew every word off by heart.

I encourage you to keep going. It isn’t easy, but it is worth every stroke of the pen.

Let me know if there is anything you want to know about and I will try to help.

Until next time…

Lisa Flaus


3 comments on “5 Novel Writing Tips…

  1. Great tips, Lisa! It is validating to know that I already do some of these things, so I feel like I am on the right track. I am reading yoru book now (loving it), and I find it interestting that we have some similarties in structure and basic theme (2012)! However, my plot line takes a totally different track and not addressing the Mayan angle at all. 🙂 I worry that there will be so many books about 12/21/12 that mine will get lost in the pile! Hmmmm. But there is still time for me to change the “date of demise”…

    • When do you think yours will be finished? If you can publish before the end of this year I’d keep it at 2012 because the subject will only grow… In saying that, I was wondering, once the date passes (and if nothing happens ;-)), can we re-publish our novels with different titles and change the date? Mwah ha ha ha…

      • I plan to have it finished before the end of the year, so I could keep the date for now — but you certainly have a point! My original ideal was to have it end at some point that is measurabel by an age or an aeon (not necessarily the Mayan age, but a fictional age so the book would not become irrelevant when (if) the end date comes and goes… ♥

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