Write Your First Novel: 8 Strategies for Creating Great Fiction

As writers, we know that the process of writing is composed of work and worry. The work is a grind of word counts and applied methodology, but the worry — a mix of fear, doubt, stress and resistance to the process — can be more difficult to navigate.

During the four long years I spent writing my first novel, A Propper Man, I learned the importance of craft and routine in managing both the work and the worry.

If you’re wondering how to start writing a book, these strategies could help you meet your goals with less stress and fewer struggles. The thoughts on craft help form a plan of attack for completing your daily work, while those focused on the routine and ruminations about the writing life help you put that plan into practice and find the will to finish.

Craft tips for writing your first novel

Although the idea of craft can seem like a witch’s brew when applied to fiction, it’s no magical thing.

Sure, there are elements of fiction that are useful weapons for your arsenal, as well as tried and true storytelling methods that are helpful to know about. Mostly, though, the craft of fiction is composed of relentless practice and process: the stumbling, mealy-mouthed verbosity of beginning and ending and revising that you must apply repeatedly, ad-infinitum.

As a writing professor once explained on the first day of class, “I’m going to dump out my toolbox here on the floor. Take everything you need — but know you might not need everything.” Below are a few to consider.

1. Have a roadmap

The word “outline” is a polarizing one for fiction writers. We all know about this structure, but depending on our experience and mindset, we either love or loathe it.


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