A.M Peacock – How to start writing a novel

Group leader of South Shields Fiction Writers, A.M Peacock, has guest written his third blog post for The Word and this one if all about how you start writing a novel.

Read below where he gives tips and advice for aspiring writers.

If you’re interested in joining South Shields Fiction Writers, their next group meeting is this Sunday (2 Decemeber), 1-3pm here at The Word.

The question: How do you start writing a novel? 

The answer: Writing a novel is a massively difficult undertaking and there is no simple answer to the above question. However, there are things that you can do to help you in this process.

First of all, you should consider joining a writing group. South Shields Fiction Writers, which I help run, occurs on the first and third Sunday of each month, here at The Word. By joining a group, wherever that may be, you will gain valuable insight into the writing process simply by being around others who are all taking part in a similar journey. This also helps you get used to reading your work out loud and receiving constructive feedback, something we actively encourage in our meetings.

My own philosophy is to just get on and do it. However, that is because I am what is known as a ‘pantser.’ A pantser is somebody who doesn’t really plan out their work choosing, instead, to come up with an idea and just go with it. This process has worked for me and my debut novel, Open Grave, was written in this way. Some writers prefer to plan their books, ranging from methods such as writing out a synopsis, to having colour-coded charts up on the wall. The best piece of advice I can give you is to just do what feels best for you. A word of caution, however, don’t get too bogged down in planning as this can lead to procrastination.

In November, I decided to sign up for NANOWRIMO. The idea behind this is that writers come together in an online community and update their word counts on a daily basis for the month. You set yourself a target, mine being 50,000 words. As it was, I managed around 46,000 but, when added to what I had already written, this meant that I managed to finish the first draft of the second novel in the series, reaching around 94,000 words in the process. This is a formalised way of getting into the habit of writing but, should this seem extreme, you can set yourself your own achievable goals. Again, it is what works best for the individual. If you write 500 words a day, then you’ll still get there eventually. Some people even struggle with this but there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, as writers, we usually have to fit the writing in around our busy lives, which often includes a full time job. Eventually, though, with enough determination, you will find that writing becomes an active part of your life rather than something you feel unable to commit time to.

One final piece of advice I would give is to READ. Readers don’t necessarily write but writers should always read! Which reminds me, Open Grave is now available to borrow from numerous local library branches in South Tyneside. You can also pick it up online in both paperback and Ebook formats.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Facebook at @ampeacockwriter or check out my website at www.ampeacock.co.uk.