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How to Write a Manuscript for a Novel

Pen Writing Letter Signature Paper Fountain Pen Document

Pen Writing Letter Signature Paper Fountain Pen Document

Starting a new writing project can always be a challenge. Even if you have a great idea you want to develop, the process of turning that idea into a novel can be time-consuming and offer lots of frustration. When you know how to write a manuscript for a novel, however, you’ll be able to make some real progress on whatever writing project you have in mind.

Here’s what you are going to want to do.

#1. Just sit down and write.

There are plenty of rules to follow about formatting a manuscript for submission. In the early days of writing, it is more important to get your ideas down than it is to make sure your margins and spacing are 100% correct. Many of the formatting issues can be easily added with a simple “select all” command when you’ve finished writing.

#2. Give yourself time every day to write.

Whether you’re a full-time writer or you’re working outside of the house full-time [or maybe you do both?], life is busy these days. Finding the time to sit down and write in a relatively quiet environment is virtually impossible. This means you’ll need to carve out time in your current schedule to start writing. For the first week, writing for 15-30 minutes is good enough. Afterward, you’ll want to put in a good 45 minutes at minimum each day.

#3. Don’t assume that you can just sit down to write your novel.

Okay – maybe you shouldn’t just sit down and start writing. The first step to creating a manuscript for most writers is to create an outline of the story they want to write. By creating an outline, you can insert plot points, character ideas, scene ideas, and all of the other good stuff that makes a book fun to read.

There are some writers that can take a general idea and turn it into a brilliant novel. It happens. Maybe you can freely write to create something that is magical. Until you know that for certain, it’s a good idea to start with an outline.

#4. Create navigational waypoints.

It can be pretty easy to fill up 45 minutes of writing time with a bunch of emotional tangents. If you do that, you’re just wasting your time. That’s why it is important to put navigational waypoints into your writing GPS. You can do this by writing the first sentence of your chapter and then the last sentence of it before you begin writing the rest of it.

If you really want to have fun, this step also works for the beginning and ending of your manuscript. Write the opening line, then write the closing line. Then you can explore at-will as you create the rest of the journey for your readers.

#5. Embrace the challenges you’ll face.

Rare is the writer that is so prolific that they never encounter writer’s block. There will always be challenges at some point during this creative process. Instead of allowing the blockage to become a permanent stop on your trip, work to find a detour around it. Embrace the challenges that come your way.

The same can be said of the chapters or scenes that you read after you’ve written them and your gut reaction is, “Wow – that was terrible.” Buckle in, knuckle down, and rewrite that scene with enthusiasm. If you’re frustrated, then your manuscript is going to reflect that emotion and that won’t do anyone any good.

#6. You know what? Have some fun, my friend.

Maybe you feel like you’re forced to write, but the truth is that writers create because they love it. Every writer gets a little something different from their form of art. It can be challenging, rewarding, frustrating, and exhilarating all at the same time.

And let’s face it – there’s a certain satisfaction experienced by a writer when you can hire a hit out on a character that you just don’t like without getting in trouble for it.

Knowing how to write a manuscript is more than a process. It is a work of art. Now there may be formatting rules that you’re asked to follow and other requirements you may need to include in your narrative, but that’s it for the rules. You get to make up the rest of the stuff. That’s the beauty of writing.

It’s your world. Your rules. So use this guide to start writing your manuscript to explore the ways that your art may be able to change the world.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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