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November 2016
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4 Tips to Get Started on Your Novel
Get moving on writing the next National Book Award winner with these pointers

Writing a novel always seems like a great idea, but the process of writing those thick tomes can be extremely intimidating. Before you get in over your head, consider these tips to make sure that all of your effort ends with a personal masterpiece, instead of a half-finished story.

Join a writing group

Some people are lucky enough to write every day at their jobs, while others studied the art in school. No matter how you came upon the decision to write a book, everyone needs help practicing so that what they produce has the right voice and a good style. recommends every aspiring novelist join a writing group for the experience of writing with a deadline and accepting feedback. The experience of writing short stories for these groups will also get you used to producing the sheer amount of content and thought needed to present a fully-formed style. 

Choose your audience

While your number one goal might be to write a book for yourself, consider the types of readers you want to reach with your finished story. Sites like advise that you shouldn�t pick a topic for your book just because it sounds like it could be a bestseller. While general fiction gets a lot of press, if you know the world of science fiction and have a good idea, by all means write within this genre. Considering your audience is imperative to knowing the types of things they will want to see, and pitfalls to avoid. For example, if you�re writing a novel for young adults, you might want to avoid a lot of cursing or sexual innuendo.

Create an outline

If you�re an avid reader, you know how frustrating it can be to start reading a story that just seems to meander without moving the plot around. Avoid that problem in your own novel by creating an outline of where you want the story to go and the steps needed to reach the climax and conclusion. That isn�t to say that you can�t change your outline while you�re writing, but it will help ensure you have the ultimate goals in mind. This will keep you from writing 400 pages before realizing that you forgot to add an important character about 200 pages back, forcing a rewrite or something awkwardly shoehorned in the story.

Set goals and deadlines

If you�re lucky enough to already have a publisher lined up for your masterpiece, you already have the benefit of deadlines to keep you writing at a steady clip. For everyone else, though, it�s important to set your own goals and deadlines to make sure that you actually finish what you started. recommends new writers start small with a goal of 300 words a day, especially if they have another job at the same time. The site also stresses the importance of having a set time every day to write so that it becomes part of your routine.

While writing a novel is difficult, it�s an attainable accomplishment. The long nights agonizing over story points will all be worth it once you hold the finished product in your hands.

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