7 Tips to Get Your Novel Written — Faster
If you’ve recently started writing a fiction book or if you’re in the middle of one, more than likely you’ve discovered writing can be somewhat unpredictable.
As someone who has just finished writing book #12(7 books written with a pen name), I can relate. With this most recent romance, it seemed to take forever to discover the true theme of the story. And it was only in the editing and revising stage that I was able to finally dig deep enough to root out one of my Hero’s biggest fears.
I like to know these details in the planning stage… but I didn’t learn that one until the very end.
All the unknowns in our story and even our own fears as writers can sometimes cause us to feel stuck and paralyzed when we come to the page.
Writing is unpredictable… and messy.
However, there are some ways that I’ve learned that can help you write your novel faster. These are seven tips I’ve learned over time, that have helped me. I hope one or two of these ideas help you write and finish your novel faster than ever…❤
7 Tips to Get Your Novel Written — Faster…
Sometimes it’s through trial and error as we try different ideas, that we finally discover what works for us. That’s definitely been true for me as a fiction writer.
It was how I learned what was keeping me stuck or hindering my writing progress.
So without further ado, here are the seven tips to help you write your fiction book faster…
1. Dig deeper into the fears and painful background of your main characters.
I’m starting with this one, because I’ve found that if I don’t know what my two main characters’ biggest fears are and what drives them towards their goal, then I will most likely get stuck when I reach the middle of the story.
Your character’s fears and wounds are what drive them to reach their goal… much like people in real life. Often I need to dig all the way back to the hurt and painful moments in their childhood before I finally uncover what really makes the Hero and Heroine respond the way they do to different people or circumstances.
Something to Try: Take out a notebook and write down a summary of each of your Hero and Heroine. Once you have a general summary, then dig deeper by asking ‘why’ questions. For example: If your Hero is a man who has a gruff, quiet and strong exterior that he presents to the world and he resists sharing anything about himself, why does he do that? You might discover that when he was a child and just learning to read, he had trouble with dyslexia and couldn’t read properly. His father(not understanding his learning difficulties) called him stupid, got angry at him and rejected him. Maybe this is the reason why when the Heroine comes into his life, he can’t tell her about himself, because he’s afraid of rejection.
Go ahead and start writing short summaries about different events about your main character’s backgrounds. You might be surprised by what shows up in your notebook. Know these details will definitely help you write your novel faster.
2. Write Down a Short Summary of Your Plot Outline.
I like to use a whiteboard and 5 X 8 Index Cards to brainstorm the plot outline. I am by nature a discovery writer(or pantser), but I do find it helpful to have glimpses of what’s coming up next in my story as I’m writing.
Just a note: I usually do this at the beginning of the novel and readjust it when I get to Act 2 and then readjust again when I get to Act 3 of the story.
I use the following outline from Michael Hauge for my Plot Outline:
Opening Image(1%): A before snapshot of the Hero and their world.
Theme Stated(5%): Statement made by a character(not the Hero) that hints at what the Hero’s transformation or ARC will be.
SetUp(1 – 10%): Exploring the Hero’s Ordinary world and all its flaws. We learn what the Hero’s life looks like before transformation.
Catalyst(10%): Inciting Incident — a life-changing event that catapults the Hero into his new world or new way of thinking.
Debate(10-20%): A reaction sequence where the Hero debates what they’ll do next: Should I go?
Break Into Two(20%): The moment the Hero decides to accept the call to action and leaves his comfort zone.
B Story(22%): Introduction of new character(s) who will help the Hero learn the theme. This could be a love interest; mentor; nemesis; family, etc.
Fun & Games(20-50%): Hero is in the New World – either loving or hating it. This section is why the reader picked up the book in the first place.
Midpoint(50%): This is where the Fun & Games culminates in the Hero succeeding or floundering. Stakes are raised here.
Bad Guys Close In(50-75%): Hero’s deep-rooted flaws(internal wounds) are closing in.
All is Lost(75%): Something happens that pushes the Hero to rock bottom.
Dark Night of the Soul(75-80%): Reaction beat: Hero is in a dark place. This is the moment right before the Hero figures out the solution to the big problem.
Break Into Three(80%): Hero’s big Aha Moment. Hero realizes what he must do to fix the problems in Act 2 and to fix himself.
Finale(80-100%): Hero processes how he’s learned the theme and enacts plan he came up with from Break into Three.
Final Image(100%): A mirror of the opening image. This is the “after” snapshot of the Hero after transformation.
Something to Try: Write down one or two sentences for each plot point above. Or if you’re unsure, then I start with what the climax will be in your story. I usually know the ending dark moment(the character’s greatest fears), before I start the novel, because it helps me write the beginning. I encourage you to try it.
3. Ask a Friend or Family Member to talk out Plot Points with You.
This has been super helpful for me. I will often talk with my daughter or my hubby and ask for their ideas on a specific plot point I’m struggling with.
We talk back and forth about the character or different scenes, and it’s amazing all the ideas that start to flow.
Something to try: Ask a family member or friend if you can talk out your ideas for the novel you’re writing. You might be surprised at how much it will help you get unstuck and help accelerate your writing.
4. Do a Deep Dive into Your Villain’s Background and their Fears and Wounds.
This idea might seem weird at first, but I’ve uncovered gold when I’ve searched deeper into my villain’s background. The fears and painful moments from their past, are most often what drives your villain to try to stop or hurt the Hero as much as he/she can.
In my most recent romance, the villain was the stepmother. As I dug deeper, I discovered that the stepmother had an overbearing father who abused both her mother and her. So, the stepmother hates weakness of any kind, because she fears being abused by authority and once again becoming powerless like she was when she was a child. When her stepdaughter is quiet and agreeable, the stepmother sees her as weak and it makes the stepmother angry and she lashes out.
I encourage you to research the painful past of your villain. Doing this will help you create a better Hero and Heroine and will make your overall story more compelling.
Something to Try: Grab your notebook and brainstorm the background of your villain. Include all painful moments and wounds and fears. You might be surprised at what you discover!
5. Double Check if You’ve added too many Obstacles for your Hero/Heroine to Overcome.
Yes, we need obstacles for the Hero/Heroine to overcome… there has to be conflict or there is no story. However, if there are so many obstacles for your Main characters to overcome that it gets in the way of the development of the story, then it’s important to cut out some of them.
Here’s an example that Linda Seger shares in her book “Making A Good Script Great“: In the movie The Fugitive, when Kimble researches how many one-armed men might have killed his wife, his first search shows 121 names — then later 21 names. Finally, he lands on 5 names that fit the profile best. In the next scenes, he begins following up on the five names.
So instead of having Kimble look for 121 people, he ends up searching for 5. There are less obstacles to have to write about.
Something to Try: Look through your novel and see if you have any obstacles that take away from the development of your story. The most important thing is that every obstacle you’ve added moves the story forward.
6. Write Your Most Exciting Scenes First.
It might seem strange to you to write your novel out of order. But, I encourage you to try it. I write using Scrivener and so I can easily write a scene that goes in chapter 9 or 10 before I go back to writing chapter 2.
I only do this when it’s a scene I’m particularly excited to write. And then it motivates me to continue writing the beginning chapters.
Something to Try: Grab your notebook and brainstorm scenes in your story that you are excited to write. It doesn’t matter if the scenes you long to write are for later in your novel, write them anyway!
7. Just Go For It. Write Your Story with Freedom.
Most importantly, just go for it. As the story ideas come to you, continue to write. There is a thing called Story Momentum that happens as you get into the flow of your story. When this happens, keep writing and don’t stop. This will help you get your book written faster.
Something to Try: Line up your Index Cards where you’ve written your plot points so they are near your computer. Then begin to write your story and keep going. Don’t let fear or worry that your story might not be good enough stop you from writing the next scene. Just write.
I hope these ideas have helped and inspired you to write your novel and given you ideas on how you can write faster. Most of all, I hope you have a lot of fun as the characters and story run amuck in your imagination. 😉