How To Write A Novel Part 1: The Idea

***This is how I go about writing a novel, it’s probably different for other people and if you do it differently, feel free to tell me how in the comments. This works for me. Something else might work better for you.***

This might seem like a no-brainer, but in order to write a novel, you need some idea of what you plan to write.

I know, I know, you’re rolling your eyes at me right now, but it’s true. And here’s why:

Plot requires conflict > Conflict requires thought > thought requires thinking.

In today’s publishing industry, writing a hundred thousand words isn’t enough. You have to have a coherent story and you have to make it brilliant.

So, why waste time writing out languid lines of prose describing the verdant hues of a forest…. when you don’t have a plot. First things first: you have to see the plot for the trees. (Sometimes, I write things down like that and I think, what are you on??? Anyway, that’s why we have editing! But that’s for another post)

But is an idea enough?
The answer to that is somewhat convoluted. Short answer: Sometimes? Long answer: You may have to build off of it, but if your high concept idea leads to a sprouting of ideas, then sure.
Let’s take a rather simple idea: A secret school for wizards
(Hint: unless you bring something amazingly unique to the table with this one, don’t try to use it. J.K. did it first, and she did it better.)

In and of itself, that idea, does not a book make. There’s no conflict there, but it’s a start. And you build from there.

So, here are some questions you should ask yourself at the start.

First: What do you want to write? (This could be as simple as genre, setting or it might even be the beginnings of a plot)

Second: What is the problem your main character is going to face? (This is your Conflict: Someone is trying to kill him/The amulet has gone missing/Tony Hunk asked her best friend to the prom and that backstabbing b said yes even though she knew the MC has had a crush on him for EVAH)

Third: How are they going to fix it? (This is your resolution, you don’t need to get super in depth with this, and by the time you get to it, it might change drastically, but before you start, you should have a goal in mind. Your plot, or your characters might lead you in a different direction, but focus requires and endpoint)

Fourth: What other things are going to stand in their way? (These are your plot points: The killer takes out the one person who believed him/The MC winds up polishing silverware when he should be looking for the amulet/Your nerdy best friend helps you pull a prank on your best friend that goes terribly wrong!)

Those four questions aren’t going to write the novel for you, but they’re a starting point.

See you next week for Part 2!


  1. Hi Amy .. hope this comment works - I'm at the library and comments in embedded boxes don't usually work for me.

    I guess I could build a plot line around this - and perhaps who I might meet at the library - but we all need to start somewhere ... I don't like 'doing' something - unless I can see the end result in my mind ... ie it has to click first and then I can progress ...

    Cheers Hilary

  2. I love to read about how you think! Your books are plenty entertaining without the insight, but with it the stories are even better!

    I'm looking forward to getting my next assignment!

    Your biggest fan,


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