20 Useful Tips for Writing a Novel

Today I decided to compile a list of one line tips that help me keep focused on writing and observations I have made since gaining a literary agent.  Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Don’t play video games.
  2. 1000 words a day is healthy.
  3. Make time for your family….but not too much.
  4. Write a blog for recharging creativity.
  5. Don’t bug your busy agent.
  6. Send what an agent asks you to send.
  7. Listen to criticism and then modify.
  8. Get help from other writers.
  9. Find a quiet place to write.
  10. Write outlines.
  11. Write character backgrounds.
  12. Do research.
  13. Interview experts or people with professions with which you are not familiar.
  14. Talk to a policeman, firefighter, detective, or teacher about their job.
  15. Keep writing.
  16. Follow the AGENT’S RULES when sending query letters.
  17. Don’t bother sending directly to publishers.
  18. Don’t write what is popular right now because it is already yesterday’s news.
  19. Read great books, not flash in the pan drek.
  20. Edit, edit, edit, then pay someone to edit.

Care to add to the list?  Please do.  We all can use helpful tips.  Keep your tips brief, though.

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Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

3 thoughts on “20 Useful Tips for Writing a Novel

  1. Roger, loved your list – and thanks for the ping back! It’s amazing how similar my own list would be if I’d thought to write one (and if I had an agent 😉 ). I would add one thing though: “Write first thing in the morning.” I find that my brain is sharpest when I start my day, even though I am not really a morning person. There’s just something powerful about the mind after a full night of sleep and before all of the day’s other thoughts and demands intrude. I’ve heard other writers say this as well.

  2. Great list although want to qualify 1: I met my current wife gaming and she is the one that has ensured I got my first novel finished…. and others. Plus current novel being revised, is set crime set against gaming world and part of ongoing cyber-crime series – game inspired. So qualifier to Rule 1: Don’t let gaming be more than inspiration or a release at end of writing day. (In fact it’s my reward at the end of my writing/editing day!!)

  3. – Read through what you wrote yesterday
    – Find music to compliment scene. Close eyes and imagine. Then go write.
    (Great tips, although one day I’d like to argue number 11 with you ;-))

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