How to Write a Novel Step by Step

The Roadmap is a complete step-by-step process for novel writing.

The best way to use the Roadmap is in the Novel Factory software (which you can try completely free), but if you don't fancy that all the steps are available completely free and in full below.


There are many different ways to write a novel - every writer will have their own methods and techniques.

However, guide below might be useful if you're just starting out and feel a bit lost about where to begin.

It could also be useful for more experienced writers who feel their process is a bit hit and miss, and would like to create a more systematic approach.

These days, professional writers understand a lot about what makes a story work. Unfortunately, many new writers end up having to learn everything from first principles. This can mean a lot of wasted time and effort.

The Novel Factory novel writing Roadmap not only explains the principles of things such as story structure and character arcs, but does it in a carefully considered order, designed to take you from story idea to completed novel.

So rather than having to read one book on plot, another on characters and another on editing, then trying to write your novel with that mass of information buzzing around your head, you are given each bit of information on each topic just as you need it.

In this way you can learn the craft of storytelling at the same time as completing your first novel.

Creating order from the chaos of creativity

Some people prefer to write a novel without doing any planning. Others think that it is more 'artistic' to write without an understanding of the principles of story. But for most of use, working that way it is very likely to result in a lot of dead ends and staring at a blank page.

The Novel Writing Roadmap is designed to create a repeatable process that gets reliable results.

This doesn't mean that all novels written using this method will be the same, any more than every painting that uses the same pallette and set of brushes will be the same. 

The Roadmap breaks down the process of writing a novel into manageable tasks - with each step explained and supported by relevant theory and examples.

The first step is to make sure you have a basic story idea with all the most important elements.

The following steps build on that starting point - adding layers, characters, plot and locations.

Do you need to already know about novel writing principles?

Nope. It's written for beginners. So you're not expected to already know about plot, characters, editing or anything like that.

And if you do have some prior knowledge but want to make it a bit less patchy, just skip over the bits you already know.

The Roadmap: How to write a novel in sixteen steps

Step One: The Premise

Does your story contain the five critical plot elements? Learn how to combine these into a single sentence that describes your core story idea - your premise.

Step Two: The Skeleton

There are a tried and tested set of stages that establish a plot or character arc that seems to hit the spot with audiences. Make sure your story ticks all the boxes.

Step Three: Character Introductions

Characters are the most important part of your novel. This stage offers a method of drawing key characters with broad brushtrokes, then filling in the detail to make them memorable and unique.

Step Four: Short Synopsis

Describe the setup, major incidents and resolution of your story in a single paragraph.

Step Five: Extended Synopsis

Start to develop the bones of your story, adding detail and expanding on each of the sentences in the short synopsis.

Step Six: Goal to Decision Cycle

Use this technique to ensure your character's journey through the story feels logical and contains balance, pace and regular conflict.

Step Seven: Character Development

Delve deep into your characters, really learning what drives them, what they need to learn about themselves and how they need to change in order to reach fulfilment.

Step Eight: Locations

Use the five senses and other tools at your disposal to develop locations that add atmosphere and theme, and enhance your story.

Step Nine: Advanced Plotting

This is the time to weave all your elements together and make sure there are no major holes. See how locations affect characters and how the characters move the plot. 

Step Ten: Character Viewpoints

Use this technique to add depth and texture to your novel - watch the action from the point of view of eahc of the major characters. See how this brings your world to life.

Step Eleven: Scene Blocking

Before you start writing your first draft, outline what happens in each of the scenes including stage directions and snippets of dialogue.

Step Twelve: Draft One

It's finally time to start writing your first draft. With all the preparation in hand, your first draft wiull fly from your fingers in no time and be many times stronger than if you'd just started writing from scratch.

Step Thirteen: Theme and Variations

Once your first draft is complete, read it over and see which themes emerge. Develop and enahnce these for greater depth and emotional impact.

Step Fourteen: Draft Two

According to many writers, redrafting is the real part of writing. Use these tips to start knocking your first draft into shape.

Step Fifteen: Final Draft

There may be many more drafts before the final draft, but eventually you'll find you're only making small edits. Congratulations! You're on your final draft.

Step Sixteen: Submissions

Now you've got your novel, it's time to put it out into the world. This section gives advice on how to approach apublisher of agent (note - the Online version of the Roadmap now includes information on self-publishing).

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