Fiction Writing - How to Write a Great Novel

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

For some, fiction writing is not only a hobby, it's a way to express themselves. If you're thinking of writing a novel, it’s important that you know where to start. But at the same time, it can be difficult to get going. The best piece of advice we can give is to stick with it when writing gets tough. Here’s our top tips on how to write a great novel…

A good starting point

The best place to start is to decide which genre you are going to write. Spend some time exploring the characteristics of different genres, and familiarise yourself with the features. Try to stick to a genre that you are already familiar with and read regularly, you’ll find it much easier to write in a style that you enjoy reading.

Planning is key

Identify your main character and the setting before you start to write your novel. The main character is a vital part of any story, so you need to know them inside out. We would recommend writing a character profile for any main characters, detailing everything from their name, age and where they live, to what their flaws are, and what they like and dislike. Creating these profiles will help you to build up the bigger picture of how they fit into your novel.
It is important to outline your novel before you begin to write it. It’s a good idea to map out your story’s key moments and plot twists to help you stay on track. You could even consider briefly writing the ending of your novel so that you know where your story is heading. Try to include as much information as possible when writing your initial outline, but don’t be afraid to stray from it if you think of a better idea whilst writing. If you do decide to make changes to your plot, sit back and think carefully about how this will impact on your character’s story lines.


Try to use your own life experiences when looking for inspiration in your fiction writing. It will help you to write from the heart, and make it more believable from your readers perspective. A great example of an author using life experiences to inspire their writing is when J.K. Rowling was writing the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling was inspired used her experience of depression in her twenties as inspiration for the dementor creatures.

Bring the emotion

Create characters that your readers will either fall in love with or hate, and persuade them to become completely immersed in the story line. You want your readers to be fully sucked into your story and feel what your characters feel. When creating your characters, write about them in a way that makes them feel passionately about the character, whether it be positive or negative. The reason E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy was so successful was because she portrayed a character that her readers were intrigued by and fell head over heels in love with. Women worldwide went crazy for Christian Grey, and that wasn’t an accident! When writing your novel you want to make your readers laugh, make them cry, and make them fall in love… it’s so important that you understand how to engage with your audience and make them feel!
If you are interested in finding out more about writing a novel, Open Study College offer two courses that could help you. Click the buttons below for more information.
Take a look at our Creative Writing course
Take a look at our Fiction Writing course

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Sharnie Carter

Passionate about marketing and education. Currently studying a CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing via distance learning. When I'm not working or studying, I'm spending time with my young son and husband or hinching!

Fiction Writing – How to Write a Great Novel