Top 10 Tips for writing the perfect novel

by richard on February 9, 2011

writing your novel

A lot of people ask me about tips for writing a book. Here I will list my top ten, and I will go into more detail for each on future blog posts. This list has been written from the perspective of a fictional book, however many apply to non-fiction writing.

1. Write about something you know, or at least like.
This might sound obvious, but sometimes people think they need to write about something “important” to others, rather than what they know.

2. Spend time developing your story
It’s important you know how the story is going to end, who the main characters are, and what all the twists and turns are going to be. Set about writing a chapter outline before you write the book.

3. Understand your characters
Your characters should be ‘larger than life’ to make them interesting to your readers. What are their likes/dislikes, strength and flaws? You should know how they would react to any situation.

4. Open with a bang!
The first few pages are critical in getting and maintaining the attention of your audience.

5. Allow your readers to form a mental picture of your story by including plenty of detail
People like to be lead on a journey. You need to give them the detail to allow that to happen.

6. Make every word count
Everything in the book – characters, descriptions, objects – should have a purpose, otherwise it’s just a distraction.

7. Develop a routine for writing
It’s very hard to fit in time for writing if you have a full time job, kids, hobbies, study, etc. You need to work out what is right for you, and be disciplined.

8. Use your “down time” for being creative
It’s amazing the ideas you can come up with for a scene or a conflict when you’re sitting on the train, driving to work, or having a shower! Always have a pen and notepad handy.

9. Read a lot of your genre
Find out what the experts do and what’s particular to their style. Try to understand the craft.

10. Make sure your draft is the best it can be before you show it to a publisher
or an agent

Have lots of friends read your manuscript. No matter how many times you read it, you will miss spelling and grammar errors. Also, understand how the professionals want manuscripts presented to them.

Reading back through these, I think it’s possible to create a list longer than ten, but this will do for now. I’ll expand on these over the coming weeks.

Richard Jagger formerly worked in the biotechnology industry, and has completed his first novel “The Cure”. Apart from writing his second novel, he works as a professional photographer. He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and one joint painting exhibition. Further information can be found at

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