When we open a book and read through it, it opens doors to new worlds. The storytelling is impressive, the characters are relatable, and the book seems perfect. Yet, no one knows how delicate the craft of novel writing is.
What we don’t see is the first draft of that story. We don’t see half of the book was scrapped in the third round of edits. We don’t see all the red marks the editor made when handing the manuscript back to the author.
Writing is a process. It’s also a learning experience. If you’ve never tried creative writing before, let alone writing a novel, the writing craft is also quite daunting.
Writing isn’t as simple as 1-2-3, and while it can seem like riding a bike, no two writing projects are the same. So, how do you learn the craft of novel writing?
What Is The Craft Of Novel Writing?
The novel craft is the ability to understand language functions and story writing elements. These elements pertain to the plot, characters, settings, theme, and more.
Also, writing techniques boost the above elements and make each novel unique. For example, these techniques may be characterization, plot twists, structure, and more.
A novel is not a string of words forming sentences, forming paragraphs until the end. Instead, a story is how well the words are uniquely crafted together. How well the sentences are woven and flow into stacks of paragraphs.
Anyone can write, but learning the craft of novel writing will always be a learning experience.
Why Bother Learning The Writing Craft?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never written a book or already written 12. There’s always something new to learn.
Learning the craft of writing is essential to ensure you can create the best books possible. In addition, you want to bring your readers on a journey they can understand and immerse themselves in.
To do that, you must teach yourself language and fiction writing rules.
How Do You Learn The Craft Of Novel Writing?
There are multiple ways you can learn the writing craft. There is no one way to learn, and everyone learns differently. So, in the end, choose a method (or all of them) that works best for you.
Regardless of your choice, let’s discuss ways you can teach yourself the craft of writing.
Read Books About The Writing Craft
One of the best ways of learning is by reading, like a textbook. You can find books about the writing craft at the library or your local bookstore. In addition, you can find craft books about the art and craft of novel writing, character development, reference books, and so much more.
Many of these books might have exercises for you to try. Some of them might have other resources, linking to websites or listing other books.
You can find a book about whatever you need to learn about. For example, creative writing or grammar rules.
I have a library of these books on my shelves at home. I also have some on my Kindle, though I prefer physical copies of these books.
Why? I like to take notes. Sometimes I add tabs to certain information that I’ll need to reference later. There are times I take my notes in a separate notebook. Reading and writing the info helps me remember.
Of course, you don’t have to take notes on whatever you learn from these craft books. If you add them to your collection at home, you can reference back to them whenever you want.
Read Novels In And Out Of Your Preferred Genre
In addition to reading craft books, it’s also a good idea to read novels within your genre. For example, if you enjoy science fiction, then read through science fiction books. Find popular authors and pick up books from lesser-known writers.
Read these books as both a reader and a writer. What do you enjoy as a reader? What did you appreciate most about the narrative as a writer? You can learn a lot by reading other people’s work and seeing their writing style. It’ll help you find your writing style.
Also, read books that are outside of your genre. It’s always good to branch out and try new things. You can still learn a lot from these stories, as well.
Joining a book club is an ideal way to keep reading and meet new people.
Listen To Writing-Related Podcasts
Like reading books, you can listen to what people say about writing. Most writing podcasts discuss the ins and outs of the writing industry. How to do this, or how to do that.
These hosts discuss their personal experiences that you can learn from. If they outline their novel in a certain way, you can try practicing using their method. It might work for you, too.
Also, podcasts typically have a variety of guests on the show. The guests range from published authors, editors, and cover designers. So you’ll also learn everything else that goes into making the book a reality.
Take Part In Writing Courses
One of the best ways to learn about something is to take a course on it. But, of course, not everyone enjoys attending school. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you don’t need to take classes. But there are many types of courses.
First, you can go back to school. I have a degree in English Studies with a concentration in creative writing. But, honestly, I didn’t have the best professors. So, if I had the chance to go back and do it again, I probably would choose not to go to school at all.
You don’t need to get a degree, though. Instead, you can take a course here and there from a university to learn something new.
Alternatively, there are many online courses you can take. Some are free, and some are paid. Depending on who’s running the courses, some are better than others.
But hey, you can either learn what to do or what not to do. So, it can be a win either way.
Here’s my personal favorite way to learn the craft of novel writing. Actually write. Write the stories you want to read. Write down your ideas and develop them into full books.
Do you need to publish these stories? Do you need to share them on the internet? Absolutely not. Writing books for yourself and only share these stories if you feel comfortable doing so.
You can write fan fiction, where the settings and characters are already developed for you. You only need to throw them into new situations.
Of course, you can write original work, too. Crafting novels and short stories is a fun way to learn.
Also, it’s the easiest way to find your writing style. The more you write, the easier it’ll be for you to write to the best of your ability.
Get A Critique Partner
Also, you can join a writing group or find a critique partner. You’ll discover accountability buddies who can help you on your writing journey. Alternatively, you’ll be able to help them.
You can easily learn about writing and editing through a second set of eyes on your work. It’s also useful to critique others in return so you can learn the craft from a different angle.
Participate In Writing Challenges
Joining writing challenges is another excellent way to learn the craft. Most of these challenges have a wide writing community. You can chat in the forums and make new writing buddies.
Challenging your work will allow you to try things outside your comfort zone. Thus, increasing your ability to learn. You never know what you’re capable of until you try.
Educate Yourself About The Writing Industry
Yes, I already mentioned that you could attend a school or take online courses. I also mentioned that you could listen to podcasts and read writing craft books.
Another way to learn the craft is to learn about the writing industry. Look up writing fiction terms on the internet. If you see an acronym that you don’t recognize when trying to submit your writing to a magazine, look it up.
There are many ways to write a novel. This is because there are so many techniques and literary devices to use. Every writing style is unique, and you need to find yours. A great way to do this is to learn as you go.
This is where Google is your friend. Look up terms such as foreshadowing, symbolism, personification, and everything in between. Learn how to write stories in various ways.
Which Is The Best Way To Learn The Craft Of Novel Writing?
So, how exactly do you learn the craft of novel writing? There’s no right or wrong way to do so. How you learn best is the way to go. Writing is fun and therapeutic. Understanding your goals and increasing your skills and knowledge on the subject is key.
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Rachel Poli is an indie author, podcaster, and content writer working on her debut cozy mystery novel.
Although she favors mystery, Rachel is a multi-genre author with too many ideas and characters in her head, often experimenting with short stories and flash fiction.
When she’s not writing, she’s reading, organizing something, or playing video games. She currently resides in New England with her zoo.