Novel writing is not a two-day plan, instead it is a long-term assignment that calls for undeterred determination. The eagerness to write a novel, should be because you love writing and not because you love the money and fame that accompany it. Wrong motives will lead you to the wrong destination, leaving you frustrated and empty handed.
There are no hard and fast rules for writing and nobody can jot down a few steps that will enable you to write a successful novel. Nevertheless, keeping a few points in mind will definitely help you write better.
Polish Your Skills
Musicians, artists, designers, and so on have different courses at colleges that can help them hone their skills. As a writer, you could choose to do a creative writing course to help you begin. However, writing is an art, so, even if you haven't had any professional training it doesn't matter. The key to writing good books is reading a lot.
Read more about what you want to write on. Meaning, if you desire to write fiction, then read more fiction. If you desire to write about spirituality, read about spirituality. You can only pour out what you have absorbed. Build your writing skills by writing on a periodic basis.
However, keep in mind that even if you don't sit and pen down the outline of the novel, you should have some idea as to what your novel is going to talk about. At the starting line, you must have an idea where the finishing line is or else you could lose your way.
Another thing to remember is that the plot should be your own. It doesn't have to be a revelation of any kind, but make sure you are adding some original content that is of value to the world and not just adding more junk for the readers.
To give your novel a better chance of being successful, there has to be something appealing and different. Doling out a novel which is the likeness of myriads of other novels in the market is of no use. If your plot is not a new concept, then focus on other aspects of the plot, such as the characterization, language, etc., and make that aspect stand out.
The characters in your novel play very crucial roles. They are the outlets through which you need to express yourself. Carefully design each character, not making the protagonist (main hero) an ideal, too-good-to-believe person, nor making the antagonist (villain) too evil.
Do not get carried away because you have the power to frame their personalities, but characterize them in such a way that your readers will be able to relate to them. The success of the book depends upon the impact the characters have made on the minds of the readers.
The plot and the characters must be imbibed into each other like sponge and water. Neither loses their identity but they are still one, interlocked into one another. Don't hesitate to create support characters (of course don't create too many), for they help maintain the balance in the plot.
Different people have different approaches and begin writing in their own styles. You could either start off by writing down the main idea and then build the plot around it, or else you could start by listing the different characters and build your plot by using them as the foundation.
You could also begin by writing the end or the climax first, and then move backwards into the plot. Once you start writing, do not get worked up about grammar or sentence construction. Just continue writing. Do not write two pages and then sit to proofread them. There is ample amount of time to do all that later on.
For example, if you wish to change the profession, location, name of a particular character, then, whichever page you are working on, write in brackets that hereafter this fact will be so and so, and continue writing as if the fact has been changed in the novel. If you decide to change the fact again in the future then you wouldn't have to waste time.
Writing a novel is not a piece of cake. It requires diligence and commitment from your side. Have a regular writing pattern and set aside a fixed time to write. Choose a place where you can write comfortably without any interruptions. At times, you may experience a 'writer's block' during which you won't be able to write even a line.
What happens with most passionate writers is that they start off well with a passion for writing but land up with unfinished scripts because of the lack of discipline. Passion alone is not enough. You have to be ready to work very hard to accomplish your goal.
Consistent efforts if sown will result into success. One way to be consistent and finish your novel is to set a deadline and break this deadline into small achievable goals. One day at a time will help you. Make sure to write something everyday, even if it's only a paragraph.
Revisions and Feedback
The first draft is the raw material, therefore do not be disappointed or discouraged when you sit to revise it. The first draft will always look disorganized, confusing, and will contain a lot of errors. Do not worry. That's the way all first drafts are.
Once you are done with the revision, seek constructive feedback. Ask people whom you trust to review your work. Choose people who will not discourage you, but at the same time will honestly point out the flaws. Handle the feedback positively and use it to improve the quality of the novel.
You could also approach editors or agents for feedback. Just make sure to approach only those individuals you trust, or you would have your work published by someone else even before you knew it. Once you are done with all the revisions, don't forget to get your work published.