“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
—Sylvia Plath

7 Tools To Help You Write a Novel (+ a free ebook)

Do you want to write a novel?

Are you one of those people who has always dreamed of writing one, but don’t know where to start?

Or maybe you’ve started, but got lost somewhere in the middle?

If you said yes to any of those questions, you’re in luck. You’re in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Today we’re publishing a free ebook that will help you take the first step to becoming a writer and writing your novel.

Tools to Write a Novel

Whatever phase you’re at in your novel writing process, these seven tools will help you write—but more importantly, help you plan—your novel so that you can finally get to the end of that all-important first draft.

How to Write a Novel

About a year ago, I was exactly where you are right now. I had written a few short stories, but the very sight of that full-length book intimidated the hell out of me. Fast forward a year, and

I’ve not only written the first draft of the novel, but I’ve found an editor to help me make it a good novel.

It started with one of these tools, a tool that illuminated my world.

I want you to download the free guide on how to write a novel and get an in-depth look at all seven tools, plus three techniques you can apply to your novel to make progress today.

But in the meantime, here are three tools you might have heard about:

1. Writing Groups

Writing groups are indispensable for early-phase feedback when you’re writing a book. A good writing group will point out the plot holes you don’t see, and help you write a compelling opening that will hook your readers. Look on Meetup.com for a writing group in your area. I like the in-person experience, but if you can’t find one nearby, look for online writing workshops — there are a ton out there, and they’re waiting for you to find them.

2. Notebooks

Carry notebooks with you as often as you can, and write in them every day. I like the solid dependability of a large Moleskine Classic, but buy whatever kind of notebook pleases you the most. This is your happy place.

3. Grammar and Style Guides

Every writer needs a firm schooling in grammar do’s and don’ts.

English grammar can take a lifetime to master, which is why there are handy style guides you can keep around and reference while you’re doing your work.

I’ve written in detail about three essential style guides for writers. But for easy clicking, here they are again:

These guides, plus a dictionary and a thesaurus (I like dictionary.com), are a must have for every writer’s toolkit.

Get The Free Ebook: Seven Tools To Help You Write a Novel

There are four more tools (including the one that made me such a productive writer and helped me finish a novel in just a few months) available in the ebook. Click here to download it now!

PRACTICE

Get your notebook out and spend fifteen minutes free writing by hand. When your time is up type up your practice and share it with us in the comments section!

Then, go grab your copy of 7 Tools to Help You Write a Novel and take the next step toward writing your novel. You can get the eBook here.

Happy writing!

About Matt Herron

Matt Herron is the author of Scrivener Superpowers: How to Use Cutting-Edge Software to Energize Your Creative Writing Practice. He has a degree in English Literature, a dog named Elsa, and an adrenaline addiction sated by rock climbing and travel. The best way to get in touch with him is on Twitter @mgherron.

  • First Impressions

    They say first impressions are rarely altered. Within seven seconds we’ve already formed our assessment of each other.

    Happy/Depressed
    Pretty/Ugly

    I suppose the same assessment happens with writers. After a paragraph or two we’ve already carved our ideas about the author, their book, their writing style, and whether or not we like it.

    If the first page bores us, why flip to the next?

    But sometimes we’re wrong.

    Sometimes we realize that we can’t summarize someone’s entire existence in seven seconds. Sometimes we only recognize the power of words after we’ve gotten to know them better. Sometimes that person becomes our best friend. Sometimes that book changes our lives.

    Sometimes we judge too much.

    But sometimes when we look at people with love, when we look at books with love, we’re surprised at what we see in return.

    Love.

    • I’m saving this. I’m literally having this so I can come back from time to time and read this. <3

  • Natalie

    Hi guys, thank you for the post. Great info.
    For some reason
    I can’t download the Ebook. It shows error with the following message: Windows cannot complete the extraction. The destination file could not be created. Any ideas how to get through this?

    • Hey Natalie. The original download is a .zip file, so it needs to be extracted using an archiving utility like UnZip, so make sure you have something like that installed first. If you keep having trouble, email me and I’ll send you the ebook files myself!

      • Barak Obama

        Nothing new here, and the book is basically one huge advertisement for Scrivener.

  • Stacey

    Great post and excited to read the book. Unfortunately I’m having the same problems as Natalie and cannot get the downloaded files to open. I am trying to read it on my PC laptop.

    • Sorry you’re having trouble! The file is a .zip which needs to be unarchived, so make sure you have an archiving tool for Windows, like UnZip, installed. If you continue to have trouble, email myself or Joe and we can send you the extracted ebook file in .mobi, .epub, or .pdf!

      • Hey! I’m having problem Too! 🙁 can u send me one Plzz? I use iPad btw.

        • Find my email on my website and email me what version you want!

  • Adele Clee

    I totally agree with point 2, Matt.

    I spent a couple of years trying to avoid the same advice. I bought fancy notebooks with inspirational covers, but I was scared that my scruffy notes would make it look untidy. I can’t tell you how many great ideas were lost in the process. Then an idea came to me while I was cooking! I scrambled around looking for some paper and ended up writing in an old school book. It was in a pile for the recycling bin, so it didn’t matter if it was messy. It didn’t matter if I doodled next to my writing or ripped out half a page. I always use old books now. I think you have to find what works for you.

    I’m just in the process of editing a novel but am desperate to start the next. This exercise has given me an excuse to get the first few lines down and hey, I’m of the mind that a workable page is better than no page.

    She sat up in bed, her gaze flitting between the door and the armoire: a hulk of an object that skulked in the corner. She strained to listen, tried to ignore the thudding of her heart as it echoed in her ears. Then she heard the whispering again. It was not a soft sibilant sound but more sombre, like the low-pitched mumble of a mourning cry. The wind howled then, as though waiting for its place in the chorus, rattling the shutters in a
    bid to find a way in.

    ‘Go away,’ she cried. ‘Please let me sleep. Just for one night. Please let me sleep.’

    • Pretty interesting. <3 It's very suspenseful and has already dragged me in. And I noticed something. In the end the character is saying that she wants the "voice" to go away, and also this isn't the first time. If that is so, I think instead of straining to listen, she would be trying her best to ignore it. Right?

    • Adele Clee

      Thanks for your reply. Miss Linwood owns an Egyptian museum in 1820 (London) and lives alone on the top floor. She believes a curse has been placed upon one of the artefacts but the idea is so absurd that she is starting to doubt what she sees and hears. She listens because she wants confirmation that she isn’t going mad.
      I can’t start this novel yet as I am trying to remained focused on editing and will probably change the intro when I do.
      I appreciate your comments and your age doesn’t matter to me 🙂
      Re the gun shot – could he not hear a click, metal against metal, but before his mind could make sense of it he felt a searing pain. It would give the reader a clue as to what caused it.

  • Matt, I love the idea of a Writing Group, but I am a little “hesitant’ to approach these groups due to my age. I’m not sure how they would feel about being contacted by someone who is still underage.

    James closed his eyes as his body skidded across the pavement and right into a garbage can.
    “Shit,” He muttered as the contents of the can fell out mere inches from his face. He took a deep breath, ignoring the horrible stench from the mess near him. Another breath, in and out.
    Gotta stay alive, he reminded himself, trying ineffectively to get his body to move. He felt heavy and blood coursed through his body fast and hot. He was unable to move.
    Slow, and steady, he thought, trying again. Slow ans steady. Slow and-
    “Ah!” James gasped, his body convulsed as pain penetrated every part of his brain. And with a shudder, he released his last breath.

    (I want to add the sound of a gun shot before the “Ah!” but I think “Bang” would be too comical. Is there another way I can indicate that he has been shot but without actually saying he has been shot?)

    • Why don’t you try describing the sound and smell and feel of the gun shot from your main character’s POV? Would be better than “bang,” though I’ve used my fair share of onomatopoeia.

      As for not being able to find a writing group with people your age — every writing group I’ve been to has a wide variety of age groups. I’ve workshopped stories with people 3 times my own age. Also, have you looked in your area? Libraries, book stores, your school’s english department, a local college campus? Surely there’s one you can join. And honestly, if not, you can start one. Don’t forget there are a TON of online writing workshops out there with a forum/discussion group based approach. You don’t even have to leave the house for those ones 🙂

    • I’d definitely encourage you to join a writing group, and not let your age hold you back. I’m the youngest writer at my local writing group, but I enjoy being around older writers, and they enjoy having younger ones too. There’s really all ages. Give it a try sometime. 😉

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  • anon_coward

    nothing on google docs? you can write and edit on a computer, tablet or phone

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  • lilleyfern

    Hi Matt

    Thanks for this gift. I hope it will help me. I fit into the “people who has always dreamed of writing one, but don’t know where to start” category. I also freeze up when I think about sitting down to write. I’ll have ideas but then can’t seem to go anywhere with them.

    Well, here is my fifteen minute attempt.

    “Tom, don’t do that now. It is too hot today,” Sue said as Tom took the wood and the saw outside to start making the shelf that she had requested. A tremor of anxiety started in her body. “He is going into obsessive mode”, she thought. She hated when that happened. He wouldn’t listen to her when he was like that.

    “I didn’t say it had to be done today.”

    “I know”, he replied, “but I’m doing it now because I have the time.”

    “But it’s too hot for that kind of work.”

    “It’s fine. It won’t take me long.”

    Sue opened her mouth, then shut it again. She wanted to persuade him to do it another day, but it was too late. He wouldn’t stop the project now until it was either finished or broken.