A large number of people who first learn I am writing a novel say that they could never do that. That it is too complicated or something to that effect.
They are partly right, very few people, if anyone can just start writing one day and have a masterpiece on the first go. The trick is to break it down far enough that each part of the task is doable.
Most people never see anything but the final product, they don’t see the first several drafts or the outline.
To give you some idea what I mean, and to understand what I say when I say that everyone could write a novel I will explain how I got where I am now (working on third draft and expecting to be done with the book by the end of the year).
The very first thing I did was to make sure I had something that was unique enough to be worth peoples time. While a 100% unique work of art is not possible, a work of art that has no uniqueness is not worth the paper it is printed on. This could be as simple as putting two elements together that do not normally go together or it could be built around one good idea that has not be used before.
This something unique should work as your hook, something to tell people about why they should read your book.
Once I had the handful of ideas that would form the core of my book I made some setting details. Because this is a science fiction I had to consider what basic advances were made, and what kinds of changes that would mean. For example they have nearly unlimited power, that changes a lot of other things. How they travel to other stars also changes things. Same with medical advances.
I am not going to lie, this took a while, but it was needed because stories don’t happen in vacuums.
Once that was done I could start piloting out my plot and main characters. I wrote rough notes on my main characters, not too much just enough to get a good mental picture of who they were.
My plot I had to do in stages, like a lot of complicated things it was best done in several iterations with each being longer and more complicated then the last.
The first was just a vague brainstorming list about what I wanted to happen.
For the second one I taped three pieces of printer paper together and wrote one main character’s actions on one side, the other main characters actions on the other and general plot stuff in the middle. This gave me a sense of timing and thinking about who was where when.
The third was a basically typing that on my computer, and thinking it out more, making sure it was structured at least close to correctly.
After this I wrote out the characters in more detail, not as much as I would like but I wanted to find them, rather then feel restricted by a super detailed backstory and personality I wrote before the first draft.
The fourth was a real scene list, each scene in the book had the POV character, three sentience summary (beginning, middle, end of each scene), the day the scene took place as well as notes.
The scene list underwent several changes, three times I ended up rewriting it, but it was nonetheless important. I don’t know how to write a novel but I can write a scene and with a scene list that is all I need to know how to do. You just go down the list and write one scene after another until your done with the first draft.