Starting a novel can seem overwhelming, especially since there are so many how-to guides and unlimited advice books. Everyone has something that works for them so you hear things about writing every day, plotting tips, structure requirements, genre rules, breaking rules, etc. where it starts to feel like there are an impossible number of different rules that one should be following.
Everyone seems to have a recipe for how to write a novel and all one seemingly needs to do is to follow that path. Of course, the illusion is that there is a clearly marked path in the first place!
W. Somerset Maugham is known to have said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
From my view, that’s probably the most honest bit of advice out there. 🙂 Writing is a creative process and writing a ~250-page story that creates another world is no small feat. At least today we have word processing systems that make life so much easier (regardless of how many authors complain about auto-correct), early authors like Jane Austen wrote everything out by hand with a quill pen.
Over hundreds of years of novels, what we can generally surmise is that there are no steadfast singe group of rules for writing a novel. Rules are created and then broken by a pioneering author. There is no single path with clearly marked borders for you to follow. Even grammar changes over time and sometimes rules are optional (Oxford comma), depending on the writer’s preference.
Novels are creative – so don’t let yourself be limited. Create new worlds. Venture off the beaten path and try something new. Whatever you do, I hope that you keep writing and don’t let yourself get discouraged. And don’t forget – no one really knows what the rules are, so figure out what works for you!