First Novel Advice From Elizabeth Day

Edita Kaye discusses some great tips from Elizabeth Day for writing your first novel.

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Writing a novel is the dream of nearly everyone who actually writes. Whether they write for fun or for a living, the challenge of creating a novel is often regarded as a peak accomplishment in this art form. Actually getting one published is another story. Many writers do not consider themselves as having ‘made it’ until they get a novel published.

Fortunately, this challenge is softened by the wisdom and advice of those who have already made a name for themselves. One of them is Elizabeth Day, who has first novel advice for those authors still aspiring to join the ranks of the published.

One thing she argues in favor of is leaning hard in the direction of vulnerability. Being open to potential failure and trial and error is the only way to silence your inner critic and get writing. Also, being vulnerable in your writing will fuel your pages with genuine experience and emotion. Readers will connect with that.

She always argues against plotting things out in too much detail. Sometimes, mapping out where the story is going can wind up feeling more like a spreadsheet with information in hundreds of cells. Turning that into a compelling narrative can be hard. Have a general idea of where everything is going, and maybe do a color chart showing where each character is in each chapter. Other than that, figure it out as you go along.

Nurture yourself when you’re not writing. Analysis and revision are necessary components of the process, but tearing up yourself inside can lead you to tear up your pages on the outside. Always practice self-care and self-acceptance. You’ll need self-acceptance when you do sit down to write. What you write will never be perfect, but you just need it to be good enough to keep moving.

Being at peace with yourself is how you create space to get to know your characters. You have to personify them as much as possible. Their values and decisions drive the best plots. When you write that way, readers have no choice but to accept their fates as if they could not have been any other way. That’s when you make fiction feel real because, in reality, most people’s lives are just the sum of the choices they’ve made.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Author Elizabeth Atkinson: “I want everyone who reads my books to believe that they are a valuable, interesting, unique individual”

    by Ben Ari
    Community//

    Jane Austen – An Artist.

    by Basia Skudrzyk
    Community//

    Gen LaGreca: “Don’t offer your unfinished material to group review”

    by Ben Ari
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.