The most essential thing for a person who has just started writing their first novel is a desire to complete it.
I’ve known a number of people who tell me they are writing their first novel and want it published. The response they get is, “Come back to me once you’ve finished writing it and I’ll let you know what the next steps are.” Then I kindly give them my card and turn to the person looking to buy a book at the show we are attending. Why? For every 500 people saying they are writing their first book, only 1 will actually finish it.
If you are writing your first novel, make sure you finish it. The time you talk to industry professionals about the next steps the more apt you are to not complete the work. Most people see how much is involved and say, “I’m not doing that much work!” In fact, when they speak to authors who are successful the first thing they usually say is, “But I’m different, and so is my work.” To be honest, if you finish the novel you are different, so until then, please just buy a book.
Now, let’s go on the premise you will finish writing the whole novel. The first thing I’m going to tell you, as a writing coach, don’t edit anything until after you have finished writing the whole novel! Don’t go back and change punctuation, correct grammar, or even fix spelling. It is called the 1st draft for a reason. This is your raw idea going down on paper. You are essentially pouring heart and soul onto the pages in order to get the book written. Just do that, and once you have finished worry about spelling, grammar, content, flow, and all the other stuff rewriting will bring. Remember, it starts with an idea and that idea must be on paper first.
Once your first draft is completed, then start asking, “What next?” I’m sure there are a million people who will tell you what to do, and they start by saying, “My services cost…” Do yourself a favour and ask me what needs to be done, but only after you’ve finished that all important first draft.