“Beware of advice—even this.”
1. Main plot
When writing you should have a clear and manageable idea or plot. Without getting stuck in a box, you should know what you want to write and where you want to go. The plot needs to be clear to you. It is also important to think of subplots and link to the main plot. It is okay to stray from the plotline when you start writing, but it is important to have a good idea of what you want to write before starting.
It is an good idea to figure out how you like to organize your writing. There’s no correct way to write a novel, but you need to know how you write best.
Some writers prefer to write a book from beginning to end. Other writers like to start with the ending. Some pick and choose, and just write whatever part they feel like writing.
What is important is that you organize it in a way that you can cope with. What I would advice is to have a list of events or scenes which you know your novel will need. That way you will be able to notice it if you drift too far off track, besides keeping a list will save you time later and help you battle writer’s block.
3. Limit research time.
Okay, I know that fiction is fiction, but sometimes it is comforting to know that you are being accurate. When I write I like to do the research immediately when a problem or question arises. In a sense this means I am always doing research, and I lose a lot of time doing it.
Time spent researching is time you could have spent writing. This is why I would advice everyone to separate their writing and research time. When I do research mid-writing I don’t get back to writing that day. If some questions arise, write them down in a separate document (or if you have scrivener write it in the research folder) and research it when you have done your writing for the day/week. Remember, if you find a good source, write it down, save it. It will come in handy when you start writing query/submission letters.
4. Expression, word choice and Point of View.
Language is clear, specific, accurate, and appropriate to the audience, purpose, and material. Every narrator you write will have different ways of expression and word choices. Many books feature multiple Points of View, and it is important to write in a way so your future reader can distinguish between narrators.
As an author your voice will always shine true, but after a while you should make word choices based on the character you are writing.
5. Grammar, spelling and formalities.
Everyone make mistakes when it comes to grammar and spelling. In your first draft it’s not too important. Leave the tweaking for the editing process. Write when you write, if you strive for perfection on your first go you might end up never finishing anything.