Are you a writer? Do you dream of writing a novel? Then, this article is for you. These are easy steps to writing a novel that I hope you find useful:

1) Purpose: A wise person once said, 'when the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable.' Ask yourself, 'why do I want to write a novel?' Is it to make money? Is it to derive the pure bliss of knowing that your work is being read somewhere? Whatever your purpose is, be clear about it. Understand what you're writing and why.
2)Protagonist: Use one main character. A compelling and authentic protagonist that'll be at the center of the action. Make your protagonist believable and likeable to your readers. Let her have flaws in order to be realistic. She must be someone worth caring about so that your readers can feel empathetic towards her. Let her also have the element of surprise. If your character doesn't excite you, be rest assured that she'll be boring to your readers as well. Give her a compelling problem. Something that's going to challenge her and drive her into seeking solutions to her problems. What does your protagonist stand to lose or gain? What does your protagonist care about and why? What stops her and how does she overcome the challenges along the way? You have to make it clear if you want your readers to care about her.
3)Setting: Be as specific as possible. Paint a specific picture of the setting. Every novel has its own setting and structure. Where does the story happen and why does it happen there? Don't leave out the details in your setting. Use the setting to bring conflict to your plot. Write something that keeps them engaged so that they're desperate to flip the pages to find out what happens next in the character's world. Write a character that people want to spend time with. How are they changed as a result of the journey? What happens, why and where?
4)Plot: Make the plot captivating. Employ a unique and fascinating writing style. Don't lose your creativity. Ensure that each chapter is loaded with a piece of action that'll keep your readers stirred and interested, wanting more. Every novel should have a conflict, not necessarily on the first page. So, bring in twists and turns till it culminates in an ultimate climax at the end of the novel.
5)Point of view: Your character will shape the point of view you write from. Who is telling the story? Do you have a first person narrator, a third person narrator or an omniscient narrator?
6)Make it believable: Consider your readers. They have a mind of their own and can't be fooled. Don't use larger than life scenarios too often that'll leave loopholes in your story. Write stories that your readers can relate with even if it's fiction.
7)Write a story you'll want to read: Consider what you love about your favorite books as a reader. Think about the books you love and get lost in while reading. Remember how much you loved the novel that you didn't want to put it down;  remember how it kept you awake in the middle of the night. Now, replicate that feeling for your readers in your book. Also, if you love thrillers, write a thriller. If you love romance, write about romance etc.
8)Stay Inspired: Where do you get your story ideas from? What interests you? Stay curious. Ask questions. Travel. Engage in interesting activities and conversations. This instinctively helps you to find ideas. When you do, write them down because ideas are fleeting in nature. You could lose them if you only commit them to memory. So, write them down as soon as they come. Let them guide your writing.
9) Deadline: Set a realistic deadline for each chapter and for the completion of the entire novel e.g 30pages a day.
10)Appreciate your first draft: Remember, while writing the first draft, don't be too hard on yourself. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to make your first draft perfect. You likely won't get it done perfectly at first attempt. Don't give up. Keep writing. Let go of any sense of judgment. It might be a mess now, but it'll be a message later. You'll revise and rewrite it later.
11)You can write in bits: Everything doesn't have to flow at once in the early stages of writing your novel. Write down each scene as they come to mind, even if they're not orderly. You can link them together later. When you're done with your story, revise and edit it. Ask a trusted friend to read it and give you feedback. Start by editing it yourself, then use professional editors later. Publish it. Pay attention to reviews and feedback. Write another novel. Keep writing. Best-selling authors are not born, they are made.
12)Schedule a writing time: Early morning or late at night. Or whatever time suits you best.
So, there they are guys. 12 tips on how to write a novel. I hope you found them useful. You can drop questions and contributions in the comment section below. Don't forget to visit our website at www.mixsie.com to download and listen to FUN African books.

References: Joanna Penn, Michelle Richmond and Chuck Sambuchino