Writing a novel? The best possible advice I can give is this: Clarity. It is the choice weapon to have at your side during the process of writing.
Before you start typing, sit down and try the following. The more effort you put into the steps below, the better results you'll get.
Who are you writing about? You may have a vague idea of a story in your head, so ask yourself, what kinds of characters would act it out? Or perhaps you have an idea of a good character in your head...who is he or she friends and enemies with? Create a biography of each person, the more detailed the better, which not only lists physical characteristics, but also personal history, relationships with the other characters, what their hopes and dreams and quirks and pet peeves and morals and religion... and so on.
Where are these people? Does it take place in the normal, real world? If so, where? Visit that place, if you can, as the level of details you can convey will place the reader firmly where you have been. If it is somewhere new, what does that place look like? Record the weather, landscape, architecture, history, technology level, economy, government, wars and military, other places nearby but not in your book... again, the more concrete the image is in your mind, the more the reader will travel to that place with you. You can easily swap step one with step two; they should form around the same time.
What happens? Now that you've got the players and the stage, the story should begin to arise by itself...here's a rundown of a method I discovered:
- Write down every event, big or small, on index cards.
- Spread all the cards out on the floor, so you can see all of them.
- Arrange the cards into an interesting story, one that hooks the reader in quickly, then holds them in suspense as you reveal more information, leading to the dramatic conclusion. You may find your original story idea is even more interesting with various elements switched around, and you can add new ones or take away others as you see fit.
When does it happen? Now that you know what happens to whom and where, you can figure out when. Are there large time-skips, or does everything happen at once? You can write on each index card exactly when and where that event takes place.
Begin! Now you can sit down and begin to write your novel, with the clearest possible picture of the people, the places, and the time. If you want, since your book is so well thought-out, you can skip ahead and write any part of the novel at any time, referring to your cards as both a reminder and as inspiration.