When you first sit down to write your book it can be daunting. Suddenly, you have this huge 50,000 - 100,000 word novel that you have to write - all by yourself - sitting in front of you on a blank page.
It's truly scary - sitting there, starting at a blank page or the blink blink blinking of the cursor on Microsoft word on the screen in front of you. It's then that you realise, "I'm going to have to create an entire story AND write an entire novel," and you probably freak out and pick up your phone to scroll through Instagram instead. I'll be the first to admit, I've done that. I also had to get past that if I wanted to finally get a start on this book.
Now, I'll be honest... It'll probably be a while before you actually start writing your book. First, you'll want to break it down into smaller, easily digestible segments. What I mean when I say this is break your story and what you have to do into smaller pieces - i.e. your story outline, character outlines, chapter outlines, and finally, your actual chapters.
Before you start writing your story, you must first have a story idea. Start there. Write it down, think about how you want it to sound - to feel - to the readers and to yourself. Then do your research. Make sure that there are not factual, geographical mistakes or mistakes of any kind! Once you have your story idea and your research done, begin on your story outline; what's going to happen in the story; how do these events unfold and in what order? It's just a way of understanding where you want your story to go. Don't worry about length. There isn't a specific wordcount that your story outline should be. It can be short, or it can be detailed. It's your preference.
After your story outline, you'll want to get to know your characters and how they act, think, feel etc. Again, these can be short or they can be detailed. Personally, everything that I outline is detailed, but that's just who I am. I like getting to know my characters and my story inside and out, but I still leave some room for development. Only outline your main characters - starting with your protagonist. It'll take too much time if you outline every single character - especially ones who only appear for a page or two in your novel.
At this point you're probably just itching to start writing. I can already hear the writers asking, "But Lauren, when can I actually write my book?!" I know how you feel. I'm the same myself. The only thing I've actually written is the first chapter of my book so far, and even then it's a simple first draft to give me an idea of how I'm going to start my novel.
The final thing that is a must do before you begin writing is write those chapter outlines! They can be long, short, bullet-pointed, paragraphed - any way you want. BUT they have to be done! If you want your story to read well and actually make sense, an outline is a must. It helps you keep to the story's plot and ensures that you don't stray from the main point and themes of your novel. Of course, you can edit the outlines as you go along. That's no problem at all. Just make sure to have them so that you can write the story to the best of your ability!