So, as the title suggests, your first novel.
Firstly, and I say this from experience, if you're a short story writer (a bit like myself) then you'll think: How hard can it be? I mean, I write everyday, it's just a longer short.
*Enter big crashing failure sound*
Oh no, my friend. Oh no.
So starting again from the beginning.
To plan, or not to plan: that is the question.
You see, the short is easy. I get an idea in my head, think it's good, and write it down. 1K to, say 14K. Okay, that's fine. That's how I roll. For the Novella, I plan a bit. Get a sort of sticky, oozy idea of how the story's going to go, but be sure of the beginning, the end, and something about the journey between them.
But then there's the novel. Hm. Experience has dictated to me that the novel is not something that you want to rush at with no ideas about. I had one of those sticky, oozy ideas when I started. Uh-huh. No way. Big mistake. The crash happened just over a third of the way through.
Crap. Where do I go with this character? Who did what what? Crap, trawl back over thousands of words finding the make of the car. An idea does not the novel make.
Here's my hints:
Write your character traits before you start. Get an idea of what they're actually like.
Know the beginning, middle and end. Especially the journey in the middle. Don't leave it to chance. It won't pay off.
Write it down. Really. In Excel, or Word, or in Photo shop. I don't care which, but don't think it's fine, you'll remember it. You won't.
So once you've got the plan, then what?
'Til next time.