Tag Archives: writing a novel

5 Requirements of All Genre Novels

A few threads tie all types of novels together. Consider the following important aspects of every genre novel.

  1. Plot Resolution—every genre puts forth a plot that requires resolution; the ending is not left for a reader to wonder about—the conflicts and dilemmas of the story are always solved. The mystery is solved, the romance is happily resolved, the suspense protagonist always escapes, etc.
  1. Likable Protagonist—the genre novel always revolves around a likable character, one that can be admired even as a flawed human being. Perhaps some of their flaws add to their admirability. For example, the recurring detective, Harry Bosch, in Michael Connelly’s novels is stubborn and determined. But its part of what makes him a good detective. Flaws also make the character more relatable to readers. Still, the main character will have more admirable qualities like integrity, courage, intelligence, compassion, etc.
  1. Justice—in a genre’s final analysis, there is typically some element of justice. Good triumphs over evil, the underdog wins, wrongdoers are stopped, caught or killed. There is some achievement, accomplishment or triumph.
  1. Emotional Impact—every genre carries an emotional impact. If not, why would anyone read it? The novel must pack some sort of emotional stirring that is consistent within its genre. Consider the following:
    • a romance novel will evoke feelings of desire
    • a horror novel will evoke fear
    • a mystery novel will evoke curiosity
    • a suspense novel will evoke the thrill of the chase

When a reader selects a book to read in their favorite genre, this emotional impact is something they count on.

  1. Entertainment—a genre novel should be fun and entertaining within its type. Entertaining means that the reader can’t put the book down, they are stimulated and provoked into turning pages. The reader picks up the novel with the expectation that it will provide an entertaining story, perhaps even help them escape to other places, people, and lives for a bit. Make it happen!

 

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends on Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+! I appreciate it.  And, as always, I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what you are working on and how these articles have impacted your writing.

How to Get a Book Published – 10 Aspects of an Author’s Journey

The Author’s Reality

pexels-photo-267350.jpegAre you an aspiring writer wondering about how to become an author? Are you wondering how to get a book published? If so, you’ve come to the right place. This is a website for writers of all types, particularly those aspiring to be published authors. I’ve covered 16 elements of writing a novel, as well as provide you with information on submitting your work to editors and literary agents. That said, let’s look at what it takes to become an author.

I’m always astounded at the number of people in the world that want to learn how to be an author. The numbers are truly staggering if we go by what we find on the social media sites: the number of aspiring writers on Linkedin, the number of people on Twitter peddling their books – both self-published and traditionally published (i.e., through a major publishing house).

Additionally, doesn’t everyone know Continue reading How to Get a Book Published – 10 Aspects of an Author’s Journey

How to Format a Book Manuscript for Submission to Editors

pexels-photo-447189.jpegIf you’re planning to submit your novel to a literary agent or an editor at a publishing house, it should be in as meticulous a condition as you would strive to be in if you were going to a job interview; and this means knowing how to format a book into a proper manuscript. Various guidelines exist on how to format a book manuscript, but those identified here are generally accepted requirements; they indicate what a literary agent or editor expects from you if they ask to see your novel.

And, if an agency or publishing house has requested to see your manuscript, you don’t want to screw up the opportunity by sending them a misformatted or an unformatted document. I think it’s better to learn how to format a book manuscript properly.

For a visual of how a manuscript will look after following these generally accepted guidelines, please click here to reference A Formatted Book Manuscript Sample.

How to Format a Book Manuscript – Creating the Page Format

A manuscript’s unique layout serves two important purposes:

  1. It allows extra space for writing comments on the margins by a reviewer
  2. It allows for an easy-to-read presentation of the novel.

To accomplish this, start by going Continue reading How to Format a Book Manuscript for Submission to Editors

Simplify Novel Revision with These Best in Practice Methods

pencil-education-pencil-sharpener-art-159731.jpegRevision is a key process of novel writing, but to the detriment of many an aspiring author, it is often overlooked and/or misunderstood. Having knocked off that first draft of a novel – the one you’ve already spent hours, months, sometimes even years writing – you might think that the really hard work is done. But it is not done. In many ways, it’s just beginning. The reason we have a manuscript “first draft” is that there are subsequent drafts.

For some, the second draft means running a final spell check, cleaning up punctuation, and they may go as far as removing some of their overzealous adverbs and adjectives. They then declare their work a finished novel.

But not so fast. There is much more to novel revision than spelling and grammar. Much more. Revising a manuscript is a big job, one that an author cannot afford to skip.

Objectivity – the Key to Novel Revision

The new writer tends to be overly attached to their writing and is reluctant to remove any part of it. This is the first thing a novelist must overcome. Novel revision calls for objectivity – it’s not an easy thing. Sometimes we think we’ve written the perfect snappy line of dialogue, the most beautiful scene, and there’s no way you want to edit it out of your novel.

Advice: don’t be too much in love with your own writing. If something isn’t working to either move the story or reveal more about your characters – get rid of it. You don’t have to press the delete button, forever banishing your beloved words Continue reading Simplify Novel Revision with These Best in Practice Methods

3 Phases of Writing a Novel – Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

Every novel has 3 phases: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Phases of MoonWhen rushing through the first draft of writing a novel, a writer often thinks only about getting the story down in black and white. They don’t worry about the words they use, the punctuation required, whether the characters are being true to their primary traits, or any of the other elements of writing that they’ll eventually attend to before the novel is finished.

By the end of the first draft, a writer knows what the story is about, who the lead character is, what conflict the lead must resolve and how they will resolve it. It is the time for the writer to revisit the story, performing revisions that will create a readable, “unputdownable”, story.

Part of this revision includes reviewing the different phases of a story – the beginning, middle, and end; phases that ensure the writer fulfills the implicit promises made to readers.

Writing a Novel that Fulfills Its Promises to the Reader

When I begin a novel, one of the first things that I do is jot down in a few sentences what I believe the novel is about. I also write a few sentences about what I believe will happen in the beginning, middle and end of the story.

Jotting down these notes helps me immensely in knowing where I’m headed in writing a novel. While these notes are closely related to who my lead characters are, what problem they have to solve, what conflicts they might be up against that keep them from solving the problem, and then eventually solving it, their importance goes much further than that. I also need to take into consideration how each phase of writing a novel affects the reader.

Every novel makes two promises two readers:

  1. an Emotional Promise, and
  2. an Intellectual Promise.

The Emotional Promise goes something like this: “Read this and you will be entertained, thrilled, scared, titillated, saddened, or uplifted, but most of all absorbed.”

There are 3 versions of the Intellectual Promise. They are, Continue reading 3 Phases of Writing a Novel – Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

How to Write Dialogue that Speaks Volumes

pexels-photo-688662.jpegKnowing how to write dialogue in a novel is right up there, on the same level of importance, as the knowing how to write the scenes that contain the dialogue. There are two things a novelist needs to know about dialogue. The dialogue in any novel must always perform the following huge functions:

  1. Dialogue must characterize and individualize the speaker
  1. Dialogue must give the plot, the story forward momentum.

You may recognize these function as being the same things said of writing scenes. It’s true, in this way, scenes and dialogue are united in purpose, go hand in hand, and all that.

Learning how to write dialogue that shines involves some work, but if you can learn to write a compelling scene, you can also learn how to write dialogue that speaks volumes. To get started, let’s look at Continue reading How to Write Dialogue that Speaks Volumes

Writing a Novel – 7 Tips on How to Create Character Emotion

man-person-people-emotions.jpgHow do we breathe authentic, effective emotions into characters when writing a novel?

The emotions of characters inform every aspect of a novel. Emotion is what pulls readers in and keeps them hanging on every word of every page. The best fiction writers take readers on an emotional journey, one with emotionally complex characters that readers will be thinking about long after they’ve finished reading the book. Because of this, novel writing is only for those who are willing to work hard enough to create complex characters that believably portray complex emotions.

Writing a Novel with Authentic Emotion

A typical writer understands feelings – we’ve all had our share of grief, happiness, anxieties, fear, exhilaration, depression, love, hate, and so on. Much good comes from writing a novel when we take the feelings and experiences we’ve had and use them to understand and portray our characters emotions. Using our experiences allows us to write with authenticity.

For example, in my novel, Peripheral View, my lead character (Pearl) suffers from epilepsy and her fear of having a seizure in public led her to have, first anticipatory anxiety, and eventually full-blown panic attacks. I wrote a scene that showed her reacting to the attack by trying to claw her way out of a bus.

A reviewer of the novel happened to be someone who had epilepsy. She asked if I suffered from it too. After I told her that I didn’t have epilepsy, her next comments both amazed and pleased me. She said that Continue reading Writing a Novel – 7 Tips on How to Create Character Emotion