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

3 Steps to Writing a Novel with Unforgettable Characters

pexels-photo-816229Character development is one of the first essential steps of writing a novel and it involves creating the people who will carry out your story. There will most likely be a variety of characters needed for your story, but none as important as your lead character – your protagonist. A well-developed protagonist has much to do with the success of writing a novel.

The protagonist should be someone that your readers feel is a “real person” that they come to love (or at least like a whole lot), can relate to in many ways and will care about and think about long after they’ve turned the final page on your novel.

How to Create “Real People” for Your Novel

When writing a novel, there are many ways to go about creating characters and much has been written about it in “how to write a novel books”, sometimes in great detail. There are as many ideas about what makes a good character as there are apples on a tree. The traits of a lead character may change somewhat by the type of novel, or genre, you’re writing and by what your protagonist needs to accomplish in the novel’s plot. Still, there are a few personality traits that every lead character must possess, no matter what kind of novel you’re writing.

Writing a Novel – The Lead Character is:

  1. admirable – has integrity, courage, beauty, kindness, strength, etc. – leave the rotten personalities and hang-ups for the antagonist,
  1. relatable – create scenes that allow your character to evoke an emotional response from readers,
  1. realistic – portrays emotions consistent with their personality traits,
  1. a problem solver – someone with an over the top problem, whom readers believe is capable of solving.

Writing a Novel – Three Attributes of Every Character

I have found that the best way to begin the process of character development is by using a “top-down” method.  It is composed of three elements:

  1. Primary Traits
  1. Traits that add “Complexity”, and
  1. Traits that Contrast Predominant Traits.

Let’s look at how Continue reading 3 Steps to Writing a Novel with Unforgettable Characters

How to Start Writing a Novel from Rough Draft to Smooth Finish

pexels-photo-273222I thought I knew how to start writing a novel. I have written several novels, started and didn’t finish even more. What I didn’t know is that I was knocking myself out with what I thought was good “pre-writing” stuff. It was all important material: character development, plot outlines, subplots, character interaction worksheets, action/response worksheets, timelines, who was doing what when (seriously), anything that you could write down or chart out about the novel, I did it before actually writing a word of the story.

How to Start Writing a Novel – Gaining a New Perspective

However, the pre-work didn’t provide the same satisfaction I get from the actual writing of a story, and I was always antsy to get started on it. So I decided to try a different approach: I would chart and plot a little and write a little, chart and plot a little and write a little more. This worked somewhat better for me, but then I found that with the creative juices flowing also came more notes and comments (I use the “comment” feature in word quite a bit when writing), and questions arose like, “Does this scene reflect my lead character’s traits?” Or worse, “What the heck are my lead character’s traits?”, which sent me back to my worksheets.

This method did get the job done eventually, but I began to realize that writing a novel was taking me longer than I thought it needed to. So, I went back to the drawing board to relearn how to start writing a novel, and I’m glad I did.

How to Start Writing a Novel with Unadulterated Abandon

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenges new and experienced writers from around the world to sharpen their pencils (or keyboards) to write a 50,000-word story during the month of November. The 30 days of November. By the nature of the challenge that means Continue reading How to Start Writing a Novel from Rough Draft to Smooth Finish

Your Novel Writing Roadmap Found Here – 16 Elements of Story

Are you dreaming of novel writing? Many writers long to write a novel, perhaps having it at the back of their mind as they go through life earning their living with that safe job. They’ve put their dream on hold, telling themselves that they are trading in their real ambitions for security.

If you are one of these people, I want to encourage you to take that dream off the shelf, dust it off and put it into an action plan. Hang onto that secure job, we all need to earn a living, but don’t save pursuing your dream for some future time.

Why “Now” is a Good time to Write a Novel

Why not write that novel now, in your spare time. I know, I know, you are now asking, “What spare time?” But for many, the truth is that they have some spare time to do something that they enjoy and they use the old, “I don’t have time for this or that” for one reason: fear. For a writer, fear of failing is often spurred on by the feeling that they don’t know the first thing about getting words on paper.

Exercise Your Creativity

By putting your writing dreams and talents in motion (as with pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard), you are already strong and brave and are quite possibly beginning a process that will reward you for the mere pleasure of having painted pictures with words, if not a completed novel. This is not failing. This is bringing your creativity to life.

Write for the pleasure of writing. Don’t think about whether or not you will be published –and hopefully, your completed novel will be published – write to bring the dream of novel writing to life and for that reason only.

Roadmap Provided

Many writers want to see a roadmap of sorts, something they can rely on to get them started writing with some hope of Continue reading Your Novel Writing Roadmap Found Here – 16 Elements of Story