This type of story usually has a single protagonist who has to save the world before the bad guys destroy everything. This fits with the expectations of readers who like supernatural thrillers. Another great example is the romance genre, where the readers are some of the most voracious and demanding in the publishing business. If you want to satisfy romance readers, then you need to deliver the HEA, the Happily Ever After, as well as obligatory scenes like the first kiss. As an example, consider The Hunger Games. The book opens in the ordinary world of Panem, where Katniss is hunting for food for her family in a district oppressed by a central government.
Then Prim is chosen for the Reaping, which is the Inciting Incident as Katniss has to make a choice that then propels her into the story. Act Two of the book is the preparation for the Games and the obstacles of the arena itself, where Katniss has to fight to survive. She faces death rather than leave Peta behind and in the Climax, defeats President Snow and wins the Games, returning to the real world of the district at the end, forever changed.
If you want readers to want to spend their precious time on your book, then you have to write a character that keeps them engaged. There are other people in the worlds of those books, but the main characters are the ones that we care about most and follow through the books and also why these became huge films as well as multi-million selling books.
Your character will also shape the Point of View you write from, and this is critical because every story is different from a different perspective. The bad guy never thinks they are the bad guy, after all. Go back to the books you love the most and you are likely to find that these are the core aspects of those stories. The Taj Mahal features in my novel, Destroyer of Worlds. You can also think about where this will happen, otherwise known as the setting. There needs to be action that takes place somewhere specific.
Game of Thrones is a great example of this. Take Jon Snow at the Wall in the North. The ice and snow bring a dark, cold tone to the experiences of the characters and makes life much harder than those who live in the golden city of Kings Landing in the sunnier south. The Hunger Games also uses setting to derive plot, with much of the first book taking place in the games arena where Katniss must survive the deadly traps set for the Tributes.
In Gone Girl , Nick must find his missing wife Amy, and figure out the psychological games she has been playing as he falls into the domestic traps she has set. Remember that plot and setting is experienced by the character and the closer you get to the emotions of the protagonist, the more your readers will resonate with the story. Because that is NOT what the author wrote the first time they put pen to paper. The reality is that everyone starts with a first draft, and most authors would never show that draft to anyone.
In my experience, the amazing ideas I have in my head turn out to be a mess on the page. Finding the right words is difficult. And how the hell did my character even get into this dilemma in the first place?! Do you schedule your gym classes? Your meetings at work? Your social life?
I use Google calendar and schedule my writing time in blocks. Now I tend to go to a cafe or a co-working space and pound away at the keyboard while plugged into Rain and Thunderstorms on my noise-cancelling headphones. Anything to quiet that critical voice! Once you are in your specific place at the specific scheduled time, then you need to focus.
No Facebook, no email, no social media, no texting. Set a timer and start small, since writing takes stamina and you have to build it up over time. Try ten minutes of typing and just write down what your character is doing in a particular place. Allow yourself to write a load of crap without censoring and I guarantee you that there will some something there worth saving!
Take a quick break and then do another ten minutes. Repeat this until you have your first draft. It really is that simple but not easy, and you get the bug, this will turn out to be immensely satisfying and addictive! Bonus tip: You can write by hand on paper, or use MS Word, but many writers now use Scrivener software which helps you organize and write your novel. I have personally found it life-changing! So said Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and many other incredible bestselling books.
This is particularly true when you first start writing fiction because there is a huge gap between the books that you love and the pitiful first draft you have created. I end up with pages of scribbled notes, arrows, lines and extra scenes, strike-through marks across whole pages, as well as grammar and typos fixes. Then I put all those changes back into my Scrivener document, remembering to back up my files along the way, of course! That first edit is usually my most significant one, and then I will print it out and go through it once more before working with a professional editor.
The best way to improve your writing is to work with an editor on your manuscript. If you want an agent, then improving your manuscript before submission is a good idea. Click here for my list of recommended professional editors. There are different types of edits.
A story edit, or content edit, is a great way to check whether your structure is working, whether your characters are engaging or whether your plot has massive holes. Too many writers think editing is about fixing typos, but that is the least important thing at this stage.
Readers will forgive terrible writing if your story is amazing. After all, 50 Shades of Grey sold million copies! Getting a story edit is often the best way to improve your work and well worth investing in.
Then you can do your rewrites based on the suggested changes. This article has been a whistle-stop tour through the process, but I want to reassure you again that it is possible. So I wish you all the best with your book. If you want to get started on your novel right now, and get into these topics in more detail, then check out my multimedia course: How to Write a Novel: From First Draft to Finished Manuscript.
If ever I'm struggling, I can go back to a real scene and recall what you said about it whether it be relating to setting, character, or whatever. And that puts me back on track.
You've always wanted to write a novel. But something's stopped you. Maybe you' ve tried before, only to get thirty pages in and lose steam because: Your story. Mar 25, Learn how to write a novel in just 15 steps. How to start writing your book, polishing your manuscript and turning out a story you're proud of.
Joanna's positive attitude and teaching style make learning how to write a novel enjoyable and feasible. Click here to sign up for my Author 2. If you have any questions, you can tweet me thecreativepenn or Contact me here. Start Here! From there, you can start polishing and perfecting your prose.
Your first draft is a draft that no one else will see but you. There has never been a perfect first draft in the history of written literature. Misspellings, missing facts, unnecessary characters, scenes leading nowhere— all of that belongs in the first draft. My point is that inspiration has already visited you. As I mentioned earlier, ideas are cheap. Some of the best stories are obscured by horrible writing, and some mediocre stories are saved by sharp, witty writing. You may be surprised to realize that some of your favorite novels have stunningly simple stories.
The mechanics and structure of the book. Grab five of your favorite novels, and answer the following questions:. Be prepared to rip that book apart with analytical eyes— and take notes. These notes will help you understand how to structure your own novel. I know this is a hotly debated topic with novelists. Should you outline or should you let the words flow? For a more detailed look and follow-up questions, definitely check out the entire supporting blog post on StoryFix here.
You need a hard deadline if you want to actually accomplish your goal of writing a novel in one year. Instead, use language like, I will write words every day or words every week. This gives you mini checkpoints that keep you from wandering too far from your goal.
Trumpet-blowing aside, the thing I am proudest of with these four novels? You learned to use a word-processor. What have you got to lose? The independence. What is happening? You simply want to get your ideas on the paper and out of your head. Create a benign environment for it.
Make it part of your daily routine to write. Penning it into your routine will make it much more likely for you to just do it. Also, consider taking the day book writing challenge. This challenge could not be simpler. Basically, you download the chart and start on day one. Image Courtesy of WordCounterOnline. Ever heard of NaNoWriMo? During NaNoWriMo, thousands of writers from around the world participate in writing a novel in 30 days.
I know that at first blush, it may seem like a crazy huge number: 50, words by the end of 30 days. Totally doable.