by C. Patrick Schulze
Listen to a PODCAST of this article.
Welcome back. It’s nice to have you visit again. In today’s post, I’ll piggyback off of yesterday’s Ten Tips on How to Write a Novel with ten more all-purpose tips. Hope you find something here you can use.
Here are the first Ten Tips on How to Write a Novel.
Let’s pick up with number 11.
Keep your attitudes in check. This relates to the classic issues of “show vs. tell.” If you tell your reader the forest is ominous, that’s your opinion. What if your reader finds your ominous is his exhilarating? Your goal is to allow them to make up their own mind by offering them setting rather than sets. If you must offer an opinionated word or two, it works better if you use them within your dialogue.
12. Readers enjoy a good riddle, so give it to them. If you can work in a bit of mystery into your story, all the better.
13. Watch your speech tags. Most recommend you shy away from the classic error of substituting actions for the word, “said.” If you must use a word other than “said,” it’s best to use them in a preceding or following sentence. Here’s an example:
Jane sighed and responded, “If I must.”
It should read,
“Jane sighed when she responded. “If I must.”
14. Effect never comes before cause. When writing sentences, your best option is to place your active noun first, follow this with the action that occurs and then the effect of the action. Your victim doesn’t die before the murderer fires the gun and people recommend your sentence structure should mimic this concept.
15. Write with specificity. Now there’s a good word. By this I mean to get away from all the weak words we all use. Generally, Most often, these words end in “ly.” However, you might also find those pesky three-word phrases that need paring. You know what I mean, all those, “long, hot nights” or the “hard, packed ground” entries.
16. Write with conciseness. Rather, write with simple words and not with words like “conciseness.” Also, search out and eliminate phrases that can be replaced by single words. An example is, “due to the fact” might become “because.”
17. The pace of your novel is important. Imagine a car chase at three miles per hour. Sort of loses something, doesn’t it? Short choppy sentences speed up your writing, while long sentences slow it down. The same holds true for paragraphs and even chapters.
18. Suspense is super. Imagine your hero rushes in to diffuse the bomb. He grits he teeth as he glances at the timer. It says he’s got forty-seven days. Puff. There goes your suspense. Ticking clocks, proverbial or otherwise, help to build suspense.
19. The primary tools you have available to build characters are details, mannerisms and dialogue.
20. Good scenes need good structure. Chapters fill in well when they have three scenes, all of which should move your story toward its conclusion. Each scene requires conflict and an outcome of that conflict. Scenes also either resolve conflict or advance it.
Now, which of these ideas would you like fleshed out?
Are these suggestions everything you need to craft a well-writing novel? Nope. But they’re good start. Best of luck.
As always, you know I wish for you only best-sellers.
C. Patrick Schulze
Author of the emerging novel, “Born to be Brothers”