Thursday, March 18, 2010

From the Editor's Desk - 7 Tips to Get Your Novel Started

So, you want to write a novel?
Can you see the story in your head but find it impossible to get it on paper?
Do you begin writing excitedly and then burnout almost immediately?

Maybe the following suggestions will help you:

1.Outline Outline Outline

Some people say they can just start writing and it all flows smoothly and evenly to become the perfect piece. If you can write your novel this way, great! You can probably stop reading this article now. And, we may have a contract for you!
The rest of the world needs to put their ideas into some kind of outline. It shouldn't include every detail, just the framework. You will add and modify as you go along.

2. Point-of-View

Decide what point of view you are going to use in a scene and stick with it. Please, don't jump back and forth, it's too confusing to your reader. Use the "omniscient" viewpoint sparingly and have a limited number of POV characters. Never tell the POV of an insignificant character.

3. Dialogue

Read the conversations aloud. Better yet, have someone else read them aloud for you. Now ask yourself: Does it sound natural? Do the conversations flow? Do people really talk like that?

4. Dramatic Concept

Imagine you are writing the blurb for your novel. Can you sum it all up in just a few sentences? If not, you need a stronger dramatic concept.

5. Tension & Escalation

A good story needs conflict but it is equally as important that your conflict escalate. It should gradually build up to a critical level.

6. Show me, don't tell me

If a character is angry, don't just tell me she is mad. Put her in a situation that will make her mad and SHOW ME how she reacts.

7. It's all about the presentation!

This is actually the most important. No matter how great your spell check or grammar check program is, or how many times you proofread your manuscript yourself, you will likely miss some spelling, grammatical, punctuation mistakes.
Once you've written, and re-written your novel, and have polished your story like a jewel, you should have someone like a professional editor proofread your work. If you don't know an editor personally, you can hire someone. It is well worth the price. Nothing will get your manuscript tossed into the round file faster than a lot of errors.

Now, good luck and start writing!
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