Friday, June 8, 2018

How To Write A Novel Readers Love - The Writing

Dear Novelist,

Congratulations! You now have everything you need to begin writing your story, starting with the opening sentence.

Unfortunately, I can’t really tell you how to write your story, other than to write your story. But I can leave you with a few tips and tricks to help you write a novel readers will love.

First, know which perspective, or point of view, you will write the story in. 

Will you write in first person, third person limited or third person omniscient?

If you write in first person, keep in mind that your protagonist will be telling the story, the whole story and nothing but the story. My novel, From Bad Girl To Worse, is written in first person. From the first word to the last, the reader follows, and even becomes part of the heroine, Sandra Porter. She is present and in the moment in every scene.

From this perspective, the reader can see inside Sandra’s head and read her thoughts. This is exactly what readers come to story for: To know what someone else is really thinking.

Second, break your chapters into beats. If you get confused as to how you will divide your manuscript into chapters, let your Blake Snyder beat sheet help you. Each beat that represents a major part of your novel can easily be turned into a chapter.

Sometimes, two beats can be in the same chapter. Or, one beat can span several chapters. But laying out your chapters using the story beats will give you an excellent start in mapping out the sequence and logical order of your chapters.

Third, when you begin writing, keep in mind that this is only your first draft.

You will make mistakes—a lot of them. This is your first novel after all. Some writers need to have up to six published novels under their belt before they really get into the groove of nailing down a solid first draft, one that doesn’t need much editing.

The critical thing to remember is that you can only get better at writing by writing. Don’t give up. When you finally finish your first draft, you'll be glad you stuck with it.

Fourth, make sure your written narrative reveals to the reader your protagonist’s thoughts and feelings.

What you want to accomplish when you tell your story is exposing your heroine’s inner thoughts and feelings. Instead of focusing solely on the surface things that happen, show your reader exactly what’s going on inside your protagonist. This is the main reason why they're even reading your novel in the first place. Why deny them the primal pleasure they seek?

If you focus only on the surface things in the novel, the only thing you will accomplish is writing three hundred pages worth of random events that happen without any true meaning. You'll have a bunch of things that happen, but don’t add up to anything worth caring about.

Your reader wants desperately to feel what it’s like to navigate the plot of your novel. The only way that’s possible is if you let your reader slip into the skin of your protagonist, and actually become her. Don’t hold back for the sake of tact and decorum. Expose every part of your heroine to the reader—especially her innermost secret thoughts.

Just make sure that the thoughts and feelings of your protagonist are story specific. In other words, reveal the inner struggle between your protagonist’s greatest goal and her longstanding misbelief.

Not to brag or anything (okay, I’m going to brag anyway), but my young adult novel From Bad Girl To Worse does a great job of revealing every one of my heroine, Sandra Porter’s thoughts. My editor said so. This is one big thing that led to the story’s success.

Finally, have fun!

Writing is supposed to be fun. So write with excitement. You'll get stuck on crafting your opening sentence. You'll get stuck on plot points that just don’t make sense. And when you show your story to the world, you'll get some negative feedback.

All of these things will happen—and more. You can count on it.

But don’t let that stop you from having a ton of fun while creating, drafting and finishing your story. You're doing something that many people will go to their graves wishing that they had done before leaving this mortal coil.

You’re writing a novel. That’s awesome. So have fun writing it.

In my next letter to you, we will tackle a challenging and exciting topic—self-editing the first draft of your manuscript.

Happy Creating,

L. R. Farren
Author of From Bad Girl To Worse 

P. S. – When you finish your first draft, try to put it away and not look at it for at least a week. This way, when you start to work on your second draft, you can look at your manuscript with a fresh set of eyes. 

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