February 24, 2015

3 Tips To Help You Write Your Novel

*The following is a sponsored guest post.

Everyone has a story inside of them, but a lot of things hold us back telling those stories to the world. Feelings of inadequacy, lack of patience, and the fear that all the sweat and grit you put into it might not get you anywhere financially. (At least, that’s what often holds me back.)

But sometimes you have to set these feelings aside and just go for it. Create for the trashcan, as Erik Wahl would say. What do you have to lose, and what’s the worst that could happen? I think you’ll find that a lot of the things holding you back are things you might not feel you’re talented enough to do, or things that you don’t feel competent enough to do.

Word of advice? Do it anyway. The voice that’s telling you your incompetent isn’t really you anyway (but that’s a spiritual conversation).

Below are three things to keep in mind whether you’re just starting to write your novel, or are happily halfway through.

1. Get your readers to care

If you look at all the books written by Daniel Handler and other great authors, you’ll see one thing in common. They all contain characters that people care about. If Charles Dickens didn’t get us to care about Bob Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge, he wouldn’t have much of a story to tell.

The key to getting people to care about your characters is to make your readers relate to them. Develop them in such a way that it feels like your characters are people your readers know (or even ones that you know, which can be helpful description-wise). Even if a character is fantastical, keep them grounded in reality just enough to avoid your readers being unable to relate.

2. Less is more

When people start writing their first novel, they tend to overdo it in terms of explanation. The need to detail everything can absolutely stunt progress. It helps to sometimes assume your readers are intelligent and don’t need every aspect of a scene or story explained to them. Most of the time, it’s more fun for the reader to put the pieces together themselves, rather than have it all spelled out.

Where possible, try instead to summarize various areas in the book. Authors like Handler only take time explaining things that are absolutely essential to the plot, like details that readers couldn’t possibly figure out on their own.

3. Plan in advance

Usually I’m not one to plan things out, but having some sort of plan in place when writing a novel is important. Typing your novel off the top of your head can lead to more roadblocks than you think. Spend some time thinking of the overall plot, the setting, the various characters and their motivations. Having all of these details settled before typing your first word will keep the momentum going, and prevent you from feeling like you’re stuck trying to figuring out where the story should go.

Are you working on a novel? Do you have any helpful tips to share?

Monique Muro

Monique is an exceedingly happy human from LA. She runs the blog A Novel Quest, and writes. A lot.

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