Writing a novel is different from any other kind of literary works you might have done so far. The length, prose style, and fictional/semi-fictional subject matter are the most defining characteristics of novels.
Unlike a short story, you would be telling a lengthy chronicle rather than a brief tale. Unlike epic poetry, you would be using prose to tell your narrative rather than verse. You would be narrating the individual experiences of your characters while painting an intricate portrait of the world they live in. You would have to explore your inner thoughts, feelings, and even conflicting values, more so than in any other kind of literature you’ve worked on in the past.
It’s not just the story itself that is personal, but the reader’s experience as well. The hardest part of the process isn’t just knowing how or where to begin. It’s figuring out how to keep moving forward until your novel gets published. In this article, we explore five things you need to know to keep you on the right path.
1. Writing a Novel 101: Use All the Tools at Your Disposal
How are you writing your novel? Are you doing it on Word? Are you putting pen to paper? Are you using a typewriter? Hey, whatever floats your boat, right?
One of the many perks of the technological era we live in is the sheer volume of tools available to make life easier. Novel-writing software happens to be one of them. Here are a few worth exploring.
● CalmlyWriter: This app was designed for people who need laser-sharp focus on the content they’re working on. If you often find yourself switching back and forth between scenes and never quite finishing any, the “Focus Mode” feature on this online text editor highlights only the paragraph you’re working on at the time. Productivity boost, anyone?
● WriteMonkey: We mentioned a typewriter before – and with good reason. If you find all the bells and whistles that come with conventional word processors a tad distracting, this app might be just what the doctor ordered. Its interface is stripped down, leaving you with nothing but a blank screen, a word counter, and your words. No distractions.
2. Write for Your Target Market
Who are you writing for? Who do you want to read your book? If you answered “everyone” to both of those questions, you failed. Even you don’t read books from every genre under the sun. There’s probably more of one type of book than others. If you’re having trouble identifying who your target audience is, here are a couple of questions you can ask of them to help point you in the right direction.
● What’s their age range?
● Where do they live?
● What genres do they like to read?
● Who are some of their top authors?
● What do they enjoy doing in their spare time?
● What kind of movies do they watch?
Keep diving deeper until you have a clear vision of the demographic you’re targeting with your book. If you’re writing a novel for “everyone,” you’re writing for no one.
3. Make Sure Your Story Has Creative Depth
The first version of the manuscript you come up with has a long way to go before it morphs into a publishable piece of literature – a memorable narrative if you will. Manuscripts are simply about getting the words out of your head onto paper.
You need to fine-tune it and make sure it has enough creative depth. By this, we mean adding that je ne sais quoi to make your story memorable. While there are several literary techniques you can employ to achieve this, three of the ones you must use to make sure you’re building tension consistently throughout your novel are:
● Chekhov’s Gun
Thank us later.
4. Read, Rewrite, Repeat
Here’s the thing about writing a novel. If you’re not careful, you might get caught up in an infinite novel editing cycle. Every time you read through your story, there are several parts you’ll end up rewriting, which you’ll then need to read through again, and possibly rewrite again, and so forth.
A better approach to avoid this potentially endless cycle is to read through your novel while looking for specific issues to fix. We’re not saying you should ignore the other issues you come across. We’re simply saying, do it in phases. That way, you stay focused on the task at hand.
Remember, novels are about painting a clear picture for your reader. For instance, during one read-through, look for all places within the text where you might have “stated” something as opposed to “illustrating” it. Rather than stating, “It was raining outside…,” you could rewrite that to “You could hear the melodious pitter-patter of raindrops beating gently against the windowpane in synchronous harmony.”
Once you fix all the “stating” issues within your manuscript, you can move on to another problem area. If you spot other issues along the way, note them down somewhere, and keep on moving. You’ll come back to them once you’re through.
5. Bring a Professional Editor on Board
This stage is no doubt the most critical phase of getting your novel ready for publishing. Having an expert polish up your story and give you constructive criticism – both creative and technical –elevates your narrative and makes it easier to sell. A professional editor ensures your manuscript is ready for others to read it. Here are the different types of editors you should consider bringing on board.
● Developmental editor: Get a story coach to help with the first professional round of structural editing. They’ll handle the character development, content editing, and help with the overall structure of the novel.
● Line editor: They’ll analyze each line in your manuscript for word choice, content, structure, and flow between paragraphs and sentences.
● Copy editor: They’ll check on the punctuation, spelling, grammatical errors, and consistency throughout the novel.
● Proofreader: They’re the final set of eyes before your manuscript hits the press. They check for formatting issues, typos, missing or repetitive text, and any other technical errors that the other editors might have missed.
Take Your Time
Writing a novel is not a fast process, so don’t rush it. Once you’ve published your first one, the subsequent stories you write will take a much shorter duration. By the time you’re on your third or fourth book, it will practically be second nature. Use the tips in this guide to help you along your journey.
When you are ready to start book editing, contact us for a free sample and instant price quote.