Novels

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On this page, you will learn what a novel is and how to write one.  Some of it is a result of my own research and experience, and I give a lot of credit to the other writers from which I learned. But I must warn you that this is all my own opinions, and others have different ideas than me.

What is a novel?

A novel is a writing that is a rather more complicated plot than short stories.  You see, in short stories, it is more about cutting down the character development, the plotline, and the novel is more focused on those two things. 

Have you ever heard the saying "Show, don't tell"? Do you know what it means?  It means, that when you write, you must "Show" the reader what is happening, do not have a character "Tell" you what "Happened".  The reader wants to see what is going on, they want to experience it with the characters.  They do not want to read a history lesson, which it will sound like. 

Steps to develop an idea

1; In what time period is the story going to be placed?  Is it going to be in the beginning of time, or present day, futuristic, or just a completely made up world?  Either way, what time period are you going to base it in?  If you know this, then it may make it easier to picture the world you are going to write.

2; Who is the story going to be about? And is it going to have sevral main characters?  Is the story about a timid girl in school, just trying to get by? Or is it about a poor peasant in the middle ages? Is it going to be an alien from another planet?  Try to picture exactly who your main character is.

3; Plot.  What is going to happen in your story, this is called plot, or layout.  It is what exactly happens from the first page, all the way to the last. It is the goal the main character is trying to work up to, and it is the conflict, which is preventing the main character from having it.  Think of it this way, what is the story about?

These are three basic things you need to start writing your novel, the first one will help you view the world in which you will write, and therefore, give you a better view of the story all in all. The second one is to help you see your character plain and clear. Lets say that the story, as was the example, is about a peasant in the middle ages. It was hard times then, and they would not think it was an easy life.  They would not have fashion cloths, like new agy, they would be wearing what peasants really used to wear. In other words, make your character one with the time!  The third step will solve a lot of problems you may run into.  I will talk about this in more detail, but before you even start writing, you must know what is going to happen in the story! If you sit down and just "Start writing", then it is going to sound choppy, because the author himself does not even know what is going to happen.

Character Development

Possibly the most common question I am asked is "What is Character Development?".  It is pretty much what it sounds like.  It is the development of a character.  Have you ever read a book in which you do not feel for the characters in the slightest? Or in which you may even hate the character? That they just seem, empty?  Well, that may be due to bad character development. I have seen it so many times.  The problem is that you do not know the character.  The character is a cardboard standup doing amazing things one minute, and then they just go back to being dull.  To do character development, you must know your characters inside and out. You must know what they think of people, what they look like, how they act, how they dress, what they like to do, and just countless things.  The thing that really helps me is making a "Character Profile".  It is a paper that you fill out with questions about the character, and it helps you to place the character where you can look back time and time again.  These are some of the questions you must answer;

 

Character Profile

 

 

 

Name;

 

 

Age;

 

 

What does he look like? Hair, eyes, mouth nose, distinctive features;

 

 

What does the character want? What is his goal?;

 

 

What is he like? Personality wise;

 

 

How does he treat his friends, family and enemies?;

 

 

What is the most important thing to the character? That he protects the most?;

 

 

Other notables about the character;

 

Read to Write

You have to "Read" to be able to "Write"  If you are going to write about a character in the early American time period, for example, you have to know about the time.  It was not like it is right now, you have to research.  And if you are going to write fantasy, you have to read Fantasy.  American History and Fantasy are two completely different things.  You cannot know a lot about American History and say that you would be able to write fantasy, you have to know about what you are writing.  Some people say that you have to "Write what you know." but no, that's wrong. You have to "Know what you write."

Conflict

Conflict is the thing that the Main character has to get past to reach his goal. The conflict of the story may be that a kid at school is the only thing that stands between him and a girl he likes.  It may be that it is destiny a girl is trying to run from, that could be the conflict perhaps. Conflict is just the obsticle the main character has to get past.  In a story, there are generally two kinds of conflict.  Small ones, or "Inner conflict", like maybe a pesky brother or sister, or just not being able to sleep at night for some reason. And then there is "Main Conflict" It is the big thing that is truly standing in the way of the goal. But always remember that every story, no matter how short, has conflict!  There really is no true story without conflict.  If there was none, then it would not keep a person's interest for a minute, because nothing would happen.  If a person reads a book about a completely happy person living in Walnut grove, then what is so interesting about that? Why bother read it?  But, if the story is about a man who lives in Walnut frove, but he is about to be forced from his home because he did not pay his rent, then that would make it interesting.  It would show that there are always problems, even when life may seem perfect to another, and it truly gives the reader something interesting to read about.

Critisism

If at some point in your new writing "career", you will most likely get lots of  "critisism"  You have to learn not to be stopped by critisism, because a lot of times, people are envious of you, if you have a good book, or a good idea.  Do not let these people discourage you! Keep writing and do not let other people tell you what to do! If you like writing, then just write.  But you also have to know that sometimes, people can be brutaly honest.  As I was saying, sometimes the author does not even know if the character development is bad, sometimes they are just trying to be nice, warning you.  So you must decide for yourself in the situation, but if it is a specific thing, then maybe take a minute to think, "Is this person right?" Maybe the person is trying to help you improve your skills.  Sometimes it can be very discouraging, but if you listen to other people when they are being honest, you will find that you are glad you listened to them.  People that are brutaly honest when it comes to writing are the hardest to come by, and the most important to listen to.

Three basic parts

There are three basic parts of a story.  The beginning; the middle, and the end.  In the beginning, you are introducing all the characters, land, histories, and starting the plot on its way.  In the middle, everything is just starting to unfold and more action goes on, conflicts start, and the main things happen in the Middle.  The end is where all the loose threads are tied up and things are finally fully explained.  The story ends.

Description

Description is a absolute neccesity to a Novel.  You may not notice, when you read a novelon an every day basis, the descriptions.   The descriptions are what kmake the book and characters "Come to life" so to speak.  In young childrens books, the descriptions may not be very clear, as in "Once upon a time, there lived a girl, she was happy and..." but as you get farther up in level, the descriptions get more advanced and clear, as in "Once, there lived a girl, with long, curly, golden hair.  her eyes were the deepest blue that she was the envy of every woman in the town.  The girl was happy, she lived with her father alone, but she was as content as if she were royalty..." and so on and so forth.         Descriptions show the character to the reader, says "This is what they look like."  there is also thing and places descriptions.  The same rules apply to them.   Lets say, in a bad description, "She looked up and saw the house, it was so big."  And then you go to a good description of the house, "She looked up. She was amazed at the size of the house, it was so big that it just seemed to tower and overshadow the field it was overlooking. It had many pillars atop the roof and so many windows that they could not be counted.  she could barely even see the top of the house!"                                   Better, don't you say?  Now, the point of description is so that you can form a picture in your mind of the thing described.  If a person can do that, they like it more, because they can see what they are reading about.  When you write a description, try to put as much information as needed in, but try, also, not to overload it.  Like do not go on about every feature of the person, say the eyes, the nose, hair, mouth, maybe tall, short, thin, wide, but do not go on about useless things like fingernails and toes or anything like that.  The reader would soon get bored.                                                  Just write down what you would want to know about the thing, the Writer is always a good tester in that situation, I say.

First Lines

You have to be very careful about the first line of your story, no matter how short it may be. The reason why I say this is becuase when people are deciding if they want to read a book, even if they have already read the backflap summary, they read the first sentence of the story.  If it is "Catchy", they buy the book, if it is cheesy or boring, they normally think "Why bother?" and put it back on the shelf.                                                                                                                                Now, how to tell if it is a cheesy line.  Imagine that you are in the readers viewpoint. You find a book that sounds like it would be good. You read the summary and everything.  You are about to put it in your "Shopping Cart" when you decide to just read the first sentence, to see what kind of a book it is. It reads "Once there was a guy that died." No matter what happens after that first line, it still sounds creepy, right? And also sounds sort of fruity.  That may well be the last the person sees of that book.  Now, a way that a person can fix that problem is to add a little mystery, a little suspense.  Maybe if it had said "It was a strange thing, he was found dead one morning with no apparent evidence to what happened." Now that is more like a suspeseful, mysterious first sentence.  A reader needs something to immediately draw them into a story. If it starts out slow and boring with useless information and cheesy lines, then no one is going to want to read the story, becuase they won't be able to live (from boredom) to get to the "Good Part". The best way to draw a reader in is to have a good first line, which may be one of the most important aspects of writing, believe it or not.