So, I’ve been working since 2013 on a short novel called “Dragon Tooth” and recently finished chapter 4 out of 6 planned. As I gave this to a few close friends to see what they thought of so far, I’ve had a lot of questions about the experience of writing this since 2013. Normally, the first question raised is “Are you nuts? Since 2013?” and my answer is yes, but… it comes with benefits as well. I thought I would share with you a couple of tips for anyone who is thinking about/is writing a novel.
1- Plot it all out. Often, writers do the mistake of taking the story for granted thinking “It’s all in my head”. Well, you’re wrong and it shouldn’t be just in your head. It’ll all be incredibly easy once you plot it all out and write it all down. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, just the basics of how the story begins, progresses and ends. A writer should always know how their story will eventually plan out.
2- Do NOT edit what you write. Okay, I have to explain. Writing and editing are two different things, and they are different. Of course you should get it edited but not as you write. Concentrate on getting the novel done FIRST and then go back editing it as much as 2 or even 3 times. What this does is, it builds a strange trap for the writer that whatever he is writing needs to be edited and often hinders the process of getting it done. Yes, your un-edited copy will suck, but that’s the beauty of it, you’re not supposed to show it to other people until you have edited it at least 2 times.
3- Create compelling characters. Readers have many different tastes because they are different human beings naturally. Your novel can’t be the same guy but under a different name everytime. Have someone wicked who lies, cheats, and even kills people just because he feels like it. Then give yourself the challenge to humanize the character in a way that readers will show sympathy towards him for being who he is!
4- “Show and don’t tell”. Okay, this is one of the golden rules in writing, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a script, a screenplay OR a novel. One of the biggest mistakes amature writers make is how they actually describe actions and emotions. They TELL the reader what the character is feeling instead of showing it. Example? Here:
“The man quickly stood up and punched the wall.” – Weak.
“The man pulled away from his chair in an instant, clutched his fists and drove them into the wall. Cold sweated, there he stood.” – Yes!
Notice how you get to FEEL the emotion and not just read it? Also note that we could add more dramatic effect while describing the action afterwards.
5- Too much dialog! Never think that a good story has good dialog alone. A good story consists of believable characters, where they each have charactaristics, motives and hidden goals or agendas. The reader should understand the point of the dialog. Never forget that its a very important tool writers use to explain the world or the struggle to the readers. Yes yes, here’s your example:
“Why are you doing this?!” Person A said.
“I want to go south, because the princess is there and I want to save her, I thought you knew that” Person B replied.
“But you didn’t answer the question, why do this?”
“Because there is something more to this than you think.”
Okay, that wasn’t so bad. But what if we actually use words to explain more about the hidden motive that you and I both know Person B has?
“Why are you doing this?!” Person A said, as he kept eying PERSON B.
“To save the princess. Why else?” Person B replied with a tone that brook no argument.
“You’re not answering the question Person B…”, Person A said.
Person B turned his face and a smirk wore his face as he exited the hall.
Muuuch better. A little mystery is always healthy and will do wonders to the story. It’s always better to give the reader the ability to invest emotionally in the characters. Who would they root for? Person A or Person B? What is Person B trying to gain by saving the princess? All these are healthy questions that the reader will think of, and of course if you can instil an idea in someone’s mind, you can easily break it afterwards.