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Friday, December 4, 2015

How to Write a Good Novel

Just a friendly reminder: Don't forget about my Comic Con giveaway, where you can enter to win one of eight prizes from franchises like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Sherlock, Dr. Who and more.

Rebecca asked: I'm writing a fantasy thriller but feel it won't be successful. How do I write a good novel?




First off, at some point or another, pretty much all writers feel like they will be unsuccessful. It's normal. Keep in mind that writers define "success" as different things. One might define success as making as much money as J.K. Rowling. Another writer might consider the fact they had a writing session, period, a success.

The truth is, there are so many parts to writing a novel that I really can't speak to them all (plot, style, character, setting, theme, emotion, brainstorming . . . ). I don't have a magic bullet. But the good news is I can give you some places to start:

Study

Before you can write a great novel, you have to study what makes a novel great. Whether you want the whole world to be your audience or want the audience to be no one else but yourself, you will get more satisfaction out of your novel when you implement what others have learned.

You can take a local creative writing class or find one online. Author David Farland has a bunch of online classes you can take from the comfort of your home.

If you don't want to do a whole class, you can find writing conferences. This is basically an event where you can attend seminars and learn the craft. I like LDStorymakers and LTUE as writing conferences, but there should be at least some small ones near you within driving distance.

Hit the books. There are loads of books on writing novels. I have some of the books from the Write Great Fiction series, and they're great, so I'd recommend them, but you can find plenty of others and get recommendations from other writers.

Hit the fiction books. Learn how to write a great novel by reading them. See what the bestsellers of the day are. Just read. And study. Notice what the novels have in common. Notice how they are different.

Learn about writing from blogs and podcasts. I give writing tips on my blog that can help, but there are a lot of things I haven't covered and there are people who have covered them better than I can. David Farland regularly posts writing tips on his site. As for podcasts, Writing Excuses is the bomb. If you want, you can start from season one and work your way through. You'll know plenty about writing a solid novel then!

Practice

Put to work what you learn through practice. Writing a great novel is hard. Like, really hard. It's no wonder we all feel unsuccessful from time to time (or sometimes it seems like all the time). With consistent, solid practice, you'll learn to push through the times you feel unsuccessful and eventually those times will become sparser and sparser (at least that's what happened to me).

Keep in mind that the story you want to write might actually be far above your writing levels at the moment. That's okay. Some writers like to start with a simpler story and work up to writing their "dream" novel. So that's an option. Personally, I didn't want to do that. I wanted to work on my "dream" novel. The consequence is that it might be harder and take longer.

Just keep writing.

Feedback

Some writers honestly just want to write for themselves. But if you want to get better, you should consider getting feedback. If you are taking a creative writing class, you can get feedback from your instructor. Or you can join a local writers' group where you critique each other's work. You can find an online group that does the same. You can post your story on sites like Wattpad and FictionPress and get feedback there. You don't have to follow everything people tell you, but hearing it can help you become more conscious of what's happening in your writing.

So . . .

All of these things will help you write a good novel. But there is also another important part: don't give up!


Have a question for September about writing (or anything else)? Send it in!

Also, so I know I haven't done any new SoundCloud or Youtube stuff, but I will, just be patient! 

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