Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Writing novels

While teaching last night, we got onto the subject of novels and is it worth taking all that time and effort on them? I would suggest you start by asking some key questions:
1 Why do you want to write it - does the story work better, does it sustain a novel?

2 Can you really do it? This is a long slog.

3. You have to sustain a story over many pages so you need a decent idea.

4 Can you sell it? Has it been done before? Is your idea a new one or are you able to re-tell an old story in a new and fresh way?

5 Who will tell your story? Third person - can see everything all the times - or first person - allows for a certain informality but restricted to what happens around them?

If you decide to go ahead, my advice is always:

1 Write a detailed synopsis first: map out your story.

2 Novels can work with one single story but the best ones tends to have sub-plots involving other characters

3 The same rules of writing apply as with short stories - yes, you have more space to play with but the writing still needs to be tight and controlled even though a novel allows you the scope to develop themes and people. The best writing is simple and uncluttered
4 You need a strong sense of place and strong characters, which goes back to my belief that there are three points to the writing triangle - story, sense of place, sense of people. Get them right and the rest flows from it
5 As the story develops, there has to be a pace, a sense of things happening, so the reader does not get chance to become bored.

John Dean

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