Wondering how to start a novel people will want to read?
I’ve read a lot of books in my life. Since I was a child I’ve been an avid reader, as many of you probably are. How many times did you read a book you regret (afterward) ever knowing the title? Who hasn’t read some major “stinkers?” Did those writers ever study how to start a novel before their stories? I hope to help many of you out there avoid the pitfalls below.
Setting, Time, Dialogue:
Readers need a sense of “place” in the books they read or they get confused and lost easily. I’ve read an introduction like this once, thank goodness the rest of the book pulled together. This goes for dialogue too. Don’t ramble off in a conversation without signaling who is talking.
Erotica & Language:
If you enjoy writing erotica, label it as erotica or romance. Don’t false advertise just to get someone to buy your book. It’s a very strong subject and some readers don’t enjoy reading sex scenes every other chapter.
As for language, keep it appropriate to the scene taking place. My publisher doesn’t allow fowl language littering the pages. It turns readers off. Some might argue, “that’s how people talk.”
As my publisher says, “would you want your grandparents hearing you speak like that?” (Yep, I pulled the grandparents card.) Keep it clean and professional. Writers are creative, so come up with another way to express your character’s frustrations.
Don’t write tedious plots:
Today, people want excitement and entertainment. Look around at the movies, T.V. shows and books that are popular. They all satisfy the views or readers need for enjoyment. Here’s some tips on how to start a novel and avoid boring story lines.
Decide what type of story you’re writing; drama, mystery, horror, romance, action/adventure or fantasy. Knowing what genre will help you create a “base” for everything to revolve around. It’s perfectly fine to combine genres together.
What are the dilemmas your characters will face? Some authors plot the entire story out. Other’s sit down at their computer and write whatever comes to their minds. Make sure there’s more than one impasse for your characters.
Imagine yourself as the reader not just the writer. Would you enjoy the story if someone else had written it? Sorry to break some of your hearts, but (in my opinion) The Old Man And The Sea is the perfect example of this pitfall. It’s a mind-numbing book. The plot is painfully slow in it’s progression and never picks up speed. Keep the story moving and evolving!
Don’t include every single detail about the character’s life. I’m one for details, I like to feel like I’m the character’s twin, experiencing everything with them. Details have a limit. I don’t want to live every single agonizing moment of a character’s life. The best way to learn the balance between too much and too little detail is to read! What are other (very good) authors doing?
Vampires, Sigh. . .
Someone. . . not naming any names. . . decided to run with this one. Personally, I love Bram Stroker’s Dracula. A horror story that probably scared the trousers/ petticoats off people in 1897. It’s dark and dramatic and a fabulous book!
I could write numerous blog entries about “modern” takes on vampires. If you’re going to write a supernatural book, make sure the plot is strong and doesn’t get to “carried away.”
I’m ashamed to admit I read one such book. The vampires were blown up and the survivors thought they were safe. Not long after the blow up bits crawled back together and came to kill them. I died a little inside after reading that book. (And you thought sparking vampires were bad!)
Logic and common sense do not completely disappear when writing supernatural! Readers will lose confidence in you as a writer.
I’ve mentioned this one before. I’ve read part of a very popular series that raped, maimed, beat, abused and violated the six main characters. I’ll never read another one of the author’s book again. I don’t care about her characters, story, plots, or writing. It’s expected the characters need to go through some sort of hardship. Don’t alienated your readers and killed any emotional connection they had with the characters.
Okay, time to contradict myself. Add some detail in! If we wanted to read facts, we’d pick up a newspaper . . . wait. . . encyclopedia. Again, writing is about making your readers feel and care while entertaining them.
A Great Ending:
Old Man And The Sea has a very disappointing ending. The Grapes of Wrath . . . where’s the rest of it? Don’t disappoint the readers. They’ve spent the time reading your novel and want a conclusion. It’s kind of like a song not singing the last note. Sum the novel up in a way that will leave you satisfied with the piece of work you’ve created.
Edit! Edit! Edit!
Do not even think about publishing until there’s been at least three edits on the book! Not all readers are forgiving when it comes to grammatical mistakes. Keep in mind, you’re book is a professional piece of work.
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