how to write a novel
Whether it’s a book, short story or a poem, sooner or later, the writing must come to an end. And just as with your project, so must this one. That doesn’t mean I’m finished with the lessons. It means we must talk about the end of your story.
With every book I’ve written, the ending, for me, is the most difficult aspect to do correctly. For me, writing crime novels, the case must be solved. For Harry Potter, he must find a solution to the mystery with which he is embattled. I don’t know what you are writing, but the for the most part, the principles are the same.
You must find an ending that will capture the minds of your readers, not to mention the bad guys, and leave them with a desire to look forward to your next masterpiece.
Trust me on this…NEVER ACCEPT YOUR FIRST DRAFT OF AN ENDING AS THE BEST ENDING POSSIBLE.
When I finished my first novel, Through the Eyes of Death, I changed the ending seven times before I was satisfied that it was done right. Let me translate that for you. When I finished my first book, Through the Eyes of Death, my wife made me re-write the ending seven time before she said it didn’t stink.
Endings are hard. There is a feeling that I want to have when I close a book at the end. I want to feel good about the time I spent reading it. I want the satisfaction of knowing that the characters I got to know, who became a part of my life and I theirs, had justice served. At the very least, barring any of the former, I want some type of surprise, something that makes me say, “Holy crap, Batman.”
When I rate a book on a five star system, I always start from a three star position. If the book flows right, and if the story doesn’t bore me to death, and I can finish it, then it gets three stars. Lacking any of that, the number falls.
If the story keeps my attention; has a good plot line, and interesting characters, the number goes to four.
Now here’s the key for me: I ONLY GIVE FIVE STARS IF ALL OF THE PREVIOUS IS MET AND THE STORY HAS A GREAT ENDING.
If you want your work to stand out…finish out with a great ending.
Did you here with one about the guy…..
As I go along and discuss the principles of writing, I’m reminded of what my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Reynolds, once told me about the art of story telling. She said, “The concept is easy. Say what you are going to say. Say it. Then say what you said.”
The concept is rather simple when you boil it down like that. Every story has a beginning, middle and end. Unfortunately, that’s where the simple ends and the complex begin.
When I talk about the three phases of a story, you then have to define what makes a story? The book is a story. Of course it is. But then if you think about it, every chapter is a story as well.
And if a chapter is a story, with a beginning, middle and end, would it not also stand to reason that every paragraph has the same quality? For me, at least, that’s how it has to be defined: likewise with each sentence.
I find it difficult to get so wrapped up in the book, or the chapter, that I forget about the words necessary to get me to the end. It sort of a reverse trees and forest thing. (You can’t see the forest for the trees.) In this case, you can see the words because the book is getting in the way.
Take the time to ask yourself this…if I were to read this sentence (insert paragraph if need be) by itself and without the content of the rest of the story, would it make sense? Would I be proud of what I just wrote? Would the reader actually smile (frown, jump or whatever emotion you elicited) once they were finished? If so, then you have done your job. If not, you need to take another look and see where it can be improved.
For the record, these are not difficult concepts. Anyone who truly wishes to write a book can use them and do remarkable works with them. But, truth be told, most of us struggle with them. We get in a hurry. We let life get in the way. There are a million excuses why we fail to make our words perfect. That’s just the way it is.
I’m offering these lessons for one purpose…to enlighten you on issues we all struggle with everyday to be a better writer—a better person—as we share with the world the thoughts and dreams pouring from within. Use them if you dare to be a better writer.
A beginning, middle and end. That is what life is all about.
It plays well when you break it down.
If you are like most new writers, somewhere along the way, life has decided that maybe you should take a break. I had it happen to me. I was just thinking that maybe it's happened to you.
Your novel is taking shape. I like that. So where do you stand now? What’s going through your head? Are you really doing this? Are you an author yet?
You are finally doing it. The ideas are starting to take shape and it’s looking like something more than just a concept. Your characters are coming alive and the scenes are being vividly set. So now…what the heck do I do with it?
We finally get to the fun part; writing the novel.
Of all the parts of this journey, I suspect this part to be the most boring. I'll get that out of the way so that anyone just writing for fun and games need not read it. However, those of you wanting to get serious about this concept needs to sit up and listen. Without this information, you will waste an inordinate amount of time and effort wondering why the heck those stupid, uneducated agents aren't taking your work serious.
It's all in your brain now and time to transfer your novel from thoughts to words in print. So...what's next?
If you have already labored through this process, you don't need me to tell you what to do and I have no intention of raining on your parade. My way of doing things is merely a drop in the bucket when coinsidering the big picture. Writing a novel takes a piece of your soul. It then shares that piece with the world.