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How to get started on producing a good novel? 
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Post How to get started on producing a good novel?
I've been working on a novel for a while now. It's inspired by the 19th century children's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I plan on it being an adult novel, and very long and detailed. I'm on the young end of the spectrum, and new to the industry. Any advice from experienced authors? :)



Sun Dec 15, 2013 2:23 am
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Post Re: How to get started on producing a good novel?
1. Research, research, research. Have you ever hear someone describe a book as "It was like being there?" Part of that is detail, but more of it is research. What do their beds feel like? Their clothes? What are the popular expressions/ slang? What did they eat and drink? This is the backbone - the best thing you ever write will never be better than the worst research you ever do.

2. Write to your passion. It sounds like you're doing this already, but if you don't care about the subject matter, then your reader never will.

3. Have a point, and work toward the point. You should actually say the words to yourself, "When my book has been read, my reader will realize:" and then complete that sentence. Write it down if you need to - all things work to this point.


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Post Re: How to get started on producing a good novel?
I agree with the above post - research is crucial...but not the most important thing in my opinion.

I've just finished my first novel of 386,042 words, after 9 years. My one regret is that I got too close to it. I re-wrote the middle so many times that I ended up going full-circle, and now it just seems sort of wooden. I'll submit it nonetheless, with fingers crossed. I only wish I stuck with my gut, like I did with the beginning (and end) of my novel, because they read so much more fluently. That's a huge pitfall to be aware of, I think.

Reading is also vital. It expands the vocabulary and mind; be it a comic book or War and Peace. It all helps. Audiobooks are a handy little tool as well. I often listen to them in bed.

Apart from all that, just throw it down on paper, day after day, and don't even think about editing what you've just written until about 2 or 3 weeks down the line. Trust me!

Hope that helps.

Best of luck!



Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:28 am
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Post Re: How to get started on producing a good novel?
The Wizard and phillo both bring up good points. The research side is critical, but so too is keeping the momentum going.

Advice I was given recently was to write as though your audience cannot see. Description is key and needs to be balanced. Too little and the reader is left in the dark. Too much and the reader goes to sleep waiting for the light to come on.

I recommend what phillo suggested. Audio books are good start. Check out
https://librivox.org/ You can listen and download audio books for free that are in the public domain. I recommend this site to my students.

This was a good question. Thanks for posting.



Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:44 pm
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Post Re: How to get started on producing a good novel?
Whew. There's so many directions you can go with a question like this. For brevity's sake, I'll cover what I see time and time again as the biggest mistakes from new writers.

- Begin with action. Action in progress, that is. This is called "in medias res." It helps the reader feel like they are jumping into a world where things are actually happening, like they are joining a broadcast that is already in progress. As opposed to a lot of stories that begin very static, very cardboard, as though all the characters were just standing around waiting for the reader to open the book, and then called to one another, "Okay let's start doing something."

- Avoid the temptation to over-describe things. It worked well for Tolkien, but we're not Tolkien. If a leaf falls off the branch on Page 9 and doesn't hit the ground until Page 14, you're over-describing. I feel like there is always a temptation to describe every house, every landscape, every waterfall, every sunset using 10,000 words so the reader sees EXACTLY what you see. Most of the time, this isn't necessary. List a couple of key details, and let their imagination fill in the rest. That is part of the fun for the reader. But be creative and learn ways to describe things that aren't trite and over-used. And find creative ways to work these descriptions in so it doesn't sound like an encyclopedia article.

- Keep the dialogue fresh and crisp. Read it out loud to make sure it sounds natural. Crappy dialogue will ruin the best story. Don't go overboard with synonyms for the word "said" in your dialogue tags. Don't use tags at all whenever you can help it. If your reader knows who is talking, there's no need for the tag, most of the time. In longer dialogue scenes, I use the tags sparingly just to keep the reader clear on who is actually talking.

- When you describe things, try to engage more than one sense. In my novel 'Line of Sight,' which takes places in present-day New Orleans, whenever I do describe a setting, I try to work in visual cues, as well as sounds and scents. You can add a lot of flavor to a scene by giving your readers' various senses some fun stimuli to enjoy.

- Develop your characters. I can't stress this enough. They have histories. They weren't born at the precise moment that the reader meets them. Take some time brainstorming their quirks, attitudes, personalities, backgrounds. Why do they say the things that they do? Why do they do the things that they do? What motivates them? What are they striving for? Make sure your main characters have believable goals, and show them striving for those goals. Good fiction involves a skilled author showing the reader what a character wants, and then withholding it from him as long as possible.

- Don't get too flowery with your language if doing so means you have to force it. If it doesn't sound natural, the reader is going to stop reading.

- Control the pace. Long paragraphs with a lot of long sentences slow down the pace. These are good for scenes where information is being conveyed. Shorter paragraphs with shorter sentences quicken the pace. These are great for action scenes. Dialogue also speeds up the pace. Learn to control the pace by speeding it up when appropriate, and slowing it down when appropriate. If you can master this technique you'll have your reader eating out of your hand.

- EDIT. EDIT. EDIT. EDIT. EDIT. EDIT EDIT EDIT EDIT EDIT EDIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Please don't be one of these people that, as soon as you write that last word, you're blasting it out there on Smashwords hoping to make a billion dollars. I guarantee it will need SEVERAL passes in the editing process to fix grammar, eliminate typos, correct poor word choices, etc. Enlist test readers to help you find errors. They'll be able to find things you'll never see, simply because you're too close to your work. Try to get a few different test readers, preferable different types of test readers. Get a grammar Nazi in there. Get someone who reads in your genre in there. Get someone who is very analytical and can look for continuity errors. And then revise your work. I cannot tell you how many drafts and how many rounds of revision my novel went through before I put it out there. And I think the difference shows.


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