Tag Archives: novel

Revising: is it not done yet?

After the most intensive – and exciting – creative work, other steps follow. Unfortunately, for most writers, they aren’t that fun.

Revising is a significant one, and many times it becomes harder than it has to be. Why? Due to the lack of organization.

Planning from day 1

After months (sometimes years) of hard writing work, many writers end up with a messy first draft. This happens because of the lack of planning. For many authors, the creative flow is too important, so they write freely without much care. This is one way of doing it, but it will make it much harder to revise your work later.

If you plan the story, it will be a lot much easier to work on it. Then, you go through all the plans you made again. Check for inconsistencies or whatever you don’t like and want to change.

There is still time

If you are in the middle of the writing process and don’t have a plan, you must take a step back and create one now. Sounds strange? Well, I can guarantee you that it will really help you out.

Start by writing down the structure of your novel in a simple global way to access it quickly. Then, step by step, add more details until you have a general vision of your book. Once you have it, you’ll catch the first ‘mistakes’ or things you don’t like that much.

After you have an idea of what needs to be changed, make a copy of your draft (so you can go back if you want) and start working on this second copy.

Repeat the whole process until you’re totally satisfied with your novel. No matter if that means doing this 2 times or 20! Try to enjoy the process, and it will be easier than you think.

Making your life easier

Writing, revising, editing – it is hard work. But, as a writer, you can’t always afford to lose time, so good planning is vital to improve your process.

You can easily get lost among the 300 or 500 pages of your novel. An obvious structure with the most significant happenings of the story organized is of great help to ease your work.

Without good revising, you have a draft, not a novel.

The Villain: 4 tips for a memorable villain

The villain is a character of great importance in any story. For that reason, you must think about him carefully.

Your villain has to be credible to be memorable. As such, you should spend some time developing your villain before start writing the actual story.

Here you have some tips that might help you.

1. Motivation

Everyone has a goal, something they want, and that must apply to your villain as well.

Every action they will take has to help them, in some way, to get closer to that goal. At least, that is what the villain believes. It doesn’t need to be immediately evident to your reader, especially if you’re writing a mystery novel. Yet, keep in mind that, at some point, the villain’s choices need to make sense to those reading your story.

2. Justify their actions

Real people don’t think of themselves as villains. Our actions always make sense in our minds, and we have good reasons to act the way we do.

Remember that every time your villain takes a decision or chooses a course of action. Your villain has a purpose with every step he (or she) takes.

3. Personality

A plain character is not exciting or fun to read. With a plain villain, we can kill the story in the first few pages.

Your villain needs a life, people that make part of it, fears and hobbies, things they like and others they hate. Villains must be more than the evil goal they have in mind.

Besides, in real life, no one is entirely evil. A couple of positive qualities will enrich your character. It will make it more credible and interesting to your readers.

4. Avoid clichés

The erratic mad man might be fun to write, even read sometimes, but people are beginning to get tired of it. Surprise your readers and remember: if you want them to fear your villain, make it the most unexpected character of your story.

Unexpected

The best villain is the one with a background story, a life, a reason to be evil. Maybe the villain is not exactly a bad person; perhaps he is just hurt.

Think of your villain as a person with a story, feelings, fears, and goals. He is not his actions. The most humanized the villains are, the more realistic they become. Your readers will appreciate that.

The First Page

You have a masterpiece in hand. You wrote it for months on end, maybe even years, and now you’re super excited about getting your work out there. However, you’re afraid… And you should be.

It doesn’t matter how wonderful your book is. If no one will read it, what’s the point, right? Just a tip: the first page is critical to the success of your book, so it must be impactful.


What makes people look at it?

Most people will open a book and read the first paragraph, maybe the full first page if you’re lucky. You have to use it in your favor.

When you open a book, you usually want to know what the story is about and how it’ll be told. So, the first page has to do exactly that. You can’t tell the whole story, obviously, what you should do is lead your readers to peek through a window and catch a glimpse of your story, get a slight idea for what’s going on and become curious. If they want to enter the place, you’ve done a good job.

A novel’s first page has many functions

The first page has to make your reader curious enough to keep on reading, and for that, they need two essential pieces of information: who the protagonist is and what the conflict is about. So, you need to relay this information, without revealing too much and make a good impression.

The protagonist entrance should, most of the time, be done here and should be memorable. Something about him or her has to have an impact on your readers. As a writer, you have to keep in mind, that whatever you choose to show, is critical for the impact the rest of the book will have and the way your readers will look at the story.

So, you should put yourself in your reader’s shoes and think of what would be really annoying on a first page. Then, try your hardest to avoid doing any of the things that would lead to you writing a similar thing! The first situation to have happen in your novel must be interesting enough to make them want to move onwards to page 2.

So, you should give some context to your readers. Don’t need to tell everything, just enough to make them curious. A novel is about conflict, they should have some clue in the first page as to build a notion of that conflict, through action, dialogue or interior monologue, but it must say “there is something here that might go wrong…”

An action-filled scene suddenly interrupted by another one where, someone, somewhere, somehow related to the protagonist present on the first scene, is calm and peaceful, doing something that apparently has nothing to do with the first scene, might do the trick. “What is happening here?” is the question you want your readers to ask themselves so they keep turning the pages. Meanwhile, they’re creating a movie in their heads, brimming with possibilities. You must feed that movie carefully, not too quickly nor too slowly, so they keep reading.

What do you need for a good start?

You need to begin. The start of it all. This is always the most complicated part of a project, no matter which one we’re talking about. In case of a book, the beginning doesn’t need to be the first thing to write, never let yourself forget that. Just write your story, make it as perfect as you can and eventually you’ll find a great beginning to your tale. I assure you that makes things easier.

Another common mistake that leads the writers in the wrong direction is thinking of the beginning of a story as an introduction to it. It doesn’t necessarily need to be that way. The reader doesn’t need to know everything on the first page, just enough to make them curious enough to explore more. You can choose an interesting point of the story and start there, without any explanation. You can start with a dialogue, a problem, a conflict… Think outside the box. Be creative! This will provide you with an undoubtedly interesting start to your amazing story.

How long should my story be?

After finishing your stories, how many times do you find yourself wondering if it’s too long? Perhaps you instead wonder if it might be too short? This is something that bothers a lot of writers and keeps on raising many a doubt. Technically speaking, and in order to be practical, a story should not have more than 30 000 words (or it would most likely be a novel), and in fact, a really long story might make it harder for you to get it published. Actually, ultra-short stories are currently very popular and you’ll find many a magazine where you might be able to publish them.

But the truth remains as such: there is no ideal size for a story. You’re not selling fabric! However, there are some tips you should indeed keep in mind:

1. There is no story without conflict
A story isn’t finished without solving the conflict, so, forget how many pages you’ve already written and focus yourself on these points: contextualize your story, develop your characters, present a conflict and solve/resolve it.
Don’t be afraid to write a short story, that turns out, in the end, to be a very long one. You’ll find the time to improve it, most likely afterwards and cut out all of the stuff that doesn’t really matter, but first, you’ll need to develop it as much as you can in order to make it good.

2. If it is boring as is, it’s too long
Again, forget the number of pages. If the story seems boring, it’s already too much. A good story will make you lose track of time, not have you looking at your watch every two minutes. IF it’s not interesting, put it aside.

3. Too much ‘blablabla’
Never write something just so you can fill a page. Write freely while you’re building the story, but in the end read through it again and evaluate each sentence and idea. Were they necessary? Do they bring something new, important or really beautiful to your narrative? If you think something does, keep it, otherwise cut it out or rid the work of it.

4. Emotional experience
Each reader looks for something different from a story he or she chooses to read, although, if a person chooses to read fiction, it’s likely that they seek some kind of emotional experience. Your story needs to make the readers feel something.

5. Why choose this story among thousands?
Let’s face it: people do not have time to spare these days. Most of us are always running about, so if you want someone to stop and read your story, it must be worth it. Confused? Just read it critically and find out if your ideas, sentences, every single detail of it is good enough for a reader. Think of your story as a sort of reward for your reader, who is tired from another long day at work, and just wants to relax and feel all sorts of emotions.