Novels are designed to take your readers on a journey into a world created by you. The characters you create, along with the dialogue they speak, moves the story and plot line forward. If you have been writing and publishing fiction books for any length of time, or if you are a complete newbie to the craft, you most likely have read novels that captured your heart, made you laugh, made you cry, and perhaps you even regretted reading the final page, because you knew the story was over. The emotional impact your writing will have on a reader goes beyond the final page. But, how do you learn these advanced novel writing secrets that famous authors have used throughout their own writing process?
Along the way, you will be able to add your own novel writing secrets to this list. However, to get you started, I have created four advanced novel writing secrets that take you beyond basic novel writing. If you follow these strategies as general guidelines for improving your fiction writing, you might be able to tell a fellow writer that these tips helped you sell more copies of your books.
Becoming a better writer depends upon a lot of things, and besides skill and dedication to your craft, your ability to analyze your writing will help you improve your own writing process. As a forewarning, I do not want you to get stuck analyzing your writing; that’s not the goal here. Following is a list of five secrets that I believe will help you while you are writing your next novel.
Advanced Novel Writing Secret #1: Write your scene or chapter using a free-form process of envisioning the scene, and don’t edit even one word until you have finished writing the entire manuscript.
The writing process is the time when you use your inspiration to create the characters, the environment they live in, and the dramatic moment of what happens on the page. The writing process does not include editing anything that you have written. Editing takes place after the entire manuscript has been written. To some writers, they will disagree with this advanced novel writing tip. But until you have tried it, don’t question the process.
If you challenge Secret #1, you may delete or throw away a scene, conversational dialogue, or action that a potential reader would have loved about this chapter. Don’t make the mistake of editing the inspirational genius that you have created for your novel.
When you have completed the first draft of your novel, put the manuscript aside for a couple of days. Then begin the editing process, which should be done slowly, and with a lot of care to preserve your original thoughts, inspiration, voice, and overall consistency of the story. When you write in a free-form style, the creative side of your brain gets the complete story out there on the page without interruption of grammar, typos, or other left brain technical details.
When you have completed the writing process, and you have waited a few days before beginning your edits, keep in mind that if you want to sell more copies of your book, you will need to submit the manuscript to a professional editor.
Advanced Novel Writing Secret #2: Eliminate Purple Prose
According to the Urban Dictionary’s description of purple prose, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=purple%20prose, it’s described this way:
Purple prose is a term used to describe literature where the writing is unnecessarily flowery. It means that the writer described the situation (or wrote the entire book, passage, etc.) using words that are too extravagant for the type of text, or any text at all, basically, over-describing something with stupid words.
she lay on her bed dreaming.
she lay upon her silken sheets in her ornately embellished robes of satin, her chest ascending and descending easily with every passing second, deep inside the caverns of her subconscious mind.
The intention of eliminating purple prose allows you to create a great paragraph, a witty conversation, or scene descriptions that allow a reader to be in the moment of your story. However, many beginning writers create these elaborate scenes, characters, and setting that really don’t belong in the story. Your goal as a novel writer is to keep a reader turning the pages to find out what happens next. If you write flowery text that doesn’t fit in with your story and characters, you might lose the reader who will close the book, never to return to your story.
If the scene is showing the reader a traumatic experience for one of the story characters, the momentum needs to escalate and not be slowed down with long paragraphs of what the writer believes is beautiful prose.
During the editing phase, if you encounter purple prose, don’t even think twice about deleting all those elements that detract from your main story.
Advanced Novel Writing Secret #3: Keep Track of Your Characters’ Entrances and Exits
This tip might sound too simple, yet, it is one of the most overlooked elements in fiction writing. What I’m referring to can be equated with you, the author, sitting in the audience and watching a live play on stage. Each one of the characters has to make an entrance and exit. Scenes may change, but you will never see a character who stands on stage doing nothing when the next scene opens. That would be most awkward. What am I saying?
Readers are smart. They get involved in your story, and they get involved with the characters you have created. When you introduce a character into your story, before the book is finished, you must come full circle with every character and show your reader what has happened to him or her.
For example, you will create minor characters, major characters, and villains. When you introduce a minor character, imagine that she is a paid actress and has been given lines in a script to recite. Somehow, she has to enter the scene and leave the scene. She cannot just enter the scene and then do nothing. Therefore, make a list of every character you introduce in your story and be sure you have not left any action or detail about the character unexplained when the novel ends.
Advanced Novel Writing Secret #4. Imagine you are a paid actor who has to memorize his scenes and dialogue in the script. Read through the manuscript and highlight only those instances where he is part of the story.
Most fiction writers will ignore this writing strategy. Why? Because they feel they know the story so well, and they know their characters equally as well. Therein lies the mistake. If your character is Sally, and she appears in numerous scenes throughout the novel, highlight all those instances where Sally is mentioned. Then read the manuscript through the eyes and emotions of Sally. What are her personal feelings about the other characters? Does Sally respond naturally and logically throughout her lines and scenes?
Only through a separate read of each character will you be able to interpret how your readers look at each one of your characters as individual people. You might discover that more than one character has the same traits, faults, fears, and dialogue as another character. That should be a red flag to you that you need to revise several scenes to give each character their own individuality.
By rereading the manuscript as if you were one of the characters, you will easily be able to discern if another character’s actions and dialogue were inappropriate, sounded too generic, or created mixed emotions that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Don’t skip this step! Every person has a different style when it comes to writing, but learn how to test and try new writing strategies. All of these techniques will improve your writing and help you sell more books.
Can you add one more advanced novel writing secret to share with our readers?