These tips are from an unusual source; a guy who studied nothing but science in college and never had an English or writing course (except for the mandatory Freshman English). I also never seriously wrote anything until I was in my 30’s. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I have written three books, and one of them, Soul of the Beast, has been published by Clemson University Digital Press and Amazon.com. Check it out at my website: http://wesphelan.com.
Here are some of my tips for writing a (good) novel. Hopefully this will promote a good discussion and debate.
Have a story worth telling.
Write what you want to write.
Write about what you know. If you don’t know, you can learn.
Write for yourself first. Write for the reader second.
Take the story in directions the reader isn’t expecting. Don’t let the reader guess what’s coming.
Have mysteries, questions and subplots floating in the background and occasionally sticking their heads up.
It’s okay to leave things unexplained. That’s life.
Make everything that happens in the novel consistent with everything else.
Everything should move the story forward. If you can remove something without changing the story, leave it out.
Make everything difficult. When you finish the story, go back through and make everything more difficult.
Read GREAT novels by GREAT authors.
Don’t be hamstrung by “correct grammar and form” and “the right way to do it.” Deal with those issues AFTER you finish writing the novel.
Write when you’re in the mood. Write when you’re not in the mood. In other words, write.
When you enjoy writing, keep going.
If you don’t know what to write, write anyway and see what happens.
Write your characters into impossible situations without knowing how they’ll escape. Then figure out how to save them. That can be fun.
If you can’t figure out how to phrase something or what to write, sleep on it, literally.
Don’t worry about an outline when you’re in the mood to write.
When you’re inspired to develop the plot, that’s the time for an outline. An outline allows you to move quickly while the creative juices flow.
Any comments? Am I wrong? Did I miss something? I’d like to hear from you. You can post your responses below.
About Wes Phelan
Wes Phelan, a practicing physician in the upstate of South Carolina has found a new niche of readers who want action and thrills while still satisfying their curiosity about far-off lands.
Soul of the Beast is a fast-paced adventure/thriller geared to the interests of Young Adults and enjoyed by adults, too. The action begins on the first page and never stops, moving from London and Australia to South Africa and Asia as main character John chases down the “cure” to a family curse before he is the next to die. Chased by assassins and a running clock, can John solve the riddles in time to save his own life and that of generations to come?
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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