How to Write a Novel
- Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid

To stay out of the rejection pile

Aspiring novelist fail when they try to learn How to Write a Novel for these 5 simple reasons:

  1. They Don’t Study The Subject
  2. Two ideas that get in the way.

    • Thinking that they already "know all about it".

      Familiarity breeds contempt; reading, hearing and watching "stories" our whole life we think we understand what they are and how they work. But that's like a child assuming that because they have ridden in cars their whole life, they know how to build one.

      Reading a story and writing a story are two very different processes.

    • Thinking that they have to "figure it all out for themselves"
    • Why reinvent the wheel? The smart thing to do would be to find the pattern that works and then follow the pattern.

    How to write a novel is not rocket science. Unfortunately there is very little real tech our there about how to write one well. Which is why, after five decades of study and practice, I was forced to create

  3. They Don’t Consistently Practice - instead they wait for "inspiration".
  4. Real writers write whether "inspired" or not.

    You will only learn to write well, by writing a lot of crap - first. So, get over it and get on with it.

    Establish a writing routine - preferably every day. Practice and study, study and practice.

    Study the correct theory of storytelling, and practice, practice, practice until you actually understand how to apply it well.

    The best way to learn how to write a novel is to start by writing short stories. Learn the basic structure of a story first.

    There are three major components to a short story; the Introduction, the Event, and the Conclusion.

    Short stories should be mastered before attempting to writing novels; because a novel is essentially three short stories strung together.

  5. They Don’t Finish What They Start
  6. They get lots of ideas but fail to push them through to finished manuscripts.

  7. They Don’t Submit What They Finish
  8. Fifty years ago there were lots of places that published short stories. Today there are virtually none. So how is an aspiring writer to get feedback for his/her short stories before graduating to novels?

    Use writers groups, friends, strangers, anyone and everyone. Give your short stories away - do whatever you have to, just get lots and lots of feedback.

    The short story is almost a lost art but you need to master its format before moving on to writing novels.

  9. They Skip Over a Step
  10. Start by writing very tight, little stories.

    Break your storytelling into three processes; Conception, Design and Composition. This applies to how to write a short story as well as how to write a novel. In this way you'll learn to write a complete story in a short paragraph, before trying to expand it into a novel.

The bitter truth is - if one can't tell a compelling story in a paragraph, they can't tell it in 5-10-50 or 100,000 words either.

Which is why agents want a "synopsis" before they ask for the complete manuscript?

They use this principle to weed out prospective novelists that ramble. Rambling is a symptom of not understanding how to Conceive and Design a good story before Composing it into a great reading experience.

Learning to tell a story in a paragraph forces one to understand and apply good story structure.

One must have the foundation right before attempting to build a skyscraper on it.

Write on...

Richard A. McCullough how to write a novel

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how to write a novel
© copyright 2011 - Richard A McCullough is the creator & editor of the Fiction Writers source for Writing Better Fiction Faster and Selling More of What You Write.

Copyright - you may freely republish this article, provided the text, author's credit, active links and this copyright notice remain intact. how to write a novel

How to Write a Novel - Introducing the Conception and Design process

How to Write a Novel - Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid

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