I finished my first book at the age of 19. I then confidently released it at the age of 24.
I was completely obsessed with perfection. I re-read my novel more times than I can remember. I changed the cover. I paid an editor. Then once the editor was done I read the book a few times following that. I had my grandmother—who was an award winning essayist in her younger years—read the book as I was writing. I would complete a quarter of the novel and harass her to read. Then another quarter and harass her to read. It was a blessing, because being my first book I felt I needed someone to just be a reader. I wanted to make sure it made sense and an overall good book that evoked the emotions in others that were evoked in me as I was writing.
After all my many edits, I then had my sister read the book. I did not want to write a book with many errors. I did receive my Bachelor’s Degree in English. Somehow, when you write a book with over 200 pages, errors will somehow hide themselves in ways no spellcheck could every catch.
After finally revamping my book into a product I can be proud of—I released it. It’s a great book and I am not just saying that because I wrote it. If I thought it was less than great, I would have not released it. I would be somewhere re-structuring the book or just starting from scratch.
Let’s get to it!
So, you came here for some tips on learning how to write your first novel…
First, the fact that you’re reading this shows that you want to write a great book. It shows that although you’re an amazing writer, you know it takes more than that.First you need to gather as much valuable information you can to learn your craft. You want to write a book that people will buy and read decades from now. You want to write a page turner.
Before you start-know what your novel is about. What point do you want to make? First, write a summary of the book. The second step is to write the ending of your novel. Craft a plot and characters to take the story from here to there. Each chapter is a flow of action.
Get to know your characters. Have conversations with characters in your mind. Allow the characters to speak to you.
You may ask: how many characters do I need? I will then ask you, how many things you need to happen to get to the end of the story? You’re characters should move the story along and prove your point. If they don’t help you achieve this then they shouldn’t be there.
You want your character to be memorable. What are some of their phrases? Things they love to do? The way they dress? What do they think about? What are their desires?
Dialogue brings the story to life. The flow of conversations should be real.
3. STORY OPENS WITH A CONFRONTATION OR ACTION:
Just as a movie may hook you in the first minute—hook your reader in the beginning.
4. THE ENDING:
Say just enough.
What turns pages? Curiosity and suspense. Show the reader there are lots of possibilities.
Try not to shift points of view within a chapter. It is crucial to make it clear of which character is viewing what in each part of the book.
Anger over injustice turns pages.
Same reason you can’t take that restroom break when the movie brings you to a point. You need to know what is going to happen and how it’s going to happen. You want good things to happen to the characters you have identified with. It’s only human. Thus, a little injustice will do wonders for your novel.
Wonderful details are important to paint the picture; even a seemingly simple plot will be a pleasure to follow.
7. HUMANIZE THE DEHUMANIZE –The Planet of the Apes
One day I watched The Planet of the Apes and to my surprise I was tapped into my most sympathetic emotions for just about the entire movie. I was so impressed with how it made me feel, I watched it again. But this time with a notebook and a pencil. I wrote down each flow of action. Then I studied this. I wanted to understand why I felt so emotionally engaged. After pondering on it for some time, what stuck out the most was “Dehumanization”. Although we’re not talking about humans here. It doesn’t matter. Those Apes had feelings. They had families. They had community. The idea is that you arouse sympathy over the injustice of just another beautiful being.
Futhermore, I read a few books on the subject while in undergrad at the The University of Texas at Austin. The last week before summer started, I checked out about 7 books from the library. There are two that stood out to me.
May I add: The newer prettier books are not always better. I like the good old truth.
God bless you on your journey.
Collier, Oscar, 1924-
Cincinnati, OH : Writer’s Digest Books, c1997.
3rd ed., rev.
Armstrong, David, 1946-
London : Allison & Busby, 2003.