I know, rules are already there to be broken. But that does not mean that I shouldn’t write this blog post that will give you tips and tricks that will help you in completing that novel that you have always been waiting to write. You have had scene ideas pop up time and again while you are in the shower taking a bath and you think the idea you have is gonna make you the next Stephen King.
The only thing that is keeping you from starting writing is that you are claiming that you have no idea on where to start writing. Or what guidelines there are for you to write something that can get sales. You don’t even know whether you can actually make it in the writing career.
In this blog post I will be focusing on laying down the most important rules that have helped me through the writing of my first novel.
TOP RULES FOR NOVEL WRITING
1. DISCONNECT. I MEAN COMPLETELY DISCONNECT
Writing, whether it is a novel or a non-fiction book, involves shutting out everything outside of you so that you can really listen to your voice and seriously get to bring it out.
Disconnecting means, shutting down your internet connection so that you can be able to write without getting to check who has liked your recent cat picture on Facebook or who has retweeted your latest tweet that tries to explain why Donald Trump should be impeached.
Turn off the TV. Don’t you ever listen to the stock market while you are trying to write.
To write a great novel means that you have to sometimes ditch your friends every once in a while, and just lock yourself in a room where you will be alone and completely silent and crack some few thousands of words.
Being disconnected brings out all your creativity and takes your imagination really high.
When you have distractions all around, nothing ever comes out of your brain that is even remotely creative.
“Most exercise facilities are now equipped with TVs, but TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs. If you feel you must have the news analyst blowhard on CNN while you exercise, or the stock market blowhards on MSNBC, or the sports blowhards on ESPN, it’s time for you to question how serious you really are about becoming a writer. You must be prepared to do some serious turning inward toward the life of the imagination, and that means, I’m afraid, that Geraldo, Keigh Obermann, and Jay Leno must go. Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it.”- Stephen King
“Do restrict your browsing to a few websites a day. Don’t go near the online bookies – unless it’s research.”- Roddy Doyle
“Don’t write in public places. In the early 1990s I went to live in Paris. The usual writerly reasons: back then, if you were caught writing in a pub in England, you could get your head kicked in, whereas in Paris, dans les cafés . . . Since then I’ve developed an aversion to writing in public. I now think it should be done only in private, like any other lavatorial activity.”- Geoff Dyer
2. YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE TIME TO WRITE
Can we really make time?
The answer is:
Yes and no.
We all have twenty-four hours in a day and we sometimes get to ask ourselves, how do some people tend to achieve so much while we achieve too little?
The answer is the fact that those people who achieve much plan their day and prioritize their important tasks first.
They have their day mapped out the day before and they put their most important tasks first.
So, if writing is important to you, then why are you still putting it at the bottom of the list.
Saying that you will write when you get home from your day job while you know really well that you will be tempted to watch suits as you cook your evening meal will never work.
Don’t ever fall into the trap of saying that you do not have any time to do something that you actually love. If you actually want something so badly, I am sure that you will always find a way no matter what.
You lacking time still?
Do these things:
- Watch less TV
- Cut off your friends that never aid you in developing your life for the better
- Ditch social media
- Plan your day the previous night
- Wake up early
“Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to perseverance. But writing is all about perseverance. You’ve got to stick at it. In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That’s what writing is to me: a way of postponing the day when I won’t do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss.”- Geoff Dyer
3. DON’T WAIT FOR INSPIRATION OR WHEN YOU ARE READY
Because you will never be ready enough or get enough inspiration.
Waiting for inspiration is just another way to say that you are entertaining the writer’s block which is not something good to do.
Just get over yourself and start punching in those words that you have in your mind.
Don’t think that meditating in the shower and waiting for the holy ghost fire to bring your ideas will ever work.
Ideas start flowing immediately you start writing.
So, go write.
“Don’t wait for inspiration. Discipline is the key.”- Esther Freud
4. YOU MUST READ
To say the truth, I have never met any pro writer who doesn’t have a knack for reading. This is among the top rules to writing your novel, because, if you don’t read other people’s work that has done really well in the market, how the hell are you gonna get to know what made these people the best?
How are you going to realize where you have been making mistakes and learn how to fix these mistakes?
How are you going to know how to make characters that appeal to readers and keep drawing them into your story/ holding their attention?
If all you do all day is stare at your Facebook screen reading the comments as they stream in under that Facebook photo that you uploaded to show your friends how awesome your life is, then I bet that something needs to be done.
Use that time instead and grab something that you can read. Something that add knowledge into your brain and not bullshit.
“You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”- Stephen King
“Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious.”- PD James
“Read. As much as you can. As deeply and widely and nourishingly and irritatingly as you can. And the good things will make you remember them, so you won’t need to take notes.”- AL Kennedy
5. WRITE FOR YOURSELF FIRST AND THEN WORRY ABOUT THE AUDIENCE LATER
People like authenticity.
Which means that when you are writing you must be you.
Which means you must write what you would want to read yourself.
Here is what Stephen king has to say about this very rule:
“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.”
When you are writing, don’t get overly worried about what the audience you are writing to will think about your writing. No.
This will work against you and even induce writers block.
You will find yourself obsessing over each and every line that you punch into your computer.
You will find writing being some kind of a torture and you won’t enjoy it.
You will start loathing your keyboard and laptop.
This will just take your writing to the grave where you will have to tell it to rest in peace.
You don’t want to do that. Nope.
“Write whatever way you like. Fiction is made of words on a page; reality is made of something else. It doesn’t matter how “real” your story is, or how “made up”: what matters is its necessity.”- Anne Enright
“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So, write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”- Neil Gaiman
6. STICK TO YOUR OWN STYLE
Don’t you ever try to get out of the way and copy someone’s style of writing. Remain true to yourself.
Let people actually see that authenticity in your pieces of write ups.
Let who you are shine through what you are writing.
People love authentic people.
That means they will love authentic write ups.
According to Stephen King:
“One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what the writer is doing may seem. You can’t aim a book like a cruise missile, in other words. People who decide to make a fortune writing like John Grisham or Tom Clancy produce nothing but pale imitations, by and large, because vocabulary is not the same thing as feeling and plot is light years from the truth as it is understood by the mind and the heart.”
7. NEVER LET YOUR RESEARCH DOMINATE THE STORY
Sometimes as a fiction writer, you may decide to write a plot which involves things that you know next to nothing about. This is where the research part comes in.
When doing the research that you need in order to be able to write, the best thing to know and keep close to your heart is the fact that your research needs to stay in the background.
It does not need to make it to the front page of the story. Ever!
“If you do need to do research because parts of your story deal with things about which you know little or nothing, remember that word back. That’s where research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it. You may be entranced with what you’re learning about the flesh-eating bacteria, the sewer system of New York, or the I.Q. potential of collie pups, but your readers are probably going to care a lot more about your characters and your story.”- Stephen Kind.
8. LEARN THAT YOU WILL NEED A BREAK EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE
You will need to take some time off and go hit the bar with your friends and enjoy the music and the drinks till it is very late in the night.
This will allow you time to clear your head and even help you in creating a social life.
Don’t become a workaholic. That never helps anyone out. You don’t have to kill yourself earlier before your days on earth are over.
9. YOU MUST HOLD THE READER’S ATTENTION
If you can’t hold the reader’s attention, then don’t even expect that they will remotely even consider purchasing or recommending your novel to their neighbor.
For successful novels, holding the reader’s attention is key.
It is kind of hard given that when you are writing you don’t know much about your readers. Key here is to write as best as you can and try holding your attention as much as you can.
“Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B.”- Margaret Atwood
10. DON’T YOU EVER EDIT YOUR BOOK ALONE
You will just give your piece of writing an A+ grade even if it doesn’t deserve it.
It’s like doing an exam and then getting a chance to mark the same paper for yourself.
What grade would you give yourself?
I already know it. It would be an A and that is even when you don’t deserve it.
So, get a friend to criticize your work and then get to rectify the mistakes that he or she points out.
“You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore, ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.”- Margaret Atwood
Now I believe you know what to do and what not to do.
I now pass on the remaining bit to you.
Go write your novel!
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