Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Wednesday’s I try to focus on the Church. This week I am taking a look at How to Write the Perfect Novel Every Time.
I’ll admit right up front that there is no such thing as a perfect novel. There are millions of readers out there and every one of them have their own idea of what constitutes a good or great novel.
So, perfect novel? No! Good, yes.
So what constitutes a good novel?
The answer to that also varies, but since I’m the one authoring this blog, let me give my take on the issue.
A good novel is a story that draws the reader into it, whose character(s) are interesting, the plot is believable, and where the writing makes it hard to put the book down.
Obviously there are other important aspects to a good novel. But as a general statement I think that covers it.
What about Grammar?
Good grammar is always needed. Not just good grammar, but good spelling as well. Bad grammar and spelling can hurt an otherwise good story. Spelling mistakes can be deadly as can grammar mistakes. You need to constantly work on your grammar and spelling.
But I would contend that good grammar and good spelling are included in the statement, “the writing makes it hard to put the book down.”
What about Character Development?
You want your characters to stand out whether they are good people or bad people. To do this requires you have characters that are strong or weak, but are consistently so. I once had a man critique a book of mine in which he claimed the character wasn’t consistent. The problem was that I was writing about two different and real people found in the Bible. They had the same exact name and lived in the same time. If he’d read the book through (he didn’t) he would have seen that. But he skipped around and concluded they were the same characters.
Although he was wrong in his conclusions, that is a legitimate concern. If your character is evil at the beginning you need the character to continue being evil unless there is a reason that causes that character to change. And the reader must see that reason!
But I would contend that Character Development is included in “characters are interesting.”
OK, I get it. But what about the story’s background?
When writing a novel it is crucial to have a strong background. Sometimes that background is easily found in research; sometimes the background requires deeper research. Background includes many things such as the setting, the customs, and much more. If writing about history then it needs to be historically accurate. If writing about the future, then it needs to be believable. My general statement includes two items that cover all of this: “draws the reader into it” and “is believable.”
For example, a story that takes place in ancient history may be a great story but collapses because a character may speak using modern slang or a character drinks from a glass when glass hadn’t been invented yet. This is a mistake that is jarring to the reader and immediately detracts from the story. In all likelihood the reader will put the book down.
Background is important and is in my statement.
OK, What about Sales?
We all want our novels to sell. The more book sales the better for us and our bank accounts. But sales tells very little about the book. For instance, there are great books out there that haven’t really sold well. Why? Because good sales need a good book but it also needs a good marketer!
There are also books out there that are of poor quality. Yet they get great reviews and their sales are out of this world. How can that be?
No matter how bad a book is written there are people who will enjoy them. That might account for some of the sales. In addition some great marketing may have been involved that created a buzz about the book. The result? The book goes viral.
Sales simply don’t tell you about the quality of the book.
Does Following Your Blog Help My Writing?
I try to write about writing once a week (usually Thursday). Some aspect of writing is covered in these blogs. So, yes, if you are reading this blog on a weekly basis you should be learning something you can use. I also write about publishing and marketing once a week. That’s usually on Fridays.
But I would recommend that you make use of multiple sources on the subject of writing. The more sources you have the more likelihood you’ll learn something new that will benefit you. I subscribe to several newsletters, blogs, etc. with that in mind.
Another thing you can and should do is keep writing. You’ve written your first book; it’s been published and now you are getting sales. Don’t stop there!
Keep writing. Start one or two more books and work on them. I believe that no matter what your sales are your writing will improve through the act of writing. Each book you finish should be better than the one before. And as you learn from others you would be incorporating that knowledge into your latest book.
You may never write the perfect novel. But if you study the art of writing, practice writing and publishing new books you should see a consistent growth and improvement in your writing. And if you’re like me the simple joy of writing grows with each novel you write!
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ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship (Book One), Pauline A New Home (Book Two), or Task Force Hunter (Book Three), I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).
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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to email@example.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.