How to Write the Perfect Novel Every Time

FeaturedHow to Write the Perfect Novel Every Time

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.
Conclusion
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!

VISIT MY AUTHOR’S PAGE TODAY: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle

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 marketing@tr-indbkstore.com 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 marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Writing and the English Language

FeaturedWriting and the English Language

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about the Writing and the English Language
While it is true that everybody has a story in them, it is not necessarily true that they have the ability to write a book. One of the first obstacles a writer has to good writing is the English language.
What’s wrong with the English language?
There’s nothing wrong with the English language. It is perhaps the most powerful language in existence in the world, which explains its worldwide usage. It is the language most used between countries as they negotiate treaties, trade with one another, and socially interact with each other.
Now I’m not advocating a college major in English. While that might be helpful, it could also be disastrous. Rather I’m advocating that we teach ourselves proper English. I often review the rules of grammar and spelling, especially now that we have the internet. (I’m doing so even as I’m writing this blog.)
With the internet available and self-help books available we don’t have any excuses. If someone critiques my book and finds a grammar or spelling error it is my fault. We need to master English to the extent that we can write a good book.
Unfortunately we live in an age when speaking or writing good sentences is on the decline. We are living in the age of the dumbing down of America. We’ve often heard that phrase in relation to math and science, but it is also a true description of  our writing and speaking.
Don’t believe me? Read the posts on Facebook or Twitter. Instead of “you are” you read “ur;” instead of “best friend” you get “BF;” instead of “God the Father” you get “old man;” and instead of “laugh out loud” you get “lol.” I understand the need for brevity, especially on Twitter, but the problem is that kids are learning this language and spend more time using it than they do English.
I once knew a teenage girl who was rather smart. She wrote an essay and submitted it to a national contest. And she won! She was proud of this accomplishment, as I would have been. But then she let me read her essay. The writing was terrible. There were misspelled words, poor grammar, etc. It was obvious they read only to get the concept of her letter. But this was a writing contest. Oh, and this was before the internet!
Recently I read that American schools, both high school and college, score low on literacy charts for the world. I don’t know the accuracy of that statement, but the man himself is credible so I tend to believe him. This is tragic!
This is why it is so important that anyone wanting to be an author keep a dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar book nearby.
You Don’t Think That’s Important?
If you can’t properly write a book the chances are that people won’t be able to read it even if they want to do so. Communication is the life line between writer and reader. A writer needs to be able to use words efficiently and effectively. We are creating word pictures for our readers, but if they can’t see the picture then we’ve failed.
Being able to read is just as important as being able to write.
In fact, I’d say they go hand in hand. People today have trouble reading Old English. How many kids can read Shakespeare? Not many, because it’s too hard! Yet they spend countless hours on their tablet and on Social Media ( think Twitter and Facebook).
This also affects the reading of the Bible.
One of the reasons people don’t read the King James Bible is because they don’t know the words being used. The real tragedy here is that these same people have to learn a technical language for their jobs, but find the KJV too “difficult.” The result is they use so-called modern translations that leave out powerful words like “propitiation” which is used more than once in the New Testament. Instead they accept the watered down translations of the word that gives them a bankrupt understanding of Scripture.
(I do realize that the primary reason for new versions is the financial rewards for the publishers, but even so they are capitalizing upon our ignorance.)
You hear today that our language is evolving, which implies it is not only changing but changing for the better. But this is not true. A better word would be devolving (degenerating). Aside from better education I don’t know how to handle this phenomenon, but we as writers can learn to write better.
Oh, and I’m not talking about the King’s English. Rather I’m talking about American English. I’m sure the people of England face the same challenges, but we in America need to face up to these challenges and work on our English. Starting with me!
Ain’t that right? (Just kidding.)
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for more 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 to the Stars (Book One), Pauline A New Home (Book Two), or Task Force Hunter (Book Three), I value your reviews.
If you would like to receive a free copy for the purpose of reviewing any of these books please feel free to contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com 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 marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Bind them continually upon thine heart

Bind them continually upon thine heart

“Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.” Prov. 6:21

This verse is referencing the Word of God as the Father’s commandments. Today I want to apply it specifically to authors.

Perhaps because I am an author I am slightly biased. Since we deal with communicating to people, albeit through fiction, I think we need God’s wisdom to a very high degree.

Thousands of books are published every week and tens of thousands every year. All authors are trying to sell their books to the widest audience possible. I am no exception. And we need God’s wisdom if we are to succeed.

I’ve talked before about the principles of God’s Word and I don’t want to be merely repeating myself. So instead of talking about marketing advice seen through the lens of the Bible, I want to talk about God’s wisdom and how it helps us write better.

Every book I’ve written has been bathed in prayer. It is not enough to merely follow principles, whether they are secular or spiritual. Writing is more than that. It involves the plot of the work, the characters involved, and the cohesiveness of the story. For that to happen requires a great deal of skill. But it also demands more.

People talk about inspiration being required. I’ve talked about being inspired, but it goes beyond simply being inspired to write. We need God’s guiding hand as we write every scene and develop every character.

It can be taxing, but when we have God in our corner it makes things much easier. Whether writing Perished, or World of Noah and the Ark, or even the current writing of World of Shem I have needed God’s guidance. I seek God’s guidance. I’m not talking about formal prayer, which I do, but of communicating to God throughout the process.

This involves talking to Him about every scene, indeed every word. I approach my writing in the spirit of open prayer. Sometimes it is unconscious praying and sometimes I actually ask Him directly. I ask questions like,

  • How do I write this scene?
  • Is this scene too suggestive?
  • Is this character believable?

Sometimes I have typed several words or entire sentences and upon further evaluation have erased them. We’ve all done this, but the question is was God involved in the process.

How do I involve God?

That’s not a hard question to answer. If you are a Christian, having received Christ as your Savior and you have been called to write, then you can expect His involvement. He doesn’t call and then abandon.

On the other hand, He doesn’t force His Will upon us. According to Psalm 32:8 He will guide us. That is a two-fold promise. On the one hand, God promises to guide us, but on the other hand we are responsible to listen to Him and obey.

What a great feeling it is when we have written a story and can say that God helped us all along the way! Whatever genre you write in you can count on His help as long as you are doing it His way. And that is a source of a huge sense of confidence and peace.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for 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 marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me…” Psalm 3:3

Today we live in a world that is increasingly anti-Christian. They mock us and, in some cases, try to harm us. But no matter what they do we have a God who is our shield. Nothing can be done to us without His knowledge and permission. So even if they kill us, God protects our soul and we are absent from the body and present with the Lord.

But how do I apply this to my writing career?

As a Christian you have standards – Bible based standards. And when you take a stand on those standards the world attacks you. This can come in the form of writing ‘experts,’ editors, publishers, and marketeers, or just well-meaning friends.

When this happens remember that God is your shield. Look to Him for guidance and reassurance. If your stand is Biblical then He will “have your back.”

For example, let’s say that you been searching for an agent to help you get a publisher. You finally found one you like. When he reads your book he says, “Your book is too bland. You need to spice it up. Your characters need to be more realistic.” Usually a statement like that means you need to have more sex, violence, and vulgarity than what you’re conscience permits. That’s assuming of course that your characters are well developed.

Don’t get me wrong. Sex and violence are part of life. But as Christian writers we are not to exploit sex and violence. There is a big difference from inferring sex and actually describing it. As for violence we don’t need to be overly graphic. In both of these areas our understanding of Biblical standards governs what we write.

Back to the agent. The agent has given you his advice and has made it clear that unless you change things as he has described, he won’t represent you. Complicating the matter is the fact that you have not been able to find another agent. What do you do?

You stick with your Biblical principles. You need to remind yourself that God is your shield. And since God knows everything from before Creation, He already has prepared for you a safety net. That net could be the sudden appearance of an agent who will represent your work without compromises. Or God could lead you to go the self-publishing route. Or He may provide something altogether different.

The point is that if we trust God and do things His way He will work it out to be for our good (see Roman’s 8:28). And chances are you may even be surprised by how He does it!

One last comment: As a Christian writer you don’t measure success the same way the world does. The world uses sales, royalties, etc. as the measuring stick. While you certainly shouldn’t ignore such data, your real success must come from a Biblical perspective. Does God approve? Not that you’re going to hear a verbal “good job” from Him, but your Christian conscience will let you know and He may well give you a great sense of peace. And no matter the sales, God takes care of His own!

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for 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 marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Are You A Real Author? Part I

Are You A Real Author? Part I

This four part blog asks you four questions and addresses each. Here is the first question:

Do you have a clear message?

Let me start at the beginning. When you write you should be writing with your reader in mind. Don’t get me wrong, I write books that I, the author, enjoy and so should you. But you also need to write for others.

Everyone of my books are written for people who enjoy Christian fiction and historical fiction. That said, what is your message?

Are you just relating a story or do you have something to offer? I believe that one reason it took so long before I published my first novel in 2003 is that every story I wrote had no message. But when I wrote Refuge: The Genesis Chronicles, I wrote with the idea of bringing the Biblical facts to life and giving people insights into the Biblical story.

Ever since then that or something similar has been my message: Bringing the facts to life. I would say that is one of the unique things I do. According to one reviewer I brought the people, places, and events alive giving her a deeper, wider understanding to the Biblical events.

The title of today’s blog is: Are you a Real Author. In other words, does your story jump off the pages? Do people like certain characters? Do they identify with them?

That is what the craft of writing is all about. Namely, to get the reader to use his/her imagination and be able to picture the unfolding story. If you can accomplish that you have become a real author!

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

His eBook Perished: The World That Was can be found on Amazon Kindle. The paperback edition is found on Amazon.

GRAMMAR

Your grammar must be perfect!

Right?

Depends on who you talk to and the specifics involved. Here is my take:

Generally speaking you want your grammar usage as correct as possible, but there are exceptions. For example, let’s say one of your characters only has a ninth grade education.

You would not want that character talking like a professor. For that matter, you really don’t want any of your characters to talk that way unless they actually are professors.

Now I don’t recommend that you try to imitate slang and accents, but just be cautious. Maybe allow a character to have a favorite saying. In Perished: The World That Was I had Methuselah with a favorite saying, “So God has said, so shall it be.”

Which brings up a related principle: Be consistent. If I later had someone else using that same phrase it could have been a jolt. Be consistent.

So here’s the principle: When you are dealing with conversation (or even thoughts) you can and should be less than perfect but consistent. Everything else should be perfect.

Aside from speaking, there is the matter of punctuation and spelling. With the tools available this should never be a problem, but it does sometimes. It is therefore necessary to check your spelling and punctuation as often as possible.

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Tips

Be consistent. If Bob is talking like a country boy on page 2 and a professor on page 132, you better have shown a transformation. Your reader will spot inconsistencies!

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 Example

The boys is clothed alike. This is poor grammar.

The boys are clothed alike. Much better.

“You guys look the same.” OK.

“The boys is clothed alike,” Martha said. OK, if this is consistent with Martha’s education.

Application

Both my wife and I try to watch our grammar usage. One of the tools we use is Microsoft Word’s grammar checker. It’s not perfect, but it helps. Also, we use the spell check, but it is not always up-to-date.

Other resources are grammar books (especially older versions that really emphasized good grammar), and the internet.

Make use of as many resources as needed. And pay attention to grammar and punctuation when editing.

Your comments are welcome. Just go to my Facebook page and leave a comment about this article.

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 R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.