Ten Top Tips for planning a novel

TOP TIPS…
Ten Top Tips for planning a novel
1. Action, dramatic high points and conflict – these are what you are aiming for in your novel, no matter what genre you are writing in.

2. Decide on a setting and period. Do you know enough about it to write authoritatively – or can you find out? And what genre is it going to be – romance, crime, thriller, horror, sci-fi?

3. Make sure there is enough ‘meat’ to sustain a full length novel and that you’re not just trying to pad-out a short story.

4. Plan your novel before you start. Know your story line and prepare a detailed synopsis showing all the major characters and how they interact. This will keep you on course and give you an overview, showing you how much additional research you need to do and allowing you to plan where any subplots will feature.

5. But, if something starts to go awry or a new subplot develops naturally as you are writing, don’t be afraid to make changes. Your synopsis is not set in stone.

6. Make sure you have a beginning, middle and an end. The beginning leads readers into the heart of the drama and forms the foundation on which the story is built. It should grab their attention. The middle is where you should develop your theme, revealing more about the characters and building up the tension. Don’t let it flag. The end is the final act in the drama. Not every problem needs to be solved but make sure the main conflict has been resolved. A happy ending isn’t obligatory but it is more satisfying for your reader if you at least end on an upbeat note.

7. You must plan your chapters so that they end on a note of tension or contain a ‘hook’ that will ensure that your reader wants to turn the page or start the next chapter.

8. When your synopsis is complete check for continuity blunders – are there bluebells in the woods in November, have any of your characters aged prematurely or changed from a blonde to a brunette without the help of hair colourant?

9. Three good ways of adding more texture to your plot are: flashbacks (where you show an event in the past that has direct relevance to what’s happening to one of your main characters in the present); foreshadowing (planting information in the reader’s mind – facts which don’t seem significant at the time but which will be vital later in the story) and subplots. Subplots usually run alongside the main plotline allowing minor characters to have their own mini-dramas or giving you the opportunity to inject a little humour.

10. Coincidence. A certain amount is acceptable in a novel – readers suspend their disbelief and appreciate that any piece of fiction will depend on a certain number of twists of fate. But don’t overdo it, or they will start to feel cheated.

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Acerca de Carlos Sims
Un actor que escribe.

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