How-To-Guide to Writing a Novel

Having never read, it was not easy for me to grasp the overall depth of writing novels. They were long, drawn-out stories that had very little structure in words and content.�¯�¿�½When I started to educate myself on the process of writing, I began to learn and understand, and finally enjoy writing.�¯�¿�½

Before you start punching away on your keyboard or writing until your hand cramps up take a moment, map out your characters, describe their individual personality traits, and find your protagonists and antagonists. Protagonists are the heroes, the�¯�¿�½characters that help your story continue. They are�¯�¿�½those characters that�¯�¿�½your readers�¯�¿�½should�¯�¿�½be able to relate to. Antagonists are those characters that stop everything. The antagonist is the character that forces his or her presence into the story.�¯�¿�½Think of evil�¯�¿�½Annie Wilks in Misery. They should be more colorful than your protagonist.�¯�¿�½Antagonists are�¯�¿�½those characters that try your readers and their feelings.�¯�¿�½�¯�¿�½�¯�¿�½

Novels are easy to create once you have an understand of the three steps to making a paragraph. The first sentence has to be the sentence that grabs the reader. The next sentence has to inform the reader. And, finally the third should put a period on your entire paragraph. Continue these steps throughout and you’ve got your structure.

The following is an example of what you shouldn’t do in writing a novel:

MikeÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½headed home. MikeÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½got home.”

The question arises in the reader’s mind; what did Mike do on his way home? A better way to go about this structure is by saying:

Mike wasÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½heading home. He twirled a stick and whistled. Then Mike reached his house, looked over its size and sighed.”

Next, you’ll want to consider addingÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½description of the surrounding area in your paragraph. Was it night or day? Was Mike hopping, skipping, or running home?Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½For example:

Mike was strolling throughout dark streets, and back alleys.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½He walked past a homeless man sitting betweenÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½a pair of filthy dumpsters. MikeÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½was twirling a stick by hisÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½side and whistling the entire way home. He reachedÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½his two-story luxury home, andÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½basked in its size.”

As you can see, by adding those extra details into the paragraph you’re making it longer and longer. With details of the surroundings, you might think about giving your character more description, and enlighten your reader of his personality in one single paragraph. For example:

Mike,Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½a balding 47-year-oldÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½retired hippee was strolling through the dark streets and back alleys,Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½confidentÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½and indifferent toÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½everything else around him. He walked past a homeless man sitting between two filthyÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½dumpsters. He didn’t care that the scruffy old man withÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½the white and ratty beard was looking at him funny. Mike was in too good of mood. He was twirling a stick by his side and whistlingÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½the entire way home. He reachedÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½his two-story luxury home, and basked in its with a big smile on his face.”

Notice how we’ve flushed the character out so much more, and kept to the point in this paragraph? Well, this is just one of many ways to write a novel.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

In your descriptions,Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½stay on topic. Don’t write:

Tammy was skipping on her wayÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½home from the baseball field. SheÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½kept her cap and uniform on. SheÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½had thrownÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½quite a few pitches.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½TommyÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½NicklesÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½was flirting with his girlfriend the entire time.”

A better way would be to say:

Tammy was skipping on her way home from the baseball field. She was keeping her cap and uniform on. Her arm was still sore from all of those pitches she threw. By the time her arm had grown tired, Tammy noticed TommyÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Nickles was flirting with his girlfriend.”

Another important thing to remember when writing a novel is use or misuse of punctuation. Here is a sample paragraph. The words with bad punctuation are underlined:

Josh rode his bike to school one day. The poker cards in his spokes were rattling in a long and unwaveringÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½clatter.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Their where bumps in the road. They’re we’re clefts in the gravel. His bike bounced. He came to a deepÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½hole. The front wheel instantly veered sideways, the bike hurled foward and Josh was thrownÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½off.”

WithÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½”their”,Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½”where”, “they’re” and “we’re”,Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½a readerÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½will only be confused. The word “their”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½by definition means what a character or charactersÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½own or have in their possession.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½”Where” is a place. “They’re” is the quick and easy abbreviation ofÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½”they are”.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½The word “we’re” isÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½an abbreviation for “we are”. Here is the sentence properly written with the correctedÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½punctuationsÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½made in bold letters:

Josh rode his bike to school one day. The poker cards in his spokes were rattling in a long and unwavering clatter.There werebumps in the road.There wereclefts in the gravel. His bike bounced. He came to a deep hole. The front wheel instantly veered sideways, the bike hurled forward and Josh was thrown off.”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Next is the use or misuse of commas. Here is this sentence with particularly bad comma punctuation. The problems here are outlined:

Josh rode his bike to school one day, the poker cards in his spokes were rattling in a long and unwaveringÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½clatter, there were bumps in the road. There were clefts in the gravel, his bike bounced, he came to a deep hole. The front wheel instantly veered sideways, the bike hurled forward. And Josh was thrown off.”

Now, deciding when and where to use a comma may be the hardest part of using correct punctuation. But, read this to yourself. Ask yourself, does “forward. And” sound smooth in its description. Doesn’t that period make the action seem to stop? I know it does to me.

Let’s use this same sentence to showÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½some easyÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½mistakes inÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½spelling, written in bold lettering:

Josh roadhis bike to school one day. The poker cards in his spokes were rattling in a long and unwaveringÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½clatter. There were bumps in the rode. There were clefts in the gravel. His bike bounced. He came to a deepÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½hole. The front wheel instantly veered sideways, the bike hurled forward and Josh was thrown off.”

Just don’t forget, mistakes can easily be made but they can also be just as easily be corrected. Don’t just wing it. All you have to do is put the time into it, read and re-read your story, and you can edit it yourself.

With these simple steps, I’m sure it won’t be too hard for you to start writing that novel you’ve always wanted to. Who wouldn’t want the acclaim, the popularity and the salary of such great writers as Stephen King or Tom Clancy? All that is definitely required is that your grammar, spelling and punctuation follow the rules. But, story and conceptÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½is all really up to you.

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