Monday, May 16, 2011

Step by Step Guide to Completing a Novel, Part 2

When we left off last week, our guide had gone as far as completing the first draft of your novel.

So what comes next?

After having completed the first draft of a novel and having let it set for a few weeks we dig out that lovely manuscript and begin rewrites.

11. (continued numeration from previous post) In reevaluating and rewriting your novel it will be necessary to such things as the following:

A. Critique every scene--Does it have a goal, action and reaction, a cliff hanger?

B. Delete unnecessary scenes--if they don't move the story forward, they don't belong in your novel.

C. Find character inconsistencies in such things as appearance, behavior or personalities. Do characters stay true to who they are? Do they grow? Are they stagnant and unreal?

D. Decide if scenes are in the proper order.

E. Notice whether or not all subplots are adequately resolved and all questions raised are answered.

NOTE: Rewriting a novel includes much more than the above. These are just a few examples given to clarify what is meant by "rewrites."

12. Once your novel is rewritten to your satisfaction (this may take several tries, several weeks or even several years) it is then ready for edits. In edits you go over everything with a fine-toothed comb, taking note of such things as:

A. Sentence structure.

B. Errors in grammar.

C. Errors the spellchecker may have missed such as using "their" when you really mean "they're," using the word "anxious" when you really mean "eager," "infer" when you mean "imply," etc.

D. Look for overuse of certain words such as "then" and "that."

E. Fix repetitions of the same word over and over.

NOTE: Editing a novel includes much more than these few examples, but you get the idea by what's noted here what the difference is between rewrites and edits.

Once your novel is complete you can decide what you'd like to do with it. You can query publishers whom you'd like to publish it or agents whom you'd like to represent it. You can publish it yourself, share it with a select few people or just file it away and check its completion off your bucket list.

One more thing--here a few helpful hints for reaching your writing goals.

1. Write your first draft with your heart and succeeding drafts with your head.

2. While writing your first draft, don't let yourself get distracted by going off on tangents which drastically change your storyline. It'll make your rewrites even more difficult.

3. Don't let other people's negative attitudes or lack of support for your writing hinder your enthusiasm toward completing your project.

4. If you decide to submit your novel to a publisher for consideration, don't be discouraged if you are initially rejected--with a form letter. Most writers experience rejection, even those who have gone on to earn both fame and fortune as a novelist.

5. if you're sincere in wanting to reach writing goals, never, never give up.

Best of luck on your quest to become a novelist!


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

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