How to Write a Novel: Part 4

 We finally get to the fun part; writing the novel.

Regardless of the method you choose, a novel comes down to a few simple concepts. You have good guys and bad guys. The bad guys do something bad. The good guys try to stop the bad guys and there is a story that leads you from some starting point to a point where the story ends. I know that completely trivializes the whole process, but in reality, that’s what a novel is.

So the question comes into play. How come one novel is so much better than some other novels? The answer to that is not so easy.

Here’s what I know.

Each character is unique. Each have aspects about their personality that makes them stand out from every other character you have ever seen or heard about. It’s true that the physical qualities of your characters can, and probably will, be similar to others you have read about. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what’s inside the character. What’s he like intellectually? How does he process his surroundings? How does he interact with other people when he’s having to deal not only with those people but also the stress of the circumstances of the scene. Is the protagonist prone to anger management issues? Does the antagonist think with clarity or does he have mama issues?

Each character is as unique as a fingerprint and it’s your job to insure that the reader sees, through your words, just how unique that character is.

When I write, my way of telling the story (or describing a character) is to put myself right in the middle of things. Think of it this way. There is something going on. What? Maybe someone is about to get murdered, injured or spat upon. It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that it’s going to happen. Where? If it’s going to happen, where is it going to happen? Look around and see it. Think three dimensional. Think light and dark. Think colors. Think textures. It all matters. Then finally, think emotionally. What’s going on in the killers mind, how does he see the whole thing going down? Think about the victim. What’s happening there as well? Get inside the heads of everyone involved.

There will be major characters as well as minor ones, but they all matter. The truck stop waitress who’s serving a piece of pie has feelings too. Even if the only time you ever see her is when she serves that pie. I want to know her thoughts. I want to smell and taste that pie. I want to know that when she comes into the scene, she is just as important in that scene as every other character. Maybe she’s wearing heels that make her feet hurt or something with comfy soles. You decide. Just make sure I can relate.

What about the storyline?

This is also difficult because I can’t tell you how to direct your story. If you’ve created an outline, my only suggestion is to use the outline as a guide.

Personally, I let the characters tell the story. Maybe that’s seems a little weird, so let me explain it another way. The characters may be fictional, but their existence happens because of the writer (you) and can only do what you know. If your imagination is limited by your experiences, then your characters will also be limited as well. If you’ve only experienced walking barefoot on carpet, how can you possibly write about what it’s like walking on hardwood floors. And forget about what it might be like if one of your victims has to run through an alley filled with stones and broken glass or woods barefoot if you’ve never experienced it.

I’m not saying it’s necessary to get shot or stabbed in order to know what that’s like. But if you’ve known pain, serious pain, then how much more vivid can your words be when describing what someone must feel.

Writing a novel is my way of experiencing things outside my reality. Since I’ve been doing it, I’ve seen and done things I could never imagine in the beginning. I am today a different person than I was when I started.

I see more. I feel more. I am more.

Take the journey. Don’t try writing the best novel ever. You can’t. Write something that takes you somewhere you’ve never been and then see how you can write it better the next time. They say: practice makes perfect. I disagree. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect. Learn one thing correctly and then repeat the process. Eventually, you’ll be able to describe anything you want in such a manner that the world will beg for more.


To see how things can come together, check out and buy a copy of my book, Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery here (Kindle) or here (paperback).

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