How To Write A Novel The Easy Way
How to write a novel the easy way? Can it be done? Absolutely. Learning how to write a novel doesn’t have to be complicated. When you follow a step by step process, you can take the complexity of how to write a novel and “dumb it down” to such a simple system that it becomes almost like paint by numbers. Easy novel writing is a series of connections. You know, like “the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone.” In the case of novel writing, your connections look like this (feel free to add the “Dry Bones” tune to this list as you read it if you know it): IDEA is connected to QUESTIONS, which are connected to CONFLICT, which is connected to STORY QUESTION, which is connected to THEME, which is connected to PLOT, which is connected to CHARACTERS, which are connected to MOTIVATION, which is connected to CHARACTER SKETCHES, which are connected to SETTINGS, which are connected to SETTING SKETCHES, which are connected to RESEARCH LISTS, which are connected to RESEARCH, which are connected to SCENE CARDS, which are connected to SCENE CARD FILE, which is connected to PACING, which is connected to QUERY, which is connected to SYNOPSIS, which is connected to FIRST PAGES, which are connected to DRAFT, which is connected to REWRITE, which is connected to SUBMISSION, which is connected to SALE! Whew! Seem like a lot.
Well, it is a lot. But that doesn’t mean it’s complicated. Let’s break it down: 1. IDEA. Your novel idea is the basic concept.
For example, the idea for my novel, Alternate Beauty, was that an obese woman finds herself in an alternate universe where fat is beautiful. This is kind of intriguing, but it’s certainly not enough for a novel. So you have to start asking 2. QUESTIONS. To flesh out an idea, you need to start asking questions. Your seed question needs to be “What if”. For instance, what if the woman who was in the alternate universe began losing weight. You throw out a bunch of answers to the what if question, and then you pick one that tickles your fancy and ask another what if question. It goes like this: Once the woman begins losing weight, she ends up as unhappy in the new universe as she was in the old. So what if she got fed up with being unhappy.
Etc. etc. As you work through what if questions, you throw in “Why” questions. Why does the woman lose weight? Why is she unhappy? Keep stringing these questions together and you’ll begin to find your 3. CONFLICT. Conflict comes from a character wanting to get something and being blocked in some way from getting what he or she wants. A good novel makes characters’ lives miserable before everything turns out in the end (either good or bad). You weave your questions together in a way that reveals your character’s desires and what obstacles preventing him or her from achieving those desires. It’s the conflict that keeps your reader guessing when you keep creating 4. STORY QUESTIONS.
Story questions are the secrets you keep from the reader so the reader has questions in his or her mind. You layer the conflict, one upon the other, so the reader has to keep reading to satisfy his or her curiosity. All the story questions, when answered at the end of the novel reflect the 5. THEME. The theme is the central message of the novel—the statement you want to make about the human condition. The theme is the unifying element of everything you put in your 6. PLOT. Plot is the story—the culmination of conflict and story question. It’s not just what happens in the novel but why what happens is compelling. Plot is compelling when it’s driven by life-like 7.
CHARACTERS. Characters are the people in your story. Think of them as the train that carries your plot along. Characters only carry along a plot in a compelling way when they have clear 8. MOTIVATION. Motivation is the psychological and experiential explanation for why your characters do what they do. Once you have a central motivation for each main character, you can easily create 9. CHARACTER SKETCHES. Character sketches are your character’s bios.
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