How to not write a badass novel

I’ve worked on my novel for a year now and it’s slow going. Sometimes it’s because I can’t stop editing as I go, other times life gets in the way. So, I worry if by the time I finish the damn thing will it be obsolete.

Obsolete Technology, Microfilms

Do you want your novel to fail?

I don’t, and just like the old TV series, What Not to Wear, I don’t want to jump on a trend train only to find it’s so last season.  I want to stay current, not writing a historical novel, and relative to my readers. Thanks to Fay Weldon for a timely article on how not to write a novel. Now when I do my rewrites I know what to look for.

Will my novel fit her “how not to” list?

Great question!

According to Fay, here is what I need to watch for.

  • Avoid writing like a robot. Show a bit of personality. Don’t bore the reader to death. This makes my book uniquely mine.
  • Watch out for the age gap. Hmm, glad to know because I didn’t realize there was one in writing.
  • Give the book an attention-grabbing, strong title. Okay, this I knew but it’s not as easy as it sounds.
  • In addition to writing a bang-up novel, write a sparkling synopsis. Another difficult task for me. Sigh…
  • Give readers a relatable character.
  • Don’t write like an old codger. Words change, so make sure you change with the times. Keep up with the times by reading current authors.
  • Be careful trying to find the best seller genre. Niche marketing is where it’s at. Find out where yours fits. Romance is a fail-safe, but erotica is not. Satire, there’s no market for it.
  • Have something to say but don’t preach. Don’t let a reader close your book and wonder “what the hell.” Let them see the “heart of your book.”
  • Set your imagination free. Writing about evil doesn’t make you evil, writing about sex doesn’t make you a slut. Go where your characters take you with gusto.
  • Don’t write to get rich. Nothing new there. LOL

Check out Fay’s article and tell me what spoke to you.

Death Of A She Devil author gives her tips on how *not* to write a novel… By FAY WELDON

Do you have suggestions on how not to write?

What did you think of the article?

Are you hitting all the right points?

 

Want to know more? Click on these links to find more about what not to do in writing.

15 Reader Frustrations to Avoid in Your Novel 

7 Things That Will Doom Your Novel (& How to Avoid Them)

Writing And Editing: Five Problems to Avoid in Your First Novel

How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good by [Cohen, Bryan]

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Great reminder on what not to worry about

In other words…

I need to use this as my screen saver. A constant reminder that my first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

I’ve rewritten the same chapter at least five times. Tweaking a comma here, a comma there, putting commas everywhere only to go back rewrite the sentence and throw out all the commas.

That’s just one example of how I worry over small stuff that should wait until the damn book is finished.

Thanks go out to Janice Hardy over at Fiction University for a great reminder in this terrific post on writing first and fixing last.

Things I want to remember about writing…

  • The novel doesn’t have to be planned and structured to the last detail before I start writing.
  • Complete the thought and don’t worry about crossing every t and dotting every eye. Time for that later.
  • Don’t worry about too many characters in a draft. You can delete those who don’t pull their weight later during editing.
  • Writing a scene where a character has a freak out, don’t worry if’s too over the top. During editing, you can calm her ass down if needed.
  • About world building… Get the world down in that first draft. You can flesh out and make the world more real during editing.
  • It’s okay for my first draft to be a mess.
  • It’s okay that inconsistencies and scattered thoughts fill my first draft. I can yank out anything that doesn’t fit later.
  • It’s okay to throw everything and anything in my novel. Just like dirty dishes, I can wash, dry and put in proper place later.

Click and read this post by Janice and see if you find a few tips to free your creative writing muse.

It’s a Start: What Not to Worry About in a First Draft

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How to make readers love and hate your villain

Make him one of the beautiful people.

Writing a villain and/or an antagonist is not as easy for me as the good guys.

A few days ago I wrote a post about the difference and similarities between the antagonist and a villain.  And think whether you choose to blend the bad guy into the antagonist or just let your villain go it alone, the information I discovered after reading Bonnie Randall’s article What The Well-Dressed Villain Is Wearing These Days may help us all to write better well-rounded bad guys.

 

Here’s what I discovered.

  1. I want a villain to look down and dirty. Road hard and put up wet. Know what I mean? Not like a beauty queen or movie star. But I realized Bonnie is right. Not all villains can look like the Joker in Batman. How many times have we heard, “He looked like such a nice young man, not a killer.” No, it’s scarier and more unsettling when he walks among us unrecognized.
  2. He’s smart. But, oh don’t we all want a villain/antagonist to be dumb as dirt? I certainly prefer to outsmart the bad guys than to be manipulated by one. Again, no one wants to end up blurting out, “I thought you were my friend,” just before the knife plunges. Yikes.
  3. The good guys may get irritated because the villain is right all the damn time. They want to feel and act superior to everyone. Yep. Think about it. How many times do you want to wipe the floor with a beautiful smug face? Nobody likes a know it all.
  4. They act like babies when threatened. Challenge their knowledge, their appearance, their knowledge, why challenge anything and temper tantrums abound. A good villain has suppressed anger issues that can’t stay hidden for long.
  5. They are harboring an imagined slight from their past which has stunted their maturity.

So far, I’ve gotten one thing right on Bonnie’s list. My antagonist/villain dresses like a fashionista. Now on to the other four. Lots to do, lots to do. Hmm, I’m beginning to see why actors agree to play bad guys, is more fun.

Now that you’ve read all the great tips on plumping up your villain/antagonist let me know what you think.

Me Let's Discuss - Jeanswriting.comDo you think an attractive bad guy is scarier?

Do you think using these tips will make a better villain?

How about other characteristics? What would you add to make a more believable bad guy?

 

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The right ingredients make for a great novel

Leave one ingredient out and your story will fall flat as a flitter.

Fallen Cake from Jean's Writing

Yeah, that’s right a story can fall flat just like a cake or soufflé. I can remember my mother yelling, “Don’t slam the door, my cake will fall.”

Of course, nowadays, that’s not much of a problem unless you make your cakes from scratch instead of a box.Betty Crocker Cake Mix available at Amazon - Jean's Writing

 

 

Okay, back to a flat story. To avoid your story falling flat, you might want to read this great post by Bridget at Now Novel. She gives us a good recipe for writing a really good novel. Check your story against her list of ingredients.

Recipe file card and wooden spoon - Jean's Writing

What I learned from Bridget about adding the right ingredients:

Ingredients for a good story - graphic - Jean's Writing

Click and read all of Bridget’s tips for more details.

Writing a good book: 10 ingredients of great novels

Do you have everything on her list?

Did she forget an ingredient you like to use?

What do you think makes for a great novel? Tell us your tips.

Want more info, keep reading.

Why your stories sometimes fall flat… and how to fix that

Ready, set, go…

Bitmoji image Jean cooking - Jean's Writing

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