Novels are long-form prose fiction, typically over 40,000 words. Questions that use this tag can relate to writing, editing, publishing, formatting or technique as applied specifically to novels. If the question applies to more than just novels, it should probably use the Fiction tag instead.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

9
votes
8answers
2k views

Dialogue writing practices?

First time novelist, long time writer here. I'm looking for creative writing exercises to help with my dialogue. Any ideas?
7
votes
6answers
2k views

Can I use real presidents (past and present) and real companies in a fictional story?

I'm not sure if I want to use real people and companies or make up an entirely different world with different people, presidents, and companies than our real world. If I did the latter I would offer ...
10
votes
2answers
494 views

What exactly do I do to get published?

I'm interested to know what the publishing process exactly entails for future reference. I'm in my last year of school and I recently finished my first substantial piece of creative writing (a subject ...
12
votes
10answers
2k views

How to overcome the fact that I can't write long stories?

I have written some short stories (in fact, they are flash fiction). When I'm writing short stories, the ideas and the structure come to my mind by themselves. Something different happens when I try ...
9
votes
4answers
478 views

How do I successfully structure a long fiction piece?

I’ve ‘completed’ three novels – a thriller, a coming-of-age story, and a mystery. I’ve had expert readers for all three including Sue Grafton who read two of them. All the expert readers have the same ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Can I shop an unfinished novel?

I've been writing a novel that addresses some very current themes. My belief is that if I can get it out there quickly, it will succeed well. I'm working on it frantically, but will agents consider ...
16
votes
4answers
4k views

What is a beat?

I keep hearing the word "beat" in Writers.SE, as in "... break your scene into beats" from this question. What is a beat? How is it different from a scene?
8
votes
6answers
3k views

Examples for books that don't use (traditional) chapters? [closed]

I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett, and he doesn't use chapters (mostly). Are there any other authors who tend to not use traditional chapters or chapters at all in novels?
9
votes
9answers
996 views

Should I start work on a sequel before I have sold my book?

I finished the 1st draft of my book, and have put it in the freezer(as I asked about in this question). I was planning to start work on a sequel of the book in the meantime. But I was told by someone ...
3
votes
2answers
254 views

Is it a bad idea to turn a short story into a full-length novel?

I've written a couple of short stories. I'm really satisfied with some of them, and I would like to turn them into full-length novels. They were meant to be short stories from the beginning, but I ...
25
votes
7answers
4k views

Do most novels not get published?

If a person writes a novel, grammar alright, decent story, word count, etc. everything okay, Is it a crap shoot for that person to get published? Is it just like the lottery or maybe better chances?...
9
votes
8answers
922 views

How to develop a story for a novel?

I am looking for some inspiration on where to start writing a novel. I have a general idea for a plot and characters, but I don't feel it's enough for sitting down and starting to write. It needs a ...
7
votes
3answers
839 views

Is it wise to publish a novel as an e-book, and how would I do it?

I'm considering publishing my novel as an e-book (since I'm very techy) before I take the usual "paperback" route. Is this a wise choice? Also what would I need to do? (steps).
10
votes
3answers
238 views

What disciplines/habits are used to stay focussed on one novel over a long period of time?

One of my biggest issues is staying focussed on a single novel. My imagination is always creating new and wonderful ideas. I write a few chapters on this story, a few on that story, but never finish....
11
votes
7answers
14k views

How to start a book off?

I have been working on my book (on and off...) for about 6 months. I have a good bit planned out with the plot, story line, and characters. I even have a small idea on how to start the story but ...
9
votes
4answers
826 views

How do I avoid a “mid-story info dump?”

I am revising the manuscript for a novel. About a third into the story, a major turning point occurs when the main character (through whom the reader follows the story) realizes that things are not at ...
21
votes
7answers
2k views

Why does an author need an editor?

I'm firmly in the camp of "your novel needs an editor, and that editor better not be yourself." But recently I was asked why that was, and I couldn't articulate an answer that was passable. Young ...
17
votes
6answers
2k views

Keeping track of multiple plot lines

How do you track several plot lines woven together? I usually run 2 or 3 plot-lines in parallel, so I detail those plots each in a separate document. But as the book goes on, it is sometimes ...
13
votes
7answers
574 views

Should you read your own genre?

In terms of novel writing, I tend to avoid my own genre, at least for the most part. Some of the reasons why: Genre Blindness / Genre Trap: Too much reading of your own genre blinds you to the ...
7
votes
10answers
1k views

How do I keep the plot interesting in a humorous book?

I am about to start writing a fantasy-comedy novel. A problem I found in 1-2 books of this genre is that the plot becomes weak, and the story starts to slow down. The reason I believe this happens is ...
5
votes
7answers
473 views

Are fantasy books expected to be trilogies?

Lately, more and more fantasy books I've seen are part of a trilogy. Is this because readers like it, or is it a cynical plot by publishers to draw out the story longer, so they can make more money? :...
4
votes
2answers
139 views

How applicable are screenwriting ideas to novels?

My current goal is to write a novel (I'm already close to the 35K word mark). However, most of the books I've read about story structure are actually about screenwriting. While stories are stories no ...
2
votes
5answers
171 views

Is it a good idea to make the protagonist pull themselves together

Is it a good idea, to make the protagonist pull themselves together at a point in a work of fiction. I've been writing a novel, and for practically the entire first half the main protagonist has been ...
1
vote
4answers
76 views

Which of the two cases of writing Flashback Stories is better?

I am currently working on a story which is based on a flashback event of life. I want the past scene to appear as a current phase to involve readers in my flashback event as if it is happening now. ...
1
vote
2answers
492 views

Tenses I should use in a translated-novel

I have been translating a novel that is originally written in my native language into English. Considering that the book's plot is the author's experience of a life that has happened in the past, I've ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

what is the best way to make money on the side as a beginning author?

I am a new author and as I am writing my novels, I need a little revenue. Are there sites that would pay for articles being written? Any suggestions would be great!
13
votes
1answer
13k views

What binding and paper should be used on a self-printed novel?

The last time I printed a book I just needed something done cheaply and quickly. The print store used very bright, glossy office paper (the same that they use for office documents) and used ...
8
votes
6answers
758 views

What to do if I can't meet my chapter word count?

I usually set a word count goal for each of my chapters, say 2000 words. But sometimes I can't meet that goal, for any number of reasons. What should I do: A. Continue anyway, and hope to increase ...
7
votes
7answers
5k views

No English degree, what are my chances on successfully publishing a novel?

I don't have an English or Writing-related degree in any way. As of right now, I have no degree, but what I mean is that I'm not even pursuing a degree in writing. How does this hurt my chances? Do ...
7
votes
2answers
304 views

How to emphasize a quote is written, not spoken?

In a similar question on EL&U, I asked about suggestions for indicating that a quote is written instead of spoken. Robusto's answer suggested several possible approaches: For longer quotes of ...
6
votes
7answers
748 views

Is it a bad idea to publish individual chapters of my book idea, online for feedback?

I have already typed at least 6-7 chapters of this book I've been focused on, but what I want to ask is, is it wise to post what I have so far online for feedback? Or am I just setting myself up for ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Scrivener project statistics is showing an incorrect word count

I just purchased Scrivener yesterday and am trying to get it figured out. After importing my manuscript, I cut and pasted it, separating it into the 23 chapters that are linked under "Manuscript" in ...
4
votes
10answers
6k views

Is dialogue in a novel necessary, or just padding?

I can usually tell the story I want to in less than 10,000 words. I'd really like to accomplish writing a novel and I have a complex idea I want to use and explore, but I am worried I won't need 75,...
3
votes
3answers
6k views

Adding breaks in a novel—spaces, asterisks, or a chapter break?

I am editing my first novel and wherever I find a natural break in the story, I add a few spaces. I want to go back and adjust what types of breaks those are, but how best to represent those spaces in ...
2
votes
2answers
587 views

How do I maintain flow and interest when handling numerous plot threads?

I want to learn how to maintain the flow of a novel's plot - there are so many characters and events to organize. What I find most difficult is the way a writer needs to shift from one phase of the ...
2
votes
3answers
66 views

Literary criticism handbook

Can you point out some reference books on literary criticism – from a theoretical as well as practical point of view – to hone and systematize my skills, acquired through first-hand reading of lots of ...
1
vote
2answers
101 views

Is there a problem in switching from present to past for a backstory sequence?

My understanding was that it's fairly normal for a present-tense novel to switch into past tense in a backstory sequence. But I was having a conversation with a friend and he insists any tense ...
1
vote
3answers
202 views

Female Pet Names that a Londoner might use

I was wondering about female pet names, like darling, sweetie, pet, babe etc. One of my characters refers to his other half as "pet" but I've been told that this is common to the North East (UK). As ...