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.

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33
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6answers
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I have written my first novel and I think it's ready. What next?

I've completed my first novel and done as much editing as I think I can as the author. What should I do next in order to get this out there?
23
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
19
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5answers
2k views

So I finished my novel. Now what do I do?

A few days ago I finished the first draft of my current novel project after a few months of work, finishing at 83,212 words. Now what should I do with it? So obviously I need to edit it. Should I ...
17
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6answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
2k 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?
15
votes
6answers
536 views

How can I make a story bigger?

I have written a first draft of what I want to be a novel -- aiming for 50-70K words. When the ending arrived I was at about 30K. So I essentially have to double the length. My list of notes scattered ...
15
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
12answers
781 views

For Fantasy Stories, Should You Include a Map At the Beginning of the Book?

If you're writing a fantasy novel, would it be best to include a map of the geography that the story takes place in at the beginning of the book? I've seen quite a lot of fantasy books (Redwall ...
14
votes
5answers
751 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 ...
13
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3answers
439 views

When publishing a Fantasy novel, do I look for a specific Fantasy-only publisher, editor, and/or agent?

When attempting to publish a fantasy book, how will I go about selecting a publisher? Is it possible to find a list of publishers that publish specifically fantasy books? Similar to publishers being ...
12
votes
7answers
324 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 ...
12
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8answers
3k views

How should I break up chapters in a novel?

Is it acceptable to pace my chapters in terms of an event? Can I get away with a 4 page chapter here, and a 30 page chapter there? Are there any reason why I should or should not be sticking to a ...
11
votes
8answers
545 views

What's the benefit of using invented languages in-story?

I'm working on a fictional story set in a fantastical (although coherent) universe; I'm used to seeing, in works like this, invented languages: Tolkien's languages for The Lord of the Rings, or ...
11
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
310 views

Why do ebooks often mimic the layout of the printed page?

I was recently editing a novel destined to be published primarily in e-book form, and made a list of pre-press instructions, to be followed when the final text is agreed upon. Some of these ...
10
votes
4answers
370 views

Writing Multiple Novels Simultaneously

I am, at present, 50% of the way through my first novel (17 chapters (and counting), ~55,000 words, ~100 A4 pages) and yet I also had many other (what I think are) wonderful ideas pop into my head for ...
9
votes
7answers
805 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
9answers
244 views

Will my readers feel like they are reading a children's storybook if there are illustrations in my novel?

I'm writing a novel. I also have good drawing skills. I would like to add illustrations of the setting, locations and characters. I may include 8 or 10 illustrations (the novel is approximately 200 ...
9
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3answers
198 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
343 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
375 views

Am I too prepared to do NaNoWriMo?

I've been wanting to do NaNoWriMo for years and finally decided that this year will be the one. But I already have extensive notes and a plot outline, and I'm concerned that this might actually trip ...
8
votes
6answers
647 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
536 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

What is a good methodology for researching a historical novel?

I'm having difficulty with the research aspect of my historical novel. This question was originally going to be "how much research should one do to write a historical novel?" to which, answering my ...
8
votes
2answers
297 views

How do critics review an author's first and second and maybe third novel differently?

Do critics review first, second, and third novels differently? And if so, how? What do critics think is the significance of the birth order of novels?
8
votes
2answers
119 views

How much agent contact should I expect?

How much contact should I expect to have with my literary agent (from a sizeable London firm, representing my first novel)? Are months of silence to be expected/endured? If so...how many?
7
votes
8answers
828 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
525 views

How to attract the average reader to an “intellectual” novel?

For instance, If I write a novel which has the following: “The universe goes through a gradual transition from one condition, to a different condition, without any abrupt changes.” ...
7
votes
5answers
274 views

Can I write my sub stories separately?

I am writing a novel with two groups of characters. They will have their own adventures, and meet somewhere after the middle to take on the main villain. Now in the book, the stories will be ...
7
votes
5answers
343 views

Write multiple trilogies or make a saga?

So I am currently writing a fantasy story that tends to be long. This question is related to the following question: related The main difference resides in that it is certain that the story will be ...
7
votes
9answers
2k views

What are some examples of modern original plots?

In a comment on this answer, a valuable community contributor suggested that it is possible to be totally original in writing, despite the fact that other valuable community members have stated that ...
7
votes
4answers
373 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
474 views

Is the first draft of a novel usually shorter than the finished work?

I finished the first draft of a novel I'm writing. Right now, it has 17000 words. I've heard that novels these days range from 60,000 to 150,000 words, so I'm a little bit worried (I'm hoping to have ...
7
votes
2answers
281 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
682 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).
7
votes
5answers
124 views

Getting details of a past century right

I have been gathering ideas for a novel. The basic idea is in place; the story combines two different eras but the same place. How do I get the little details about the place, the people, their life ...
7
votes
3answers
512 views

What should be put on scene notecards? (for novel writing)

Once, a while back, I tried to use notecards when noveling to organize and develop my novel. The idea (a fairly common one, I believe) was that each scene is noted on a notecard, and you can then ...
7
votes
1answer
596 views

Is it plausible to get a contract with an US/UK publisher as a foreigner?

Looking for some insight in the publishing industry. Is it even remotely plausible to get published in with an English-language publishing house (UK/US), when you're not a national nor a resident of ...
7
votes
1answer
122 views

What is the standard editorial timeline for genre fiction novels?

I'm signed with a publisher working on my first genre fiction novel. The editor is driving me crazy not getting her work done and putting the rewrites on me at the last minute up against the ...
6
votes
4answers
202 views

How to give the readers breathing space, without putting them to sleep?

I remember reading somewhere that while plots should have tension, too much tension will tire the readers out, so there should be some breathing place, where the reader can get a chance to catch their ...
6
votes
3answers
476 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
1k 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 don't or tend to not use chapters?
5
votes
7answers
364 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? ...
5
votes
7answers
286 views

What's the most marketable title?

I am writing a novel about someone being chased by the Russian Mafia. A hitman is sent to save her and that's where the books takes off. I have way too many titles floating in my brain - three to be ...
5
votes
3answers
191 views

Is it really necessary to add things like “I thought, I wondered, etc,” in first-person narrative?

Example: The whole thing sounded a bit strange. How had she gotten my number? I wondered. I didn't know anyone called Maria. The whole thing sounded a bit strange. How had she gotten my ...
5
votes
7answers
509 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
2answers
388 views

Any suggestions to improve these three introductory paragraphs of a novel I'm writing (e.g. writing style, description and flow)?

These are the paragraphs: Someone had called me at half past eleven. The phone rang six times breaking the silence and darkness of the room for about ten or twelve seconds. I didn’t pick up. ...
5
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4answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
7answers
164 views

Can I write same scene from 2 viewpoints?

I'm writing a romance novel and want to include some scenes that are described first from the female protagonist point of view and then from the male. Will readers think it's a waste of time (as the ...