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38

Agents Typically, you would begin querying agents. Agents offer a number of benefits: Some will help you polish up your novel further They know the marketplace and have access to editors at publishing houses. Many publishing houses these days refuse to look at unsolicited manuscripts sent by the author. If they're good at their job, they'll have an ...


25

Because you can't see your own mistakes. You know, in your head, what you want your story to accomplish. You know who you want to end up with whom. You know who you want to punish, and who you want to see succeed. You know which characters you like and which are your villains. But the challenge is writing your story so that anyone else who reads it sees ...


25

To answer your question literally: most novels that are written will never be published. Thousands of people write a novel every year, and probably less than 1% of those novels are ever read by anyone other than the author's friends and family. Publishers and agents turn down many thousands of manuscripts a year. However, it does not follow that publishing ...


24

Anyone who actively pursues publication can get published. Sometimes it can happen easily, other times it may take month or even years. Just because it's well written and is a decent novel, doesn't mean every publisher wants it. It may not be right for some publishers, and others may not think they can market a certain novel well. But if you keep trying, ...


18

Here are my reasons: As the author, you are too close to the material. Writing which may seem clear in your mind could be confusing to the audience. Small mistakes in grammar and poorly-worded sections need a second set of eyes to be discovered. Advise the novice writer to re-read some of their writing after setting it aside for a month or more. I find ...


16

Chapter length is often about pace. This can apply to a single chapter (i.e. ending on with a cliffhanger), but it can also apply to your novel as a whole. If each chapter is a radically different size than the last, it may be jarring for the reader. You may want that though. If you have three medium-length chapters followed by a very short one, it is ...


16

The short, cop-out answer is: It depends. Longer explanation is: It depends on the type of novel you're writing, and also on your skill level as an author. It's possible, and common enough, to have none if you're writing the kind of novel that's epistolary (written communication, eg. letters, reports, postcards) or a monologue from the main character(s). ...


15

I say heed the Muse. If there's a story burning to be told, go ahead and write it. No effort is wasted. Even if your novel and its sequel are never published, you will have the experience of creating a universe and writing a sequel to an existing story, and you can always use that experience when crafting another story. Besides, who knows how long it will ...


15

Let it sit and start a new one. Do not touch it for at least two weeks. Maybe even longer, you have to get distance. Do not give your raw draft to your beta readers. You do not want to let them point out all the obvious mistakes, which you can easily find yourself when reading it with that distance. Because it is likely that they will stop there (not ...


15

John Smithers' advice is good, but I'd add a few details (and leave it for longer than three weeks!) Before you put the MS away, make a first pass at your query letter, as well. This is good because the query needs some time away from your eyes just like the MS does, and because writing the query can really help you figure out what the book has going for ...


14

It often helps because fantasy books often involve quite a bit of travel. It is not strictly necessary for the novel to be coherent, but I have found the ones that I've read that lacked maps to be worse off because of it. Namely, "The Blade Itself" by Joe Abercrombie is a good example of a book that lacks a map that really needed one. He talks about wars ...


14

Put it away for a while. Long enough to not have it in mind to the level of daily obsession any more. Then, dig it out and look through it. You may find that magically somebody has replaced all of your rich, description, amazing detailed characterisation, fascinating dialogue and lushly abundant prose with stuff that is a bit thin, doesn't always make sense ...


14

Do you really want to bloat a chapter just to meet an arbitrary quota? Besides that, till you haven't finished the book, you cannot tell how many words a chapter will have. Because you will rearrange, rewrite, and (most important) delete unnecessary stuff. So don't sweat it, start a new chapter, keep writing and drop a quota for chapters. If your story is ...


14

TLDR: Beats are what you make scenes out of. "Beat" is terminology that probably came backwards into writing from acting. Essentially a scene is made of beats for an actor. To explain: I used to be an actor and one thing that I think always blows people's minds is how an actor can learn the entirety of Hamlet's part in a matter of a few months and then ...


13

An invented language can be a tool for exposing the traits of a culture. Different languages not only sound different, but they feel different. They shape ideas differently. They are also shaped by their environments. The way a language works can help illustrate the thought processes of the people who speak it. As an example, I recently saw the Star ...


13

A scriptwriting exercise that always helps make a nice shape out of dialogue. Follow the instructions without reading them all the way through the first time. Just do each step one at a time: 1) Take a sheet of paper and write in the margin down 20 lines the letters A and B. They don't have to just swap e.g. ABABABABABAB but you can have no more than two ...


13

TL;DR: Pick a lightweight, off-white, acid-free opaque paper (preferably book paper if it’s available). Then pick a binding to suit your budget: 3-ring and a nice binder if you’re cheap, plastic comb if you’re slightly less cheap, perfect binding if you’ve got a couple of bucks or professional bookbinding if money is no object. From just printing it off and ...


13

If the beginning is blocking you, start writing something else. You have an outline, right? You know roughly what's going to happen when. So pick some point which is easier, and start there. My suggestion is to start near the beginning (If your intro is I. in your outline, start with II., for example), but start with whatever part makes you excited to be ...


13

I guess there's different schools of thought on it, but for me, I'd say you should worry about attracting readers after you've written the novel the way you think it should be written. What are the demands of the plot? What do you characters need to do, or understand? Tell the story in the best way you can, using the words that work best for you, and THEN ...


12

I'm a visual person. I have a large whiteboard which I used to draw graphs, flowcharts, etc... If you're limited on room, like I am, take a picture of your drawing before you erase it and keep it as a digital file. You could also try the technique displayed in a lot of police investigation shows: note cards and/or pictures taped to a wall with colored ...


12

Unless you are already an established name in the industry and one known for timeliness and reliability, you will have a hard time shopping around an unfinished book. There are a tremendous amount of finished manuscripts piling up on agents and editors doorsteps already. But keep in mind, the publishing industry is a slow moving machine in general. Consider ...


12

There is no harm in starting Nanowrimo with a basic plot outline. Writing without plotting is very hard, and few people other than Stephen King can pull it off, as I said in another answer. The reason many people fail at writing is because they fail to finish anything. Everyone has great ideas, about books that will become best sellers, movies that will win ...


12

The Tennessee Screenwriting association lists all 20 plots. That's all there are. If you find a story, it will use one (or several of them) but for many centuries, this list hasn't changed. For example, the nanobot story mentioned by Claudiu has the same basic plot as Golem (16th century) or Frankenstein's monster (1818) or Icarus (ancient greeks). There ...


12

The truth is that most novels never will be published by another party. There are a limited number of publishers in the world and only a very few books will be selected to be published. As an alternative in the last few years self-publishing - particularly in e-books - has become a viable and cost-effective measure for new writers to ge their works out to ...


12

Learn how to construct a better sentence, and then a better paragraph. And then an actual metaphor. And then perhaps some real descriptions. (A penis is a phallus; it cannot attain one unless you're talking about grafting a second organ onto the first. And if your vagina is mossy, jesus, go see a doctor.) Ditch the purple prose. Erotica is about ...


11

I've been there myself, stuck trying to work out how to make things flow in a larger context, but just feeling like I can't pull it off. It's frustrating all around, but I can at least tell you what I did to get over it. It be of some help. Keep trying to write the longer stories. It might be frustrating now, but if you don't work at it it won't ever come ...


11

Composition rule #13: Omit needless words. Whereas Strunk was referring to sentence structure, I believe this applies to overall word count. Adding content in a story just to make it bigger is literary bra stuffing. Keep in mind that "Of Mice and Men" is commonly published at around 100 pages and it stands as one of Steinbeck's more potent works. However, ...


11

I am not a publisher, so perhaps someone will correct me, but if your book is good, they'll publish it. I can't for the life of me see any good reason why not. On the subject of distrust, the content of the book demonstrates your English, not the fact you don't live in the UK or the US. I would seriously doubt that anyone would be put off by the fact that ...


11

For writing fiction, realism is really much less important than believability. Things happen in the real world that are much more improbable than many readers would be willing to accept. Truth is stranger than fiction. To me, there are four primary elements of believability: Does the story contradict anything that we know about the universe? This could be ...


11

Short answer: Give hints along the book. Make the character notice stuff. It will make the "dump" shorter, even convert it into a short reference to scenes that happened. Find a way to imbue feelings or actions in the section. More on that: Include at least some action. Surely there is something that sets off this train of thought. Try and be as brief ...



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