You have an idea for a novel – great! But how do you best start? Just start writing or better make a plan? We recommend the latter. Of course, there is nothing wrong with just having fun writing and just letting the words bubble. But in the long term it makes sense to sit down and think about the course of the story (the plot), the characters and the narrative style.
Here are our basic tips for your exciting novel.
Here we go:
- Before you start with the beginning, you should be aware of the conclusion.
Because if you do not know where you want to go, you need good luck to get there. Of course, there are authors who have the great talent to have only an interesting starting point and just start writing. In spite of everything, it makes sense to have in mind the finale (surprising to the reader). Also, knowing when to wait for the characters which dramatic turning point is beneficial. Take notes on the goal (and the way there), which you can always use when writing.
- Let your characters want something.
"Every figure should want something, even if it was just a glass of water." That's what author Kurt Vonnegut said. Whether your characters get it in the end or not – they should make an effort. Especially when it triggers conflicts, because that's what creates tension. So think for each of your characters: What do you generally want in life? And what do you want in each scene?
- Make the antagonist human.
The opponent of your main character is one of the most important characters. He or she also has good sides and a reason for the behavior. Give yourself enough thought, so that you also create a round, interesting and harmonious person here.
- Show the reader instead of telling him.
"Show, do not tell" is an important spelling rule. This means, for example, that your figure could chew on the fingernails instead of mentioning that she is nervous. Always think about how a gesture, a noise or a smell can be described concretely. Even phrases like "He is afraid" can be pictorially expressed – what does it look like when someone is afraid?
- Use Cliffhanger.
Is it really exciting? Let your readers fidget and make a scene change. You will definitely want to continue reading. (But do not use Cliffhanger too often, otherwise you'll scare your readers.)
- Be exactly.
This point also has to do with creating images in the minds of readers. For example, if one of your characters grabs a weapon, do not let it just be a sword – but a katana made by Hattori Hanzo. Of course, the details should not be trivial or over-used. Instead, they should contribute something to the characterization or atmosphere. Since there are certainly different accents in crime novels than romance novels.
- Make the verbal speech as quick as possible.
Do not try to make dialogues sound authentic. That is, if we are honest, relatively boring. The advantage of writing is that you have enough time to think of the best possible answer before letting your characters talk.
- Use shorter sentences the more exciting it gets.
Prolific landscape descriptions require detailed word sequences, which are thoroughly interspersed with commas and semicolons every once in a while. This is perfect to enter a quiet, relaxed scene. But when things get dramatic, your phrases need speed. He came. He saw. He won. So the reader can quickly distinguish exciting and unsettling passages.
- Make your readers cry.
Nothing stays in your memory longer than a story that makes you cry. Play with the emotions of your readers and dare to exhaust them fully – if possible in both directions: joy and sorrow.
- Write (important) sentences.
Does not contribute a sentence to the characterization, mood or the development of the plot, it is not important, they say. That's true, too. But when you write your first version of the novel, the raw version, write down everything first. Afterwards you can still emphasize the unimportant. The first time you write, you should mute your "inner critic" and ignore it as best you can.
- It does not always have to be chronological.
Skip time periods or simply reorder them. Maybe that brings a new dynamic in your plot?
- Use new words.
If you're reading a book or blog article and encountering an unfamiliar word, write it down, catch the meaning, and try to use it yourself in the near future. Thus you expand your active vocabulary. That does not immediately mean that you should write a lofty heartbeat while writing, but a little eloquence is good for any author.
- Do not write if you are angry with someone.
Unless you write a scene in which your characters argue evil. As an author, it is helpful to always be in the mood that suits the current scene. Keep this in mind and take advantage of your mood.
- Always carry a notebook with you.
Some ideas come at the worst. How many funny sayings, plot ideas or other ideas have you forgotten because you did not write them down? Even if it does not fit with your current novel – create a collection of ideas. You can refer to these later, for example, if you are looking for a special trait for your new antagonist.