How To Be A Novelist
Ok, I know that there are plenty of these sort of guides on the net by more experienced and acclaimed writers. But even so, I still thought I’d share my thoughts and advice on what I’ve learnt so far in this game.
1. START NOW
To me, this is the biggest thing that prevents people from becoming writers – actually getting it started. A lot of guides will tell you to divide stories into major plotlines, work out everything beforehand, write exhaustive character profiles etc etc blah blah blah. But the prospect of writing down pages and pages of why your main protagonist has seventeen pairs of socks – three with holes in, can put off even the most determined of scribblers.
My advice? Sack all that shit off, grab a pad of lined paper, or a new Word document, and begin with ‘Chapter 1’. Boom! The story has begun. Everything else, and I mean everything else, can be adjusted, tweaked and rewritten afterwards. After all, as far as I’m aware J.R.R. Tolkein began the opening sentence of The Hobbit ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit’ before he even had an idea of what a hobbit was or what it was going to do. He certainly didn’t imagine it would lead to the massive epic The Lord of the Rings.
So if you’ve ever had an inkling to write a novel, stop reading this and start writing now.
2. A REASON TO WRITE
Years ago I read that every story must have a reason to be told. ‘Why does this story need telling?’ Even today I haven’t the faintest of ideas of why my stories need telling! This is an overused bullshit statement used by so-called professionals who are the kind of people you see at modern art galleries trying to interpret the emotional and subtle meaning behind a giant stone cock. There should be only one reason for writing a novel – to entertain readers with an awesome story.
At school we used to get told off for daydreaming, effectively stifling our imagination. But allowing our minds to wander, to music especially, can help conjur up all kinds of ideas. Even whilst working on your story you will find by allowing your mind to drift into the tale will bring up twists, and pieces of the story that will fit together like a jigsaw.
4. LEARN BASIC GRAMMAR
Nothing will turn off a reader more than poor basic grammar or spelling. Learn proper use of apostrophes, nouns etc, and show the world you mean business. As from point 1. you don’t need to have everything perfect straight away. Don’t cut short the flow of writing just to correct a mistake than can be fixed later on. Avoid using too many adverbs too.
5. BEING AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE PRO
So you might have got a ‘D-‘ in GCSE English. Does this mean you can’t write a novel? Of course not. There’s no truer saying than ‘We all have a good book inside of us all.‘ Anyone can write a book. All it takes is the will to do it, and the persistance to carry it through. Obviously a background in English will help, but it’s not essential.
6. GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND
So you want to write the next big war epic. But haven’t the foggiest about war? Google it. These days there’s no excuse for not researching the ingredients to your genre. Just don’t go into too much detail. Most people will be bored to tears about five paragraphs of the inner workings of an AK-47.
7. KEEPING UP WITH CURRENT TRENDS
Twighlight left in it’s wake, a hundred similar new age teen vampire novels. Now they may sell a few copies to fans desperate for more of the same. but will they be remembered? Probably not. Don’t be afraid to break the mold and go for something original. J K Rowling was told her book probably wouldn’t sell too many copies seeing as it was a children’s fantasy novel. How wrong that person was!
8. WRITE FOR YOURSELF
Don’t write a book that you think will please others. Write it for yourself, as though it’s a book you would like to read. You’ll be more emotionally attached to the story, and if you like it, then surely other readers will too.
9. DON’T WRITE FOR MONEY
We’d all love to be bestselling authors. Anyone who disagrees is a liar. But writing solely for money is a bad idea. Being a novelist is one of the hardest ways to earn a living. If you just want to earn money, invest or learn to become an entrepreneur. You’ll have an easier time 😀
10. WRITE AT YOUR OWN PACE
There’s no rules to writing, so feeling you need to bust out a four hundred epic every month to be considered a serious author is just foolish. Got at what speed you feel comfortable with. Stories grow in your mind over time, allowing you to garnish your characters with personality and believability.
11. TAKE CARE WITH YOUR MAIN CHARACTER
Most of the time the story will unfold through this character’s eyes and will be the one we sympathise with the most. We see and learn whatever they do. Whatever you do, never make them impervious to everything the tale throws at them. Every knight needs a chink in their armour, whether physical or emotional. Even Superman was hurt by kryptonite.
12. NEVER GIVE UP
Ever. Ever. I guess this goes without saying. No matter how much the tale frustrates you, no matter how much you think it sucks, keep on going. Usually when things get tough, it means you’re almost ready to break through and reach your goal. Keep on going, even if it’s just word by word.
Well that’s my current pearls of wisdom thrown out there for anyone who cares. 😀 It’s taken me over a decade to get to this point and be able to share some of my knowledge, and I’m no expert in the field. Even so, I’ll write soon about my experiences of publishing once a book is finished.
Bye for now! 😀
A Hungarian Wedding
Sat in the back of a packed car at 2am I glare out of the window at the deserted village streets as they solemnly fly by. Our vehicle frantically tails another car heading towards ‘the club’, or so I’m told. What started as a lively evening wedding party has somehow turned into a frantic chase to retrieve a stolen bride.
This might sound like something straight out of a Liam Neeson movie, but it is in fact a Hungarian tradition in where the said bride is rushed away from the ceremony, prompting the men to get her back. For what reason, or how this tradition came about I’ve no idea. All I know is that the car I’m turns a corner and arrives at something I can only describe as Creamfields. A few thousand people surround a few festival tents from which various booming sounds echo from. We quickly enter the tent, with the groom leading the way and find the bride amid a resounding show of applause. Even a man with a broadcast size camcorder films the reunion. I’m clapping at the merryment, despite being slightly confused as to why this has actually happened.
Last year me and Wendy were lucky enough to be invited by our friends Sarah and Krisztian to stay with Krisztian’s family in Hungary. As I’ve said in my previous post, until then I’d had little desire or need to visit any of the Eastern Bloc countries (except for a holiday in Bulgaria) and since then I feel now I’ve been quite ignorant and naive of such places. Hungary is a beautiful, lush country, stepped in old ways, and I can thoroughly reccomend visiting, especially its capital Budapest and gigantic lake (biggest in Europe) Balaton.
Whilst we were there last November, we were invited to attend the wedding of Krisztian’s sister Zsuzsi and her fiance Gabor last month. Their family are one of the most friendliest and most welcoming that I’ve ever known and I’m grateful for not only their generosity and hospitality, but for the opportunity to see a proper traditional European wedding.
From the stunning outdoor church, to the lengthy and intriguing ceremony. From partying until 5am, to waking up about four hours to carry on another full day with the festivities. From taking part in the money dance with the bride, to continuing to dance the night away to a traditional Hungarian band (beats the usual medley of Whigfield’s Saturday Night and the Time Warp).
So to all the Somogyi family, and the awesome bride and groom Zsuzsi and Gabor, thanks for a fabulous time, and can’t wait to see you all again. 🙂
You do your country proud.