So with yesterday’s post about how my novels never really end up all that great, I figured I’d do a post on what I find makes novels better. It’ll cover things like structure and dialogue, and and I hope it helps.
While it’s true that there are different kinds of writers in this world, those that outline and those that do many many drafts, every novelist, if they want to get published, has to follow a story structure. At first glance, it looks very rigid, but really it’s quite flexible, and it reinforces your story; it’s the skeleton frame upon which you add the muscle and flesh of your story, but it can move to do the things you want it to.
A quick summary of the structure
It might be kinda blurry… sorry. This is just a quick diagram of story structure. If you want to learn about it more in detail, I recommend going to the website of a great author who has an amazing collection of advice and tips. It’s where I learned most of the stuff I know about story structure and storytelling in general.
Description is an amazing tool, and without it there wouldn’t be much difference between reading fiction and academic reports. However, it is a tool that is to be used in moderation; dumping too much description on a reader causes your story to drag along, perhaps causing them to put it down and pick up something else. Not something we want as writers. We want to capture the reader with enough description to allow them to picture what you’re describing, but not without a little imagination.
Simply put, original and creative ideas are a must. Just copying someone else’s work and adding a couple new words or paragraphs doesn’t make it yours. I mean, sure, if you want to write a modernization of an old novel, like Steven James’ Celestia, a modernization of A Pilgrim’s Progress, that works, but change it up. Set it in a different setting and time, change the characters. Make it your own. But don’t just copy an idea off of someone else.
Without dialogue, a novel would be very uninteresting. The characters would fall flat, and the story would feel like it drags along the street behind a one year old learning to walk, AKA very slow. Dialogue is what breathes life into characters, showing their unique personalities and missions. If done right, it pushes the story ahead, providing many opportunities for foreshadowing and plot twists.
Hope this helps a little bit. For anyone wishing to learn more about these things, click here.