After discarding several frustrating attempts to write the next great novel, I discovered Nathan Bransford’s How To Write A Novel, which I call “The Elixir of Life”. Here are my favorite top ten tips from his “47 Rules For Writing A Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever”.
1. Write A Killer First Page. If you have a terrible first page, chances are, the reader will shut the book. If you have an exceptionally good first page, they’ll be drawn into your novel.
2. Show Personality. If you want your reader to care about the characters, reveal their unique personalities. Otherwise, your characters will probably be robots that are monotonously talking with each other about tax returns …
3. Make Sure That Your Characters Are Motivated. If your characters aren’t driven by something/someone, then what’s the point of the story? If Gaea was going to rise and destroy all of humanity, then, of course, the seven demigods would have to save them. If Harry Potter wasn’t going to save the world from anything in particular, then what’s the point of the story?
4. Be Unpredictable. If you’re unpredictable, then the reader will be curious about what will happen next. If everyone knew from the start that (SPOILER ALERT!) Gandalf would die, then what’s the point of reading and/or watching Lord of the Rings?
5. Find Your Voice. What I love about this one is that great authors are different. Stylistically distinct in ways that many other writers aren’t. You may have sass, confidence, humor, boldness, gentleness, friendliness or others—and that’s what makes your writing and your DNA unique in the whole wide world!
6. It’s All About The Climax. In the climax, the character most likely experiences a crushing blow to the whole plot of the story, and this most likely reveals everything about the main character(s) personalities. Maybe they found a loved one. Maybe they’ll face their greatest physical/emotional obstacle. Maybe everything can happen all at once. A story is nothing without a climax.
7. Keep Calm And Carry On. For the first fifty or so pages, you absolutely love the idea, you want to write more, you want to do nothing but write, write, write. After that, though, you’ll probably stop and your source of motivation? Gone. “You have to crawl to your computer or notebook and force yourself to keep going even if you’d rather be doing anything else. And you will.” - Nathan Bransford.
8. Be Serious About Your Series. If you aren’t serious enough, you’ll probably end up deleting your novel or series. End of story.
9. You Don’t Have “Writer’s Block”. Let me repeat: YOU DON’T HAVE “WRITER’S BLOCK.” It’s just a lame excuse for someone that can’t come up with ideas. Bransford suggests many techniques to get over writer’s block, but my favorite one (and most painful) is to stare at your screen for ten minutes straight until an idea comes to you.
10. Edit As You Go. Self-explanatory.
So there you go. A nutshell in a nutshell. Get writing.