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Blog In Writers Group

Want to write a novel?

By Steve Hayes
Posted Aug 1, 2012 in
Lots of people want to write a novel. But they make life difficult for themselves and they never achieve their ambition. It happens this way: having got the desire to write a novel, suddenly, they up the ante and want to write a great novel. They start, and with all the inevitability of a Greek tragedy, reality kicks in: the words on the page just never seem to match up to their dreams; another failed, disillusioned novelist bites the dust.
So, do not be so hard on yourself. Set yourself the much more manageable and achievable project of writing a bad novel. This way you cannot lose. Hey, you can write a bad novel. That is not hard. So you are certain of success. In conversations, ever after, you will be able to say you are an unpublished novelist. And remember, even the best of novelists were turned down again and again...
Here to help you are the Rules for Writing a Bad Novel:
1. Do not bother with the discipline of a time-table, just write when you feel like it.
2. Give your characters names that sum up their characters.
3. Make your good characters really good and the bad characters really bad; do not be tempted to introduce any ambiguity. It would only confuse the reader.
4. Tell the reader what is going on, rather than spending lots of time and words making them figure it out for themselves.
5. Use plenty of adjectives and adverbs. Be as liberal as you like.
6. Do not worry about plot, if you get a little stuck, just throw in a convenient coincidence. This might be necessary particularly towards the end.
7. Do not be a slave to your characters; they can change if the plot needs it: they'll get over it (don't forget, they are not real).
8. Feel free to use jargon. The reader won't complain: why would they admit to being stupid?
9. With genre novels, do not bother with the tedium of detailed research, broad-brush strokes are all the reader needs; let their imagination fill in the gaps.
10. Feel free with the exclamation marks.
11. If you are having trouble describing a scene, set it up and then insert the three little dots, like so ...
12. You are half way through and you feel you should have included a scene at the beginning: do not go back and re-write, just insert it as flashback.
13. Make unnecessary references to other authors. This makes the reader feel they are cultured and intellectual, especially if they are put downs.
14. Start with description, setting the scene. They have opened the book, they will wait for you to get to the point.
15. Minor characters are just props; you do not need to invest a lot time in making them interesting.
16. If it seems a little slow, throw in a crime, kill off a minor character.
17. If you're writing about vampires: do whatever you like, it will be bad anyway.
18. For a serious novel, the main character must be jaded, cynical; they should see everyone else as charlatans on the make, or idiots being taken for a ride. This is someone for whom the word happy is a con.
19. Do not worry about editing. It just takes loads of time.
20. Under the title write: A Novel. So the reader knows.
And there you are: 20 rules to enable you to write a bad novel.

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